A taste from Down Under
Topping the list of our world's most planted wine grapes is cabernet sauvignon with 840,000 acres.
Merlot takes the second spot with 657,300 and the popular pinot noir is well behind with 285,000. By far the winner in white is chardonnay, with 518,900 acres.
The first record of cabernet sauvignon in Australia dates back to 1832 and a rough guide to what you might expect is a wine that is more full-bodied than a bordeaux and in general not quite as intense as one from Napa Valley; in fact, a good bridge between the two styles.
Today, I intend you tell you about a considerable range that are priced from $16.75 to $95 so let us work our way up the scale.
Linderman's range of Bin wines were first released in 1985 and the idea was to offer a range that would be easy to enjoy with a fruit-driven style and soft tannin structure. Linderman's Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 has aromas of dark berry fruits with hints of cedar and oak. You will notice plums and a touch of fruitcake. This is a well-made everyday wine priced at $16.75 (stock #7215).
Penfolds Koonunga Hill 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon leaves no doubt that it is cabernet, with steely graphite, pomegranate and seared pepper crusted beef on the nose; cherries and cranberry follow, along with silky tannins.
One review calls it supple, elegant and beautifully aromatic, with classic blackcurrant and cedar character. This is a multi-regional blend that is aged in French and American oak. $23.40 (stock #7233).
Jim Barry The Cover Drive 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon is deep garnet in colour with high clarity. The nose is decidedly aromatic, displaying primary characters of cassis and dark berries with subtle hints of dried herbs. The palate is medium-bodied and showing fine tannins, blackcurrants, mint and Morello cherries. It is rich, soft and very approachable. Although the Coonawarra area only produces 1.5 per cent of Australia's wine output it is world renowned. The Barry family blends grapes from here with Clare Valley fruit. $25.15 (stock #6421). We also have magnums for $47.35 (stock #6428).
Mollydooker Maitre D 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon shows the no-nonsense approach of this winery with its deep blend of red and purple colours and abundant aromas and depth. Rich and complex in flavour, notes of cherry and blackberry transition to green herbs, bramble and mocha, all the while maintaining a dimension of sweet fruit. Soft and smooth on the palate it balances flavour and structure perfectly.
Wine Spectator magazine rates it 91/100 and writes: “Aromatic and intense with whiffs of mahogany and palo santo that swirl around chocolate-covered coffee bean and blackberry preserve flavours at the core. Generous and layered, offering complexity, a swath of velvety, fine-grained tannins and a long finish. Drink now till 2035.” $39.70 (stock #6095).
Jim Barry First Eleven XI 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the southern boundary of Coonawarra (the Aboriginal word for honeysuckle) where the Barry family purchased the old Penola cricket ground in 1997. They retained the original pavilion and planted their vines around the cricket pitch.
This wine honours the legends of Australian cricket who represented their country at the highest level.
To honour this standard it is only produced in exceptional years. Bright currant and dark cherry fruit are flanked by savoury tannin, giving intensity and structure. A persistent finish displays Coonawarra cassis fruit and coats the mouth. $48.90 (stock #6422).
Bird in Hand Nest Egg Adelaide Hills Estate 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon has reached an age where this grape really starts to show off, as it still offers some youthfulness, but is starting to show real maturity. Robert Parker rated it 92/100 and it won the Red Winemaker of the Year Trophy at the International Wine Challenge. You will discover blackberries, blackcurrants, mint, cinnamon, dried herbs, vanilla, cedar and oak. The price has been significantly lowered to $49 (stock #6061).
If you have ever wondered why cabernet sauvignon is by far the most popular planted wine grape, I will include a few reviews for Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, which we sell for $95 (stock #7232):
• 96 points James Halliday
Great colour; blackcurrant, liquorice, dark chocolate and spices run through the bouquet and palate alike, splitting and reforming in a dance of cassis and spices of all kinds. There is life and energy to spare here. Another major success. (9/2019)
• 93 points James Suckling
This has a duality between some cooler-climate sourcing (some downgraded Bin 707 material went here) and warmer-region fruit from McLaren Vale and the Barossa, delivering impressive flesh and fruit weight. Really builds and fills and holds a wide-open finish. (8/2019)
• 93 points Wine Enthusiast
This is a strong vintage of Bin 407, a multiregional South Australian cab. It opens with aromas of chocolate, cola, plush plum and black cherry, backed by accents of mint and other crushed herbs. On the palate, fine, chalky tannins slink around silky fruit and savoury herbs. Poised and harmonious, this has the potential to age until 2030, but is drinking well right now. (8/2020)
• 92 points Jeb Dunnuck
Another beautiful effort in the line-up this year is the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 407, which is a multi-region cuvée brought up in both French and American oak hogsheads. Classic notes of blackcurrants and cassis interwoven with hints of dill, tobacco, and graphite all flow to a full-bodied cabernet sauvignon that's fabulously balanced, with good acidity as well as ripe tannins. Give bottles another year or two and it should cruise for a decade or more. (11/2019).
• This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George (York Street, 297-0409). Visit wineonline.bm