Friday, March 25, 2011

2006 Koonara 'Ambriel's Gift' Cabernet Sauvignon

A mate of mine gifted this to me. I’d not heard of the label before. So, a little less curiosity and a bit more action saw it cracked open in the fine company of several winemaker buddies. Vibrant blood-red colour. And when I say that... it’s more like the deep, dark, blood-red colour of resting beef than if I cut myself shaving. And, apparently, did you know the juice from resting beef is not even blood – it’s actually proteins and other stuff, so there – I feel better already.

Anyway, I really, really like the bouquet on this wine. You get smacked in the nose with pure, unadulterated, densely-layered, minty, blackcurranty Coonawarra cab sav. Unmistakeable. (Unless you’re from Margaret River and you might be forgiven for getting confused). There’s a leafy/herbal hue to this wine, but show me a Coonawarra that doesn’t have it and I’ll show you a lesser wine. Sticking with the herbal theme: I'm liking the bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and mint (goddamn, I love all them herbs!), and I'm liking a touch of green capsicum and a lovely little flush of rose petal. If we’re talking about the fruity spectrum then we’re talking about blackcurrant, black plum, dark chocolate cherry ripe, and a touch of raisin. The oak is dusty and cedary, yet slightly sappy and varnishy, but not in a negative sense. There’s some enticing brambly, earthy notes too, to add sex appeal. Overall this wine pushes the red, black and blueberry aroma buttons nicely.

The palate shows some decent structure, tannins pretty firm still, acid pretty taut. What it lacks, oh-so marginally, is the weight and power of fruit flavour to match the structure. It’s slatey and there’s some oak showing. It’s medium-bodied, warming and supple enough, with a continuation of the red berry flavours – raspberry, plum, blueberry – but ultimately the tannins are a little drying and the intensity on the palate didn’t quite live up to the promise of the nose. Although, I do love the spicy pepper and meatiness, and it went down pretty well with a chunky beef stew.

I liked this wine. I probably wanted to like it more, but... really, I’m satisfied with how it stacked up against the braised beef and fresh pasta. I don’t know much about the Koonara guys but I think this wine is a decent example of Coonawarra Cab from a pretty good vintage. Thumbs uppish.
Value: The website tells me the current release is 2004 and is priced at $30. Not sure if the site is up to date, but $30 is probably at the upper end of value-for-money. It looks like this wine is the flagship.
Tasted: March 2011
Closure: Screwcap

Producer: Koonara Wines – – the Reschke family have owned the property for over 100 years. The website claims the vineyard is kept to 2 tonnes per acre – no mean feat. A lot of passion here.
Region: Coonawarra, South Australia (Cabernet country)
Vintage: A superb vintage for the 'warra. The third in a row actually. Warm, dry conditions provided low-yielding, yet aromatic wines. Almost as good as it gets.

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