It’s impossible to be an explorer of the cheap wine world and not venture into Yellow Tail territory. It would be like trying to learn the geography of North America and not discuss the Rockies. Yellow Tail is the Rockies, or maybe the Himalayas, of the imported wine world. Few brands have shown as meteoric a rise in U.S. sales volume over, roughly, the past ten years as Yellow Tail. This one brand occupies more shelf space, in liquor stores merchandised by country, than some other entire countries.
Yellow Tail was probably discovered, initially, by many people when their Shiraz was the hot ticket in the early years of this millennium. Their Chardonnay was also a big success early on, as well. Now, they offer all the mainstream varietals, a Rose, some blends, a few “Reserves”, and 2 sparklings.
Much discussion of this brand’s success has been featured in wine industry publications, some of it with a slightly “sour grapes” tone. (Oooh, sorry. I didn’t see the bad pun coming until it was already typed.) Some have suggested their success came because they targeted unsophisticated wine consumers with “approachable”, affordable products. Yeah. Kinda like Toyota, or Apple. They were the first brand to hit a million cases per month! Sounds pretty smart to me. Maybe some jealous, competing critics should try a little “approachable.”
Does anyone not know Yellow Tail is Australian? The Casella family was a multi-generational wine making family that moved from Italy to Australia in the 1950’s, and began growing grapes and making wine there. Around the turn of the millennium, the Casellas partnered with an American family-owned distribution and marketing company W. J. Duetsch and Sons in an effort to join the growing wine trade in the U.S. And join they did!
This particular bottle is their Shiraz-Grenache blend. The Store has it clearance priced at $4.99 (750ml), so apparently it’s leaving their selection of Yellow Tail choices, but there’s no indication it’s leaving Yellow Tail’s lineup, just The Store’s. Shiraz, of course, is sort of the signature grape of Australia, also known elsewhere as Sirah or Syrah. Grenache, or Garnacha, is common to Spain, France’s Rhone, as well as Australia. Shiraz is typically spicy, quite full bodied and dry. Grenache is a softer, lighter, slightly less dry wine. The result of the pairing, predictably, is a mildly spicy, fruity, drinkable wine that is neither as light as a Grenache, or as firm as a Shiraz. I liked it. I liked the price. I picked up 2 bottles, but if they still have more next visit to The Store I’ll get a few more, since I am their targeted unsophisticated wine consumer, who wants approachable, affordable product.