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Yarra Yering

The iconic Yarra Valley institution, Yarra Yering, was the very first winery cellar door I ever visited, in 1993, where the at times cantankerous founder, the late Bailey Carrodus, guided his loyal mailing list customers through that year's releases on a single weekend each year.  It was nothing short of a revelation to me thanks to two good friends from university, and the magic I experienced that day set me on the path to Fine Wine Merchant today.yarra-yering.jpg

Idiosyncratic is a word long-associated with Yarra Yering.  At their best, the wines are little short of phenomenal, delivering incredible complexity and depth of flavour and utter deliciousness.  However it must be said that they could also be erratic, some vintages not living up to their potential, and Bailey's penache for experimentation certainly had mixed results.  To a degree, one could argue that this is genius at work, as Yarra Yering were one of the early pioneers of Bordeaux varieties (both red and white) in the Yarra Valley. Likewise the Cote-Rotie Syrah with a dollop of Viognier.  In the late 1980s, Australia's most expensive wine was not, as you would reasonably expect, Penfolds' Grange, but rather Yarra Yering's Merlot (at the princely sum of $100 per bottle). The relatively obscure varietal Viognier followed suit later, at a similarly extravagant price.

Yarra Yering remains alone in producing a noteworthy dry red made from Portugal's indigenous varieties, primarily Touriga, first released with the 1996 vintage.  And even after Baily's death, his legacy for thinking outside the square (at least in Australian terms) remained, with the 'discovery' of three batches of sparkling wine, left on their lees since the mid 1990s - virtually unheard of in Australian sparkling winemaking (caveat - several small-volume producers, like Bindi, have done similar). 

Yarra Yering, established in 1969, was actually the first commercial producer of wines in the Yarra Valley in 50-odd years with the release of their 1973 Dry Red Nos 1 and 2.

Conjecture and curiosity long surrounded the likely succession of Bailey at Yarra Yering, given he had no immediate family to speak of, and with his passing the estate slipped into a kind of holding pattern, taking some time before it's eventual sale to a group of vineyard investors who own several other significant producers.

But what of the wines today?  Well, despite the hiccups and difficulties raised by Bailey's death, a series of vintage challenges and a changing wine marketplace tending to favour the new and exotic at the expense of the old and established, it is clear that the wines today are as strong as I can recall, certainly since the heady days of the early 1990s.  The luxury of not having to rush wines for release into the market means that the current vintages have settled in bottle and display some aged complexities, such as they were always designed to have.  

Yarra Yering has always been a winery content to rest upon the strengths of its site, varietals and quality of wine produced.  Flashy packaging and fancy names are eschewed in favour of simple (perhaps even overly simple) nomenclature...Dry Red No. 1; Dry Red No. 2; Dry White... at Yarra Yering, it's about what's in the bottle.

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