McWilliam's Hanwood Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
I am quite fond of this $12 Cabernet Sauvignon from McWilliam's, South Eastern Australia
appellation, with leading grapes from the Limestone Coast area of the state of South
Australia, about half-way between Adelaide and Melbourne. Geologically, the Limestone
Coast region was created relatively recently, about two million years ago, when shallow seas
receded. The limestone in question is based on the remains of billions of sea creatures. Before
I write further, I wish to thank all the wonderful sea creatures that have devoted themselves
to providing limestone; the theme seems to repeat all over the wine world, with the result
often connoting quality.
The wine is a deep scarlet; the nose is pronounced, the wine room-filling when poured into a decanter (in this case, for two hours). The key notes on both the nose and the palate will surprise no one: cassis, blackcurrant, very fresh, and highly extracted. This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, and it smells and tastes like it. A portion of the wine was matured in French and American oak for nine months. On both nose and palate I detect cocoa, with more of a mocha note on the palate.
The wine's acidity is tangible and very fresh. Tannins are supple. The fruit is tasty, even if you have noticed that I fail in this instance to give you a cornucopia; the basic Cabernet notes lead in all cases with this wine. The wine has good body, good extraction, ripe mouthfeel, and less alcohol than you might imagine in this class of wine: 13.5%. At the finish, which is more touched by the wine's acidity than it is by anything tannic, I get the sensation that I have been enjoying some well-handled grape skins with some quality dark chocolate.
Stylistically, this is a fresh-tasting Cabernet that is designed to be opened and consumed in the present; no cellar required. The notes are clean, uncluttered, and direct. The wine is substantial and satisfying, without being too big.
Verdict: Crowd pleaser
The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is the type that ought to be allowed to speak for itself, without too many bells and whistles.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman