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17 Aug 2018



I was swanning around the local bottle shop looking for some inspiration. An old stalwart caught my eye; Wynn’s Black Label 2015 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon. There have been some great vintages at modest prices. So, I plucked a few bottles and delivered them home. What I found transported me back to an era when Cabernet and Coonawarra were kings.

The Coonawarra region is quite restricted; a mere 5000 hectares. The 2x20km strip of the classic terra rossa soil is one of the country’s most precious wine growing assets. The red soil over limestone originates from a time when the area was an ancient seabed.

The other miracle is the millions-of-years-old subterranean flow of water that provides the very deep-rooted grape vine a source of water. The predictable rain, and a cooler climate that is only 80km from the Southern Ocean, allows for a slow ripening effect, resulting in intense flavour.

A canny Scotsman, William Wilson, recognised in the 1850s the potential to grow excellent fruit in this area and persuaded John Riddoch to do the same in 1861. John Riddoch would go on to become known as the Coonawarra’s founding wine father. The name, Coonawarra, is derived from the Aboriginal word for Honey Suckle. Financial depression, the tyranny of distance, and his death in 1901 saw the Coonawarra Fruit Colony severely cropped.

The modern-day Wynn’s winery is on the site of John Riddoch’s original plantings. The stone, three-gable winery is iconic, and adorns the Wynn’s wine labels. Patriarch, Samuel Wynn, a wine merchant from Melbourne, and son, David, became the innovators of the region when they purchased the property in 1951.

Wynn’s is no stranger to corporate ownership, having been syndicated since the 1970s. Treasury Estate own the winery now. Testament to sensible ownership is the fact that winemakers, Sue Hodder and Sarah Pigeon, and viticulturist, Allen Jenkins, have a collective of many decades with Wynn’s and remain.

The Wynn’s team has worked exceptionally hard over the years with improved clonal selection, trellising, and pruning resulting in stellar wines with bang for your buck. Challenges include climate warming and climate fluctuation over the past 15 years.

The 2015 release of the Wynn’s Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon is held in high esteem, being the 60th vintage release of this wine. No other Australian vineyard can lay claim to 60 concurrent vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon. The team has nurtured this wine well, as they have the Single Vineyard and V&A series. Not to mention ‘Wynnsday’ every 1st August. But that’s a story for another day.

Wines Tasted

  1. Wynn’s “The Siding” Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Coonawarra Rich vibrant purple colour. The nose is uplifted by bright red fruits with typical cassis notes. The anterior palate is soft with restrained fruit, blueberries, and raspberries, with a notable pause until prominent tannins and acidity balance the wine and give its robust nature. Drink now with Duck Terrine. Cellar 5 years plus.
  2. Wynn’s Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Dark purple, a layered cassis nose with plums, spice, brambly notes. Generous supple palate supported by long integrated tannins. This 60 year anniversary wine is outstanding value. Drink with a chargrilled sirloin. Cellar 10 years.
  3. Wynn’s The Messenger Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Deep purple with brown hues on the rim. A complex nose reflecting its age, with ripe cassis notes enveloped in spicy cigar box aromas with a subdued Coonawarra mintiness. A full flavoured anterior palate, melding in to supportive tannins. The wine is plush with a savoury feel. A venison ragout would match. Cellar another 10 years.
  4. Wynn’s John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2009  Deep lively purple colour. The complex ever evolving bouquet impresses with dark plums, cassis, spicy notes, with a trail of mintiness. Over an hour the nose morphs into brooding complex dark fruits with secondary nuances of violets. A generous gorgeous palate that dances into seamless forceful tannins. A wine that will live for 30 years. Have with high-grade, charred, medium wagyu rib fillet.


Published: 17 Aug 2018