Two top notch Coonawarra Cabernet vintages from Katnook

I’ve posted tasting notes of some terrific Australian verticals lately (de Bortoli, Shaw & Smith and Clonakilla).  My wines of the month for November – Katnook Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 & 2005 –  give you an opportunity for your own Oz mini-vertical because both are currently available from their UK distributor, Bibendum.

The double-barrel release marks Katnook’s 25th Cabernet vintage. I’d like to see more Aussie museum releases because they help demonstrate that Australian wines are about so much more than fruit as they gain in complexity with age.  As it is, most of us are tempted to broach the wines too soon – we need saving from ourselves!

Katnook Estate Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 – deep aubergine hue with very little difference between the rim and core – still quite youthful looking.  A balsamic-edged red and black berry nose with a burnish of oak and saddle soap leads into a palate with plenty of tight berry fruit and a core of cassis.  A plume* of ripe but present tannins carries a long finish showing leather, liquorice and cedary spice; just a hint of eucalyptus for lift.  Lots of vigor here and, re-tasted on day 2, still a tight blackcurrant core.  This has a long life ahead.  £23.81 at Bibendum.

Katnook Estate Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – bright, deep cassis hue.  The nose shows  lots of sweet vanillin oak, behind which lurks cassis and ripe plum and chocolate.   Very fine powdery tannins, with glossy chocolate-edged cassis and succulent, juicy plum provide nice balancing freshness.  The finish is quite oaky (vanillin) and  a little angular (acidity) at the moment…it needs a bit of time for the fruit to come up….  On day 2 it’s getting there, showing more mulberry and balsamic and the oak has blown off. Lots of promise.  My advice, buy both, cellar this and get stuck into the 99 now! £15.99 at Bibendum.

Check out my report here of a 50th anniversary tasting of Wynns Black Label Cabernet for more on aged Coonawarra wines.

*Thank you to Andrew Caillard MW for this, his bang on description of Coonawarra Cabernet’s tannins.

Sarah Ahmed
The Wine Detective