Joshua Cooper “OLD VINE CUVEE I" Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2022
Winery: Joshua Cooper
Region: Western Victoria - Victoria
Winemaker: Joshua Cooper
Varietal(s): 95% Cabernet Sauvignon 5% Shiraz
“A younger gen winemaker playing with some of the most significant, older vine cabernet going around is pretty exciting.”
I have a distinct soft spot for the Cabernet wines produced by the pioneering wineries of Central and Western Victoria, many of which seem ageless even now.
Vintage 2022 saw the ideal mild ripening conditions for the classic medium-bodied and finely structured style of wine I love, while opportunity arose to work with three new vineyard sources. These perfect circumstances led to the realisation of a long held desire - the first wine in what will be a series of one-off blends based around old vine material from Central and Western Victoria. A distinct nod to the great multi-regional tete de cuvée blends of the 50s and 60s.
Four historically significant sites contribute to the Old Vine Cuvée (single vineyard releases of each will follow later in the year.)
Late ripening Greytown Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon co-planted in the 1950s by European migrants in sandy loam overlying quartz and ironstone rich gravels in the North-
Eastern corner of the Heathcote GI, the vines are dry grown and produce incredibly concentrated clusters at low sugar levels, full of tannin and complexity.
Balgownie 1970 Block Cabernet Sauvignon should need no introduction, the legendary vineyard planted by the visionary Stuart Anderson. Kickstarting the modern Central Victorian wine industry from his base in Maiden Gully, Bendigo and producing wines with a revered cellaring track record. Gravel, quartz, sandstone and shale make up the soil profile and imbue huge tannic depth and complexity to the fruit.
Similarly to the early work done by Stuart Anderson, Neill Robb established his Redbank winery in the heart of the Pyrenees in the 1970s, which now supplies to me a small parcel of Cabernet Sauvignon. Again dry grown, and again rooted deep in shale, quartz and clay soil, the blocks are also overlayed with water holding red, iron rich loam. Ball bearing-sized berries enable picking at moderate sugar levels, with a deep and exotic fruit profile.
The Williams Vineyard, also planted in the early 70s by Laurie Williams - an early sounding board and guide to so many local vignerons - has intrigued me since childhood. Planted in decomposed granitic gravel on the outskirts of the Kyneton township, I’ve passed it most days of my life travelling to or from my family’s Cobaw Ridge estate. A small holding of just a few acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and once bottled as ‘Flynn and Williams’ the resultant wine in its heyday enjoyed a similar reputation to those of Virgin Hills and Balgownie.
The Old Vine Cuvée is comprised of 45% Greytown, 37.5% Balgownie, 15% Redbank and 2.5% Williams Vineyard. A higher proportion of press wine was retained for the blend, and elevage took place for 12 months solely in one-year-old blonde toasted barrels - 300L “hogsheads” from Stockinger and 228L “Magic Casks” from Laurent.
No fining, filtration or additives other than a small amount of sulphur dioxide.
Glass staining deep purple, the aromatics are strikingly redolent of the Australian landscape, scrub and wild herb, sunbaked red earth, cocoa, pepper and spice complexity engulf dark, perfectly ripened blackberry and cassis fruit. Violet floral top notes lend a sense of airiness to the otherwise saturated aromas.
While the flavour profile remains dark and saturating on the palate, it is built around layer upon layer of fine fruit tannin - keeping the wine medium-bodied and lively.
Please decant well prior to enjoying as a young wine, or cellar well.