In a recent review of Yalumba’s The Octavius Old Vine Shiraz 2008, The Wine Front’s Campbell Mattinson referred to it as “one of a select group of Ultimate Business Lunch Wines. When Barossa Shiraz is all that is called for, and nothing else will do.” (The Wine Front, 29 January 2014)
This comment sparked quite a bit of discussion from readers about other popular wines people like to order at important business lunches. Favourites include Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Blend, Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier, d’Arenberg’s The Dead Arm Shiraz, Balnaves of Coonawarra The Tally Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz and Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon.
Given Huon Hooke’s recent commentary about the diminishing number of Australian wines listed on top restaurant wine lists, perhaps news that people are still ordering top Aussie wines when they want to impress their guests may cause some sommeliers to rethink! (Restaurant Wine Lists Too Trendy by Huon Hooke, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 August 2014)
The Octavius is Yalumba’s flagship shiraz. It’s sourced from very old vineyards in the Barossa and Eden Valleys, and matured for 22 months in American and French oak ‘octaves’ of 100 litre capacity. Yalumba claims that it’s the only red wine in the world that is matured in such small barrels.
The winery is able to prevent the smaller barrels from overpowering the wine with oak by overseeing all aspects of barrel production at its own on-site cooperage. The American oak, for example, is seasoned for up to eight years before use.
The Octavius is certainly a wine for drinkers who enjoy oak’s contribution to the flavour profile. The coffee, cedar and chocolate flavours of the dominant French oak marry well with the fresh, full flavoured old vine fruit, while the American oak lends vanilla and coconut accents. Here’s Mattinson’s 93+ point review of the 2008 vintage:
This release is in classic form. Smooth, black-fruited, unafraid of toasty oak. Satiny and rich and, given that it’s now six years old, still quite remarkably fresh and unevolved. Hints of bright raspberry/cranberry. Warm-ish alcohol but not to any concerning level (I don’t have the actual reading). Salty, earthen, granular tannin. Fans of Octavius will be pleased with this release.
The Cellarit Wine Market has a selection of back vintages of Yalumba The Octavius Old Vine Shiraz