Wynns Coonawarra Black Label is recognised as one of Australia’s most collected and cellared wines and yet it has always had the most modest of price tags. Roger Jones attended a 15-vintages vertical to celebrate 60 years of this most iconic Australian wine.
There have been 60 vintages of Wynns Coonawarra Black Label and winemaker Sue Hodder has been in charge of almost half of them.
Sue Hodder who was this year’s recipient of ‘Woman of Inspiration’ in Australia Women in Wine Awards announced on Tuesday at the Australia High Commission has been at Wynns for 25 vintages.
Last week Sue was in London showcasing a range of wines from the 60 vintages that have been produced of Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon and to launch the 2015 vintage. The Wynns Coonawarra Black Label is recognised as one of Australia’s most collected and cellared wines in Australia.
The first vintage in 1954 was made by winemaker Norm Walker, and bottled in white labels. The 1955 and 1956 were Aussie Clarets (Cab and Shiraz blends) whilst the 1969 was Cabernet Hermitage. Shiraz was added, as there was a shortage of Cabernet available in those years.
The style has changed and evolved going through trends and winemakers but Sue has gradually over 25 years put her influence into the wine, with the 2015 showcasing elegance, soft perfume aromas and tannins that melt in the mouth.
1965 – the first to have the Black Label, this was served from magnum – focused, deep flavoured with dark fruits, cassis, chocolate, light clean colour, perfect balance.
1975 – full bodied, lots of blueberries flowing on the palate, delicate sweet conserve, lovely and fresh on the finish with toasty oak.
1986 – gentle lambs’ blood juices, then fresh berries on the palate, very bright showing well.
1988 – herbaceous, seems quite evolved, meaty flavours, bacon, fruit comes to the fore after a while.
1990 – lovely and bright, juicy dark victoria plums, purity and freshness is amazing, cassis and black olives evolve on the palate.
1991 – sadly both bottles tried failed to show well, but I note that this vintage is highly regarded.
1994 – closed to begin with, but then evolves after about 30 minutes into a beautiful textured wine with bright berries, gently soothing the palate.
1999 – dark and big, tannins are still quite big, sweet-fruited, nice acidity.
The Millennium was a year of all change
There were marked viticulture changes to the vineyards from 2000 when Allen Jenkins came on board to reinvigorate large areas of old vine and to bring on greater sustainability and ultimately grow the ‘perfect grape’.
Use of oak changed, and size of barrels, the 2015 for example was matured partly in 3000 litre vats. Screw Cap was introduced from the 2006 vintage, less acid adjustment is now required due to canopy management, and more recently an optical sorting table was introduced to get even more precision.
2001 – Youthful, plummy, well balanced, savoury, juicy fruit evolving on the palate.
2008 – From a very warm vintage, juicy, full, ripe, clean precise berries, rippling along the palate. Textured, opulent, this will age for a long time.
2012 – Sweet floral on nose, slightly closed on palate, but gently glowing with precise clean fine berries
2015 – Vibrant exciting nose, the palate is full of juicy but precise fruits – purity, precise, a fabulous wine that defies its price.