When you’re the only winemaker in Australia turning out a rare variety that’s even disappeared in its homeland France, it could be anticipated you’d slap on a hearty price-tag to reflect its uniqueness – and the more-so when that wine’s a ripper drop.
However, Calabria Family Wines at Griffith in the NSW Riverina ask just $14.95 for their Oak Aged Saint Macaire, that’s both a great conversation starter and a wonderfully unique match with game dishes and oven-baked lamb with plenty of thyme, sage and rosemary, equally-herbed lamb chops off the barbecue, or vintage cheddar.
Saint Macaire originated in a region 40km south of Bordeaux and was named after a local village, but Phylloxera wiped out all the vineyards there in the late 1800s; the variety was introduced into Australia in the 1970s/80s with the intent of using it in making port, but when port sales crashed soon after vines were pulled out en masse.
It was only Bill Calabria at Calabria Family Wines (formerly Westend Estate) who kept small commercial quantities of vines, while Ian Hollick at Hollick Wines in Coonawarra held 20 vines he’s been observing for all those years in the event they could give him a kick-start, should seasonal and market changes create a demand.
Calabria Saint Macaire has unique violet, rose petals and spice on the nose, and rewarding spicy blackberry and plums on the palate. A rare beauty well worth trying.
One to note: A 2014 Semillon from Margan Family Winegrowers’ forty year old vines at Broke in the Hunter Valley is drinking superbly right now – but for those with the patience, it’ll do so even more rewardingly if you let it age to classic Hunter Semillon complexity over the next five years or so.
Margan’s Fordwich Sill Vineyards are renowned for fruit that gives richer and softer style wines with intense citrus flavours, and this one is no different with a palate that’s crisp and zesty with a refreshingly long finish from its great balance of fruit and acid. At $18 perfect with shellfish, crustaceans, whiting, John Dory or snapper fillets.