Producer: Nugan Estate
Region/Appellation: South Eastern Australia
Country Hierarchy: Australia
Grape/Blend: Cabernet Sauvignon
Food Suggestion: Beef and Venison
Wine Style: Red – Rich and Intense
Alcohol Content: 13.5 – 14%
South Eastern Australia Wine
South-Eastern Australia is a Geographical Indication (GI) covering the entire southeastern third of Australia. This area’s western boundary stretches 1250 miles (2000 km) across the Australian continent, from the Pacific coast of Queensland to the Southern Ocean coast in South Australia. This vast viticultural “super zone” effectively encompasses every significant Australian wine region outside Western Australia.
Australian Flag and Vines ©Jonathan Reeve
Rainforest, mountain ranges, scrubland, desert and dried-up riverbeds occupy the majority land within the South Eastern Australia zone. It is only in cooler, coastal areas that vineyards play any significant role in the landscape. The GI covers the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania in their entirety, and also the southeastern halves of both Queensland and South Australia.
The sheer scale of this zone – and the diversity of its climates, topography and latitudes – makes it a GI (Geographical Indication) of rather limited meaning. Even the very largest AVA titles in the United States do not constitute even half of the area labeled as South Eastern Australia. This GI’s existence is the result of legal wrangling between the ever-expanding Australian wine industry and bureaucrats of the European Union, Australia’s most important consumer base. EU law states that, when labeled with the grape variety from which they are made, imported wines must also bear the name of an officially recognized geographical area of origin (a GI). As a significant proportion of Australian wine, particularly in the lower price brackets, is blended from wines made in multiple states, South Eastern Australia was created as an official labeling term.
Australia’s larger producers have been known to create a “South Eastern Australia” wine in order to blend away leftovers from their more location-specific ranges, or even to protect the name of a prestigious region after a poor vintage. This also helps wineries to maintain a more consistent style for a particular wine label or brand from year to year, regardless of vintage conditions. Subsequently, wines labeled as South Eastern Australia rarely display strong regional or varietal characteristics, and are purchased because of their lower price rather than any quality implied by the GI.
Most South-Eastern Australian wines are made from the widely known vinifera grape varieties, particularly those which already have an established reputation or following. Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc are the most likely ingredients of a South Eastern Australia white wine, with the reds generally consisting of Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the most famous red wine grape variety on Earth. It is rivaled in this regard only by its Bordeaux stablemate Merlot, and its opposite number in Burgundy, Pinot Noir. From its origins in Bordeaux, Cabernet has successfully spread to almost every winegrowing country in the world. It is now the key grape variety in many first-rate New World wine regions, most notably Napa Valley, Coonawarra and Maipo Valley. Wherever they come from, Cabernet Sauvignon wines always seem to demonstrate a handful of common character traits: deep color, good tannin structure, moderate acidity and aromas of blackcurrant, tomato leaf, dark spices and cedarwood.
Used as frequently in blends as in varietal wines, Cabernet Sauvignon has a large number of common blending partners. Apart from the obvious Merlot and Cabernet Franc, the most prevalent of these are Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere (the ingredients of a classic Bordeaux Blend), Shiraz (in Australia’s favorite blend) and in Spain and South America, a Cabernet – Tempranillo blend is now commonplace. Even the bold Tannat-based wines of Madiran are now generally softened with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes © Jonathan Reeve
DNA profiling carried out in California in 1997 confirmed that Cabernet Sauvignon is the product of a natural genetic crossing between key Bordeaux grape varieties Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Most wine authorities agree that this crossing happened only within the past few centuries, making the variety’s global fame and dominance all the more impressive. (© Wine-Searcher)
There are two key reasons for Cabernet Sauvignon’s rise to dominance. The most simple and primordial of these is that its vines are highly adaptable to different soil types and climates; it is grown at latitudes as disparate as 50°N (Okanagan in Canada) and 20°S (northern Argentina), and in soils as different as the Pessac-Leognan gravels and the iron-rich terra rossa of Coonawarra. Secondary to this, but just as important, is that despite the diversity of terroirs in which the vine is grown, Cabernet Sauvignon wines retain an inimitable “Cab” character, nuanced with hints of provenance in the best-made examples. There is just a single reason, however, for the durability of the variety’s fame and that is simple economics; the familiarity and marketability of the Cabernet Sauvignon name has an irresistible lure to wine companies looking for a reliable return on their investment.
A vigorous variety (another characteristic in its favor), Cabernet Sauvignon produces a dense leaf canopy and relatively high grape yields, giving wine producers a fairly open choice between quantity and quality. Careful vineyard management is essential, however, to coax the best out of the fruit.
As a late-flowering and late-ripening variety, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes mature slowly. This can also work for or against wine quality; in a cold season or climate there is a risk of the grapes failing to ripen fully, while in most other conditions the steady rate of progress offers producers a wider choice of harvest dates.
Few would argue that the finest examples of Cabernet Sauvignon wine are found in Bordeaux and California, a standpoint supported by the 1976 Judgment of Paris. The past two decades have seen a raft of quality Cabernets emerging from New World regions such as Maipo in Chile and Coonawarra in Australia. These are gaining popularity with an increasingly broad consumer base as the world’s most prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon wines become prohibitively expensive. The variety has now made its way even into such established and traditional Italian names as Chianti and Carmignano (albeit restricted to 15 percent of the permitted blend), evidence that even the oldest and most traditional wine institutions now recognize the value of this most famous of grapes.
Synonyms include: Bidure, Bouche, Bordo, Bouchet, Burdeos Tinto, Lafite, Vidure.
Food matches for Cabernet Sauvignon include:
- Fillet steak with foie gras and truffles
- Beef wellington with honey roasted carrots
- Korean-style beef stir fried in garlic, soy and sesame
(sources : wine-searcher)