A preview of next week’s release of 2019 Yalumba, The Caley Cabernet Shiraz

2019 Yalumba, The Caley, Coonawarra Cabernet & Barossa Shiraz, South Australia (Launching 1st June 2024; the UK price has yet to be announced, but the 2018 is being sold for £179 in bond per bottle at www.farrvintners.com).

The facts – Winemaker – Kevin Glastonbury: Harvested – 22nd February to 9th April 2019: Blend – 77% Coonawarra Cabernet & 23% Barossa Shiraz: TA – 6.54 g/L: pH – 3.55: Alcohol – 14%: Oak regime – 19 months in 24% new French Barriques, balance in 1 year and older French Barriques: Source vineyards – The Ming D block in the Yalumba Coonawarra vineyard provides the 77% Cabernet Sauvignon of this blend.  This 2.7 ha plot was planted in 1992 with two clones of Cabernet Sauvignon selected for structure and depth of flavour.  The Caley’s 23% Shiraz component was sourced from two Barossa blocks.  The first block is the Crown Village, Schrapel old Shiraz block. located along the Tanunda foothills near Krondorf, about 4 km south of the Tanunda township.  The second is from the Horseshoe Vineyard on the southern side of the Yalumba winery in Eden Valley.  Planted by Helen Hill-Smith in 1971, this block follows the contours around the Fred Caley Smith Hut.

My thoughts – It is fascinating when one tastes wine without the educational assistance of a fiche technique and imagines the vintage conditions directly from the flavours on display.  The indelible truth about 2019 The Caley is that it is extraordinarily sleek and polished with a refined spine of freshness and control that captures the senses.  I was sent a note detailing the vintage conditions in 2019, a month after I first tasted this wine, and it read like a meteorological tasting note.  Coonawarra experienced a cool winter with perfect levels of rainfall that led to healthy Cabernet canopies, followed by a warm, dry summer.  Yields were a little down (suggesting a subtle concentration of flavour), and cooler summer nights gave rise to grapes with superb ripeness balanced with definition and grip.  Barossa experienced similar conditions, a little warmer, a little dryer and a little more concentrated.  Combine these weather patterns and their resulting flavours in a 77/23 cocktail, and 2019 The Caley was born.  Of course, it is not as simple as that because the precise GPS location of the constituent varieties is noted above, and these are some of the finest plots of vines on earth.  The characteristics that make The Caley the most astounding of all Cabernet/Shiraz bends are not simply the parcels, the grapes and the blend but the immense skill in chaperoning these qualities drawn from far-flung paddocks and via extremely careful husbandry into the bottle.  This patient and painstakingly precise assembly process takes a couple of years.  No one comes close to KG and his team when it comes to marrying these two grapes while not forfeiting one ounce of potential, precision and profundity.  This thrillingly precise wine delivers exactly what I was hoping for – a stunning, anthemic perfume, deafening fruit penetration and seismic length.  While this is a totemic vintage for The Caley, freshness and lift are evident at every step.  You must only look at The Caley’s little brother 2019 Yalumba The Signature to sense the qualities of this superb vintage.  The Caley is not a more massive version of The Sig but an immeasurably more regal and detailed wine.  Cabernet does all the work here, and Shiraz lounges decorously, surrounding the monumental Cabernet chassis.  Shiraz adds cameo notes on the nose – aromatic mulberry flourishes and delicate five spice – and discreet bouquet garni herb details to the palate along with a toothsome meatiness that appears towards the end of the flavour.  It introduces these complex agents with Cabernet’s blessing and only when Cabernet requires its teammate to perform.  2019 The Caley is a benchmark example of The Great Australian Red model with a near-silent, relentless bullet-train of Cabernet rocketing along with Shiraz styling, adding unmistakable Aussie flair and identity, and it does this with otherworldly acumen.  19.5/20 (Drink 2027 – 2050)

For more information on The Caley: here is an article I posted two a couple of years ago with my notes on the 2012 – 2016 vintages https://www.matthewjukes.com/2021/06/yalumba-the-caley-vertical-2012-2016/ and another link to an in-depth article on the 2018 vintage, again on matthewjukes.com https://www.matthewjukes.com/2023/06/wednesday-wines-episode-166-three-musketeers-from-yalumba/