It’s Time to Visit the Coonawarra Wine Region in South Australia!

Coonawarra Little Black Wine BookRecently the Coonawarra Roadshow was in town and thanks to an invite from Poppin’ Cork Events, I was lucky enough to attend. Typically after an event, I’ll do a recap on the blog of the actual event however today’s post is all about the region and some of the awesome wines coming out of this South Australian region. After chatting to the winemakers and marketing/sales managers at the event + trying the wines – it sparked a huge desire in me to learn more about the region which I will hopefully visit one day.

So this post is a bit like holiday research (hint hint Mr. Spittoon) for me. So please grab a glass of Coonawarra wine and come along with me!

Where is Coonawarra?

The Coonawarra wine region aka ‘Australia’s Red Wine Centre’ is located in South Australia (SA). It’s on what’s called the Limestone Coast which borders SA and Victoria.

How to get to the Coonawarra wine region?

You can reach Coonawarra either from Adelaide or Melbourne. From Adelaide it’s about 380kms which is about a 4 hour drive. From Melbourne it’s a touch further at approximately 430kms which is about a 5 hour drive.

If driving is not up your alley you can always fly into Mt Gambier Airport which is about 40kms away. Or there’s also the option of buses or trains.

Why visit Coonawarra?

Well I tasted a few good reasons why at the Roadshow (you can read about these at the end of the post). However, there are plenty more reasons to add Coonawarra to your wine travel bucket list, such as:

  • There are approximately 33 wineries to visit in the region
  • Some of the biggest names in Australian wine have their homes in the region including; Yalumba, Wynns, Katnook Estate, Lindeman’s and Petaluma
  • The region is internationally known for its Terra Rossa soil (‘red soil’ in Italian). Terra Rossa is a clay-like soil which is produced by the weathering down of limestone. Because it naturally drains well, it makes a great soil for growing wine grape vines + it’s not found in many regions around the world!
  • Coonawarra is famous for its Terra Rossa grown Cabernet Sauvignon’s, but as I found out on the weekend they also produce some delicious cool-climate Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Rieslings, Chardonnay (which some producers turn into divine sparkling wines!) and more!

Just a few perks to a wine trip to Coonawarra!

A bit of history about Coonawarra..

Coonawarra takes its name from the Aboriginal word ‘honeysuckle rise’. The Coonawarra Fruit Colony was originally founded by Scottish immigrant, John Riddoch and the first wine grapes were planted in 1890!

At the Roadshow we also learnt from the team at Brand’s Laira about the iconic Coonawarra old railway station as they had their own mock-up at the show.
Coonawarra - Brand's Laira

Must-try Coonawarra Wines

From the tastings at the Roadshow and what I have tasted on other occasions, these are some of my favourites thus far.

Brand’s Laira 2016 Riesling because of its delicious depth of flavour and refreshing acidity.

Di Giorgio Family Sparkling Pinot Noir Rose was an absolute delight.
DiGiorgio Family Wines - Coonawarra

Blonk’s 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon was a treat on the palate and the 2014 Riesling was pretty darn tasty too.
Blonk 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon - Coonawarra Roadshow

Then there was the Hollick ‘The Gondollier’ 2015 Barbera which agreed with my palate very much and the ladies on the stand were simply lovely!

Yalumba’s ‘The Menzies’ 2008 museum release Cabernet Sauvignon was absolutely sensational with its plush smooth flavours that simply danced along the palate. It was also lovely to meet winemaker, Natalie Cleghorn who was manning the stand at the roadshow.
Yalumba 2008 The Menzies Museum Release Coonawarra

It was great to bump into the Majella wine range again. It was their 2014 GPL68 Cab that grabbed my attention at the show.

Penley Estate 2016 Chardonnay and their 2017 Cabernet Franc with its extremely interesting and eye-catching label – were both drinking beautifully.

Parker Estate is definitely a new one for me, it was hard to go past the 2008 First Growth Cab and the 2013 First Growth Cabs.

Wynn’s 2015 Cabernet and the 2015 Shiraz went down very easily.

It was also great to meet the lovely team from Zema Estate and their ‘Family Selection’ 2012 Shiraz was an absolute beaut.
Zema Estate Coonawarra Roadshow

Rymill had a great line-up of Shiraz’s and Cab’s to taste – I would try them all over again if I could.

Petaluma 2016 Nebbiolo dry Rose I will definitely be hunting out again!
Petaluma 2016 Nebbiolo Rose CoonawarraWhen I saw Patrick of Coonawarra I immediately thought of the Good Food and Wine Show where I tasted their wines a few years back. It was great to re-visit their range – the Mother of Pearl bubbles had me drooling.

Bowen Estate 2016 Chardonnay was right up my alley!

I also had my first Redman’s experience at the show – what a gem of a find! It was the 2006 Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot that finished off the day on a high note for me!
Redman Wines - Coonawarra Roadshow

Balnaves had a very interesting Sparkling Cabernet and the 2014 Chardonnay was also rather tasty.

Not to mention, it was fab to have anther taste of Katnook’s Odyssey and Prodigy. Here are my tasting notes from trying them recently alongside the 2013 Cab Sauv:

Katnook Estate Odyssey 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

This bottle of Katnook Estate Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the outstanding 2012 vintage. This vintage is thought to be one of the best for Coonawarra in South Australia! This wine is in the ‘excellent’ category in the Langton’s Classification of Australian wine and was given 95 points from James Halliday. RRP $100.

Deep maroon red on the eye with rich aromas of vanilla tobacco, cassis, plums and cedar wood. Such an intoxicating nose! On the palate it’s full of juicy black plums and currants with a touch of black olives and spice. So smooth and seamless on the palate and it hangs around for the after party in the mouth too!

All opinions are based on my own taste buds. Wine is subjective & always evolving, so make sure you drink what you enjoy!

Katnook Estate Prodigy 2012 Shiraz

This bottle of Katnook Estate Prodigy Shiraz comes from the outstanding 2012 vintage. This vintage is thought to be one of the best for Coonawarra in South Australia. It’s in the ‘excellent’ category in the Langton’s Classification of Australian wine and was given 96 points from James Halliday. RRP $100.

It’s a deep maroon colour on the eye with a nice warmth on the nose – aromas of black plums, peppery spice and dark chocolate covered liquorice. It’s a hearty wine on the palate, full of depth and flavour – blackboy plums, anise and cassis stood out for me. It’s juicy with supple tannins and an extremely long finish. I could see the Starks or Lanisters sitting round drinking this – a definite winter warmer that’ll go well with hearty, meaty medieval type dishes.

All opinions are based on my own taste buds. Wine is subjective & always evolving, so make sure you drink what you enjoy!

Katnook Estate 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

The cooler weather is on the way and I’m craving reds! This 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Katnook Estate in Coonawarra (South Australia) has recently been released and retails for approx $40 a bottle at places like Dan Murphy’s and Vintage Cellars. The wine is matured for 13 months in 50% French (10% new) and 50% older American oak barriques to help develop it into a spectacular wine.

Not to mention it’s one of the 65 wines listed in the ‘Excellent’ category of Australia’s prestigious Langton’s Classification! And here’s what Mr. Spittoon and I thought of it..

Opaque inky purple-red on the eye with a nose full of sweet black cherry and cassis with some spice and cedar wood coming through. On the palate it’s juicy and fruit driven with a super lingering finish. Notes of black plums and cherries with hints of cocoa stood out for me. A wonderful rich red wine!

All opinions are based on my own taste buds. Wine is subjective & always evolving, so make sure you drink what you enjoy!

Katnook - Coonawarra Roadshow

For more information on the wonderful region of Coonawarra, make sure to check out coonawarra.org!

Grab a glass of wine and let me know what you think...