To me, the St Andrews Nebbiolo vineyard represents what is different and brilliant about the Yarra Valley. It is a reminder that the Yarra Valley isn’t all that is Yarra Glen, but extends north and west, it’s not all flats but has hillsides and elevations. It’s not some mysterious hidden gem, but it does require quick feet to grab these limited wines for your cellar and future hedonistic pleasures. I make no qualms recommending the wines of Luke Lambert. It is quite the experience drinking a vertical of his Syrah and Nebbiolos, because the contrasts and vintage embodiment is fantastically eye-opening. The 2012s are unsurprisingly interesting. Throw out your expectations of Chardonnay. Enjoy the plumpness of the Crudo Shiraz. Revel in the sleekness of the Nebbiolo. The dedicated wine-collector will do their best to seek these out.
Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2012, VIC
$36-43. Where is the oak?! Well, there’s none of that with the use of 20+ year old barrels. Definitely all fruit here. Quite a bit of lees stirring for the 2012 (only the second vintage for this Yarra Valley Chardonnay), so you get all the rich layers of flavours. But there is a fair amount of oxidation, so if you like the Jura-styled wines, this is one for you. If you don’t know what Jura is all about, give this a go! Whole bunch pressing, wild yeast fermentation and no temperature control. A wine that made itself. Clear, pale yellow-gold colour, light youthful aromas of citrus and red berry. Peach, red currants and lemon citrus fruit flavours, the richness of the is balanced against the acidity. The wine has a rounded mouth-feel, long finish. 92/100. Drink now – 2017.
Luke Lambert Crudo Shiraz 2012, VIC
$21-25. This wine is a tale of contrasts: light young fruity aromas won’t have you guessing meaty gusto. Fruit from the Tibooburra and Denton vineyards. A great wine for a casual session, youthful perfumed aromas of blueberry crumble, toast, licorice and pepper. A medium-bodied wine, soft sappy taut tannins give sufficient structure to keep this wine going over food. Think African lemon peppered chicken stew. Meaty structure, tangy dark berry fruit and bramble on a rounded mouthfeel. Long finish. 89/100. Drink now. Also look out for the Crudo rose.
Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Syrah 2012, VIC
$36-43. 40% whole bunch, wild yeast fermentation, ageing in 29 year-old large oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. A young wine that should develop nicely over the next year years. Deep ruby colour, youthful aromas of red berries and cherry. There is a moderate tannin load, reflecting the restraint use of stalks. Black cherry fruit overlaid by savoury plum flavours. Balanced structure and weight, with sufficient acidity to keep it lively in the mouth. Well-made and precise. Drink now – 2021. 92/100.
Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Nebbiolo 2010, VIC
$49-58. So I’m writing this tasting note, but this wine is sold out as far as I know. If you see this in restaurants, definitely put your money on the table and give this a try! If anything, I think 15-20 years from now, the Lambert Nebbiolos will be a boutique cult wine for late night vertical tastings. And the 2010 could be one of the stand-outs. Fruit from two different vineyards. The St Andrews Jansz vineyard which I’ve had the pleasure of wandering through last year. It’s got helluva slope, hard-growing, exposed to the winds. The Denton vineyard which is valley floor but sits on granite off the clay beds (apparently the fact that it is sited on granite is a geographical lotto win). But two contrasting vineyards growing under contrasting conditions allowed this wine to showcase perfumed aromas with denser deep fruit characteristics. Lovely youthful black raspberry, red berries, cherry and anise aromas. Slightly spiced and stalky, but typical of Nebbiolo. A medium+-bodied wine, sleek tannins, clean acidity, a fine drinking wine with flavours of red berry fruit, cherry and herb brush spice. I really do think the effort to craft this wine makes the price justified. Drink now – 2025. 93-4/100.
Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Nebbiolo 2011, VIC
A sneak peek of the 2011 that will be released late-2014. 2011, a tough vintage where winemakers had to cop many on the chin. The wet vintage is bottled in this. Still, Luke said that once the fruit actually arrived into the winery, the processing and ferments more or less occurred problem-free. Lingering greenish aromas, this won’t hit the heights of any other Nebbiolo Luke has released to date. It’ll turn out to be a much lighter version of the 2010. Could turn out to be a good wine once it settles down. -NR-