Wynns to host ‘Australia’s biggest ever Cabernet vertical’

7th January, 2016 by Darren Smith

The historic Wynns estate in Coonawarra is to host Australia’s biggest ever vertical tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon, according to its head winemaker Sue Hodder.

Wynns will host a vertical tasting of every vintage of its Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, stretching back to 1954, head winemaker Sue Hodder has said (Photo: Wynns)

Scheduled to take place at the winery in “around 18 months’ time”, the tasting will line up all 60 vintages of Wynns’ celebrated Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon – from 1954 to 2016 (no Black Label was produced in 1961 or 1963) – Hodder told the drinks business.

The winemaker added that Wynns – Coonawarra’s leading producer of Cabernet Sauvignon – is also “very keen” to take the Black Label vintage showcase on the road, hosting cross-section tastings in several countries, including the UK (London), Canada and Hong Kong.

“It’ll be around the release of the 2015 [Black Label] wine, so around the middle of 2017,” Hodder said. “It will be held at the winery, in the Gables building, but we will certainly try and do some cross-section tastings in London, with three wines from each decade – we’ll be very keen to do that.”

First produced in 1954, Wynns Black Label is produced from the best 20-25% of Cabernet fruit available from Wynns Coonawarra estate. It is typically blended to maintain style and quality throughout changes in vintage. It is widely regarded as one of Australia’s most collectible wines and a benchmark for Australian Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wynns heritage

Explaining the reason behind the planned vertical, Hodder said it was important to convey the story of Wynns rich winemaking heritage as Black Label reached its 60th vintage.

“It is a milestone,” she explained, “and there’s genuine interest in the wines, the stories and the heritage.

“We’re always trying to tell that story of heritage. We get labelled ‘New World’ but when we’ve got some of the oldest soils, vines and lineage of wines in the world… it’s important to tell this story.”

Hodder, who joined Wynns in 1993 and has been head winemaker for the estate since 1998, explained that while Wynns has always sought to achieve a level of consistency in its Black Label Cabernet, the vertical tasting would reveal a variety of subtle differences.

“Things that will be revealed will be changes in climate, viticultural techniques and management, slight changes in oak handling and winemaking approach,” she said, “And, in broad terms, probably fashions – the wines of the 80s are a lot leafier than what we would make now, for example.”

The 60-year tasting follows a similar large-scale vertical tasting held in 2004 to mark Black Label’s half-century. However, Hodder explains, much has happened in terms of refinement of viticultural practices in the past decade.

“The most profound difference between now and 2004 will be what’s happened with [vineyard manager] Alan Jenkins and what he’s done with our vineyards.

“The old wines are interesting, but it’ll be the last decades’ wines, [with] the refinements we’ve made in the vineyards and looking at what that’s meant – to my mind that will be the most interesting aspect of this tasting.”

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