Cicadas and olives, Penley Estate Coonawarra

Penley Estate, Phoenix Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Region: Coonawarra, South Australia, Australia

Grape: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: around $20


All right, first bottle of my Cabernet-Sauvignon learning experiment. I decided to start with an Australian version because I heard of the Coonawarra wines during my WSET level 2 classes and the name stuck for some reason. It’s one of the most known new world terroirs with its principal feature being the distinctive “red soils” more specifically it is called terra rossa and is a special type of clay/limestone soil, it is more common in regions with a Mediterranean climate. Coonawarra produces almost exclusively Cabernet-Sauvignon wines, coincidentally; the climate is often compared to the Bordeaux climate, due to the proximity of the sea, making Cabernet an easy choice of grape

Coonawarra red soil

Coonawarra red soil

Eye: deep ruby

Nose: Clean, medium + intensity, black fruits, plums, blackberries, olives

Palate: Dry, medium – acidity, full body, solid chewy tannins, long finish.

Ok, so Australian Cabernet, very structured, lots of fruit and tannins, long finish and also a really earthy quality that is the thing that really stuck with me. Olive notes on the nose and on the palate contribute to that but the very body of the wine feels chewy and solid. I didn’t get much spice notes as some other reviews mentioned but the red fruit was vibrant and combined with the earthiness, it left a much satisfying and long finish. For some reason, tasting this wine made me think of the Mediterranean. It might be just the olive notes, but I could close my eyes and feel like I was in Southern France listening to cicadas under an olive tree.

Food pairings: Great steak wine. I had it with home cooked steaks and mashed potatoes prepared by my temporary roommate.

Overall opinion: Great wine for the price, as I said earlier, my main takeaway is the earthiness of this wine. I wonder if it is an isolated case or a characteristic of Australian Cabs. I any case my study of Cabernet-Sauvignon is off to a good start.

2 thoughts on “Cicadas and olives, Penley Estate Coonawarra

  1. Great place to start – Coonamarra, that is. Wynn’s and Parker both make great efforts as well. I’m generally not a fan of Aussie Cabernet but Coonamarra and Western Australia both make the better stuff IMHO.

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