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November Wines of the Month: two Coonawarra Cabernets, one, destination Bordeaux

I was due to judge at The Limestone Coast Wine Show in October, so my November Wines of the Month – two top tier Coonawarra reds –  were no little compensation for not being there, as was the opportunity to catch up online with both winemakers.

As for the headline,  Wynns has recently launched on La Place de Bordeaux with the John Riddoch 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon.  They are one of the first Australian producers to participate in this prestigious distribution network, alongside Jim Barry (The Armagh Shiraz, from Clare Valley) and Cloudburst ( Cabernet Sauvignon, from Margaret River).

Commemorating the occasion, Wynns commissioned Andrew Caillard MW to write a detailed history of John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon, which is bound up with the story of Coonawarra itself.  It can be downloaded for free on your iphone here or kindle here.

Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (Coonawarra)

Medium-bodied is very much the mantra at Wynns these days.   “As long as the tannins are ripe, Cabernet doesn’t need to be big,” said Chief Winemaker, Sue Hodder, emphasising that Wynns’ medium-bodied wines are ageing really well because, “if you start off balanced, they will age more successfully.”  And so it is for the 2016 vintage. Initially tightly wound, the abundant shower of fine, immersive china ink tannins fans out going through, supporting the ultra-polished, cedar-edged fresh blackcurrant, with graphite undertones and a hint of sweet mint and cedar.  Impeccably balanced, lingering, with a dry, under-stated (flavour) profile, the tannins are still fanning out on the finish, but not in the least aggressive, imparting great line and length.  This is a long haul Cabernet for sure but, as I write this review, re-tasting it on day two, this seamless, medium-bodied Cabernet is wonderfully approachable too.  Exceptionally fine, polished and elegant, it spent 16 months in new (31%) and seasoned French oak hogheads (65%) and barriques (35%). 13.7% £100/bottle at The Winery Collection

Petaluma Evans Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2015 (Coonawarra)

Sourced from a vineyard planted in 1968 by the late Len Evans, a great champion of Australian wine.  In cooler years, said Petaluma Chief Winemaker Mike Mudge, Merlot is useful to take the greenness from the Cabernet.  In 2015, a slightly warmer vintage, Merlot represents only 15% of this blend, allowing for a very classic expression of the region, with cassis, ‘antique’ linseed oil, earth/cep powder and ink (incipient kelp/tapenade) to nose and palate.  Having aged for 20 months in 80% new French oak, there is no shortage of clove, cedar and vanillin spice, with bitter chocolate too; opening up, the cedar – all cigar box – comes to the fore.  Unfurling on day two, the Merlot brings its supple blueberry ‘bounce’ through the mid-palate.  Ripe but present taffeta tannins and harmonious acidity tease out the layers.  Medium-bodied but generous of expression, and in the sense of flesh on its bones. Drinking really well now, especially with a bit of air and good for at least another decade.  14.36% RRP £36.95 at Cheers Wine Merchants  
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