Australian red Bordeaux varietal under £10
2010 Catching Thieves Cabernet Merlot, Margaret River, Western Australia
Making a good Bordeaux blend at under £10 is not the easiest of jobs as the Bordelais themselves have discovered. Extremes of heat and cold are not the ideal environment for either variety to flourish but the maritime climate of Margaret River, linked to the region’s gravelly and sandy soils, appears to be the necessary catalyst for accomplished Bordeaux-style blends, along with maximum time on the vine for flavour accumulation.
Enter Catching Thieves, a Western Australian brand launched by the McWilliams team in 2007. Immediately, quality aside, the name seemed to capture the imagination.
The wine was used at a police function to ‘toast’ the conviction of one of Australia’s most infamous criminals that same year. It also appeared to be popular with the criminal fraternity as boxes of Catching Thieves wines were found amongst a robber’s haul.
A blend of roughly two-thirds Cabernet Sauvignon and a third Merlot, Catching Thieves is made by Adrian Sparks, who worked for two years in the cellar and a further two in a laboratory role before becoming a winemaker in 2003.
According to Sparks, aiming for a fruit-driven, earlier drinking style, with an emphasis on structured, soft tannins,
the Catching Thieves Cabernet Merlot combines ‘the nobility of cabernet with the affability of merlot’.
To that end, the cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes are picked in the cool of the night to retain freshness of fruit, spending 12 months after a shortish, gentle vinification, in new and older oak barrels.