Jayden Ong, One Block Yellingbo Syrah, Yarra Valley 2017
I first came across Jayden at a Young Gun Of Wine tasting at Il Lido in Cottesloe a couple of years ago – he was in the Top 50 twice, once in 2017 and again in 2019. I was particularly taken by his 2015 One Block Chardonnay. It was a gorgeous chardonnay – fine, salty, pithy acidity and decent length. I can still taste it now if I pay attention enough.
Jayden Ong specialises in ‘cool climate single vineyard sites’ around the Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula. He, like other exciting and high-quality producers, pours untold work into the vineyards, managing them organically where possible (natural compost, cover crops, you name it), and avoids the use of herbicides and fungicides. The wines are made with wild ferments (indigenous yeast, not inoculated) and with minimal fining and filtration etc. They are about the vineyards and the vintages that they are from. This particular vineyard in Yellingbo (Upper Yarra) called Tibooburra (if you’re a fan of Luke Lambert this may ring a bell for you as he also sources fruit from this vineyard) was planted in 2001 and at 240m elevation is one of the coolest microclimates in the Yarra Valley.
So, to the wine…
The nose is black and spicy – red liquorice, salted black liquorice, star anise, hints of fennel, requisite white pepper, pomegranate and blackberry. This is already making my mouth water. The palate is creamy and fine, medium bodied at best and elegant for it. It’s basically begging for food. The spices form a mohawk down the palate, they forge a path through the dense red berry there. There is a minerality to this wine… it’s black… like wet slate. A saline lick. Blackberry. Mulberry straight off the bush in summer. This is supple, bouncy, but also tight, and polished – there is juniper and spice in there, I love it. Love it. Hoooooh boy do I love it. The structure is formed by the razor sharp but powder fine tannins, the savoury spice layer speaking of black pepper (interestingly, the compound rotundone, which is responsible for the ‘pepper’ characteristic, is also present in basil, thyme, black pepper, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and geranium). Bloody bargain if you ask me.
Drink: Now, to 2030+
Buy this wine here.