Wynns Coonawarra Estate Johnson's Block Shiraz Cabernet 2003

This wine ticks so many boxes. It’s a single vineyard bottling (tick) celebrating an ostensibly remarkable site (tick) full of old vines (tick) in a classic region that is on the comeback (tick). It’s also a quintessentially Australian blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon (tick). What could go wrong?

The answer is: something, but I’m not exactly sure what. It’s not that it’s unenjoyable; I’m finishing the bottle as I type. But I’m feeling unsatisfied somehow, as if the intent behind the wine is mismatched with what ended up in the bottle, promising a level of interest and sophistication that just isn’t there.

Perhaps I should just focus on what’s in my glass. It’s my second night with this wine. The first was characterised by a sweetness of fruit that was, frankly, unbalanced with respect to the oak character and marginalised savoury complexity. After being open for a while, it’s showing to greater advantage. The nose strikes me as heavily influenced by the Cabernet component, with a distinct leafiness sitting atop cedar oak and deep berry fruit. It is composed and just restrained enough to create tension and some mystery.

The palate, thankfully, is calmer in fruit character than yesterday, though still deeply sweet in profile. Bright red fruit has been replaced by a compote of darker berries doused in vanilla cream oak. In contrast to the nose, the Shiraz appears dominant on the palate, contributing generous blackberry jam fruit flavour. The oak is borderline overdone for my taste, though I must admit it appears of high quality and is delicious in its own right. I’m missing a sense of detail and complexity, and the wine is bludgeoning me a little with its density and flavour profile. Thankfully, a sweep of acidity livens up the after palate, in conjunction with well-structured, abundant tannins. I’m sure one could leave this wine alone for a few more years yet if so inclined. In fact, I suspect that’s the ticket to greater interest. Perhaps those with greater exposure to old Coonawarra wines can chime in here.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate
Price: $A35
Closure: Cork

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