Highlights: the Ovitelli wines from Yangarra in Australia’s McLaren Vale

These are two very impressive wines made in 675 litre ceramic eggs by biodynamic winery Yangarra in the McLaren Vale.

Yangarra Ovitelli Blanc 2020 McLaren Vale, Australia
13% alcohol. This is an interesting blend of 50% Grenache Blanc, 25% Roussanne, 12% Clairette, 9% Piquepoul and 4% Bourboulenc. Portions of the first two varieties are skin fermented and macerated for 90-126 days, with a result that 59% of the blend was skin macerated. Aged in large ceramic eggs. Soils are weathered sands mixed with ironstone gravels. It’s a fresh, refined and beautifully balanced white wine with some well integrated structure supporting fresh pear and citrus fruit. There’s a hint of white peach, mint and mandarin, but the main thrust on the palate is delicate citrus fruit, with a sense of finesse, and finishing compact and slightly structured. This is a rarity: a wine with a significant skin ferment portion, but also lovely balance and delicacy, and it should age in interesting ways. Still very pure and primary, and not at all blowsy or rich, as some expressions of Rhône whites can be. 94/100

Yangarra Ovitelli Grenache 2019 McLaren Vale, Australia
14% alcohol. This is from a 2 hectare block of dry-farmed bush vine Grenache planted in 1946 on Maslin Sands. The grapes are destemmed and fermented on skins over the whole autumn (158 days post-ferment maceraton) in ceramic eggs. The juice is then drained and matured in the eggs for another 5 months – no pressings are used. This has an intriguing nose that initially reminds me of Barolo. It’s fresh, dry, dusty and a bit spicy, with some rose petal, orange peel and cherry notes, as well as a slight acid lift. The palate is dry, grippy and grainy, but with nice fresh red cherry and plum fruit, as well as a twist of raspberry and tar. It’s very textural: a touch of silkiness, but also some pepper spice and then some grainy, drying tannins with a hessian-like texture. Good acidity, allied to firm but well managed tannins give this real grip: the Barolo analogy stands. It’s youthful and quite profound, and I think it will age in very interesting ways. I’ve not had an Australian wine like this, but I still think it communicates its place very well, albeit in quite a stern way as yet. 95/100