July 29, 2011 Wirra Wirra Vineyards
Wirra Wirra Dead Ringer
Australia (McLaren Vale)
We must do something to celebrate Cadel Evans, and the first ever win at le Tour de France by a lad from Australia. And what a win it was. All guts and determination. The win is deserving of a glass from one of the more sporting wineries Down Under.
The name of the winery (like the artful wine holder) is aboriginal in origin, meaning “among the gum trees.” Gum trees have pride of place at Wirra Wirra. Greeting the visitor is a monumental post and rail fence (with the immodest name of Woodhenge), constructed from these would-be giants of the Australian forest. You get the feeling that the folks at Wirra Wirra don’t do anything by half measures.
It would seem to have been instilled in them by the man most responsible for transforming the long-neglected winery into the prestigious producer it is today. By all accounts the late Greg Trott was one of those pioneering spirits whose passion for winemaking knew few boundaries. “Never give misery an even break, nor bad wine a second sip,” he once said. “You must be serious about quality, dedicated to your task in life, especially winemaking, but this should all be fun.” The men and women who followed him seem to be having a lot of fun as well, if the winery’s website and YouTube videos are any indication. Yet, when it comes down to what is going to make it into the bottle, they’re deadly serious.
The McLaren Vale’s Mediterranean climate, with the moderating influence of the sea, rainfall mostly in the winter months, and low humidity makes for very favourable vineyard conditions. Wirra Wirra has turned to biodynamics to further increase quality. Post-harvest procedures are closely monitored, and in the case of Dead Ringer, the separate vineyard batches are matured in French oak (70% new) before blending. Filtering is minimal.
The results have been commendable. The 2007 International Wine Challenge Awards in London named Wirra Wirra the International Winemaker of the Year.
Atop the Wirra Wirra cellars is a mighty ¾ tonne bell, resurrected from an old Jesuit Church, and known as the Angelus Bell. In Australia the estate’s cabernet sauvignon is labelled The Angelus. Bordeaux’s Château Angelus didn’t take to the name, however, leading to the wine becoming a Dead Ringer for the cab in markets outside the country.
Wirra Wirra Dead Ringer 2007
Deep, dark, and delicious. This well-made cabernet sauvignon has a ready elegance. On the nose it hits notes of smoked cassis, spiced plums. Concentrated but not overwhelming, sophisticated. On the palate, swank yet flavourful. A youthful gentleman, growing in complexity, no tannic roughness around its edges, yet still with a trace of alcohol on its breath. Already drinking like a champion, but should keep its winning ways for another decade. $$