Wild About Vegan Wine

Some years ago Yalumba’s marketing people quietly slipped the words ‘suitable for vegans’ onto many of their back-labels, including their inexpensive Oxford Landing (tastings) varietals. I suspect most people, like me, took little notice, but no doubt vegans paid attention.

What makes these wines vegan-friendly? Answer: no animal products are used in the winemaking. This would commonly involve fining agents, such as milk, egg and fish by-products.

It’s one of the surprising little details that Yalumba (tastings) practises with its grapes from its big Oxford Landing vineyard in the South Australian Riverland.

Another thing: they do white-wine wild fermentations on skins. With sauvignon blanc, this adds a little something extra, and I’ve read somewhere that Oxford Landing’s is the biggest selling Australian sauvignon blanc in the UK market. They also wild-ferment chardonnay “for texture, interest and flavour,” says winemaker Andy La Nauze. In fact, he does 140,000-litre tanks of wild ferments, so it’s more than a dabble.

The vineyard is also very eco-friendly, with no pesticides, and a proportion of it is organically farmed as a trial. And they’ve re-vegetated a large tract of land with original native plants.

And the wines – they must not be sweet and must not be high in alcohol – which is a dictate from the boss, Robert Hill Smith.

For wines that sell for around a tenner, these are remarkable value. After tasting the 2014 wines from the tanks – merlot, shiraz, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, but especially that amazing merlot – I eagerly await their appearance in the market. 

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