Since its early beginnings in the 1890s, Coonawarra has since grown to revolutionise the way the world sees Australian wines. The wine started life in a humble setting when John Riddoch began planting and harvesting grapes to produce his own table beverage. Fast forward to the 1950s and another wine lover named Samuel Wynn recognised the value in encouraging Coonawarra to flourish. While manipulating the terra rossa soil of the area, he nudged along the wine’s popularity. Today, many large and independent vineyards alike are seizing on the wine’s success.
While Coonawarra wines are popular today, the years between John Riddoch and Samuel Wynn’s love for it weren’t easy. In 1901, John Riddoch’s orchards and vineyards caught the attention of Bill Redman, a 14-year-old manual labourer who would later go on to produce Coonawarra’s first Claret. After accelerating its growth, Redman’s efforts were temporarily subjugated when the Australian government demanded the use of his land as part of its 1939 WWII efforts.
Today’s Coonawarra wines
In the modern Coonawarra era, lots of wine growers recognise the potential in using the limestone-infiltrated soil to grow their grapes. The terra rossa soil allows growers to produce products that are rich and flavourful, making them ideal for use alongside steak and other red meat products.
As Coonawarra is around 60km inland, it benefits from hot summers and bracingly crisp winters. A combination of the two climates means it’s an excellent region for growing various types of grape. Although most people know the area for its Cabernet Sauvignons, more vineyards are starting to recognise the benefit of introducing other grape varieties.
Classic Coonawarra wine tastes
Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for 60-percent of the Coonawarra region’s wines. Those who drink it submerge themselves in a rich and full-bodied experience, complete with notes of plum and blackberry.
As an alternative, there is a small amount of merlot available. While it’s just as rich as a Cabernet Sauvignon, it pays homage to spicy notes.
Finally, there’s Shiraz, which was the most popular wine before the 1950s boom in Coonawarra. It features a gentler medium-bodied note, along with raspberry-toned fruits. It isn’t unusual for wine producers to blend Cabernet Sauvignon with Shiraz.
Wine pairing using Coonawarra
Like any red wine, Coonawarra lends itself well to darker meats. If you’re a fan of lamb in any form and you need something to match its flavours, you can’t go wrong with a Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon. However, if you’re planning on using your lamb in a spicier dish, consider trying a Merlot instead.
If the Coonawarra wine you’re choosing comes with complex flavours, try not to outshine it with the food you’re making. Instead, complement it using high-end strip steaks and simple side dishes. In doing so, you allow the wine to become the star of the show.
Regardless of which wine you choose and how you try to pair it, you’ll find that this one is excellent value for money. At the same time, it’s impressive in terms of flavour, making it feel like a luxury blend.