I’ll get to today’s wine, the Yalumba Premium Riesling Cask 2017 shortly, but first, a bit of a preamble:
The Problem with Cask Wine
Cask wine used to be something we were proud of in Australia. It was invented in South Australia and was one of our great gifts to the world, like the Cochlear Implant and Google Maps. The reasons to love it are pretty clear: it keeps wines fresher for longer, is more cost efficient and it’s better for the environment. The US market gets it, so-called “boxed wine” sales there grew by 22%in the year to January 2018, while sales of an upmarket brand, Black Box Wines were up 28%. Here, however, cask wine sales dropped 30% between 2004 and 2014 and have continued to decline ever since, as as wine in general has become more popular.
The ‘G’ Word
The reason, obviously, has a lot to do with perception. For one thing, no one really uses the term cask wine, do they? It’s become “Goon”, something cheap and nasty for teenagers and alcoholics to get drunk on. Which is a shame, though its not exactly unfair: most cask wine is, indeed, horrible. It doesn’t have to be this way though. It’s perfectly possible for decent quality wine to be packaged and stored in wine casks and there is no real reason why wines made for early drinking – which is most of the wines you find in the shop – need to come in a bottle. The problem, as I see it, is one of perception: People expect wine sold in boxes to be bad, so most producers feel there is no point making a good quality one.
An exception to the rule?
If there is one producer that potentially bucks this trend, it’s Yalumba. Yalumba are one of the best value producers in the country (As you probably already know, I highly recommend their Y Serieswines) and are the only major producer I know of currently offering “premium” cask wine.*So, I’ll work my way through this range to see if there really is a decent cask wine out there. Here’s the first one:
The Review: Yalumba Premium Riesling
There’s a very fruity nose here. Peach, little citrus, even some florals perhaps. Smells like a proper Riesling, more or less. Unfortunately, the palate is less impressive. There is a distracting bruised apple flavour, which is sort of a marker of lesser-quality wines. Then there’s a kind of jangly aciditythat asserts itself on the finish. It feels somehow heavy and lazy, rather light and zippy, even though it’s still quite tart. However, it’s certainly still drinkable and at $12 per two litre cask, works out to be about $4.60 a bottle. On that basis, it’s pretty good value.
*If you know of any others, please let me know in the comments, I’ll be keen to try them.