Wine review — Helm and Wynns Coonawarra Estate

Helm Canberra District Cabernet Sauvignon 2007  $27–$32
There’s bad news and good news. First the bad – frost decimated Ken Helm’s cabernet crop in 2007. And now the good news – the small, crop, much of it second-growth fruit, developed ripe flavours at low sugar levels, meaning lower alcohol wine. And more good news – Ken backed off on the new oak, using mainly two and three year old barrels. The result is a fragrant, elegant, delicious cabernet, rippling with sweet, supple varietal fruit, counterbalanced by cabernet’s assertive, drying tannins. This is a big step away from the too-oaky wines of past vintages, liberating the bright, berry fruit flavours.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 2008 $9.90–$20
Put this and the cabernet in the next column on your bargain-watch list. Both are phenomenally good wines and occasionally the big retailers prices slash the prices to ridiculously low levels. It’s a beautifully aromatic, vibrant, cool climate shiraz featuring ripe but spicy and juicy fruit flavours and ever-so-fine, soft tannins. It’s sourced from central and northern Coonawarra and matured for just six months in older French and American oak barrels. I suspect, however, that another few months in oak and an extra year in bottle might have taken this to an even higher level. It drinks well now and will flourish for decades if well cellared.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate  ‘Black Label’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 $19–$32
A severe frost in October 2006 nipped much of the 2007 vintage in the bud, reducing production of Black Label by 80 per cent. What’s left, though, is a world-class cabernet, at the elegant end of the Coonawarra spectrum. The colour’s vibrant and limpid. And though the aroma’s ripe and purely varietal, the palate is medium bodied, with the unique, and delicious, underlying power and structure of Coonawarra cabernet.  It’s already drinkable and showing some savoury notes. But there’s the depth and harmony here for a good ten years, probably more, in a good cellar.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010