Petaluma Coonawara 2004

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Cool climate Australian wine is the underdog of the Aussie wine world, at least in North America. So many consumers go for Barossa or McLaren heavy duty fruit beasts without realizing the climatic variation in Australia and the massive impact that it has on grape quality. Perhaps the North American critics have brought all the profile to the two main regions without spending enough time on the cooler versions. That, at least, leaves them to discover for the rest of us, and thankfully keeps prices relatively sober.

This Petaluma red blend is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot mixture with Cab being the dominant grape. At once on the nose one notices cassis, licorice, with black and blueberry compote. But, as with most cool climate Australian wines I’ve tasted, there is a distinct calmness to the nose that bespeaks the perhaps greater balance present in the best of these wines. The palate was suave, with cassis, cedar and mint predominating like a classic cab. However, the merlot seems to have really smoothed out the palate and the tannins are very fine. There is great purity of flavour and the wine is long and full in the mouth with a nice touch of tang on the finish. Cool climate brilliance.

$50 at Marquis


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