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International Trophy Red Blend over £15 – McWilliam’s, 1877, Australia 2008

McWilliam has lively, ripe and intense red and black fruits on the nose, accompanied by sandalwood, tumeric, bay leaf and tobacco. The palate is multilayered, lush, languid and warm, boasting sweet and savoury fruits, ripe tannins, fantastically integrated oak and a lovely, refreshing finish. Top-notch Australian fare (15%).
Not available in the UK or USA

‘OPULENCE’ and ‘EUCALYPT-SCENTED black fruit’ were just some of the characteristics of this Australian red blend, which wowed the judges in a three-way taste-off with Portugal’s Douro Valley and the Apalta sub-region in Chile’s Colchagua region.

McWilliam’s 1877 is both a ‘new’ Australian wine and a traditional blend. New because some of the Cabernet Sauvignon for this Shiraz-Cabernet comes from Hilltops, a cooler region in New South Wales which winemaker Andrew Higgins believes remains untapped as a premium wine source.

Traditional because this is the great Australian blend – Shiraz and Cabernet – and because it is made with minimal rules. ‘The history behind the wine is that it came about as a vehicle to highlight the quality of fruit and wine resources that are available at McWilliams, and what can be made of them when there are no appellation-like rules restricting multi-varietal and multi-regional blends,’ says Higgins.

So the Shiraz is grown in the restrictive grey clay soils of the Tatachilla sub-region of McLaren Vale, giving wines with rich, supple tannins and dark chocolate fruit.

The Hilltops Cabernet, meanwhile, is sourced from close to the township of Young, the vines grown on deep red soils with minimal irrigation that give vibrant blackberry and dried herb flavours with elegant tannins.

Additional Cabernet fruit originates from the famous terra rossa soils of Coonawarra, bringing to the finished wine notes of cassis and blueberry, as well as long and finegrained tannins.

‘It is a true winemaker’s blend,’ says Higgins, ‘full-bodied, in a traditional Australian style.’

Andrew Higgins

McWilliams winemaker Andrew Higgins says this blend capitalises on Australia’s lack of wine rules

Tasted against

Quinta da Fronteira, Reserva, Douro, Portugal 2012 • Ventisquero, Vertice, Apalta, Colchagua, Chile 2011.

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