Posts Tagged ‘Cabernet sauvignon’

Tip of the Tongue: Cabernet Coup for Kingaroy Couple, Crane Wines

Bernie, 60, and Judy Cooper haven’t looked back after making a scenic change 10 years ago – heading inland from the big smoke of Brisbane to take over the well known Crane Wines label at Kingaroy.

Crane Wines is a hallmark brand in the South Burnett town that is known for agriculture-baked beans, great cattle and of course peanuts. Wine growing, making and selling has matured as a sophisticated business under Bernie’s tutelage. Established by the loveable John Crane, and his wife Sue in the 1990s, the winery began when John planted grapes on the red soil hillside at Haydens Road, Booie, in 1992, with his cellar door opening in September 1996, to be first in the South Burnett to do so.  ….  Read article

By Peter-Scudamore-Smith, Master of Wine

Published in Queensland Smart Farmer, May – June 2015

Macaw Creek: trusted Aussie winemaker, lofty drinks

The country north of South Australia’s capital Adelaide always reminds me of a stark landscape. Nothing is lush, just dry, and where the eucalypts struggle to grow bigger and the saltbush barely fattens a sheep. And kangaroos scarce. Near the sleepy town of Riverton in the Mount Lofty Ranges, 80 kilometres from Adelaide we find the vineyard of Macaw Creek owned by career winemaker Rodney Hooper.

Tough and dry is an excellent outlook for growing signature Australian shiraz and cabernet, and after all, another heroic red wine producing region to the north, the Clare Valley does likewise. This means the wines are substantial, and in their favour, grape growers have such lean rainfall events that growing their crops organically is quite an easy task (with control though).

If you ever wish to assess how a winemaker is tracking then never head for the newest release; yes they will look fresh and bursting with grape pip exuberance, but that is expected because in every older bottle there was once a good young bottle.

MACAW CREEK Reserve Shiraz Cabernet 2008 AUD 28 14.5% alc 90.Very serious smelling wine; deep colour and lots of aging in motion, some youth but the licorice tells you shiraz is present and lots of it! Look out for the sweet aromas from time in bottle, red fruits, berry jam, oak barrel sweet nuance and many other nose-endearing bits that attract drinkers wishing for full flavour. The shiraz dominates-well really! In the warm summer and Gilbert Valley autumn when these grapes will have developed their power, so the shiraz richness has just stretched out over the cabernet dryness; makes the wine very full. Drink while you eat bbq rib eye or share a tomahawk steak, bone-in, just for extra flavour; as the wine will match it. Also known as a Great Australian red.

MACAW CREEK Cabernet Shiraz 2009 AUD 16 13% alc 95. A hero’s drink because this has charm, and has aged even better than its older cousin, Shiraz Cabernet. The wine has all the aromas running together, so one complete unit; earthy, mocha, spice, choc-chip, more spiced than jam-sweet, very intriguing; a top wine; then the shiraz enrichens the mouth while the cabernet tannin tightens up the finish; one lovely drink with mixes of age flavours and supple texture; just runs down an empty mouth.

Macaw Creek Cabernet Shiraz 2009

Macaw Creek Cabernet Shiraz 2009

MACAW CREEK Cabernet Shiraz 2012 AUD 16 14.5% alc 94. The modern day star; just so attractive-purple, the juicy aromas are all out of the glass, hard to contain, just ripe shiraz and cabernet looking for appreciation; no charm just brute flavour, oak hardly apparent, full some, chunky, rich for years I think. Store a bit or visit Rodney’s cellar in Macaw Road in about five years (he will probably have some still). But at the current price it is a steal.

MACAW CREEK Organic Riesling 2014 AUD 15 12% alc 90. Never visit this part of South Australia (personally or with your mouse) without trying riesling. This comes from two organically-grown Clare vineyards; so it is the heart of Riesling country; light bodied, pale, low alcohol, fruity, long, angular acidity which is slaty and citric. Seek out some oysters or just pan fried whiting. Delicate wine for subtle food.

Macaw Creek Organic Riesling 2014

Macaw Creek Organic Riesling 2014

EM’S TABLE Organic Riesling 2014 AUD 15 12% alc 90. This is another Clare Valley cracker; pale colour, I never like it very coloured, so pale green, hints of straw designates good winemaking, and to top that off, lovely rose, white flowers and lemon/lime make this delectable. Light bodied, and little residue on its skins from organic viticulture. Drink with organic plums or nectarines to keep in sync.

EM’S TABLE Organic Preservative Free Shiraz 2010 AUD 18 13.5% 90. Made for those who have an allergic reaction to sulphur dioxide or for those who take an aversion to wine additives. This is additive free wine; cleverly made by Hooper to last by making a wine quite high in drinkable tannin (natural preservative) and bottled early to stem any oxidation from time outside a bottle. Also supported by closure under screw cap as natural cork would be hopeless. Taste; just like normal shiraz, rounded, quite funky now as a five-year-old wine, rich and juicy.


Tour of Sicily 12-Cottanera

Masters of Wine Tasting-Cottanera

What a pleasant day to visit the Cambria family, makers of Cottanera, on a sunny spring morning.

Etna was behaving itself though there was a thin cloud of steam emitting as one looked across the nerello mascalese vines towards the south.

This visit was hailed as a property taking the international approach-the philosophy focussed on international varietals and a more international style of winemaking.

Cottanera today is reversing its trend and philosophy, and I was there to investigate. We were in Castiglione di Sicilia.

This brand is current in Australia and is becoming well known.

The welcoming party was extensive-principal Vincenzo explained the wines, assisted by Enzo, Emanuele, Francesco and Mariangela.

I took to the Etnabianco immediately because the grape used is really going to be the white face of Etna in future-carricante. It just loves growing at this elevation and produces great results.

Etnabianco 2011 (88) 13%; DOC Etna is pale, not an aromatic or tropical wine, its making in stainless steel actually preserves its terroir; its all about the taste, the minerally, stony notes, long and lean, mouth salivating and delicacy to boot.

The international winemaking here is all about the cool ferment-it preserves fruit and the delicate notes which the grape possesses.Curiously there is is ten percent catarratto included (the western Sicily white used in Marsala) which must be an experiment to see how it performs on Etna. Good so far.

The more international style white is Barbazzale Bianco 2011 (88) 12.5%; IGT which blends a terrific local white-inzolia with Rhone-origin viognier, and gives it a big slap of skin components.

The word barbazzale means golden beard for those curious about the naming.

This looks like work in progress as both varieties have a tendency to taste chewy. This is a step up in body over the loveable, racy, carricante.

Classic Etna Red

The Barbazzale Rosso 2011 (89) 13% DOC Etna is back to traditional Etna red grapes-nerello mascalese and nerello capuccio housed in some new French oak which was evident; these grapes have a lovely texture and softness, even at entry level wines.

The internationalisation of Etna’s prima red grape, nerello mascalese goes one stage further when blended with merlot and shiraz at 15 percent.

That makes Fatagione 2009 (93) 13.5% IGT; a hybrid of flavours which captures the silkiness of nerello with the bigger and fleshier merlot and shiraz; it works well in a new French oak barrel for a year.

The key to this style appears to not being heavy handed with the international pair-keep them in small proportions so the long fleshiness of nerello is not interrupted. Other vintages 2008 (90) and 2010 (92).

Cottonera make a big monster chewy Merlot called Grammonte 2008 (87) 14.5% IGT; other vintages 2007 (90) and 2009 (88). And a curio variety, a savoury Mondeuse called L’Ardenza 2007 (90) 13.5% IGT.

Finally I had to deal with how cabernet sauvignon grows on this mountainside. Cabernet is a very important grape, and the better ones around the world become the domain of collectors. It’s a variety with a great capacity to age and also excite.

This was my first Sicilian cabernet. It did not come across as a cool climate style (Yarra Valley) so I had to make warmer regions-McLaren Vale comparisons.

Nume 2007 (90) 14.5% IGT is a big chunky style of rich and ripe cabernet, has fifteen percent franc, ample layers of ripe cassis and minty fruit, powdery tannins and plenty to satisfy hearty drinkers. Other vintages 2006 (90) and 2008 (91).

The verdict: international versus indigeneous varieties; both types are well-made wines, people chasing honest and original wine will ask for carricante and nerello; new drinkers will just buy international if they are allowed to do so.

A true test of the winemaking is in the straddle of international varieties with local so that the wines produced become the unique personality of the property, local terroir and therefore the lasting and distinctive part of branding.

Owner Vincenzo Cambria (right) | Etna smokes

Etna has special values-it’s a great destination.

On the prowl of Cabernet Sauvignon

Had the opportunity to train an eager palate this week, so the lineup was a batch of six Aussie cabernets.

The wines were masked so the taster was forced to go back to basics and use the principles of taste assessment-forget the guessing part.

And the tasting sequence was 2010 vintage (warm climate-McLaren Vale) followed by five cool region grown wines from the 2009 and 2008 years.

The McLaren Vale boomer was a richly-textured Kangarilla Road 2010 ***; 14%, AUD 20, probably as many wines of this region do, tasting a little like full flavoured shiraz with just a bit more dryness.

Warm area cabernet

Kangarilla Road Cabernet 2010

Cooler climate cabernets show more of the grippy tannin that cabernets must have and these five were really good drinks.

First was Leconfield Coonawarra 2009 ****1/2, 14%, AUD 29, colour a little aged, great florals and blackcurrant juiciness, drying, elegant, lots of flavour backbone and just drinkable powdery tannins.

Leconfield Cabernet 2009 Coonawarra

The next Coonawarra was Koonara Ambriel’s Gift 2008 ****1/2, 13.5%, AUD 30, a knockout nose of great ripe bits-licorice, jam, oak sweet nuance, then a sweet mint, spicy and big-flavoured memory.

Koonara Ambriels Gift Cabernet 2008 Coonawarra

Coonawarra number three was Di Giorgio Family 2008 ***1/2, 14%, AUD 26, a wine smelling of black fruits, chunky, angular, lots of grunt but not the elegance of wines prior.

Di Giorgio Family Cabernet 2008 Coonawarra

The last was Zema Estate Cluny, Cabernet Merlot 2008 ***1/2, 14%, AUD 26, a tad expensive, a spicy style, easy, lots of aroma and equally soft and supple in the mouth.

Zema Estate Cabernet Merlot (Cluny) 2008 Coonawarra

To complete the cabernet expose, an outstanding Margaret River cabernet sauvignon was exposed-Cape Mentelle 2009 *****, 13.5%, AUD 89, was just heavenly.

The beguiling features of this wine-spice and cedar oak, a very sexy smell, including the telltale bayleaf nuance,long and lush tannins, powderyness, and juiciness despite the fair barrage of tannin that cabernet gives.

Cape Mentelle Cabernet 2009 Margaret River

Just a total wine.

And what is the take home story?

1. Warm climate cabernet is fuller bodied that cool climate cabernet, the former may not even show much “cabernet” character!

2. cool climate wines are medium bodied with an associated whack of natural tannin which is drying yet a major part of the character of the wine.

Two renowned Australian areas where it grows well are Coonawarra (South Australia)  and Margaret River (Western Australia). Never ignore these two regions when looking to appreciate cabernet sauvignon.

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