William Wilson Coonawarra Shiraz Cabernet 2016
($300; 14.5% alcohol; cork; 250 cases)
It’s not as raw as I recall Peppermint Pattie being, but holy hell this is an exotic pretty that reminds me of that legendary Mildara Coonawarra from 1963. That old glory was all Cabernet, mind you, and probably not quite as ripe as this, but keen as I was to get the damn cork out from under this wax, I sat bumped square on my arse once I got the smell of this flooding across the table.
It’s an incredible gastronomic ornament, and it floods like a big fluffy musky marshmallow cushion of loveliness that comes right up to your chin. You need only lean the hooter down a few inches to get a proper headful. Whoosh! It’s the whole damn confectioner’s shop, from crystallised violets to spun sugar fairy floss pashmak to red and black currant fruit gels and the chill Malay shaved ice dessert ais kacang, with all those jungle syrups dribbling over it.
Which doesn’t sound much like a proper bottle of red wine, eh. Nope. And this is not. This is a freak.
Grown and made by the Balnaves and Redman families, it’s named after their common ancestor, the canny Black Watch Highlander Wilson who was probably the first white bloke to appreciate the gardening potential of the long terra rossa bank that stretches from Penola to Coonawarra. Old William would have turned 200 this year. It’s all his fault.
This wine, his namesake, is lithe and spritely, but never sinewy or tough. It’s so pretty with all those confections that it sometimes seems barely vinous: you might forget that’s dry red wine in your glass.
Which it is, or course. It’s just that this wine is so cutely balanced and disarming in its dimpled youth you might forget it’s likely to rock along, cork willing, for a couple of decades yet. It has many brazen hearts to break, this beauty, and as many broken ones to heal. Whadder you got?
Other than that total warp in the Mildara cosmos from 1963, maybe the only other Coonawarra reds much along the lines of this would be Penfolds hyper-luxuries, like the staggering Penfolds Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2008. Which was $1000 a pop before it sold out in a flash upon release in 2011, if you need some price relavisin.
I’m not suggesting anybody should blithely duck out and buy a couple of cases of this: it’s expensive. I can’t afford it. But now and then when somebody needs a very special gift this would be the business. This would please every party. This is extra. Just remember: two glasses. One corkscrew. And a suite.
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