Coonawarra needs Wynns to be strong

1st February, 2013 by Patrick Schmitt

Coonawarra deserves greater international recognition for the quality of its Cabernets according to speakers at a masterclass in London yesterday.

CoonawarraDuring a tasting and discussion on wines from the region, consultant Justin Knock MW and commentator Anthony Rose highlighted the viticultural improvements taking place in Coonawarra to maximise the expression of its exceptional terroir, which stems from its red soils and chalk bedrock.

Admitting that past vineyard practices in the region were not conducive to quality, such as minimal pruning, today’s careful canopy management for better bunch exposure, as well as the use of precision viticulture, are bringing superior results.

“People are terrified of minty characters,” said Knock, in contrast to a desire for leafy characters in Coonawarra Cabernet during the 80s.

Continuing, he said that the region’s biggest producer, Wynns – owned by Treasury Wine Esates – now uses GPS to map vineyards according to ripeness levels and mechanical harvesters with two bins to separate fruit according to sugar content.

Acknowledging that Wynns own as much as half the 5,600 hectare region, Knock said to db after the event, “Coonawarra needs Wynns to be strong.”

He added that the brand is already “getting stronger in Australia,” and recorded that the most cellared wines in the country are Penfold’s 389 and Wynns Black Label Cabernet.

Having poured the producer’s flagship John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2008 vintage during the tasting, Knock commented on its “classiness” and pointed out that a reduced new oak content meant the wine needed less time to soften.

“It use to be 100% new oak, but this wine, from 2008, is about 50%,” he recorded.

Meanwhile, Rose praised Wynns winemaker Sue Hodder for her low-profile approach and quality focus. “Sue is one of the most unsung heroes of Australian wine,” he said.

“She has no ego at all, but she is also self-assured and confident in the direction she is going, but a bit overshadowed in Treasury Wine Estates [portfolio] by Penfolds.”

Speaking to db at the end of last year, Tapanappa’s Brian Croser commented on the quality potential in Coonawarra, “The area with the most upside in Australia is Coonawarra, because it lost its way for so long.”

Furthermore, drawing attention to the refined nature of the region’s Cabernets, Bernard Hickin, chief winemaker for Jacob’s Creek (whose top label is the St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet) stressed the tannin quality in the wines.

“There’s something about the tannins in Coonawarra Cabernet: they follow through, when sometimes in Cabernet they stand away from the fruit,” he told db.

Wynns_logoLooking ahead, Rose said as yesterday’s event drew to a close that the next chapter in the Coonawarra story will be the emergence of wines from specific plots.

The event also emphasised the site and climatic specifics of Coonawarra compared to other fine wine Cabernet-producing regions.

Speaking initially about the Coonawarra soil, Rose reminded attendees that the area benefits from three elements: an iron rich, russet coloured soil; a porous limestone bedrock, and beneath that, a pure water table.

The soil is important for absorbing heat – Cabernet has a long growing season –  the limestone for drainage – Cabernet likes free-draining soils – and the subterranean water table is an important insurance against low-rainfall vintages.

In terms of climate, Rose drew on information compiled by Brian Croser to show that Coonawarra is a moderate and maritime region, with cold, wet winters and a long warm summer.

Croser’s data showed that relative to other major Cabernet producing regions, Coonawarra is cool.

While Bolgheri in Tuscany has 1712 degree days and the Médoc 1485, Coonawarra has just 1414.

One Response to “Coonawarra needs Wynns to be strong”

  1. Gianni Travaglione says:

    Hi wine lover,

    Yes the Coonawarra is a markedly undervalued and under recognised Australia wine region. The wines of the Coonawarra speak of terrior.. More so than any other red produced in Australia.

    Sue Hodder is a prime example of a true professional who is a consummate ambassador and winemaker for the Wynns label with a strong and passionate drive to improve the quality and focus of the Coonawarra wines that she produces.

    The wines of the Coonawarra are truly amazing! Be they made to be cellared or consumed in the obligatory 24 hours of purchase. Another under valued area of the Coonawarra wines are their whites and Italian varietals. Do yourself a favour and discover the wines of the Coonawarra, go for a drive and visit the great cellar doors and the bright and enthusiastic people of the “warra”.

    P.S. I’m currently working in the Barossa Valley in the wine industry for a famous family owned winery but I was reinvigorated by the enthusiasm of the people of the Coonawarra.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

ViVAS Wine - Category Development Manager

ViVAS
Harlow and Stowmarket or Salisbury, UK

Fine Wine Logistics Coordinator

IG Wines
London, GB

Brand Ambassador East Coast USA - Ableforth’s

Maverick Drinks
New York - field-based, USA

Brand Ambassador West Coast USA - Ableforth’s

Maverick Drinks
San Francisco / Los Angeles - field-based, USA

Global Travel Retail Manager

Maverick Drinks
London, UK

Portfolio Ambassador - Europe

Maverick Drinks
North West Europe - field-based, UK

Senior Partner Manager - Grocery

Maverick Drinks
London/Field Based, UK

Sales Executive

Woolf Sung Ltd
London

Trade Marketing Manager - Maverick Drinks

Maverick Drinks
London / Kent

Business Development Executive Central London

William Grant & Sons UK
London

Almaviva 2015 Vintage and Vertical Tasting

London,United Kingdom
28th Sep 2017

TFWA World Exhibition & Conference

Cannes,France
1st Oct 2017

Franciacorta London Festival

London,United Kingdom
2nd Oct 2017
Click to view more

Global Chardonnay Masters 2017

Deadline : 29th September 2017

The Global Riesling Masters 2017

Deadline : 29th September 2017

Click to view more

Champagne Masters 2017

The only Champagne blind tasting in the UK, the competition will reward the best wines in the following categories:

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

Click to view more