Yellow Tail Reserve - Blind Tasting Extravaganza

This past Friday I attended a small get together at Vino Vino wine bar in Tribeca, a meet-up organized as part of the Yellow Tail Reserve Blind Tasting event. The event, led by William Tisherman (aka, Tish) was a small gathering of a few industry folk and a few fond friends - it was interesting to contrast the opinions on the wine.

Yellow Tail had shipped Tish four pre-wrapped bottles - the only information we had was that all four were Australian Shiraz. My friend and I arrived a bit late so by the time we reached for wine #1 it had been open a pretty long time. It seems to offend many others, and looking at the twitter stream it seemed that was a general consensus. However, this proved to be my favorite of the night - I got smoke, spice, tobacco, black fruits, a bit toasty - I though it had pronounced flavors. Others, however, felt the wine to be restrained. Interesting... to me it was a typical example of Australian Shiraz...Turned out it was the 2007 Archetype Shiraz from the Barossa Valley - yep, spot on with my tastes there! I'm a big fan of Barossa Shiraz whether it's because I was there in April or because I just love all that concentration, I'm not sure, but I'm sticking to my guns here.

The second, to me, was intensely jammy to the point I felt it was going to hurt my teeth if I took more than two sips. Definitely have its consumer, but at 16% abv, it's likely its consumer won't remember why they like the wine for very long. This wine turned out to be the 2008 Marquis Philips Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Australia. Not terrible... just wasn't for me.

The third, and what appeared to be crowd favorite across the country, reminded me of whiskey. One sniff, one taste and that is all I got, couldn't get it out of my head. Why the whiskey? Seemed a bit caramelized, a bit unbalanced in the alcohol and its spice and fruit were hard to extract... at least to me. This turned out to be the
2006 D' Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Australia and it retails for $60! Definitely not a good buy in my mind...

In case you hadn't figured it out yet, that means the fourth wine was the 2008 Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz from South Eastern Australia. To me, putting this wine last was a horrible idea. It had absolutely no personality in comparison to the other three and being the only wine without an appellation also put a damper on the strategy. Yes, it's an easy drinking, mindless wine - good for an easy night in or a general consumer... but still. Truth be told, even as a poor college student I put my nose up at Yellow Tail - I just never liked the taste... opted for other cheap, critter wines like Three Blind Moose and Fish Eye (though this will be the last time I admit that!) I didn't have large expectations for this wine and I could see why some might consider this wine at good value at $11... after all, it's the reserve line, right?

Issues I see here:
1. Yellow Tail is going to have a heck of a time shaking their image as a cheap wine, regardless of their new, fancy label. In my mind, it's more likely to be made the party joke than the party's prize wine.

2. As if they hadn't damaged the image of Australian wine enough, Yellow Tail has now slapped the word "reserve" on it's cheap, party wine protruding yet another obstacle for other winemakers in Australia... those bastards.

Truth be told, there was at least one attendee that stated she preferred the Yellow Tail, but her reasoning, and we can't say it was necessarily sober tasting reasoning, was that it was so easy to drink... a wine for "everyone"... no one could hate it. I guess that's true, although I'm pretty sure the words disgusting were uttered from my mouth (not to be harsh or anything....)

I was sent home with the parting gift of a bottle of Yellow Tail Reserve Cabernet.... guess we'll have to pop that baby open sometime soon.

What are your thoughts? Have you tasted it?

Cheers mates!


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