This International Cabernet Sauvignon Day, find out why Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon is King.
For Brand’s Laira Chief Winemaker, Peter Weinberg, the saying Cabernet is King certainly rings true. In fact, it’s Coonawarra Cabernet that he believes really is the King of Kings. We caught up with him from the Coonawarra winery to understand why.
Q. Cabernet Sauvignon is often called the king of red wines, what do you love about Cabernet Sauvignon as a varietal?
PW: Cabernet Sauvignon IS the king of red wines; though it is grown widely around the world the best Cabernet Sauvignon requires certain climatic conditions, and Coonawarra is a region that meets those requirements. A classic Cabernet Sauvignon wine displays voluptuous dark berry fruits supported by subtle oak with a powerful fine velvety tannin structure. The wine will have great length and purity and also offer great ageing ability.
Q. When it comes to producing what is considered among the very best cabernet sauvignon in the world, what makes Coonawarra so special?
PW: There are a number of factors involved, but like the other great Cabernet producing regions in the world, the Coonawarra wine region has a maritime influence which results in a cooler and longer ripening period. This extended ripening period allows the flavours to slowly develop in tandem with tannin and colour development resulting in intense flavours, good colour and big fine tannin structure. Coonawarra also has its classic Terra Rossa soils which in tandem with the climate produce our stand out wines. These soils allow for in very fine tannin development with the Limestone base providing both good drainage and access to moisture.
Q. What makes Brand’s Laira Cabernet Sauvignon different from other wine producers in the region?
PW: Many wineries exhibit ‘house’ styles. Brand’s Laira wines are typically fruit dominant with a rounded fine palate structure and exhibit balance and good length of flavour.
Q. What aromas and flavours should we look for when enjoying a glass of Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon?
PW: Typical fruit aromas are Cassis (blackcurrant), blackberry and blueberry, sometimes dried herbs (sage) and mint. A good Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon should be matured in French Oak thus the wine should display aromas and flavours from both the fruit and the oak. From oak you can get vanilla, spice, mocha, cedar among others. However, these oak flavours should be supportive of the fruit flavours and not dominate or overpower them.
Q. How does this varietal lend itself to winemaking, and the winemaking techniques you enjoy most?
PW: With Cabernet Sauvignon, picking the grapes at the correct time is essential, too early and flavours will be green and the tannins hard, too late will result in a jammy broad wine.
We watch each vineyard block closely as ripening progresses so that we can harvest when the fruit is at its optimum, that is when dark fruit flavours are exhibited and the skin and seed tannins are ‘ripe’ and this can only be done best by observation and tasting out in the vineyard.
For those readers interested in the winemaking process and fermentation here is a bit more detail surrounding the process. We conduct the primary fermentation in a mix of static and rotary fermenters over 7 days, and complete primary and secondary fermentation in oak barrels. We also utilise a number of other fermentation techniques that are very interesting and produce differences in the resulting wines. One technique is complete fermentation with skins and seeds in the actual barrel that will also be used for maturation, we also leave a percentage of wine ‘on skins’ in the fermenters for an extended period before pressing off giving a different tannin structure and flavour profile.
Q. What will the Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the 2020 vintage be remembered for?
PW: There are many things 2020 will be remembered for and Vintage 2020 vintage had lots of those things hanging over it as well – heat, dry, fires and the impacts of COVID-19 on our international workers. However, we can report that our wines from Vintage 2020 have come out trumps (not the Donald kind though). The Cabernet Sauvignon wines will be a little more medium bodied but still display good ripe fruit characters and lovely fine tannin structure.
Q. Coming into Spring and the 2021 vintage, what steps will you take to prepare the Cabernet Sauvignon vines to ensure they are in the best possible health to produce optimum fruit quality?
PW: At the moment we are nearly finished pruning our vines and winter dormancy will come to an end in the coming week. All the vines are looking great having been pruned to the ideal bud numbers, we just hope the frosts keep away!
Q. What are your top tips for enjoying Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon?
PW: My favourite dish to go with Cabernet Sauvignon is a traditional Beef Bourguignon done the hard and slow way – if it takes less than 4-5 hours to make it’s not the right way! Serving temp not too warm or too cool, around 18 degrees is perfect. For wines over 6-8 years, definitely decant before serving.
Q. If you could only drink one Cabernet Sauvignon wine what would it be?
PW: Of course I’m going to nominate a Brand’s Laira wine and in this case my favourite is the 2010 One Seven One. Also look out for the 2019 1968 Vines Cabernet Sauvignon – it is right up there with the best!
Q. Finally, anything else you would like to share?
PW: Chardonnay is the Queen of whites!
To purchase our Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignons, please visit our online store here