Friday, 11 February 2011

Coonawarra Expedition

An excellent post from Adrian the Australian Adventurer.

Dear Steelwine,

Your indefatigable investigators have been sampling Coonawara wines today.

Coonawara in South Australia had its first vintage in 1895. The cool climate and soil of limestone enriched with clays, provides an ideal location for growing Cabernet Sauvignon. However, Merlot, Shiraz and Chardonnay are also grown together with a small quantity of other grape varieties.

The vignerons of Coonawara have set themselves the task of producing the best red wine in the world! Hubris? Your investigators have been finding out.

Following the recommendations of James Halliday we visited Balnaves and Majella Wines. Both export wine to specialist stockists in UK.

At Majella we tasted their best selling Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz blend, The Musician 08. With an intensity of colour and overwhelming aroma of ripe fruits, the wine, although rich in fruit lacked complexity to the palate and did not linger. But, good drinking wine for 16AUD.

Next the Merlot 08, which failed to impress.

Then Shiraz 08, which lacked the nose of The Musician, hit with 15% alcohol and lingered nicely in the mouth. Good, but no cigar.

Cabernet Sauvignon 08 followed. Intensely coloured, with a fine nose and complexity on the palate, tannins distinctly present, but not too pronounced and lingering fruit flavours. A star turn.

Finally the prestige Malleea 08. Similar intensity of colour and fine nose with a hint of oak and caramel. The high tannin in this young wine tended to obscure its undoubted elegance. What will a few years in bottle reveal?

The 08 Cabernet Sauvignon from Balnaves (14.5%) similarly impressed with its intensity of colour, oaky nose, moderate tannins and complex fruit flavours. Supplied in corked bottles, I suspect it will improve with keeping.

From the field research team.

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