I didn’t have much time to prepare a fancy dinner for a visiting musician friend, but I figured we could test our new oven convection setting with a roast chicken, and I pulled what I thought would be an interesting Australian claret-style red from the cellar. The chicken came out great, remaining juicy under its crisp skin, and the wine went well beyond interesting into immensely satisfying.
Petaluma’s 1999 Coonawarra bottling blends Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from a vineyard planted by Len Evans (one of the most influential figures in Australian wine in the late 20th century) at the edge of what is now the Coonawarra Geographical Indication. Historically, the Coonawarra appellation has produced some of the best, most claret-like wines in Australia.
Although I am an agnostic when it comes to Australian Cabernet, neither a fan nor a denigrator, this one fills the description perfectly. It arrays its mint, sage and cedar savory notes around a transparent core that still echoes with currant and dark berry fruit. 91 points, non-blind, for its gorgeous balance and quiet grace. Definitely worth cellaring, and sharing.