Yangarra Estate Old Vine Grenache 2021

Yangarra Old Vine Grenache 2021

Sale price$69.95
McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia

Style: Red Wine

Variety: Grenache

Closure: Screwcap

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Yangarra Old Vine Grenache 2021

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Burke Road
Camberwell VIC 3124

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Producer: Yangarra Estate

Country: Australia

Region: McLaren Vale

Vintage: 2021

Critic Score: 99

Alcohol: 14.5%

Size: 750 ml

Drink by: 2040

I'm gone for all money without even tasting it. Its red fruit sundae glistens with dew drops on a spider's web – James Halliday

Halliday Wine Companion Wine of the Year 2024
Halliday Wine Companion Best Grenache and Blends Varietal of 2024
James Halliday Top 100 Wines of 2022

Yangarra is a single-vineyard estate situated in Blewitt Springs, at the northern edge of the McLaren Vale region, South Australia. Yangarra’s combination of ancient geology, high altitude and Mediterranean climate provide the ideal growing conditions for the best grape varieties of the southern Rhône. Grenache is the cornerstone variety.

"It’s a giant killer. It’s not the top wine in Yangarra Estate’s own grenache hierarchy and yet in an independent review, against wines at all price levels, it reigned supreme. It was grown on bush vines that have been doing their thing in the Blewitt Springs subregion since they went into the ground in 1946. James Halliday, when he first put the wine near his nose, said 'I’m gone for all money without even tasting it'. This wine has it all: scent, fruit, savouriness and structure. It is rock solid, rolled gold, quality."  Campbell Mattinson


Yangarra Old Vine Grenache 2021- Halliday Wine of the Year 2024

 Wine of the Year: 2024 Halliday Wine Companion Awards
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Expert reviews

"Ex 1946 Blewitt Springs bush vines planted in a deep sandy dune that Yangarra call The Beach; dry-grown, bunch-sorted, wild yeast, open fermented and basket pressed. Bright clear though deep crimson hue; scented/perfumed, and I'm gone for all money without even tasting it. And I haven't fooled myself. Except why on earth is it only $45? Its red fruit sundae glistens with dew drops on a spider's web, yet also has a savoury echo towards the finish. Drink: 2023-2041."  Panel Decision, Halliday Wine Companion - 99 points, Best Grenache and Blends Varietal of 2024, Wine of the Year 2024 and Special Value Wine  ★ 

"Wild yeast, open fermented and basket pressed. Bright clear though deep crimson hue; scented/perfumed, and I'm gone for all money without even tasting it. Its red fruit sundae glistens with dew drops on a spider's web, yet also has a savoury echo towards the finish. Drink to 2041."  James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion - 97 points and Top 100 Wines of 2022

"Juicy raspberry and cherry, aniseed, with a stony ferrous edge, dried flowers and chamomile. Medium-bodied, red fruits with a sappy and savoury edge, tannin is firm and stony, plenty of red berry flavour, though keeps itself pretty neat, with supple grip on a very long and bright finish. Tannin is a highlight. Kind of jubey as at now, though its future feels assured. Excellent. Drink 2023-2031."  Gary Walsh, The Wine Front - 95 points  


Halliday Wine Companion Wine of the Year 2024
Halliday Wine Companion Best Grenache and Blends Varietal of 2024
James Halliday Top 100 Wines of 2022
Special Value Wine – Halliday Wine Companion  ★ 

Peter Fraser

Yangarra Winemaker Peter Fraser

Yangarra Winemaker Peter Fraser 

Peter Fraser realised his love for wine in an unusual place – as an officer in the Australian Army. It was after trying iconic Aussie reds in the officers’ mess hall that he decided to pursue a degree in oenology.

Peter Fraser has been the winemaker and driving force behind Yangarra Estate Vineyard since 2000. With a sensitive approach to winemaking, Peter believes attention to detail is essential at every step of farming and making wine. His approach relies on observing, questioning and responding to the nuances of each vintage, yielding honest and confident wines of provenance. Peter’s near obsession with texture and purity drives decisions in the vineyard and innovation in the winery, evidenced by his experimentation with stone and ceramic vessels for fermentation and aging.

"Having lived on the vineyard for 20 years now, I know it like the back of my hand", says Peter. He considers it's critical to taste in the vineyard with viticulturer Michael Lane every block, and every variance within the block, before picking. "I suppose you'd call my approach traditional or classical," Fraser continues, "but I’m always trying to be innovative and challenge how we can do it better. I’m trying to carve our niche, wine of honest expression of provenance, making sure our wines are unique and compelling."

Recognized for his leadership with Grenache and Shiraz, he has been nominated and awarded "Winemaker of the Year" by global wine publications, including Halliday Wine Companion (2015), Gourmet Traveller Wine (2017), and Wine Enthusiast (2018).

“At Yangarra, Peter Fraser is consistently producing some of Australia’s finest Grenache and Shiraz wines. He is a brilliant specialist with Southern Rhône varieties and almost everything he touches is gold."  Andrew Caillard, MW

In 2019, Peter completed his thirty second harvest and has logged thousands of hours in the cellars and vineyards of Australia, Spain, France and the U.S. The Southern Rhône varieties have become Peter’s focus, Grenache has become his passion and obsession. Other than those varieties, he very much enjoys medium bodied wines such as Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo from around the world, gaining much inspiration from them.

The following text is taken from Milton Wordley's 2015 article 'People of Wine', https://winetenquestions.com.au/

Wine writer Philip White suggested that we join him at Yangarra. Peter Fraser, Yangarra’s winemaker, suggested a lunch at the White House on the Hickinbotham Estate. Peter was recently named the James Halliday’s 'Australian Wine Companion Winemaker' of the year. I caught up with him after our lunch, here is his story.

What was your journey to Yangarra?

After school my original plan was to do veterinary science, but being very academically challenged, I did agriculture. While at Uni I joined the Army Reserve. In the Adelaide University Regiment Officers’ mess I saw some fabulous wines.

Studying agriculture, I couldn’t see past being a fertiliser salesman or inside a lab all day looking down a microscope. Then one night I went to an Andrew Garrett dinner. Warren Randall was the guest speaker, he rocked up, half an hour late, covered in grapes, all grubby and in a really dirty shirt. I ended up talking to him after the dinner and then spent the weekend with him doing pump overs, it was an inspirational moment. I decided, this is what I wanted to do.

I started at Woodstock, went to St Hallett with Stuart Blackwell and Bob McLean, then to Normans. Before I knew it I was an assistant winemaker and still not finished Uni. Not long after I started, the winemaker left and I was asked to run the vintage. I was really in the deep end, it was 1998 and I had just graduated.

The 1998 Normans 'Chais Clarendon' Shiraz  was a great wine – it took out the WineState wine of the year. Our UK importers were liking the wines I was making and asked if I could come over to Spain for a vintage. I said I would do that, as long as they’d sponsor me for a study trip to France. Which they did.

Spain was amazing. So back in 1999 I was making Grenache in Villa Robledo in La Mancha from over 100 year old vines. It’s an amazing resource, really incredible. It’s kind of considered as the Riverland of Spain. The value for money wines were phenomenal and still are to this day.

I returned to Normans in 2000, but they were in financial trouble, a lot of the senior execs left. Suddenly at around about 26, I was the Normans’ chief winemaker.

Around this time, the word on the street was that the Jackson Family were coming to town.  They wanted to meet the locals and were interested in doing some business . I met with the chief winemaker Randy Ullom.  By November 2000, they offered me a job, it was morally too close to vintage for me to leave Normans, so I negotiated a deal for them to contract me out during the 2001 vintage.

In April 2001 I became an employee of the Jackson Family. 

Yangarra is a small part of Jackson Family Wines. What led them to buy the old Normans Wines blocks?

When I joined the company, part of my job was to search for a vineyard. Jess Jackson and his wife Barbara Banke, had fallen in love with the Normans’ property. In July 2001 Normans went into receivership and the land went on the market. Luckily for me, the Jacksons really wanted it come hell or high water. I think McLaren Vale resonated with them. A friend of mine who travels a lot likens McLaren Vale to Sonoma 15 years ago. The Jackson Family Wines started in Sonoma.

There was a really big moment when Jess came out here in 2005. Jess Jackson’s vision was just amazing. I also think I subconsciously led him in the same directions that I felt were the way to go. One of them was Grenache.

We planted another 30 acres of bush vine Grenache. Back in the mid 2000s that seemed crazy. But that was typical of Jess’s vision, always thinking so far ahead and willing to take a risk. Grenache is such an amazing good jewel in McLaren Vale.

The amazing part of the family and the company, is their long-term vision. Like planting the bush vine Grenache, building the winery and right now all the new planting.

You were recently named James Halliday’s ‘Wine Companion Winemaker’ of the year. How was that?

To get the award was an incredibly proud moment. I still shake my head thinking did this really happen. For me the most exciting thing was taking Michael and Shelley with me. We are a team, they were very instrumental with me in getting the award. To see Michael and Shelley smile was just fantastic. Because sometimes I’m seeing them shake their heads, I’m sure they think I’m crazy at times.

This secondary endorsement is a good thing. It was an amazing night I don’t remember much, and the worst part was there were some wonderful wines on the table and I can’t remember any of them.

The other thing  that was really great about it, was that James’s following with the consumers is huge. We’ve been a quiet industry brand, spent most of our time talking to independent retailers, restaurateurs, sommeliers, so the average consumer would have absolutely no reason at all to have ever heard of us.

The award has really introduced us to the consumer. The award was also good for McLaren Vale. It gives consumers confidence in the area, especially seeing as Steve Pannell, recently won the Gourmet Traveller Wine maker award as well, and in the inaugural Australian Women in Wine Awards, two of the main awards went to the Vale.

Bio Dynamic/Organic vineyard : Vineyard sheep, Why?

We started playing around with it 2008. My ex-wife and I had an organic store. I became interested in it, but to be honest at that stage it was only on a commercial basis. I didn’t know anything about it so I went to some seminars. I went to one put on by the Biological Farmers Association and presented by BD expert, Manfred Klett.

There was a lightbulb moment, he was talking about the cycles of a plant, when you spray herbicide, especially to an orchard or on a vineyard environs, you remove all the other plants making the soil bare, that removes the natural environment for the microbes and worms. That’s where they live and they don’t live in bare dirt. He explained the systems, how it all worked.

The other one was synthetic fertilisers that cause rapid growth.

Both of these two things are the key ingredients to commercial farming. These cause rapid growth but really weaken the plant. The plant actually loses touch with its ability to be able to take out the mineral elements in the soil in a natural environment. That was the lightbulb.

So we’re talking about wines that show a sense of place, yet we are blocking all the natural things that happened in the natural soil for that sense of place to be released. It would be like us people eating fast food all the time we would become weaker and then we would have to buy multi vitamin tablets.

It’s a journey and we’re about halfway through, but we’re getting there. The technology to help us is developing really quickly, for example the equipment we need. New machines now allow us to mow under the vine. We try not to disturb the soil, as much as we can, so going back to the point we want the soil to be in a natural state. If I had to give somebody some advice starting from scratch, it would be compost, compost, compost and more good compost.

In the future I would like to use more animals – all herbivores, and birds such as poultry together in your system, because they have the ability to reduce weeds and have inputs.

Michael Lane our viticulturist has been incredible. At University we are taught that if you get this, you use that to get rid of it. So it’s been a huge leap of faith, and he has embraced it. And the whole team has embraced it as well. Between the two of us and the team we are constantly throwing ideas around.

Philip White, one of Australia’s most highly regarded wine writers, lives on the vineyard. What’s it like having him as a tenant?

In the early days our marketing was driven from the US. Somehow I felt the story we were telling did not quite gel with what we were doing. During that time the Jackson family and senior management were starting to give me more autonomy.

At one of the meetings I mentioned – 'one of the most amazing writers in the country I know quite well. I wonder if we can encourage him to spend a day at the winery and hang out and tell our story.' I felt this was a better way to go. We could then take excerpts and use them as we need them.

I asked Philip White if he was interested. Luckily for us he was.

Luckily at the same time he was also looking for a new place to live. We had a cottage and we came to an arrangement, he’s still here. I’m so lucky to have him around, I actually thanked him in my acceptance the speech for the James Halliday award.

He does a lot of tasting. He often rings me if he sees something that floats his boat.  'Come up and try this' he says. He takes me outside the square. He’s been an incredible influence on the way I’ve thought about things. I’m a bit too organised right brain and he is definitely left brain. And that’s a great thing.

His wealth of knowledge in all areas from gastronomy, geology, wine and even religion is amazing, and he just writes so well. So we’ve become very close friends, he’s introduced me to so many great people like Cheong who cooked today, Tony and Lita at Wendouree, Peter Gago. I often feel privileged to be in the room with these people.

How do you describe the wine style you are hoping for?

The wines we are producing now are fresher and brighter. Some of that is from our sorting table removing the raisins, some of it is the timing, when we’re picking the fruit, some of it’s a more sensitive winemaking philosophy.

It’s just been an evolution. I’d also like to think the wines show more of a mineral element character, I don’t like to use the word minerality, because I think it’s too vague.

Our geology here is the North Maslin Sands, which is actually Iron rich Sandstone. With its high iron content that leaches into the clay, and above that is sand which is 99% silica.

So the wines hopefully reflect the geology via the sand and clay. I look through tasting notes of wine writers and what they see in the wines. They note there is an iron and iodine character in our wines, and I’ve noticed this is much more distinctive in the last two or three years.

Whether I’m biased, because we are farming a certain way I can’t say. I feel there’s a purity to the wines, it’s one of the really big spin-offs for natural farming.

We are always learning, it’s fascinating to watch changes in farming techniques, all those little things add up. Singularly they don’t make much of a difference, when you add them up they do make a difference.

It seems to me that the really successful people always have a great attention to detail especially with all the small things. I sometimes think they must all be obsessive-compulsive.

Ceramic eggs and Pinot characteristics in regard to Grenache?

Pinot characteristics are often mentioned in regard to Grenache, this is often with no new oak. In 2013 we started using ceramic eggs.

We are doing that on the extended maturation of 100 to 150 days, it’s giving some lovely textural characters. No oak influence at all, so you get this beautiful pure expression of fruit. As a consequence, we are buying many more eggs this year. We could have sold twice as much as we produced.

We wanted the wine to have texture and layers of flavour, which is where the eggs have been great; it seems to have more interest than if you put it in stainless steel.

What are you planting now?

It seems to me an absolute no brainer, with our warm climate, that the Mediterranean varieties suit us here. We  have had great success with Roussane and we are finally planting the rest of the Chateau de Neuf de Pape, varieties; Grenache Blanc, Bourbourlenc, Clairette, Piquepoul Blanc, Counoise and Muscardin. There are a couple we still can't get like Terret Noir and Vaccarase.

I think the whites will do very well especially, the Grenache Blanc.

We’ve been working really hard with the Yalumba nursery. I think we have 800 in the ground, and getting ready for our biggest planting next spring. I’m hoping we have a tiny tasting in 2016 and the first vintage.

You produce three Grenache’s, Tell us about them?

High Sands Grenache . It is the lowest yielding, about half a ton per acre. That’s very tiny but what’s interesting with that wine it has an amazing concentration, but it also has a lightness to and a freshness and brightness to it.

The ceramic egg Grenache, has developed its own character, setting it apart from the estate Grenache. It’s the finest and prettiest.

The Estate Grenache is incredible value from the low yielding Old Bush vines. It shows great depth of tannin, bright fruit and is the back bone of the estate.

McLaren Vale and Grenache?

We recently had the McLaren Vale wine show. I was sitting down with all the judges, some were from Victorian and New South Wales. I talked to Dave Bicknell, he couldn’t believe the Grenache class, they gave 10% of the wines a gold medal. 'This stuff is by far the best in the country', he said.

Then you’ve got Steve Pannell, his Grenache Shiraz Touriga gets top of class in the Melbourne Wine Show. That wine has just won the him the title of Bushing King. Steve’s acceptance speech was beautiful. He finished by saying something like "get onboard the Grenache train is coming".

I find it funny that it’s still a rarity in the region. I believe it’s only around 8 percent of the total red plantings.  Tim Wildman MW bought about 46 International MW’s here just recently, they were just blown away by the Grenache. The biggest story they came away with is what an amazing resource we have here in the Vale.

I feel very fortunate for Jesse’s support and vision back in 2005 when we planted all those bush vines and everyone thought we were crazy. They are producing now.

Twenty years ago Grenache was the number one red variety in the world. I think Spain is the number one producer.

There are a few really great ambassadors for Grenache in the area. Steve Pannell has been a pioneer as has Paul Carpenter. These people seem to have a real touch with Grenache. But they also know where the good vineyards are and all the great Grenache is produced from slow-growing older vines.

About the winery

Yangarra Estate Vineyard

In 2000, Yangarra Estate was acquired by the Jackson Family, who own 40 wineries around the world. Yangarra is a single-vineyard estate situated in Blewitt Springs, at the northern edge of the McLaren Vale region, South Australia. The property is 170 total hectares, of which nearly 90 hectares are planted to vine. The remaining 80 hectares are preserved for native vegetation and wildlife and is intended to enhance the symbiotic relationship between the vines and their natural environment.

Under Jackson Family ownership, Yangarra Estate Vineyard has devoted itself exclusively to varieties of the southern Rhône and moved to certified biodynamic status for its vineyards. Winemaker Peter Fraser has taken Yangarra Estate to another level altogether with his innovative winemaking and desire to explore all the possibilities of the Rhône’s red and white styles. 

"No Australian winery has performed better than Yangarra over the past decade. It has covered all the bases so well that the word dominant comes to mind. It has helped revolutionise McLaren Vale grenache, it has taken Rhône whites to new levels and it’s put single-block shiraz on a pedestal. Yangarra makes good wine at good prices and it also makes the best of the best; sometimes it even combines the two. If you were only going to take one Australian winery to the world, Yangarra may well be it."  Campbell Mattinson⁠

Yangarra’s combination of ancient geology, high altitude and Mediterranean climate provide the ideal growing conditions for the best grape varieties of the southern Rhône. Grenache is the cornerstone variety. The estate is also planted with a number of diverse varieties, including traditional grapes like Shiraz and Roussanne to more obscure varieties such as Bourboulenc, Picpoul Noir, Clairette Blanc and Counoise. With a tendency towards experimentation, Yangarra was the first in Australia to commercially plant Grenache Blanc.

As an aside, people (including Peter Fraser) have been pronouncing the name Yangarra wrong for more than 20 years. "It’s not yang-gaaaarr-a," says Kaurna man Jack Buckskin, drawing out the second syllable. "That’s the English way of saying it. We actually pronounce words differently. We emphasise the first syllable and the third. So, it’s 'young-a-ruh'". 

The following article by Max Allen was published in the Financial Review

When Peter Fraser started working here in 1998, the place had just been bought by Normans, an old South Australian company with vineyards around Adelaide.

Much of the property was planted to grenache, old vines that dated back to the 1940s. But the variety was nowhere near as popular in the late 1990s as it is today, and Fraser says he wasn’t quite sure about the quality of the wines he was making.

Then he read a review of his first vintage from Lester Jesberg in the Canberra publication Winewise: "I haven’t tasted better grenache in Australia," wrote Jesberg. "It would give the best Châteauneuf-du-Pape a run for its money."

"The timing was just perfect because I had no idea," says Fraser, in his typically self-deprecating manner. "I was winging it back then. But clearly this was a vineyard with such a strong sense of place that no matter how bad the winemaking was, it still shone."

This vote of confidence was still ringing in Fraser’s ears a year later when he heard that Jess Jackson and his wife, Barbara Banke, co-founders of one of California’s leading family-owned wine groups, was interested in buying an estate in Australia.

"Pete suggested that we buy Yangarra," says Banke. "So we did."

Banke, who has been chairman and proprietor of Jackson Family Wines since Jackson died in 2011, says her husband wasn’t making grenache in any of his other vineyards (the company owns 40 wineries around the world), and thought the Yangarra wines showed huge promise.

"If you’re going to come a long way to buy a property, it had better be something that is iconic," she says. "It’s got to be the best. And if it doesn’t start out the best it needs to evolve to be the best."

Fraser remembers Jess Jackson’s enthusiasm on a trip to the vineyard in 2005.

"He was an amazing man," says Fraser. "He was here for 24 hours, and he engulfed this property and what it was about. He said: we need to build you a state-of-the-art winery you can make world-class wine in. And that’s what we’ve ended up with."

The Jackson family fully backs Peter Fraser’s focus on the single-site wines.

Buoyed by Jackson’s faith, Fraser and vineyard manager Michael Lane also started planting more grenache – at a time when the grape was yet to become super-fashionable. The top wine from the estate, the High Sands, made from the oldest vines on the property, now sells for $300 a bottle – a vindication of Jess Jackson’s vision.

So, what did Jackson see in Yangarra and in grenache that many others at the time didn’t see?

"Dad just had this gut instinct and vision," says his daughter Julia Jackson. "He was a visionary in general, and always usually spot-on about places."

I’m talking to Banke, Julia and her brother Christopher Jackson before the opening ceremony at Yangarra. This is the family’s first visit to the vineyard since just before the pandemic, and they’re impressed with what Fraser and his team have done with the new cellar door.

It’s a spacious two-storey building, with a balcony looking out over the vineyards and a glass wall inside with a view down on a cellar full of large barrels and amphorae and ceramic egg-shaped vessels, in which Fraser and his team ferment and mature their top, single-site wines.

"One of the reasons why we get along so well with Pete is that we respect the creative enterprise of Yangarra," says Chris. "We don’t mind a challenge; we don’t mind taking time to build something the right way. And if there is one principle that we hold in the utmost of importance in terms of how we operate as a family internationally, it’s a sense of place and winemaking. The purity of the wines that come from Yangarra are a great example of that philosophy or principle in action."

"For the family, too," says Julia, "one of our main principles is stewardship of the land. And there’s just so much wonderful stewardship here at Yangarra with the viticulture team: deep care and attention to detail."

Importantly, the Jackson family are also fully supportive of Fraser’s focus on the single-site wines at Yangarra – finely detailed, higher-priced bottles made using the (expensive) vessels on display to cellar-door visitors – especially in export markets.

"We made a choice about six years ago to pull our more entry-level, higher volume wines out of the US and just go to all the single-block wines," says Fraser. "With the Jackson sales team’s connections to all the great restaurants, we can really set ourselves up for the next push of high-quality Australian wine into the US, which, I think, is coming."

"We’re seeing a creative and critical resurgence of the Australian category in the United States with wines [like Yangarra’s] that have that kind of edgy vibe-iness to them," says Chris Jackson. "People are drinking less, but they’re drinking better. We view brands like Yangarra as absolutely critical to our future relevancy as a family in the wine industry."

"We feel a sense of pride for all of our estates," says Julia Jackson. "But there’s something about Australia that is really vibrant; the people are vibrant; the wines are vibrant. It’s quite magical here."

Wine region map of South Australia

South Australia

South Australian is responsible for more than half the production of all Australian wine. It is home to more than 900 wineries across 18 wine regions. The regions are Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Plains, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Currency Creek, Eden Valley, Kangaroo Island, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Mount Benson, Mount Gambier, Padthaway, Riverland, Robe, Southern Fleurieu, Southern Flinders Ranges and Wrattonbully.

Many of the well-known names in the South Australian wine industry established their first vineyards in the late 1830s and early 1840s. The first vines in McLaren Vale were planted at Reynella in 1839 and Penfold's established Magill Estate on the outskirts of Adelaide in 1844.

South Australia has a vast diversity in geography and climate which allows the State to be able to produce a range of grape varieties - from cool climate Riesling in the Clare and Eden Vallies to the big, full bodied Shiraz wines of the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Two of Australia's best-known wines, Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace, are produced here. There is much to discover in South Australia for the wine lover.