Coonawarra Cabernet

Coonawarra Cabernet

Parker Coonawarra Estate

The Terra Rossa over limestone soils of the Coonawarra region in South Australia have long been considered amongst the very best in the world for producing exceptional cabernet. Founded in the late 1800s by John Riddoch, the Coonawarra is a highly regarded wine producing region which has found fame and fortune on the back of plantings of the grape which was a natural cross between cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc. It’s one of the world’s most planted varietals and it drives the wine industry in places like the Napa Valley in the USA, Bordeaux in France, Stellenbosch in South Africa and in the South Americas (especially Chile). Renowned for its versatility, cabernet can run its own race as a single varietal or ably play the harmony in a multi-varietal blend.

As a region, the Coonawarra is home to some big names of the industry – think brands like John Riddoch, Wynns, Katnook, Hollick and Redman. And it may not be a label that grabs quite as many headlines, but the Parker label is one to watch – at least if I’m any judge. It’s a winery located in the southern part of the region that is a part of the broader Limestone Coast. Founded in 1985 by industry stalwart, John Parker (who passed in 2002), it was their “first Growth” of the 1988 vintage that put them on the oenological map in 2010.  As it turned out, it was the First Growth Cabernet which asserted the vineyard’s authority when Langtons awarded the wine the “excellent” classification, putting it on the same pedestal as other iconic wines of the Australian industry. The First Growth is a tad pricey these days, but it’s no shame to become a collectable rather than a dining table staple.

At the value end of the Parker wine spectrum is their “Terra Rossa” Cabernet Sauvignon. You’ll find it at most of the majors at around the $30-$35 price point and like so many modern products, it’s crafted in a style designed to provide instant gratification – after all, who has time to lay these bottles down and wait? The 2019 vintage must have been one of the better ones as it’s more impressive than I remember the previous vintages I’ve tried. There’s a youthful vibrancy to the dark fruit which shows blackberries and cassis in the front of the pallet and dense reds fruits, raspberries, olives and a savoury nutmeg and clove sweetness through the middle. There’s probably less bold tannin than we’d expect of the style – but I guess that’s why it’s such a consumer-friendly and “drink -now” style. Ever so slightly herbaceous, the finish is mint edged, cedary and undeniably elegant. You can’t fault its persistence. At the price point, it’s a notch above its peers on the same middle shelf of the bottle shop.

Coonawarra cabernet is undoubtedly matching motors with the world’s best; and if the Parker First Growth blows your budget, then the Parker Terra Rossa might be the perfectly able substitute when a full bodied red is the order of the day.

As published in Courier Mail.

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