A Cab Sav so good you’d pour it on your cornflakes
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted red varietal in the world – and the most popular. From the tannic styles from Rioja in Spain, to the concentrated examples from Bordeaux, to the ripe Barossa wines or the mint-laced versions from the Coonawarra, there’s a Cabernet for virtually every palate.
In Australia, the floral styles from the Margaret River in Western Australia are commercially successful and thoroughly delightful in their youth, whilst the Hunter Valley has some pockets of freakishly good cabernet like those from the famed Lake’s Folly vineyards. Beauty, of course, is always in the eye of the beholder. I personally can’t go past a cabernet from a cool elevated site, like the D.E.N Cabernet Sauvignon from Brockenchack in South Australia’s Eden Valley.
The D.E.N is only a recent edition to the Brockenchack stable, earning its moniker from the initials of the family-owned wineries’ brand manager, Darren Edward Naylor. Son-in-law of the founders, Trevor and Marilyn Harch, Darren has travelled the globe building the winery’s brand and reputation, so a tip of the hat was considered a fitting tribute given that he is also the family’s staunchest ally to the varietal. The D.E.N is a limited production and reserve-level wine made from fruit harvested from a small house-block vineyard near the foot of Peggy’s Hill. The class of this wine is unquestionable given that its maker was none other than Jo Irvine – the daughter of Barossa winemaking legend, James Irvine.
I suspect that my attraction to the D.E.N is fuelled by the near perfect equilibrium of fruit, acid and tannin. It’s home, the Eden Valley, boasts a warm South Australian summer ensuring that the fruit ripens fully and evenly. The contrasting crisp, cool nights provided by the elevated perch on a mountain range ensures the ripe and opulent fruit doesn’t become jammy and overripe like some of the cabernet I’ve tried from the Barossa. In some cooler climate regions, cabernet struggles and becomes terrible leafy and herbaceous (if not capsicum) – not so the D.E.N.
The depth of the purple hue in your glass hints at the power and potency of the fruit. However, the cassis and ripe cherries that appear on the front palate are far from dominating. The lavender and bergamot that enter with the first swirl of your glass seem to permeate the mid-palate where lush red cherries, ripe blackberries and chocolate seemingly clash in a fight to dominate. At the back end, the cassis repents and is shackled by French oak and silky smooth tannins as hints of pepper and eucalypt stand sentry.
It is certainly easy to see why the D.E.N won a gold medal at the Melbourne International Wine Competition. The price point of $85 probably means that it is a wine reserved for special occasions, which is most fortunate. If it was less than twenty bucks, I’d be tempted to pour it on my cornflakes!
Charismatic, stylish and sophisticated, the D.E.N is an outstanding cabernet, though for those that know him, somewhat dissimilar to its namesake. We must have a drink together soon, Darren!