For more than 40 years, Australian-born-and-raised Jim Wolfensohn, a 1956 Olympic fencer, pursued a career in global finance, culminating in his presidency of the World Bank from 1995–2005. With his historic Yabtree West grazing property near Australia’s capital Canberra, however, he decided to stay more down to earth. To create his vineyard, Jim looked for help to Simon Robertson, who is recognised as one of the most experienced viticulturists in the Gundagai appellation, where the Yabtree West property is located.
The vineyard was established on the uniquely situated slopes of the property, bordering the Murrumbidgee River and benefitting of water-reflected sunlight. The result is Yabtree Shiraz, a product of the quintessential Australian Shiraz grape, but which Italian-trained winemaker Joel Pizzini has made into an elegant European-style red with fully ripe tannins and lush flavours at a lower alcohol level than is the Australian norm. The wine has deep, vibrant ruby colour, with aromas of spiced blood plums, blackberries, wild red berries and savoury French oak. The palate brings together smooth, textural, harmonious tannins with the mouth-filling flavours of blackberries, black pepper and aniseed. It is a great match for saltbush lamb, roasted pheasant or a wild-mushroom risotto. Under good storage conditions, Yabtree Shiraz can confidently be cellared for five-to-eight years.