Wine review — Wynns Coonawarra John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 1982–1999

Tasting notes of Wynns Coonawarra Estate
John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon magnums 1982–1999
Redfingers Restaurant, Coonawarra
November 15th, 2004

These are my notes made on the eve of a fifty-years-of-Wynns cabernet tasting. Wynns booklet, ‘Reflections’ covers the full sequence of wines from 1954–2004 tasted the following day.

1982
Deep colour, youthful for its age, with some signs of browning at the rim; wonderful aroma and palate, showing cedary oak and mellow aged notes over a core of elegant, sweet, varietal fruit. A superb, complex ageing red in complete harmony and with many years left in it. Developed well for several hours after opening. 19.5/20

1984
Medium to deep still youthful colour; lifted and attractive berry-like aroma but simple and one dimensional in comparison to the 1982; the palate reflects the aroma with its pleasant, soft and varietal berry flavours. An attractive, easy drinking John Riddoch at its peak. 17/20

1985
Medium to deep colour showing distinct brown hues at the meniscus; the aroma reveals leathery, aged character over rich, underlying fruit; the palate is solid and chewy with a surprising depth and layers of rich, varietal fruit and firm tannins as well as the bottle-aged leathery characters. 18/20

1986
Medium to deep colour with only the slightest hint of ageing; lifted varietal aroma with a hint of leafiness; powerful, intense and lifted palate reflecting the aroma – a wine showing great freshness, lift and vitality for its age. Has years to go. 18.75/20

1987
Medium to deep colour and quite youthful; spicy oak and leathery, aged character dominate the aroma; this carries to the palate which also delivers leafy, varietal cabernet flavour, although these appear to be drying out. 16/20.

1988
Medium to deep colour, still a youthful red at the meniscus; strong and bright ripe-berry cabernet character shows on nose and plate. This is a youthful, balanced and appealing John Riddoch still on the way up. 18/20.

1990
Always has been and still is a powerhouse – atypical of Coonawarra yet the essence of Coonawarra at the same time; the colour is very deep and youthful; the aroma and palate are brooding and deep but, clearly, this is varietal cabernet with the mid palate richness of Coonawarra – almost a syrup in its richness. Needs more time. 19/20.

1991
After the blockbuster 1990, this is perfumed, elegant refined – classic Coonawarra, combining elegance and strength; lovely ripe-berry varietal flavour seamed with cedary oak and held together by supple, persistent tannins. Looking young. 18.5/20.

1992
Medium to deep and still youthful colour; berry cabernet aromas with a leafy edge; the palate shows the same leaf-edged berry flavour in an elegant and tight structure. Looking young but without depth or complexity after the 1990 and 1991. 17/20.

1993
Medium to deep, still with youthful crimson hues at the rim; slightly vegetal aroma, followed by a big and tannic palate layered with fruit and oak. In its own right, an appealing, maturing wine, but flanked by the 90, 91 and the 96, looks a little clumsy. 16/20.

1994
Deep colour with youthful crimson rim; cedary, oaky nose and quite powerful palate on which oak, at this stage, tends to overshadow the fruit. 17/20

1996
Deep colour with vibrant crimson rim; subdued nose but lifted and powerful palate with layers of superb fruit, cedary oak and firm but elegant structure. A wine of great intensity, complexity and harmony with the power and elegance of great cabernet. Needs time. 18.75/20

1997
Deep colour with crimson rim; green-bean character hovers over the berry cabernet and although the wine shows Riddoch-like power, this underlying greenness detracts. 17.5/20

1998
Dense, crimson-rimmed colour; the aroma is dominated by oak, although there’s ample, dense fruit underlying it; the palate, too, is huge in the oak, fruit and tannin departments, with oak a little dominant at present. These elements will probably all marry with time, but this John Riddoch is not ready to enjoy yet. 17.5/20.

1999
Deep, crimson-rimmed colour; elegant and sweetly-perfumed ripe-berry aroma with cedary oak complexity; intense palate with deep, sweet berry flavours cocooned in cedary oak and supple, velvety tannins. This is classic Coonawarra cabernet needing time to reveal all of its complexity. 18.5/2

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2004 & 2007

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