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Distinguished by a thin, subterranean band of crumbled, red, clay loam ...
Distinguished by a thin, subterranean band of crumbled, red, clay loam, Coonawarra is a fairly flat, otherwise unobtrusive region with a cool Mediterranean climate, actually not unsimilar to Bordeaux.
In Coonawarra, this unique layer of clay is called, "terra rossa" and gets its color from iron oxide. The terra rossa soil overlies soft, penetrable limestone, in a continuous area that is part of the Limestone Coast zone of South Australia. This uncommon layering of soils creates a substrate that is both well draining and at the same time, offers good water retention to support vines’ roots through dry summers.
Not surprisingly, Coonawara experiences great success with the Bordeaux varieties, namely Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but also Shiraz. However Cabernet reigns superior and accounts for half of the Coonawarra harvest each year. Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignons develop powerful, yet polished tannins, and achieve ripeness without verging into imbalance. Typical of these unique reds are ripe red berry fruits with cassis, sweet herb and dried mint. The region has an increased focus on the individual expressions of single vineyard wines.