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6:00am Saturday 2nd November 2013 in Lifestyle
Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris reviews varieties of South Australia's Cabernet Sauvignon.
Right at the heart of the Australian wine scene is South Australia, the driving force behind generous, rich, fruity reds and producing approximately half of the country's wine.
Cabernet sauvignon is its major grape, and the temperature in the famous regions of Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills and Coonawarra verges from warm to hot. These climates and the soils enable winemakers to produce cabernet wines that can be enjoyed in their youth, but also have the 'star power' to go the full distance and shine in 15 to 20 years time.
Some winemakers on the cabernet trail reward the palate with multi-region, multi-vineyard blending, while others focus on specific site and climate combinations - something that is becoming increasingly fashionable.
Either way though, the land is always the trump card. Add to this the region's bug-free vines (South Australia has never been plagued by the vine pest phylloxera) and a talented producer, and you're in for a real treat.
Well-established Oxford Landing Estates (owned by Yalumba) have a stable of keenly priced wines and Oxford Landing Cabernet Shiraz 2011, S Australia (£7.99, Majestic) more than delivers. With its lovely black nose of forest fruits, a splash of shiraz to spice up the berrylicious, soft juicy fruit flavours and finishing with mild tannins, this easy wine can be enjoyed with food, or on its own.
Aussie giant Wolf Blass offer both tremendous value and quality with their Yellow Label tier and Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, S Australia (£9.99, Tesco). Full flavoured and structured with a rich mouthfeel, a plummy, sweet nose, and blackcurrant, leather, mocha and spice all delivering good length of flavour supported by firm tannins, this wine is rarely left languishing on the shelves.
Katnook Estate are celebrating 30 years of cabernet sauvignon, and great Coonawara cabernet is the Aussie version of First Growth Bordeaux. The famous flat terra rossa soil is perfect for red Bordeaux varieties and imparts a minty note to wines such as Katnook Founder's Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Coonawarra, S Australia (£11.99, Waitrose). Dark and intense with a beguiling blackcurrant bouquet, textured blackberry and mulberry fruit and fine-grained tannins, this wine is already drinking beautifully now, but Katnook wines are suited to cellaring and will reward the palate even more with some extra bottle age.
Legendary winery Wynns was the first to be established in Coonawara, and their 53rd vintage of Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Coonawara, S Australia (£15.99, Waitrose) has just entered its drinking window. Nicknamed 'Black Label,' it's concentrated and intense with lifted mint on the savoury blackcurrant and cassis fruit, with integrated oak on the long, rich finish that's extremely pleasant and begs to be drunk.
Another winery with plenty to sing and dance about is Hardys, celebrating their 160th anniversary with their 'William Hardy' regional varietal range, launched to showcase select parcels of its most popular varieties from wine regions within South Australia. A step up from 'bigger blended commercial wines', try Hardys William Hardy Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, S Australia (£8.99, Tesco) which is an easy-drinking, soft cab sav, with a lovely velvety mouthfeel of ripe blackberry fruit, layers of mint, chocolate and a light touch of sweet vanilla on the warm, earthy finish.
Along with its core ranges, flagship wines and icons, Australia also came first at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2013, clearly illustrating the high quality of reds being produced there.
It's great to see the country's most famous producer - Penfolds - will be joined by other cult labels in the 'outstanding lots' at a Bonhams Fine and Rare Wine sale at the end of the month. Impressive and expensive, Penfolds's top drop, Grange, is a national heritage and the country's most famous wine, but to buy into the portfolio, Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, S Australia (£48, www.frazierswine.co.uk) is very accessible compared to a Penfolds Bin 60A and Block 42 Kalimna from the 2004 vintage, which are estimated at £500-£700 for the lot (x 2 bottles). Classy and elegant, Penfolds Bin 407 is marked by an aromatic blackcurrant nose with hints of cassis, plush blackberry, currant and cedar flavours with firm tannins and a lingering finish to savour and treasure.
:: Best buy
The best port of call... Taylor's port have joined forces with Dinner Jazz (7pm, Jazz FM presented by Helen Mayhew and Sarah Ward) for the next 26 weeks to encourage listeners to enjoy a glass of port while they relax before dinner.
Tipplers can tune in on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to hear delicious dessert pairings matched with a different bottle of port like Taylor's 10 Year Old Tawny (£23, 75cl, Sainsbury's) and discover how this rich and elegant Portuguese fortified wine pairs with so many more dishes than just the cheeseboard.
For more info visit www.jazzfm.com.microsite/taylors-port
:: Liquid news
Cheer for a beer! Revised and updated, the new edition of 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die is an indispensable guide to the best beers in the world.
Packed with tasting notes on hundreds of long necks, it heads on a global journey from the finest Czech pilsner, to Bavarian wheat beers, England's marble chocolate beer, France's Vivat Blonde boutique beer, to cult craft labels from America's west coast. With more than 800 photographs of the best beers and sections grouped into Amber, Blond, White, Dark and Speciality, it's a must for the hedonist in the brewery.
1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die, general editor Adrian Tierney-Jones, £20, published by Cassell Illustrated, is available now.
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