I have fond memories of this label and its stablemate, the Bin 56 Cabernet Malbec. For years, they exemplified the sort of great value, regional, age-worthy red that drinkers on a budget tend to gravitate towards. Hence, I have enjoyed many vintages of this, both as a new release and as an aged wine. It’s been a while since I tasted it regularly, though, so was pleased to see it arrive in the mail and curious to understand what today’s Bin 61 is like.
I certainly don’t remember it being quite as approachable as this. One of the things I like about Clare reds is their ruggedness, usually expressed through a heap of oak and the sort of genuine, yet coarse, fruit flavour profile that suggests a slightly embarrassing, but lovable, relation. This wine retains a significant oak influence, expressing mostly chocolate notes and some dark spice, as well as hints of the vegetal, dark fruit character that seems typical of this region. There’s a sheen, though, a sense of polish that rubs out the splinters and smooths the fruit’s edgier side, making the whole thing very drinkable as a young wine.
The palate continues in this vein, with a dense burst of sweet fruit on the middle palate the dominant element. According to the press release that accompanied this sample, the Schobers vineyard, from which some of the fruit for this wine was sourced, contributes to this fuller, sweeter fruit aspect. I’ll have to take Constellation’s word for it, not being intimately familiar with the character of individual Clare vineyards; what’s undeniable is the sweet, clean fruit that flows with each sip. Some might wish for more restraint, a greater tannin influence, an edgier profile. Certainly, I remember the Bin 61 being a more structured style than this. However, on its own terms, this is a very well-made wine with plenty of commercial appeal. At a decent discount off retail, you could do a lot worse.