This icon iteration from Xavier Bizot, as he stakes the red-wine reputation of his south-east SA Wrattonbully vineyard on the traditional Australian cabernet-shiraz blend, is claret on steroids. What makes it his ultimate statement, his “Reserve” style, is immediately obvious in the glass: a seductive perfume of cabernet in crushed black berry and floral violet mode, these spilling into an intensely evocative weave of rich, dark, spicy and savoury elements that speak all about the synergy of fruit, oak and time.
Each of the elements – 68% cabernet sauvignon, and 16% each of shiraz and cabernet franc – spent an average of 11 months in 84% new oak barrels before the blend maturing a further 17 months in a five-year-old 4000l foudre before bottle ageing for 18 months. With all that, the full-bodied complexity and balance is a major achievement, tannin integration and support providing an exact grip and tension to match the impressive fruit concentration. A big, bold and beautiful wine that will offer serious vinous pleasure for 10 to 20 years.
The word “reserve” on the label is included presumably to make drinkers aware of its serious intent. And the fact that the winemaker, Xavier Bizot, suggests cellaring for two to three decades, reinforces the idea. He wants this wine to represent the apogee of the Cab-Shiraz style, although in truth there is also a third noticeable player, Cabernet Franc (16%).
In contrast to his standard and joyously fruit forward Cab-Shiraz, Bizot goes for generous fruit aligned with notable structure. A high percentage of new French oak (84%) will be a talking point and no doubt is there to give extra credence to a wine intended for serious aging and discussion.
Black berries, licorice backstrap, dusty earth, discreet herbals and vanilla oak can all be discerned on the bouquet. In the mouth, there’s a sense of power matched equally by a pronounced quality oak presence. Powdery tannins define and shape the firm palate and long finish.
Does the use of cork contribute to an immediate impression of this being more muted, not as vibrant, or is this the extra years? None of which is to suggest that it is not a fine wine, just slightly different in style.
There is certainly a noticeable leap in complexity here. And depth. There are more warm earth tones, dry vegetation and a hint of chocolate cake. Supple dark fruits. It has moved more quickly to tertiary characters than one expects will happen with the two previous reds.
Very fine tannins and good length. It does have years ahead, notwithstanding the difference in style. There is also an elegance here that is not so obvious in the other reds.
Andrea Pritzker MW
Complex bouquet of cassis, mulberry, eucalypt and savoury spice. Well- structured and powerful with a full body and plentiful tannins leading to a drying, slightly chewy finish. A wine with a long future ahead.
A classic cabernet sauvignon blend that is robust and dense with clear aging potential. Ripe and generous fruit is matched by clove and vanillin from extended oak aging, all of which is underpinned by significant structure. Blackberry, red earth, graphite and white pepper fruits are powerful, yet balanced, and lead to a dry and full-bodied palate defined by a blanket of tannins and balanced acidity. The finish is long and strong, again providing the impression that it will drink very well for at least fifteen years, if not significantly longer.
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