The 1998 vintage at Coonawarra was the stuff of dreams for any winemaker. The supreme quality of the fruit was apparent early in the ripening process and the responsibility for converting this magnificent material to wine became the next challenge. We didn't mess it up.
The flavours and aromas are of ripe blackcurrants and dark cherries with hints of roses, mint and olives. The flavours are concentrated with delicious sandy grained tannins and substantial mouthfeel. 1998 Petaluma Coonawarra is a wine destined to build in the bottle for a very long time. Refined but concentrated, it is testimony to the quality of Coonawarra on Australia's southern coast as a distinguished region for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Petaluma, founded by world-famous winemaker Brian Croser, is widely regarded as Australia's pre-eminent small winery. Petaluma wines are made in various vineyard sites, each selected for specific characteristics.
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Located on the Limestone Coast of South Australia, Coonawarra is quite flat, except for the vineyards, which are slightly elevated. That, along with the proximity to the ocean and frequent cloud cover, Coonawarra never gets too hot. There is a small strip of soil, about nine miles long and two miles wide, called Terra Rossa, or red earth. It is the coveted place to plant Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon in this small region.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the grape of choice here. There is a good amount of Shiraz planted as well, and blends of the two are popular. Cabernet grown in the Terra Rossa shows a sense of place, and the wines are in high demand. The wine is elegant in structure, with prominent acidity and firm tannins, while being full of ripe fruit flavors typical of Australia's style.
Like the United States, which is about the same size, Australia's winemaking regions are huddled into one or two pockets of the country. The state of South Australia, which produces about 60% of the country's wine, also has the most wineries and sub-regions, including McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Coonawarra and Barossa Valley. New South Wales is home to the Hunter Valley, while the smaller, southern state of
Victoria is best known for theYarra Valley. Head way west to the very large state of Western Australia and you'll find the tiny region of Margaret River at the southern tip.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.