Katnook Estate holds a strong place in Coonawarra history. What is now the barrel hall was once the Katnook wool shed where John Riddoch, the father of Coonwarra, made his only his second vintage. In 1971, the first ‘estate’ vines were planted with the fruit being sold off to neighbouring wineries. 1980 saw the inaugural release under the Katnook Estate label and had Wayne Stehbens at the helm. He’s been there ever since, chalking up 35 vintages.
Katnook Estate will be touring around Australia this August as part of the Coonawarra Roadshow. Make sure you get along in your capital city and say Gday to Wayne, and enjoy the Fat of the Land that the Terra Rossa soil produces.
Katnook Founder’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawara, 2013
This is the entry level for Katnook and a reliable choice. Purple flowers, Violets, plums, mint and a full core of blackberry. Soft dark fruits fit perfectly like a pair of old trackie dacks. Regional leafiness and plenty of soft tannins with minimal oak influence complete the package. Feels comfortable and familiar. For $20 (or under if on special) this is hard to beat.
Katnook Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawara, 2012
The middle brother in the Cabernet line-up and for mine, the most elegant at the moment. 40% American oak and 60% French. Barrel aged for 22 months. Traditional label stands out as timeless.
Deep heart of brambles and oak that seems like a yoga-mums mid morning catch up: sweet vanilla, raspberry coconut slice and creamy coffee. Subtle choc/mint that keeps things dancing between body and soul. The tannins are grippy and just enough to give definition the black/red fruits wonderfully. Striding easily for the moment, this will move forward in time and then the oak and tannin will stop being the frame and bleed harmoniously into the tableaux.
Katnook Estate, “Odyssey” Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawara, 2010
Odyssey, defined as “a long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune” or “an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest“
The journey of a wine in a bottle before the occasion of its opening? The journey of a winery, from green shoots of bud burst to harvest and crush?
This is Katnook Estate’s flagship Cabernet and you can smell the effort that’s gone into the release as it flies from the glass. From the strong, charred oak and liquid dark chocolate to deep raspberry and blackberry fruit topped out with Earl Grey tea foretelling tannin, this is a serious brow-crunching expression of Coonawarra Cabernet. It’s not an essence-like bruiser knocking you out, but it is a light heavyweight that grabs you with both metaphorical hands around the collar. Reams of black fruit front up fall to sandy velcro tannins that are bisected with acid. Lingering mocha coffee, celery seeds, rocks and mature flavours juxtaposed with youthful construct. It dips and wanes between form and flow and flavour in this infancy, but has a long life ahead.
Katnook Estate, “Prodigy” Shiraz, Coonawara, 2010
From the Latin prōdigium , meaning: Omen, portent or prophetic sign.
Like a run with the wolves, Remus to the Odyssey’s Romulus. Deep red currant, maraschino, leather and rich ripe plum ooze forth and link like chain mail with formidable oak to present as an impenetrable wall of aroma/armour. Fresh bay leaf, pepper…even a touch of cumin-like spice add intrigue to depth. Instantly heavy on the tongue with incredible dark Coonwarra flavour yet still maintaining balance. There’s a hint of olive savouryness that creeps in amongst almost unctuous red fruit melange with that regional coolness. Let it breathe, the good fruit is evident beneath that cloak of sweet oak and whilst this is a muscular, rich and exalted warrior, it doesn’t give false hope of being a tyrant. The Prodigy is just that for now, an omen as to what it will become.
All wines samples and images courtesy of Katnook Estate Wines