Established in 1963 and with an annual production of less than 1000 cases in total, Wantirna Estate ranks among the elite of the Yarra Valley icons. Hand crafted terror-driven wines are a reflection of meticulous attention to detail in all aspects of viticulture and winemaking, and a vineyard site that is naturally low-yielding. "You don't need too many fingers to count the number of 'cult' wineries of the 1970s and early 1980s that are still in the hands of their original owners. Fewer still are actually performing better today than ever before. Wantirna Estate is one such winery and its modern success is a culmination of experience, the introduction of fresh ideas and a proven ability to learn. Jeremy Oliver
A large proportion of the grapes for this wine come from the original 1963 plantings of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc vines. The remainder is from the more recently planted – 1989 – petit verdot. Whilst the proportions are different every year, depending on fruit set and cropping levels, roughly speaking the break down is about as follows: 65% cabernet sauvignon, 30% cabernet franc and merlot, and 5% petit verdot. The addition of the petit verdot grapes in the 1990s gave the wine an added backbone of tannin and natural acidity. With its long growing season, the petit verdot grapes are the last to be harvested, usually in mid April.
The vines for the Amelia are all dry farmed – that is, there is no irrigation. The roots go deep into the clay soil, searching out any available moisture. This and the age of the vines is crucial to making the intense yet elegant wine.
Cabernets and Merlot from the original 1963 plantings, with 5% Petit Verdot coming off the 1989 plantings. All dry grown. Yarra Valley Cabernet from 2017 strikes me as being a more dense, compact year, with fine bones and lithe structure, and I like that very much. Glorious Cabernet perfume of violet and pencil shavings, mint, blackcurrant and boysenberry, with the theme being intense small black fruit, I guess. It’s medium-bodied, dense and tightly knit, juiciness of blueberry and blackcurrant, layered in with more savoury tobacco flavour, graphite tannin, cool acidity, and a long, almost chocolaty finish. What a delight. Superb. Tasted: Oct 19; Alcohol: 13.5%; Price: $80; Closure: Screwcap; Drink: 2020-2035+; Rated: 96 Points; Gary Walsh; The Wine Front
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