Elderton “Friends” Cabernet: Bold and Elegant

edenWhen I see an Australian Cabernet Sauvignon coming my way, especially one with “Barossa” on the label, I’m tempted to jump fast and high to get out of the way.

It’s not that I don’t like Australian wines — I love many of them. But unless I’ve got a 16 ounce Rib Eye nearby, an Australian Cabernet can be just too big for my britches: the big, jammy fruit and high alcohol needs a lot of beef to tame it.

So I was pleasantly surprised recently when I uncorked a bottle of Elderton “Friends” Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. I already knew the Elderton winery by reputation — they’ve won a boat-load of awards over the years for their Barossa wines, and have made a name for themselves with reds and whites from a sub-appellation of Barossa where some good friends (like in the name, right?) own vineyards.

Eden Valley is a different beast than the hot, dry Barossa Valley floor. The Eden vineyards are scattered up the hillsides, at elevations of 1200 to 1500 feet. So what does this do? The elevation creates cooler temperatures, and combined with more minerally soils, it produces grapes with more acid and structure. And of course, acid and structure act to balance big fruit.

So let’s taste Elderton Friends Cab. The color was as purple and opaque as I’d expect, but the nose was relatively delicate. I got mint and eucalyptus right off the bat, with dark fruit notes chiming in. Blackberry and dark chocolate were up front also.

The palate was multi-layered and delightful. The fruit came first, with blackberry and sweet black currant opening the door for gentle mint. There was a peppery note too, and all of this was wrapped up in soft tannins. But it didn’t finish there — that Eden Valley acid lifted up the finish with a bright end-note, and made a package that was bold and elegant at the same time. No jamminess here — just rich, bright fruit.

The Elderton “Friends” series (there’s a good Shiraz, too) represents a good value. At just under $20, you’re getting big wine without a big price tag. Cheers!


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