Icon with a legacy of 60 years

by John J. Williams

Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz blends are quintessentially Australian. One of the benchmarks for the style is The Signature, produced by Yalumba in 1962. This iconic wine has a loyal following of customers who appreciate it for its intensity, potency, and longevity.

This is a wine-to-cellar, although, in recent years, it has been made a little more accessible with the release. Still, it’s one of those wines people buy year after year, knowing they’re getting a quality wine with an interesting backstory.

Each vintage from The Signature recognizes someone who has enhanced the traditions and culture of the family business. The first, from 1962, bore the name of Yalumba founder Samuel Smith.

Icon with a legacy of 60 years

Since then, credit has gone to the winery’s staff, family members, grape growers, and others who have contributed to the company’s success. Traditionally, the signer is announced at a staff Christmas party on the lawns outside the old cellars of the Barossa Valley winery.

At the last Christmas party, Yalumba’s fifth-generation owner, Robert Hill-Smith, announced that the May 2018 release of The Signature would be dedicated to General Manager Nick Waterman, who has worked for Yalumba in various roles since 2003. the announcement came just months before the news that he would retire in September.

Hill-Smith said Waterman’s leadership “had been deeply influential in all functions, but especially of late as a strong reformer and decision maker and fearless executor of transformational initiatives in (the) business. He has been a safe pair of hands to our family, and his loyalty to the company’s success has been immense.”

A humble Aquarius said that when he came to Yalumba, he was struck by “the culture, dedication, and pride in the company” displayed by his employees.

“At first, I was amazed at the names written on the barrels in The Signature Cellar. Not just from the history and the people, but from the humility and respect the family (Hill-Smith) has for the company’s employees,” he said.

For a collector’s wine with a 60-year track record, The Signature is good value, especially compared to the $100+ price tags many other cellar-worthy wines impose. It’s an old-school blend… in the most beautiful way possible.

Yalumba 2018 The Signature, $65: Excellent vintage in the Barossa, dense red, vibrant aromas of cedar and mint, and generous flavors of blueberry, plum, and redcurrant. Vanilla, cinnamon, and notes of dark chocolate add to the complexity. It is elegant and powerful, with fine tannins and a long finish (14.5% ABV). No problem to keep this for 15 to 20 years. Interestingly, it is bottled under cork, making it appealing to seasoned cork aficionados.

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