18 May 2011

Yalumba 2004 "The Menzies" Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon

An hour after my flight home from London touched down on Saturday morning, I was straight to the track to watch Black Caviar do her thing.

Battling jetlag, but with a drink in hand and my position on the rail safely secured, I settled in to watch the parade of nags and fillies trot by on their way to the ring and the bar respectively. Amongst the nags was none other than our deputy PM, prancing around smugly and inappropriately trying to big up the crowd.

Since he was in an area reserved for VIPs, owners and horses, there was of course much speculation about his presence in the enclosure.

Certainly, he should not have been eligible under the first banner. He’s not even mildly Important, never mind the Very. Some might say he also lacks many of the necessary characteristics required to technically qualify as a Person.

The second alternative was that he had taken the advice of The Australian ("better than bank interest and just as safe") and used the Future Fund to invest in a share of The Caviar (although I concede this option pre-supposes a level of foresight he lacks. It also assumes he can read).

Accordingly, the only sensible conclusion was that he had gained access by virtue of being a horse, or at least the rear-end of one.

In any event, after Caviar had successfully collected the chocolates by a two length margin, old mate “Swanny” was in the thick of the heaving, hooting, high-fiving crowd of great unwashed as they celebrated the 10c return on their $1 wagers by spilling their $7 beers all over themselves. As Charlie Sheen would say, “that is #Winning”.

After being in the presence of this political giant during the day, I decided I needed to elevate matters significantly that evening and cracked a bottle of Yalumba’s 2004 “The Menzies” Cab Sauv with dinner.

A mate had supplied an ’05 on NYE, which was cracking, and I had immediately gone out and sourced a few bottles of it myself (including some older vintages) at good prices.

I’d opened some of the much older ones in February and to be honest they were a bit disappointing/had their day. On that evidence, I’d say it’s probably a max 10 year wine. Pleasingly though, when I pulled the cork on the ’04 it was excellent and every bit as good as I had remembered the ’05.

In the glass, it’s squid-ink black, but still manages to twinkle like a well vajazzled vajayjay.

The nose is a Stockman's Breakfast of black coffee and rolled cigarettes. It hits you with a fistful of fury when first opened, but settles down after it’s taken a stroll around the glass, sucked in some fresh air and had a little time to relax.

I generally find Coonawarra cabernets to be a bit rougher than their Margaret River cousins, but this old boy is as velvet-tonsilled as its namesake.

The drinking is a cabernet chorus line of pretty intense Ribena-berry goodness, softened nicely by a subtle touch of vanillary oak, and ending with a cool fresh-mint finish.

It’s wine to be enjoyed on cold nights with steaks and sausages and stews, and the ever-present promise of a warm, comforting, cabernet cuddle by the end of the meal.

Yalumba, being Australia’s oldest family-owned winery, is both big enough to ensure quality and boutiquey enough to be cool. It also gets right into all that organic, lovey-dovey grape husbandry, moon-dancing stuff which a lot of people seem to like these days.

Get one. And then drink it soon.

Rating: 8.5
Drink with: Black Caviar, obviously
Price: $35-$45

PS I should point out that I am not really that biased against any particular pollies. I just tend to think most of them are as useless as the next.

PPS Except maybe Malcolm.

PPPS And, of course, “The Menzies”.


  1. I visited the Menzies tasting room in December and while I think there are better wines (Mallea @ Majella and the Talley @ Balnaves) along the road, it is indeed a safe bet year in, year out !

    Always worth a place bet.

    The Cigar will also give you good return.

  2. I always enjoy a nice cigar Gregory!