Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Yarra Yarra Dinner - Restaurant II (Brisbane)

As mentioned in an earlier post, the better half and I ventured out (with wine-buddy and lawyer extraordinaire Lynton and his beautiful wife Lisa) to the remarkable Restaurant II in Brisbane to an event put on by Yarra Yarra Vineyards and in conjunction with The Wine Emporium.

What a spectacular wine-filled evening!! It was hosted by wine maker and owner of Yarra Yarra, Mr Ian MacLean (pictured below) who was celebrating his classification by Langton's. We were extremely fortunate to be seated at the head table and enjoyed the company of Ian for the evening.

Pre-dinner we tasted the Sauvignon Blanc/Semillons of 1999 and 2003 with small leek and goat's cheese tartlets.

The main event was the vertical tasting of 10 vintages of The Yarra Yarra Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from 1993 to 2003. The numerically astute amongst you will realise that this is 11 vintages, however there was no 1996 made as the vintage was too wet to allow a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon to be made.

What a great test of a wine and a wine maker! 10 consecutive vintages all tasted at the same time.

The first 'flight' consisted of the 1993, 1994 and 1995 vintages tasted with pan-seared scallops and a seaweed risotto. Ian maintained his favourite was the 1993 but I have to say the 1995 was drinking particularly well and was my pick of the three. The amazing thing was that all three still had plenty of good strong acid (in balance) and there was definitely some time left in the wines. All three, but particularly the 1993, were reasonably tightly structured and very elegant. I started to score the wines on the 20 point scale and 100 point scale but was too slow and was missing most of the conversation so gave it away after 1993 (didn't even finish that one properly). But I did manage to jot down my some impressions and overall scores on the first three wines, incidentally matching their years.

1993 = 90-93/100 (fresh young leather aroma, maybe a bit herbacious? tannins very gentle but I was unsure of how tight and narrow the flavours seemed - maybe it is this wine has better structure than most I am used to)
1994 = 94/100 (good acid - the better half's pick of the three)
1995 = 95/100 (tannins still noticeably present but gentle)

The second flight of wines were the 1997, 1998 and 1999 which we had with veal fillet on a polenta base and with porcini mushrooms. Now we were talking some really serious wines with some improvement left in them. My pick for drinking well now was the 1997. Ian said the 1997 tended to polarise people - Halliday loved it but Jeremy Oliver didn't. He said he thought that of the three it had the least amount of time left. Ian's pick was the 1998, which was an elegant but powerful wine. I though it definitely had the greatest potential for longevity and improvement of the three. (On memory alone I would rate the 1997 at 96/100 and the 1998 at 97/100)

The last flight of wines was the 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. Amazing! The 2000 was sensational, luscious and elegant - a 97/100 or maybe even a 98. We had the wines with lightly seared wagyu beef, carrot, parsnip and baby onions. The 2001 had an amazing intensity of flavour - more so than any of the other wines. When I said this Ian told me that the 2001 vintage was the hotest on record for them and the grapes that resulted where absolutely tiny - about the size of currents (but not shrivelled). He told me that the 2001 had rated all over the place and he felt it was generally misunderstood and that all it needed was a good deal more bottle age. I honestly cannot recall the 2002 that well (because we also had some of his 2000 merlot in there somewhere) and all I remember about the 2003 was the same fine structure and elegance.

What an amazing body of work for the wine maker. He told me he was never embarrassed to show any of them anywhere. Ian was extremely down to earth and took our amateurish comments and questions with good humour and freely shared his knowledge and experience.

I hope I have done the wines justice as towards the latter end of the evening I couldn't recall which wine was which of the last flight - especially as some glasses were topped up and others weren't. What a great night!!


Blogger gajvayner said...

I have been reading your blog for the past few weeks and have really taken an interest in what you have to say. I look forward to the new posts each time they come out. I am writing because I thought you might find some interest in this. A few days ago I stumbled upon this video blog and really enjoyed it and thought you and your readers would too. Keep up the great work!

2:21 AM  
Blogger Mal said...


Thanks for the comment!!

I have been to that video blog on a couple of occasions and there have been a few I wanted to watch - Episode 57 being one (4 Australian wines). I had a problem seeing or loading the videos (even after downloading Quicktime) - each time it was taking too long and I usually don't get much time to browse myself. It was probably my fault along the way somewhere but I haven't yet had time to chase down what I was doing wrong.

I will try again because there looks like there is some interesting stuff there - probably on the weekend. Thanks for reading.

6:54 AM  
Anonymous gw said...

..does this sound familar..
I have been reading your blog for the past few weeks and have really taken an interest in what you have to say. I look forward to the new posts each time they come out. I am writing because I thought you might find some interest in this. A few days ago I stumbled upon this video blog and really enjoyed it and thought you and your readers would too. Keep up the great work!'

This was an email I got this morning...and had one a few months ago from the principal....not far off spam in my book.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Mal said...


Sounds somewhat similar (I am trying to master understatement). I must admit I was a little suspicious when I clicked on the link in the name so I could look at his profile - and there was no profile and no blog.

If it is the site owner that is sending the emails and leaving these messages then he may be attempting to boost traffic by deception by masquerading as an independent third party supposedly giving us some directions to a similar site he 'stumbled across'.

I really can't abide dishonesty.

I don't think I will be going back to the site this weekend.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Mal said...


Have you tried any of these Yarra Yarra Reserve vintages? If so I would love to hear how you rated them.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Shaggy said...

Nice article. I don't think I have ever had a wine from Yarra Yarra, just hasn't been on my radar. Sounds like I've been missing out!

Your first comment is Spam, I got it a few weeks ago both as comments and as email...

6:30 PM  
Anonymous gw said...

Yes. I have tried a few. 92 and 97 from memory. I think i remember the 92 being a bit feral and bretty. Could be wrong. More recently I bought some 2002. Lovely wine. Outstanding for the vintage. Hmmm. Cant remember more. Nice dinner!

6:58 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Following spam alligations - please see

12:03 AM  
Blogger Mal said...


Thanks for the link. I like your comments on your blog. I think this guy, in trying to be smart, was just a little too smart for his own good and has done himself harm.

I don't understand the need to do what he has done. I have found if your are honest with who you are and what you are doing others are happy to look at your blog and if they think it is OK even to link to it.

I like your choice of word "community" because it seems like, the wine bloggers at least, do have a community thing going. I know I am relateively new but there deosn't appear to be any 'clique -ishness' about it and all wine lovers are welcome!

Thanks again

6:59 AM  

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