Another Margaret River red found it’s way onto the bench this week – a shiraz this time – the discreet mistress variety in this cabernet-centric, cool-climate region Western Australia. Xanadu have been around since 1977, and wine devotees will remember well the public listing, the rapid increase in production, the awkward management that led to the temporary demise of the beloved label. And the resurrection under the reins of the Rathbone family. But... to the wine.
Dark red, muddy sort-of colour. A not-very-traditional meaty aroma greeted, with smoky char, burnt cherry, or sweet tar? A light prickle for the senses. More recognisable characters of blackberry and red-fruits, carob, black olive and cinnamon quill. There’s a purple-ness about this wine. Purple for me describes a freshness and richness, a youth of sorts, a vibrancy. The oak looks silky, but it’s definitely on show. Actually, it ebbs and flows, but is always precise. There’s a little green/white pepper. The muddiness = less varietal character, but no less interesting.
The palate strikes me as creamy, yet still murky, and the finish is drying a little. Medium weight, it is bassy and the forest floor flavours dominate. But I also see redcurrants, plum and raspberry – quite a sweet palate really, but dense. Smoky BBQ char again, tannins firmish – will need some food (duly supplied in the form of osso bucco). On the warm side maybe, but this wine opens beautifully in the glass and shows some seductive shapes and flavours, while at the same time feels secretive and restrained. Yes, the finish is drying but the food sorted that out.
Really enjoyed this over two nights. It’s got some mystery, and in many ways lacks varietal definition, but who gives a toss really. It’s a bloody nice drink. It charms even when you lift the glass, and your eyes absorb the muddy colour before it reaches your nose and lips. X-Factor? Yeah, there’s that. As is often the case, the food really allowed this wine to show it’s best. Good stuff.
Value: A $29 retail price is most comfortable.
Tasted: August 2011
Producer: Xanadu Wines – www.xanaduwines.com. Established in 1977 by the Lagan family, doctors who migrated from Ireland in 1968. Rapid growth and a public listing in the mid-90’s saw the spectacular collapse of the company. The current owners, the Rathbones, bought the assets of the business in 2005 and seem to be doing a sterling job of rebuilding the brand. Winemaker – Glenn Goodall.
Region: Margaret River, central.
Site: Roughly half the fruit is estate grown from the Stevens Road vineyard in central Margaret River, and the rest from growers. No specific site info available.
Winemaking: Partial whole berry fermentation, combination of tank and French oak maturation. A dash of Viognier is in here too.
Vintage: A classic vintage. 2008 was an excellent year in the region, following on from the superb 2007. The 08’s tended to have a little more structure in both whites and reds – a little firmer and robust, without losing that general elegance of Margs. Probably the 08's will outlive the 07's.