250 miles south of Adelaide and just 55 miles north of the Southern Australian coastline lies the Coonawarra wine region. With an international reputation as one of Australia's great wine regions, this is an area that epitomises terroir-driven wines. Famous for its Terra rossa soils (Italian for red soil), the terroir here is a fruit grower's dream. Below the Terra rossa lies a free-draining limestone base and a natural and permanent supply of pure underground water within the limestone aquifer (a pocket of underground water to you and me).
Wynns Coonawarra Estate was the first winery to be established in Coonawarra in 1896 and is the region's best-known producer, long regarded as one of Australia's greatest with a reputation built on producing premium Coonawarra wine. With consistent quality and depth of flavour, the Wynns portfolio is regarded as a benchmark for the district and includes a diverse selection of wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Riesling and a selection of rosé and also red blends.
The Coonawarra region has a much cooler climate than most of Australia with daytime temperatures typically averaging around the mid-20s (celsius) and dropping down to around 10 degrees celsius at night. This swing in temperate combined with the surrounding cold coastal waters and two directional winds creates a unique maritime environment that allows for the production of wines that have wonderful ripeness while retaining a level of acidity that makes them the ideal choice of wine for pairing with various types of food.
Australia day 2023
To celebrate Australia day on the 26th of January 2023, I've collaborated with Wynn's to create a food and wine pairing of my choice that challenges perceptions. Historically when I've thought about Australian-produced wines, my food pairings have always leaned towards a meat-based menu that has often had a bbq/grilled style. However having recently spoken with Wynns winemaker Sue Hodder, I decided that for this pairing I wanted to move in the complete opposite direction and pair the two selected wines with a vegan menu.
2019 Wynns Coonawarra The Sliding Cabernet Sauvignon - available in the UK from Tesco
To quote winemaker Sue Hodder, 2019 was a "classic Coonawarra year" with the 19 vintage being a fairer style and showcasing real finesse and finer tannins. The data points from this vintage fit the long-term averages, equating to a consistent and reliable vintage wine. This wine is a beautiful medium-dark purple hue with low viscosity. On the nose, there are ripe cherries, raspberries, plums, blackberry and subtle spice. On the palate, this wine has a delicious mouthfeel with an abundance of red and dark fruits tied together fantastically with fresh acidity. 13.6% abv with 11 months maturation using a combination of French oak plants and seasoned French Oak barrels.
2021 Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz - available in the UK from Majestic
This is considered to be a good vintage by winemaker Sue Hodder, showcasing a slightly fuller body and less spice than you would typically see from a Wynns Shiraz. Stylistically Sue has this wine situated somewhere between a Côtes du Rhône and a Barrosa Shiraz while showcasing that cooler-climate character throughout. On the nose and palate, this wine is a wonderful ripe dark fruit bomb with delicious aromas and flavours of blackberry, blueberry, plum and cherry. There's a subtle smokiness and black pepper which is welcoming and the medium acidity creates a pleasant and refreshing mouthfeel. 13.6% abv with 13 months maturation using a mixture of seasoned French oak barrels and planks.
When tasked with creating a pairing to challenge perceptions, I wanted to not only challenge what I would have typically paired with an Australian Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon but also what I myself would usually eat. My friends and family know that I would often be the first to select a meat option from a menu, so on this occasion and with "Veganuary" in mind, I decided to avoid meat completely.
Vegan cauliflower and chickpea tikka curry with coriander, spring onion and pomegranate seeds.
Vegan victoria sponge cake with coconut yoghurt, fresh strawberries, raspberries, mango and pomegranate seeds.
The menu items I decided to create both considered how the freshness and ripe fruits of the Wynns Coonawarra wines would enhance my experience. The spice of the Vegan cauliflower and chickpea tikka paired beautifully with the acidity and ripe fruits of the Cabernet while the shiraz added a touch more heat to the menu. Both wines paired wonderfully with the fresh fruit, while the coconut and victoria sponge reduced the little heat found in the shiraz and emphasised the ripe darker fruits. Both wines paired beautifully with both menu items for completely different reasons.
Want to find out more about Wynns Coonawarra Estate? Check out their website and/or Instagram below for more information. In the meantime, thank you as always for reading. Ian