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Five new whites at $15 a pop


Philip White takes a taste of five wines in Yalumba’s $15 Y series.

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Yalumba The Y Series Barossa Riesling 2018
($15; 11.5% alcohol, screw cap)

Meadow-fresh and limy at the top; honeydew flesh in the middle; deep leafy greens in the basement: if this is any measure of Australia’s $15 Riesling we have little to worry about. It has better unction than most of the water-and-acid cheapies available further down the discount shelf: it’s really pleasantly viscous, a texture that brings comfort and reassurance, and dare I say, makes the glass more of drink than a think. Which is never to say it can’t be pondered. Good wine for $15.

Yalumba The Y Series South Australia Sauvignon Blanc 2018
($15; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap)

As far as aromas go, this is pretty much like the Riesling but devoid of everything but the grass. They’ve worked had at this wine’s texture, too: they’ve had the pillow-fluffers in. Which seems a bit out-of-context: if there was a variety one reached for where one didn’t expect a fluffy middle, surely it would be the blonde Savvy? Forget think; this is more of a wink than a drink. Savvy-b does not work up the River. This is barely-dressed ethanol.

Yalumba The Y Series South Australia Pinot Grigio 2018
($15; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap)

There’s a great deal of grey Pinot – grigio, gris – around the traps, most of which serves simply to prove to me that anywhere one wouldn’t attempt to grow Pinot noir will be no good for its paler sports. Pinot grows best in Burgundy, where winter snow is not unusual. I’ve not seen much snow in the Mallee lately, but I’m sure Pastor Morrison will do something about that with his direct link to the king of heaven at today’s big drought summit. They’ll probably heal the River. In the meantime, this is a melony, fleshy thing to smell: a bit like warm-area Chardonnay. Like the Savvy, it’s all about unction. It’s thin on the flavour, but thick in the flesh.

Yalumba The Y Series South Australia Chardonnay 2018
($15; 13% alcohol; screw cap)

This baby’s more of a Chardonnay than the Grigio is, which would seem to make some sense. Warm-area Chardonnay: insinuations of canned/poached peach and pear with their satisfying syrup, but little of the racy, bracing natural acidity the grape makes when grown properly cool. Not a noticeable splinter of focussing oak, either. This is one for the ham and pineapple pizza, or maybe some Colonel Sadness chook.

Yalumba The Y Series South Australia Viognier 2018
($15; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap)

Viognier? This smells a bit like Chardonnay, with that Chinese bean custard/curdy flesh that sometimes comes through secondary fermentation and lots of stirring in of the dead yeast lees. The flavour is better balanced than the Savvy-B or the Pinot-G, and seems to have a little more of the acid I wanted in the Chardonnay. It has none of the distinctive grainy tannin I expect in good cool region Viognier, but then we wouldn’t go surprising the punters with a tad of natural tannin in the tail of their palest tincture, would we? Admittedly, the label does say “silky”.

So, whatter we got with these Ys? First and foremost, $15. And maybe less in the Hungry Dans of this world. Second, lots of River. These European varieties from cool continental sources simply don’t adapt well to the Australian desert, regardless of how much water we afford them. Third, not a lot of challenge, which is not what the sub-$15 market segment is expected to expect.

It is no surprise that the one wine that claims a region slightly more focused than “South Australia”, that Riesling from the Barossa, is by far the best drink of the suite and the one which most closely resembles the more spendy Old World snow country examples our pioneers dutifully attempted to copy.

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