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“A powerfully expressive yet unforced wine with superb vinosity, richness, density and volume. 100 rating.”Andrew Caillard MW
“The density of serious fruit weight equates to intensity … and resonates long after the last note strikes … Captivating! 99 rating.”David Sly, Decanter
“A cabernet of the highest class. Special. 98 rating.”James Halliday
“A very big, powerful, yet elegant and well-proportioned cabernet with a big future. 97 rating.”Huon Hooke
“The essence of the Coonawarra … articulates the magical qualities of the Coonawarra’s terroir, climatic influences, precision viticulture and profoundly intuitive winemaking.”Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine
Langton’s Classification is Australia’s equivalent to Bordeaux’s 1855 Classification. And for Australian wine lovers, it is nearly as influential.
Out of the 136 elite Australian wines classified by Langton’s, only 22 qualify to be included in the very top rank. Of these, more than half are Shirazes, and just three are pure Cabernets. And of the three, only one is from the mythic Coonawarra region. It is the legendary Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon.
The wine’s story is nearly as astonishing as the wine itself, having descended from John Riddoch’s pioneering 1860s plantings in Terra Rossa soil, culminating in his heroic 1895 and 1898 Coonawarra Vineyards Clarets.
But with many of his vineyards later abandoned, Riddoch might have been forgotten, had it not been for Samuel and David Wynn. In 1951, they acquired Riddoch’s old Coonawarra Cellars buildings and surrounding vineyards, renaming it Wynns Coonawarra Estate.
Over the next three decades, the Wynn family made Coonawarra “the Medoc of Southern Hemisphere,” as Australian critics anointed it. And in 1982, the Wynns created the greatest of all Coonawarra Cabernets in Riddoch’s honor, made from a ruthless selection of less than 1% of Wynns Cabernet grapes.
Wynns John Riddoch is so sought-after in Australia that it is rarely seen here. And so, we are honored to be able to offer the iconic 2016, with the best possible provenance. This could be the greatest John Riddoch Cabernet in the wine’s forty-year history, and it’s the first to receive a perfect 100 rating from Andrew Caillard MW, co-founder of Langton’s.
Best of all, we can offer this rarity for just $105 a bottle and $599 per original 6-bottle case.
The Ups and Downs of a Great Terroir
The lionization of Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet wouldn't have been possible without the recognition of Coonawarra’s 27km-long strip of Terra Rossa soil as one of the great wine terroirs of Australia.
Only 2km long, and half the size of the Côte d’Or, the area consists of a shallow layer of loam, tinted red by iron oxide, over a bed of ancient seabed limestone. Combined with a Bordeaux-like, maritime climate, it has proven to be providential for the production of great Cabernet.
John Riddoch was the first to realize its wine potential in the late nineteenth century. Inspired by the possibility of filling the void left by Phylloxera in Europe, he planted over 1000 acres here to Cabernet and Shiraz.
But after his death in 1901, Coonawarra’s relative isolation, two world wars, the Great Depression, and the trend towards fortified winemaking in Australia resulted in many of Riddoch’s vineyards being abandoned in favor of sheep grazing for wool. It was not until 1951 that the Wynn family rekindled Riddoch’s dream.
John Riddoch Today
Today, senior winemaker Sue Hodder (pictured above) makes John Riddoch Cabernet from the estate’s oldest blocks of Cabernet, which represent less than 1% of the estate’s Cabernet production. She also only makes the cuvée in the best years, aging it for 16 months in barrel, of which one-third are new. Only about 1000 cases are made, which is just 15% of Penfolds Grange's production.
As Andrew Caillard sums up, “John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s great fine red wines, an ‘Australian First Growth’ steeped in one of the great agricultural ambitions of the 19th century … the quintessential ‘essence of Coonawarra’ Cabernet Sauvignon thoroughbred.”
Of recent John Riddoch vintages, 2016 towers over most years. The season was warm and dry, producing perfectly complex, mature fruit. It produced perhaps the quintessential example of this Australian First Growth.
For anyone who loves great wine, this is an amazing opportunity and an essential purchase. Limit two 6-bottle cases per client.
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