Wynns Coonawarra Estate: a Cabernet love in

Yesterday, wine-searcher.com published my Q&A interview with Margaret River’s Cabernet queen, Vanya Cullen (here), to coincide with Cabernet Day. Caught me on the hop because I’d thought said varietal celebration was today! With friends to dinner and a Cab-unfriendly menu, what to do?

Lincolnshire Poacher (cheese) was the answer though, to be honest, I think we’d have just happily nosed and supped the Carruades de Lafite 1999 I’d plucked from the cellar. With a charge of fine tannins behind its perfumed black currant and berry fruit, lead pencil and earth, it was a fitting celebration of yet another birthday I’d missed whilst on wine travels, this one a 40th.

Returning to varietal celebrations, for today I’d slated a post about a fine array of wines I recently sampled from Coonawarra’s Cabernet queen, Wynns’ Sue Hodder (pictured, having just won The Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year award in 2010). Hodder won the award jointly with Wynn’s Chief Viticulturist Allen Jenkins, whose huge renovation of the company’s vineyards (click here for details) has not only improved wine quality, but also resulted in the release of a new range of single vineyard/select parcel wines. And here are my notes:

Wynns Coonawarra Estate The Sidings 2010

This new release becomes the junior Cabernet in Wynns’ burgeoning range. Like the Black Label, it delivers impressive bang for buck. Deep black in hue it shows classic Coonawarra mint, blackcurrant and cassis on the palate, on the second day, bright fleshy plum too, elegantly supported by ripe, grainy tannins. A leafy edge and richer, dried sage, bring complexity to the finish. Very polished, with great varietal/regional expression. 13.5%

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2010

The addition of Shiraz and Merlot makes for a more open knit, spicier, rounder palate with fine tannins – it’s deliciously drinkable already!  Deep plum in hue it sports a sweet, briary nose with a balsamic edge and a touch of smoky roast coffee. In the mouth it’s bright and briary, with an attractive fresh fruit pippiness – a liveliness; there’s floral lift (violets) too. A satisfying but balanced finish reveals layers of chocolate, malt, warm earth and spicy fruitcake. 14%

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

This perennial favourite is on great form. The wine is produced from only the top 20-25% of Cabernet fruit available from Wynns Coonawarra Estate. Tasted over three days, it just keeps building, initially showing some malty oak but soon cutting to the chase with concentrated, well-defined but glossy black berry and currant fruit, cassis and chocolate and balsamic, violets and liquorice as it opens up.  A long, persistent finish teased out by a grainy but well polished chassis of tannins tells you this can go the distance (and, on ageworthiness, click here for a report of a vertical back to 1958).

Wynns Coonawarra Estate V&A Lane Cabernet Shiraz 2009

This blend of 70% Cabernet and 30% Shiraz was first made in 2008. Fruit is sourced from Wynns’ V&A Lane vineyards (the lane dissects Coonawarra’s terra rossa strip at its midpoint, marking the divide between the region’s northern and southern vineyards). Well structured, with a firm buttress of ripe but present tannin, this is a complex, concentrated yet elegant wine, with hints of After Eight (dark chocolate and mint) and a subtly stalky, spicy edge to its deep seam of black cherry, cassis, plum and sweet, earthy raspberry fruit. Savoury, toasty, smoky mocha oak lends ample support without overshadowing the fruit. One to keep for a a couple of years and will keep going for many more.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch 2008

I kept this bottle on the go for three days, chasing its very essence. Each day was a joy of discovery. Classy French oak shows through on a vanilla and cedar-licked nose, but the fruit – cassis and blackcurrant – is gloriously, glossily pure, weighty and intense in the mouth, seemingly anchored to the taste buds by a fine but firm thread of sinewy tannins. Liquorice, cheroot, cigar, ink, linseed, leather and menthol notes add texture and layer. Great palate presence. A sumptuously layered, outstanding wine with all the pinstripe poise and polish I associate with Cabernet.

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