Yakutin Family wines – current releases

Yakutin Family Wines hail from a small family vineyard in Matakana. Planted in 2002, the vineyard has two landmarks – both of which feature in the naming of the wines. An old brick chimney and an ancient Black Walnut tree. The 2019 vintage wines are named “Old Chimney” [Cabernet Franc] and “Black Walnut” [Chardonnay]. Oleg Yakutin, is the vigneron, and is the first winemaker in New Zealand that I know of who is from Kazakhstan – a place that definitely qualifies as an ‘Old World’ wine country. Their earliest evidence of viticulture is from the 7th century AD! It is also located on the ‘Silk Road’ – the network of trade routes connecting China to the Middle East and Europe.

Yakutin Family Wines Rosé 2020. Made from Malbec, it is a coppery-orange tone in the glass. Pale, but not your typical shade of pink. The perfume has a smoky, tangy dark red berry edge to it (I guessed Cab Franc), with a liquorice note that shows you the varietal on the palate. Crunchy, dry and with a bright level of acidity. A prickle of tannin adds complexity, and I’d say it’s a ‘serious’ style. However, it is well-balanced and has good length, both on the palate and in the finish.

Yakutin ‘Black Walnut’ 2019. It’s not the first time I’ve tried this wine. I can say that I wasn’t at all sure about it first time around. But, on second thoughts… I’ll point out that the words that came first on my tasting notes (on smelling the bouquet) were “salt and vinegar chips”. Which is not my normal reaction to a Chardonnay (which it is). But perhaps this is not your usual Chardonnay. Keep smelling that fragrance and more ‘understandable’ notes of grapefruit, acacia, popcorn and stonefruit come through. The palate takes a more savoury turn – with umami elements of preserved lemon, kalamata, green tea, nori and soy come piling round the corner. Also quite oxidative as it goes – thinking of fino sherry. Dry, with a saline acidity and a zesty finish.

Yakutin ‘Old Chimney’ 2020. Varietally spot-on Cabernet Franc is a joy, and quite a rarity in New Zealand. A dense garnet-burgundy in the glass. A smoky and herbaceous perfume that takes me straight to an Old World style. Super savoury, with heroic tannins forming the spine. Grippy, tight and with an unpolished, rustic charm. A satisfying depth to the palate. The succulent fruit accented by spices and a lingering suggestion of good green bitters.  

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