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2006 Warrabilla Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
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- Cellar 3 - 4 years (2010-2011)
- ABV 14.5%
- Closure: Cork
THE 2006 WARRABILLA COLLECTION A HIPPO IN A TUTU LAUNCHES VINOUS ATOMIC BOMBS
'IN SPITE OF THEIR 'OBESITY', THESE WINES DANCE ON THE PALATE LIKE AN AGILE PRIMA BALLERINA'.
The 2006 Warrabilla Reds from Rutherglen reach new heights. Firstly, they are bigger, bolder yet more refined than previous vintages. Secondly the alcohol content has reached a staggering 18% on the Parola’s Durif. Lastly, and most importantly, they remain balanced.
This is the great paradox of Australian reds – their ability to achieve a super ripe state without being porty or displaying the dreaded dead fruit characteristics. To understand this paradox, one has to appreciate the uniqueness of Australian terroir. Going back to the 60’s (the good old days of low alcohol reds?) the maturity index of grapes was measured in Brix – for example, harvesting Shiraz at 23 Brix would be quite common. Divide this number by 1.8 and one gets the potential alcohol of the finished wine as 12.7% Alc/Vol.
The use of the maturity index lost its support amongst winemakers when the French discovered that tannins and anthocyanins in red grape skins were polymerising while still on the vine – getting a bit technical but above a certain molecular weight soft tannins and mouthfeel were developing, while below that weight one got chalky and astringent tannins. So the new wave was to pursue flavours and not numbers. But some winemakers were, and still are promoting green wine. An article published in the December 2000 issue of Atlantic Monthly related to breaking the Bordeaux Cartel “which has been working with the English press for decades to palm off unripe wines on the public.”
Andrew Sutherland-Smith, winemaker at Warrabilla, states “our wines are made in the vineyard. Our soils are deep red clay loams. The rows are 4 metres wide (standard Aussie width is 3 metres) and this gives us plenty of light and air to colour, ripen fully and give us the profiles we’re after. Crops are pretty light at around 1.5 tonnes per acre.” The rate of fruit ripening is very dependant upon temperature, therefore, the more uniform the fruit zone environment, the more uniform the maturation of the fruit, with 75% of the quality coming from delivering uniformly ripe fruit to the winery. Andrew maintains “It’s all about light. The vertically, shoot positioned trellis maximizes it, while giving a bit of protection from excessive heat and sunburn. We do taste berries, looking for black/red fruit characters whilst avoiding excess shrivel and the dreaded dead fruit characters. Brown seeds and stalks are woody, not green and give softer tannins.”
As to wine writers who tend to dismiss fruit bombs as over ripe, Smith makes the comment “The only thing worse than a mean, green wine is a mean, green wine writer. It's not just about alcohol, it’s about the black phase fruits that develop late in the season. It’s a different profile.” His final words of wisdom “Frankly, so long as the wine is in balance, we don’t care whether it’s 14% or 18% - it’s just got to have balance.”
Tasting Note: A rich ripe Cabernet with a very modest 14.5% Alc/Vol. This wine has been matured for 10 months in new and old American Oak. Totally opaque black purple colour with black purple hue with typical Warrabilla glass cling. On the nose, aroma of ripe blackcurrant and spice, followed by cedar, vanilla and tobacco. Mouthfilling palate flavours of vanilla, blackcurrant and cassis create a concentrated taste sensation. Fine grained, slightly dry tannins – very spicy back palate with perfectly balanced tannins. Aftertaste of chocolate, confectionary and cassis.
Cellar 3-4 years (2010-2011)
CLICK HERE to read more comments from winemaker, Andrew Sutherland-Smith