Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 1997
Cabernet provides the flavour, length and structure, with Shiraz imparting a spicy complexity and richness. Merlot adds softness.
It is a finely structured and supple wine showing ripe plum and spicy fruit flavours combined with soft, understated oak.
Winemaker Sue Hodder grew up in the "red center" – Australia's outback. The red soil of Coonawarra is now her home. After graduating from Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1984, Sue started in the viticultural side of the wine industry as a Grower Liaison Officer. Making detailed assessments of vines through the year, tasting and analyzing maturing fruit and following up on the resulting wines gave Sue an appreciation of the importance of the vineyard in quality wine production. Sue then made what she considers to be a logical step into winemaking. She started at Wynns Coonawarra Estate in 1993, fell in love with the winemaking region and has remained. In 1998, she became Chief Winemaker.
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 dissimilar to Bordeaux.
In Coonawarra, this unique layer of red 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 vine 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 Sauvignon develops powerful, yet polished tannins, ripe, red berry fruit and often sweet herb or dried mint qualities. The region has an increased focus on the individual expressions of single vineyards.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.