My first post ever on this blog highlighted a Wynns wine which I was drinking at the time. A Wynns Coonawarra Estate “The Gables” Cabernet Shiraz blend. I generally try not to post wines from the same winery more than once, especially ones that are well-known the world over, but what can I say, I have a soft spot for these wines it would seem. Today I want to share with you the 2005 Wynns Coonwarra Estate John Riddoch Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon, along with a little background on the region to help in understanding the wine, terroir and significance of this bottling.
Coonawarra was first planted with grapevines, by a Scottish settler of all people. His name was John Riddoch, yes the same John Riddoch that this wine is named after. According to the bottle the plantings began in 1891, with the wineries initial plantings finished by 1896. The infamous red “Terra Rossa” soils, which only stretch over an area of 1km wide by 15 km long, are some of the most well-known in the world. The soils, climate and magic here, along with the best sites in Bordeaux and Napa, produce some of the best wines in the world.
According to the history of the region it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows as “it wasn’t until 1951, when Melbourne-based winemaker and merchant Samuel Wynn and Co. purchased the property, that Coonawarra’s wine industry was revitalized.” In more recent times it’s the wineries long time winemaker Sue Hodder that has taken charge of the estates legacy. Now in her 27th year as winemaker, she has an intimate knowledge of the vast vineyards at her disposal and based on recent tastings of other Wynns wines I’ve had, it seems as if they’re only getting better. It’s also true that it’s not just the estates top wines, which are highly sought after, but also vine cuttings. Apparently there are “14 different clones, including heritage selections, with many still on their own rootstocks” that people seek to use in the planting of their own vineyards.
It wasn’t entirely by accident that I decided to open this bottle of wine this evening. I mean I was making homemade lamb burgers and grilling up sausages as part of a feast for a bunch of close friends, which I guess could be considered reason enough. But I was also doing so to honour the memory of a family friend named Sue. She was kind, compassionate and most definitely loved a good glass of Cabernet. She didn’t want flowers, she wanted us to remember the important things. To enjoy family, life and to do nice things for others. I could think of no better send-off then to drink an astounding bottle of wine in her memory. It wasn’t until after I had finished the bottle that I made the connection that this wine was made by a female winemaker, who’s also named Sue. A coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.
This 2005 Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet starts off with prominent blackberry and cassis notes on the nose along with thyme, eucalyptus and earth coming through as well. On the palate more pronounced with leather, white pepper, coffee and liquorice all coming through in their own distinct way. The tannins have softened and the medium + acidity provides some freshness to this concentrated yet elegant wine. Once upon a time I imagine this may have been bolder and highly tannic but now it has mellowed and taken on ample secondary character. The wine is complex, delicious and surprisingly food friendly and I would recommend purchasing for near term drinking if you can find it.
Ever had this bottling? Like the wines of the region? I’d love to hear your thoughts.