The king of grapes for Labour Day

  • Family business: second-generation winemaker Peter Barry,left, oversees day-to-day operations of Jim Barry winery alongside his sons Sam and Tom

    Family business: second-generation winemaker Peter Barry,left, oversees day-to-day operations of Jim Barry winery alongside his sons Sam and Tom

Cabernet sauvignon reigns supreme worldwide with 840,000 acres planted, which puts it well above second place merlot at 657,000.

It was not until 1996 that DNA evidence at the University of California at Davis proved conclusively that this grape is the offspring of a crossing of cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc grapes that probably happened in the 1600s in southern France. Let us take a brief tour around our planet and select a few appropriate ones to accompany protein on the grill.

As our mothers gave birth to us in the same year, James Halliday has had time to write, and assist with, over 80 wine books and is by far the best known and respected wine critic in Australia.

This month, Jim Barry was named Winery of the Year at the Halliday Companion Awards held in Victoria.

Second-generation winemaker Peter Barry, who oversees day-to-day operations alongside sons Sam and Tom said, “The entire industry watches in anticipation for the announcement of these awards. James Halliday is the king of the Australian wine industry, and I feel that we have just received a knighthood.”

We stock eight Jim Barry wines, but let me tell you about The Cover Drive 2016 Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon that sells for $25.25.

It shows a bright garnet red with a violet hue in the glass. The nose opens with lifted notes of blackcurrant and blackberry aromatics, with subtle savoury notes of garden herbs, turned earth and spice. The palate displays generous red and blackcurrant fruit gently shaped by soft, silky tannins. Hints of liquorice, tobacco and savoury oak add further character to a wine packed with bright fruit flavours. Wine Enthusiast magazine rates it 90/100.

Now, to California and the 2016 Dry Creek Vineyard cabernet sauvignon, a 78 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 10 per cent merlot, 5 per cent cabernet franc, 5 per cent malbec and 2 per cent petit verdot Bordeaux-styled blend.

I will quote from “Seeking out top cabernets that won’t break the bank can be frustrating. The 2016 Dry Creek Vineyard cabernet sauvignon could be the best deal in the marketplace. This wine is rewarding and affordable. Tasting notes: This wine shows excellent balance and style. Its jazzy finish is bright and appealing 92/100.”

This impeccable Dry Creek cabernet sauvignon displays lively aromatics of black cherry, blackcurrant and dried blueberry. Additional airing reveals nuances of dried herbes de Provence, cola, leather and black olive.

The palate is full-bodied and rich with elegant flavours of black currant and dried cranberry with notes of cocoa powder, espresso, nutmeg, and cedar. It is fruit-forward and youthful, with fine tannins and a finish of black and white pepper. It certainly represents Sonoma well. $32.

We really cannot consider cabernet sauvignon without including Bordeaux and now we need to be aware of how much the weather varies in most of Europe. It was kind in 2012 and from that vintage Chateau Caronne St Gemme in the Haut-Médoc delivers very good value.

The blend is 60 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 34 per cent merlot and 6 per cent petit verdot and as the vineyard is near Classified Second Growths of 1855 (Chateau Gruaud Larose and Chateau Lascombes), it is blessed with fine terroir.

One writer calls it a “super claret lover’s claret”. Wine Enthusiast says: “This is a warm, open wine that’s gently tannic and likely to age quickly. It has some spice, ripe black plums and aftertaste that reveals some of its dry structure.”

As you may know, the Classification of 1855 selected the top 2 per cent or so of the wines that had historically attracted the highest prices for up to 100 years or more. By selecting a neighbour like Caronne St Gemme you pay $33.25 compared with our 2012 Gruaud Larose at $147.70. I am not suggesting equal quality, but just consider the real estate mantra: “location, location, location”.

Another neighbour is Chateau Lanessan and, to get this picture I will quote Wikipedia: “Following a decision by Jean Delbos’s son Louis, Lanessan when asked, did not submit samples for the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, in the belief that the World’s Fair ranking would add nothing to the estate’s already sound reputation and that the selection amounted to ‘bureaucratic nonsense’.”

It is generally thought that the chateau deserves to be a part of this most prestigious group and I think that the property committed one of the biggest wine boo-boos ever!

Chateau Lanessan 2012 Haut Medoc, is a blend of 75 per cent cabernet sauvignon along with some merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot that gives us blackcurrant, cigar box and cedar. There is the telltale indication of cherry and cassis. Parker suggests drinking it now and until 2025. $34.50.

I will wrap it up with Cono Sur 20 Barrels cabernet sauvignon 2015 from their Pirque Viejo estate in Maipo Valley, Chile.

A deep cabernet with a rich, spicy foundation, filled to the brim with notes of plum, blueberry, cassis and black pepper and traces of earthy tones and tobacco in the mouth, it is robust, full, persistent and long. It rates 91/100 from writer Tim Atkin who comments: “This cuvée with 5 per cent each of syrah and carmenère is bold, intense and structured, with 100 per cent new oak adding to the flavour and backbone.” The addition of new oak alone usually calls for a higher price than $33.60, but that is all we are asking for.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit

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Published Aug 30, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 30, 2019 at 12:07 am)

The king of grapes for Labour Day

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