26 September 2023

Four Special Reds

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By Christine Salins.


2016 Suluti – Cabernet Shiraz

South Australia has a great reputation for Shiraz but let’s not forget how well it does Cabernet Sauvignon. Here we have four reds, all South Australian, one a Cabernet and the others Cabernet blends.

All are very special wines – flagships for their respective companies. They’re wines to be savoured and appreciated, cellared for a few years if you will, or enjoyed on a special occasion now if you can’t wait.

Zema Estate’s 2016 Saluti is a Cabernet Shiraz, a quintessential Aussie blend that represents the best of these classic Coonawarra varieties. Released only in exceptional vintages, the 2016 Saluti commemorates 40 years of operation as a family-owned winery.

This beautiful wine is a wonderful tribute to the Zema family, who are quiet achievers in Coonawarra, consistently producing high-quality wines with an eye on the future but never forgetting their Italian roots.

JOSEPH Moda Cabernet Merlot

Francesca and the late Demetrio Zema founded the business in 1982, their legacy continuing through son Nick and grandson Demetrio (son of Nick’s late brother Matt). Saluti to many more years of winemaking success.

Cabernet grows beautifully in Coonawarra where the Hill-Smith family, owners of Yalumba, have the Menzies Estate vineyard on the famous terra rossa strip. Grapes for The Menzies 2017 are from Cabernet vines planted in 1994 and 1996.

Since its inaugural vintage in 1987, The Menzies (named after you know who) has forged a reputation as a wine of longevity, elegance and structure. (Menzies is said to have been a red wine enthusiast.)

In the same year, 1987, Primo Estate’s Joe Grilli released the first vintage of JOSEPH Moda, a Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot blend made from air-dried grapes in the moda (method) of Italian Amarone wines.

Sevenhill Ignatius

The story goes back a few years earlier to 1984 when Grilli was in a London wine bar and a sommelier poured him an Italian Amarone. The young winemaker had never heard of it but was so blown away he knew it was a style he had to master.

Moda’s McLaren Vale grapes are dried on open racks then crushed in open-top fermenters and put into French and American oak for 18 months. This results in incredible intensity, and I can highly recommend treating yourself to a bottle of this very special wine.

Another South Australian winery with a remarkable legacy is Sevenhill, which last year celebrated 170 years of winemaking in the Clare Valley. Established by Jesuits in 1851, initially to make sacramental wine, it is still run by the same Catholic religious order.

Yalumba_Coonawarra Collection_Menzies

Sadly, Brother John May, who steered the ship for the best part of half a century, died just before last year’s birthday celebrations but the launch of a new range of premium wines pays tribute to his remarkable legacy. Enjoy these very special reds.

Zema Estate 2016 Saluti Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz, $145.99: Each vine for this limited release was pruned by hand – shaped and nurtured to achieve just the right balance of vigour, yield and quality. It’s restrained and elegant with gorgeous plum and blackberry notes, a little bit of spice and umami, velvety tannins and a delicious finish that continues long after the last sip. Make that a slurp.

Yalumba 2017 The Menzies Cabernet Sauvignon, $60: There’s a touch of classic Coonawarra mint and spice in this rich, concentrated red which is destined to age well but drinks beautifully now (decanting suggested). Quite floral on the nose, it is bright with chocolate, cinnamon and blueberry notes, and nicely gentle tannins.

JOSEPH 2020 ‘Moda’ Cabernet Merlot, $90: Lush and opulent, with intense vanilla and cedar oak. Suggest decanting as it needs a little time to open up, but when it does, it rewards with a generous long finish and rich blueberry, raspberry, mocha and raisin notes. Big, bold, beautiful.

Sevenhill 2019 St Ignatius, $50: Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Merlot and lesser amounts of Malbec and Cabernet Franc, each fermented separately. Aromatic and complex with silky tannins, delicious plum and blackberry notes, and hints of chocolate, juniper and pepper. A heavenly drop in more ways than one, the wine is named for Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuit Order (makers of this wine).

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