Zema Estate Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
$25 at cellar door; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 92+++ points
Zema Family Selection is pretty much the Rolls Royce of Coonawarra Cabernet. Others might make tight-and-edgy Ferraris and Lambos, but this big baby has all the walnut and plush leather and you sit a lot higher. In the back. With a cigar. It has all the bright-and-dark fruits of the best of the region's Cabernet, with a little of the minty eucalyptol aroma typical of the district. Coonawarra had been a red gum forest originally, with a honeysuckle (Banksia marginata) understorey. If you've ever tried to wash the smell of eucalyptus oil off your fingers you may begin to realise how such a unique volatile aroma can haunt a region's air and ground. Add that heady wildflower honey whiff and some plush cedary/gingery oak to fruit painstakingly selected from hand-tended vineyards, and you begin to get the general idea. Oh yes, it has a layer of the methoxypyrazine/tomato leaf/Deadly Nightshade edge that gives Coonawarra Cabernet its slice. Eight was a tricky year, and the heatwave sent sugars ripping north, but there's not too much sign of any of that in here. It's more of a majestic Zema than a 2008 Coonawarra. Best with some air and mutton shanks cooked real slow in tomato and black olives with some juniper berries.
Zema Estate Family Selection Coonawarra Shiraz 2008
$40 at the cellar door; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points
Bacchanal wine. No doubt about it. While I'm sure that alcohol number on the back is not quite high enough to reflect your actual reality, neither is this much of bother, given the overall effect. A little American oak adds some coconut husk and cedar to this rude but polished, generous but dignified essence. Of these three lovely reds, this is the one you just open and pour. It may take you to Calabria before it gets you to Coonawarra, but hey, what's a diversion like that worth to the serious partying glutton? If you have a troublesome wild boar handy, sacrifice him on the altar and eat him without cutlery or crockery, accompanied by a goatskin of this. On the day of reckoning, blame the results on Unca Phil and the Almighty will understand and forgive. He won't want every customer joining me down by the fire.