20060712

Yellow Tail yellowtail [yellow tail]

Please don't buy this wine.

I was doing a little research on the web traffic of various wine blogs. A lot of my peers permit free access to their hit counters and I was surprised to see how many web surfers are referred to wine pages based on a search of "Yellow Tail".

Well, hopefully some of those inquisitive minds will start getting directed here. Please stop and read this! Yellow Tail wines are unsavoury mass-produced products. I haven't tried them all but each vintage is over-oaked and sweet. Avoid purchasing them.

THIS SURGEON'S GENERAL WARNING

The sweetness of these wines is the most troublesome aspect. Because Yellow Tail is a wine that uninitiated wine drinkers gravitate to (whether because of mega marketing campaigns or sheer worldwide over-distribution), those that are new to the world of wine are off to a bad start. The problem is that when you come to expect something that tastes so syrupy and sweet, you start finding that drier, more traditionally styled wines get lost on you. And so you buy more Yellow Tail like it's Coca-Cola. The downward spiral begins.

And since the New World is already creating a challenge for more traditional Old World wines, Yellow Tail is a particularly dangerous trend setter. I urge wine drinkers, especially those fresh-faced and curious ones, to try any of the links shown down the sidebar at left for interesting alternatives to that easy-to-find, easy-to-gulp, but hard-to-respect Yellow Tail.

Thank you.

6 comments:

Lenn said...

I think this might be a BIT harsh. I actually used to drink yellow tail back in the day.

Sure, I've since moved on...but starting there didn't keep me from developing my palate.

Think about it...we drank Beast and Keystone Ice in my fraternity house...but you won't find any of that crap in my house now!

g58 said...

Lenn,

I may be stretching a bit and perhaps Yellow Tail was something that helped develop your palate...

But what I can say and the point I was trying to make is that Yellow Tail is a hugely powerful phenomenon. Because the success of candy bars, my family has no appreciation for real chocolate. It's too strong and dark from them. I feel like Yellow Tail is the Mars bar people eat when they feel like chocolate.

So that's why I don't want to encourage people to seek Yellow Tail out, especially when there so much better, more authentic wine around. Such as: this Tourelles, for instance.

Millie said...

I agree that this indictment of Yellow Tail is a bit harsh. I had a friend in university who ate nothing but canned meat and aerosol cheese and Cocoa Pebbles, and this didn't seem to predjudice his palate in any way (he is now an accomplished chef and amateur sommelier, and wouldn't be caught dead with so much as a bag of potato chips in his cupboard). Lay off the Mars-bars too: not every food has to be rich foodie-fare to be enjoyed. Sometimes its nice to just enjoy some yummy nougat and caramel for a change.

g58 said...

Millie,

You seem to paint a believeable picture. Have I maybe met this person?

It's frustrating that rows of nougat and caramel have replaced real chocolate because over the years the population has inreasingly found it not sweet enough. I fear the introduction of Yellow Tail (and other critter brands) is doing the same thing, elbowing out the less sweet, less ripened and unoaked wines.

But for the best picture of Yellow Tail and its impact, here what Jancis Robinson wrote just yesterday:

"Yellow Tail (or [yellow tail] as the Casellas’ marketing team like it to be styled) is the most extraordinary success story, isn’t it? A family-owned brand whose roots are in one of Australia’s least glamorous wine regions that has gone to millions of cases from a standing start in a very short time – particularly in the US – and spawned a regiment of so-called ‘critter brands’ in imitation. All this while the supposed big Australian companies – Southcorp (Penfolds, Rosemount, Lindemans etc now merged with Beringer Blass under the Foster’s banner) and Hardys (now owned by the world’s biggest wine company Constellation) – have been finding life very tough indeed... Yellow Tail engenders quite a lot of envy! It is not nearly as commonly found in the UK as it is in the US but when I have had a chance to taste it I’ve found it delivers much more than many comparable brands, even though – or perhaps partly because - it is generally pretty sweet."

Anonymous said...

I don't much like yellowtail or the other "critter brands" myself, but there are many great Australian wines, and you seem to paint all Aussie wines with the same brush in your dismissal of this particular brand, and you don't have an "Australian wines" category on your page, as you do for other regions. I sense a new world prejudice, which limits you and those who take your advice.

Libbette

g58 said...

Libbette,

Agreed!

There are many great Australian wines -- my dismissal of Yellow Tail has nothing to do with me acknowledging that. And I have acknowledged it here even though there's no category with "Australia" in it (generally I try to create categories based on a) official appellation and if necessary, b) varietal). So that means you should look to "Victoria Shiraz" on my sidebar. You'll also find fond reviews of Australian wines under "Oaked International Varietals" and "Damaged Goods" (which I know may seem like negative review but I actually use an Australian wine as a shining example of long-term age-worthiness in that post). And just to show you that there's no prejudice here, I even mention and promote Australian wines in the middle of reviews for Old World wines, like in this review and this one too.

That said, I can understand why my categories might have frustrated and misled you. Developing a more user-friendly index of entries is something that I'm always working towards. But nothing about my categories changes my words on Yellow Tail, which do not apply to any wine other than Yellow Tail, and I'm not sure why you suggested it did. I stand by what I wrote, which focused on the sugar levels in Yellow Tail wines and my ideas on what people exploring the world of wine for the first time might face if led by the hand of Casella. Here's one interesting situation regarding an over-sweetened palate (caused in this case by sweet tea, not sweet wine) that I think applies to my original argument:

"Being from the South, I have always had sweetened iced tea with meals. As a relatively new wine geek, for the last year and a half I've been attempting to include wine with my meals. The results have been a little disturbing.

In virtually every case the pattern is the same. I taste the wine while I'm cooking and it tastes wonderful (I like almost everything). The moment I have a bite of food, especially if it has any type of seasoning, the next sip of wine tastes awful - nothing but a hot burning sensation in my mouth and throat. Although less pronounced after bites of potatoes or bread, the results are similar throughout the meal. After the meal is over and my palate is sufficiently cleansed of any lingering food flavors, I try a last glass of the wine and it tastes wonderful again.

Is there any treatment for this malady or have my years of drinking sweet tea ruined my palate forever?"