2021 Wynns Coonawarra Estate The Sidings Cabernet

This and Wynns Shiraz are often discounted to below $15 which perhaps makes them amongst the best value Australian red wines. From a cool year with a late burst of glorious autumn weather, this opens with a pretty purple red colour and smell if colours have perfume? Thick in texture and fragrant with sweet earth and green herbs, Tart blackberry and blackcurrant that just qualify as ripe with much fruit sweetness and a tweak of Cabernet leafiness. Lots of extract helps the feel of soft tannin and gentle acidity but doesn’t hinder the impression of Coonawarra claret as it was last century. Just ripe enough but some will perhaps prefer more fruit sweetness rather than the savoury and earthy side of a La Niña season. For the price the discussion could be a bit precious.

13.7% alcohol. Screw cap. $13.25 in a Murphy six.

89 points.

2020 Oakridge Over the Shoulder Cabernet Merlot

Last bottle from the Dan Murphy’s October six buy and in some ways the best. Well, that’s if you’re convinced the Yarra Valley is best suited to the noble Cabernet family? Seems bouncy and keen to escape the bottle with a perfume of raspberries and blackcurrants, like a waft of passing aftershave but much nicer. An overlay of tobacco and green leaf, fresh and refreshing. Finished with a rich note of just turned sod for want of a better phrase. Mineral and sweet ripe tannin and acidity mingle well. The sort of fruit and earth you’d want from Bordeaux but closer to home and much better value.

13.3% alcohol. Screw cap. $19 Dan’s member special.

91 points.

2014 Eden Road Gundagai Cabernet Sauvignon

A quick break on the road from Melbourne to Sydney is perhaps not the terroir you’d expect to produce interesting Cabernet. Always alert to this producer’s wine, when a bottle came up at auction a quick search on Winefront and a great review prompted a bid. Took a while to shrug off a sleep in the bottle, then things flowed well. Just medium bodied, cool blackcurrant, sweet cherry and mulberry all controlled by dry, almost austere crushed rock skin tannin and a savoury ferrous twang. Lovely lacy acidity. A bit of fine dark chocolate too. No fruit bombing but proper dry claret. Sits well in my tucker box.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $31 at auction.

94 points. They’re good those Winefront people.

2018 Charles Joguet Chinon Les Petites Roches

Despite some horrendous memories of this producer’s wines from the early nineties, they taught me a lot about dirty barrels and mercaptan, I followed up an enthusiastic recommendation from a talented taster who values clean winemaking when choosing their imports. Crikey, they’re right, this sparkles brightly with deep and pristine fruit. The smell of pencil cases adds a savoury note to sugar dusted raspberries. Rich almond paste too. All controlled by ripe, mouthwatering acidity and a brush of fine grape skin tannin. Essence of tart Loire Cab Franc that’s taken a holiday in the sun. Absolutely delicious is all I can add apart from another hearty recommendation.

14% alcohol, not something you would have seen in the Loire last century. Cork, oh well. $46 RRP but worth searching for discounts.

93 points but maybe 94 for pleasure.

2021 Hoddles Creek Cabernet Sauvignon

You may have read it, er..reddit here before but there’s a spawned fondness for Yarra Cabernet that keeps me coming back. It’s obvious that the Upper Valley is perhaps a bit cool for Cabernet to ripen to the richness many expect in Australia but if you fancy crisp acidity and a bit of leaf that lead to some food friendly succulence bear with me. Bright, frog pond fresh and clean to open. Loads of red fruit, cherries, almost strawberry and blackcurrant leaf. So bright maybe some whole berries in the brew? Appealing savoury undercurrents of sweet earth and almond paste add length like Medoc gravel does to good claret. The acidity sits a little high as the surprisingly sweet tannin calms the end. Reminds me of Loire red ripeness, mouthwatering and ripe enough for me, maybe not you though?

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $20 but a ridiculous $24 for two on the shelves of those credit card terrifying Boccaccio Cellars. Balwyn calling.

92 points, easy.

2021 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Franc x Cabernet Sauvignon Reframed

Despite TWE’s marketing department thinking a psychedelic paint factory explosion will be an improvement on a proven brand label, it’s the contents of the bottle that’s thankfully true to such good a winery. Not sure what the x means either, other than Franc is the parent of Sauvignon, thus some form of multiplication? Fashion, what’s old is new again as the idea that lower ripeness, less oak flavour and extraction seems oddly like Wynns reds were in the eighties. Nice to be back where we started apart from a bit of whole berry ferment maybe? Leaps out of the glass and straight into the olfactories with loads of leaf, raspberry and darker blackcurrant. Despite plenty of clean flavour in the weight of warm fruit, there’s a flash of savoury sweet leaf that triggers memories of the Loire. Just to remind us where it’s really from, the finish does have a cuddly, sweet earth, Coonawarra claret dimension. The acidity has a little tang but the tannins are ripe and satisfying. Good to see less artifice and more refreshment. Does the brand need yet another range? Not sure TWE know how to get the message to us?

12.9% alcohol. Screw cap. $20 at best. Dan’s $24, discounting awaited.

91 points.

2016 Sorrenberg Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc Merlot

From a vineyard that’s been quietly biodynamic from last century and one of the most carefully farmed I’ve been lucky enough to visit. Beautiful place, beautiful grapes. The Moreys’ annual tasting at Rathdowne Cellars in leafy North Carlton was always a favourite before spitting in close company became such a health risk. This bottle was bought as a treat when visiting Sorrenberg instead of the even bigger indulgence of their Chardonnay which had sold out of course, now that it’s become more widely appreciated. This opened with some cedar and lemony oak, that minty Australian forest freshness, leaf and high frequency cassis perfume. Saturated with loads of sweet red fruit. Floral too, almost a lavender fragrance. A sweet earthiness develops, sort of like that wet peaty moss when it’s squashed as you scramble across a damp stream side path on a winter bushwalk. Well, that’s what it brought to mind. Only just medium weight for an Australian Cabernet. Refreshing crisp acidity in a happy tight embrace with soft ripe tannin. Second day, some black olive and more smells of the country around Beechworth perhaps. Graceful and natural feeling, a happy wine. Claret stylee in the best sense.

14% alcohol. Cork, both Sorrenberg and Hochkirch, two of my very favourite organic Victorian wineries persist. Such lovely wines. About $45 I think.

94 points.

2019 Domaine des Closiers Saumur Champigny Expression

A newish enterprise with wise investment across vineyard, viticultural and winemaker input it seems. 15 hectares of oldish Cabernet Franc on good limestone and clay soil. A viti expert from Roche Neuve, one of my favourite reliably clean producers and winemaking input from the famous Clos Rougeard. No small investment or expectation then. The added recommendation from Randall’s, simply put as effing amazing, tipped me in. Made with no recourse to oak suggested there could be an absence of the oft encountered Loire horse stable held together by a dirty band aid…er…terroir. And joy, spotlessly clean powerful but even aromas of great Cabernet Franc. Raspberry, leaf and fruit. Darker fruit and sparkling pale limestone in the rain. Initially seemed to show a bit too much gloss of slippery ripeness but as air worked its magic, the fruit cooled to a fresh mouthful of perfectly ripe raspberries, sweet green leaves and chalky minerals, that word again. Inadequate but… Concentrated and intense. Long and measured. Power supported by a wave of ripe grape skin tannin indistinguishable from a tug of sweet ripe acidity. Beautiful grapes and no mucking about.

14% alcohol, quite something for the latitude. Cork. $55ish.

93 points and hooray for medium weight delicious purity.

2016 Frédéric Mabileau Les Roullières Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil

Cabernet Franc from a modern producer who made wine still with a great sense of place. Sadly, Frédéric was killed in microlight plane crash last year. This was made, I think, just using stainless steel to ferment and rest, none of the dodgy old oak which can so often mar Loire red wine. Terrific freshness, there’s scents of crushed sweet green leaves, raspberries and sweet strawberry juice. So fresh, it seems like a season frozen in time. Only just medium bodied but rich in the mouth with loads of just ripe red fruit, focused well by mouthwatering acidity and a brush of just so skin tannin. Focus and precision. Lovely Loire.

12.5% alcohol. Cork. $32 from auction.

93 points.

2019 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Siding Cabernet Sauvignon

Thank goodness for Winefront. An Australian Cabernet for $12.95 would not normally rate high on the scale of potential buys but a good review and a discount at Dan Murphy’s which makes a mockery of the letters RRP and why not? Proper savoury and tart fruited Cabernet here. Opens a bit sweaty, clears to earth and gravel, black olive and iodine, leaf and tart red berries. Almost that come hither savoury invitation of dare you say, Bordeaux. Over three days it looks far more Australian, particularly Coonawarra as scents of minty Australian shrubbery and that distinct smoky salinity emerge. Shouldering their way through the savoury are just ripe red fruit and hints of black currant. Good even brush of ripe acid and sandy tannin. Yet more evidence of Wynns producing large amounts of commercially important wine that still resonate place and season. Might just have to upgrade to a bottle of the 2019 Black Label which would be the 34th vintage to find its way into my glass. Creak.

13.6% alcohol. Screw cap. $12.95.

91 points for me, 92 for the more accurate Winefront.