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This week (Thursday 18th October), the team at Xanadu Wines in Margaret River were awarded the coveted Jimmy Watson Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show for their 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (aka the black label).

Winemaker Brendan Carr, Chief Winemaker Glenn Goodall, Rathbone Group CEO Darren Rathbone

Winemaker Brendan Carr, Chief Winemaker Glenn Goodall, Rathbone Group CEO Darren Rathbone

The Jimmy (as it is affectionately shortened) is awarded to the producer of the Best Young Red Wine (2016 or 2017) and is the most sought after wine award in Australia.  This is the second time in three years that the award has gone to a Margaret River Cabernet – in 2016, Deep Woods took it home with the 2014 Reserve Cabernet.

“We are very proud of the quality of Cabernet we have been able to produce at Xanadu over the last 12 years.  Winning the Jimmy Watson Trophy is a huge honour, and it is fantastic to get the recognition with such a prestigious award.” Darren Rathbone, CEO of the Rathbone Group

Since Glenn Goodall’s first vintage as Chief Winemaker 13 years ago, this Cabernet Sauvignon label has amassed a staggering nineteen trophies and thirty-six gold medals at a succession of prestigious Australian wine shows, including eight National Wine Show of Australia trophies. Now, with the iconic Jimmy Watson under its belt, Xanadu is cemented as one of Australia’s leading Cabernet producers.  Glenn, Brendan Carr (winemaker), Suzie Muntz (viticulturist) and the rest of the hardworking team down at Xanadu have worked together to create a suite of highly awarded and respected wines, both by consumers and wine industry personnel alike.

“We are absolutely stoked and extremely proud to be bringing the Jimmy back to Margs. It’s a testament to the hard work of the entire Xanadu team, our growers, and highlights the strength of the Margaret River region.” Chief Winemaker Glenn Goodall

Another quick fact:  DID YOU KNOW that since the acquisition of Xanadu by the Rathbone Group in 2005 (which was the year Goodall stepped up the the plate) the winemaking team has collected 72 trophies across its wine portfolio (this does not take into account gold medals and numerous other wine awards).

And if you’re wondering how much this wine is?  Hold onto your hat: $39.00.  You can buy a Jimmy Watson Pack here.

If that’s not the cheapest premium cabernet in the country, well, we don’t know what is.

Picardy – New Release 2016 Vintage Reds

The Pannell’s are well known for their insistence upon the reliability of cork closures on all of their wines.  This is a highly contentious topic in the current age of the reliable Stelvin (screwcaps).  Having said this, I have never known a cork to let a Picardy bottle down.  It is in no small part due to the Pannell’s rigorous research, and demonstration of an earnest willingness to seek out new technologies to ensure the simultaneous continued use of cork, and bettering the evolution of the wines.  All this preamble to say – from the 2016 vintage, the Pannell’s have moved to a new natural cork for the pinots, chardonnay and premiums, while the rest of the collection will remain sealed under the existing composite cork closures.  The new (to Picardy) Portuguese cork company goes by the name of One by One; each cork is individually tested by machine (ie no human error), and is guaranteed TCA free.  To me, having pulled the cork on the pinot just last night, they look the same as always.  However – I know how fanatical the Pannell’s are about the cork closure, so if it’s good enough for them – it’s good enough for me.
2016 Vintage in Pemberton:
By all accounts, 2016 was a very good vintage, bordering on excellent – if not cool and wet.  It is considered equal alongside 2013, and second only to 2014 in recent times.  This is all too evident in the wines – they are immediately classically styled, with great finesse.  The tannins on all three wines viewed last night are fine grained but plump/chewy, and all wines exhibit a lovely silken mouthfeel, which seems to be increasing each vintage (either that, or I grow to like the wines more, who’s to say).
2016 Pinot Noir
Classic Picardy style, the best example I’ve seen in recent times – the 2016 pinot smells the way my fondest memories tell me Picardy smells like.  This time, it’s in the flesh.  Feather light yet intense, strawberry, red cherry, red apple skins, red currant, tempered by olive tapenade and hints of pomegranate and finely crushed black pepper.  The acidity is bright .  The palate has a creaminess about it, with silky tannins – it is elegant and restrained.  The oak is creates fine structure, and is spicy; it completes the arc of the fruit, adding depth and complexity.  The finish is long and and languid – it really is such a classic wine in every respect – it speaks truly of Pemberton pinot at its best, and of the Picardy house style.  It is ethereal.      
2016 Shiraz
Impossibly bright on release, as it is each year.  This year has added layers of spice and textural complexity.  The palate has wonderful depth of flavour without weight – it is still an elegant mid-weight wine.  The shiraz delivers floral aromatics, red globe grapes, summer raspberry, black berry, and the already integrated Burgundian oak finely laces up the fruit.  The tannins are powder-fine and lingering… in that wonderful lip-smacking way.  Elegant and more of a Northern Rhone style of Syrah, not Shiraz, as we in Australia know it.  The Picardy shiraz really flies the flag for the elegant WA style – not in the mould of the structured and full-bodied Frankland or Great Southern, but the aromatic, floral style more akin to Margaret River.  This style is gaining popularity and momentum as people (us, the drinkers) discover how well it suits food and generally delivers great pleasure.   This is a gorgeous wine and will go through many stages in its lifetime, where it is right now though… wonderful stuff.     
2016 Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
68% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc
This year, a higher percentage of Merlot, the cabernet and Cab Franc are obviously in lesser quantity, but feature in the same order.  
Szechuan peppercorn and green peppercorn on the nose, cacao nib, pink grapefruit, blood plum and mulberry.  This is sophisticated, medium bodied.  The tannins sit right up on the mid-palate before spilling into the sides of the mouth, they’re grippy but fine-grained and chalky, this whole experience is an exercise in finesse.   The 15% Cabernet Franc contributes white floral aromatics to the wine, while the cabernet sauvignon plays its blackcurrant, structure role.   The fruit has a fine minerality about it, a real impact of schist and shale, which laces right through the palate into the finish.