After Yellow Tail
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ON THE NAME
I received an e-mail from an exasperated reader whose father drank only Yellow Tail because nothing else would do. With Father's Day around the corner, she wanted to know if there might be something, indeed anything, that would please Daddy's palate. The good news is there is and Dad might actually prefer it.
The sweet, fruity Australian Yellow Tail is North America's flavour of the moment. It seems that many drinkers didn't like the dry, strident style of traditional French wines. As Old World producers watched the Kangaroo stomp on their sales, they wondered: "What are we to do?"
Well, the answer has just arrived at the LCBO. Walk in the front door of almost any store and you will be assaulted by a wave of yellow jerseys. These aren't the kind you wear while riding a bike, but rather a cleverly designed wine in a lightweight, break-resistant PET package that's perfect for summer drinking.
It's French, and why not? After all, there has to be life after Yellow Tail. Yellow Jersey is the brainchild of Jean-Charles Boisset, who is best known for fine Burgundy, as well as Canada's best Pinot Noir in his collaborative Clos Jordan winery. "If they can do it in Australia," he reasoned, "why not in the south of France, which has a similar climate?" After all, for every bottle of Australian wine, more than 10 bottles are produced in this single French region alone.
Wine media have taken to Yellow Jersey like ducks to water. To discover what all the fuss is about, I sat down with Jean-Charles to assess his new brood. I was happy to discover that the two new whites are definite winners. The Yellow Jersey 2006 Sauvignon Blanc (40998) at $14.95 is very well-balanced with ripe lemon-melon fruit and hints of crisp grassiness. As Yellow Tail doesn't have a Sauvignon Blanc in Ontario, this is a fine introduction.
Yellow Tail 2006 Chardonnay (627802 - $11.15), which has sweetish, spicy, slightly stewed, lemon-melon flavours, is easy to drink. However, despite its lower price, it is no match for the perfectly balanced, ripe pear-tinged Yellow Jersey 2006 Chardonnay (40980) at $14.95, one of the best Chardonnays to appear in an "environmentally friendly" package.
Then there are the reds. Boisset decided to release the dynamic duo - 2005 Pinot Noir (brave boy) and a 2005 Merlot - as featured in the film Sideways. Compared to Yellow Tail, both are drier and have some herbal garrigue notes. While I liked the Yellow Jersey Pinot Noir more than the Merlot, I feel that something juicier, such as Bilyara 2005 Reserve Merlot (27144) at $16.15, which also comes in a PET package, will work best.
Moving on to Shiraz, my recommendation for a serious flavour upgrade is Wyndham Estate 2004 Shiraz Bin 555 (189415) at $16.15. This rich mouth-filler has loads of plummy, ripe black cherry flavours and would be the perfect graduation red for all dads.
Of course, Yellow Tail offers a number of grape varietals - Rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Shiraz-Grenache and some are hard to beat. For instance, despite being very slightly sweetish, the just released Yellow Tail 2006 Rosé (37606) at $10.95 has pleasing, honey, plums and juicy raspberry-cherry flavours.
As for Cabernet Sauvignon, I recommend a recent Vintages best buy from Argentina's Patagonia: Del Fin del Mundo 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva (31179) at $13.95, loaded with delicious, spicy, vanilla-driven, juicy, black cherry purée flavours. At this price, who cares if it tastes a bit like Syrah, Malbec or Merlot? Try it with BBQ ribs.
It might sound blasphemous, but life really does exist without Yellow Tail.
- 2007 Tasting Note Database
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Copyright Food & Beverage Testing Institute of Canada