Some call it Australia’s most famous terroir: a mile-wide, 13-mile long strip of rich, rust-red “terra rossa” soil in Australia’s famed Coonawarra district. Along this precious stretch lie vines that have produced some of the country’s most sought-after and famous Cabernet Sauvignons. “A well-aged and carefully cellared Coonawarra Cabernet,” writes Josh Raynolds for Vinous, “has fooled me more than a few times into thinking I was drinking a top-notch Left Bank Bordeaux.”
Get ready to be fooled: This Médoc-like 2014 Leconfield “The Sydney” Cabernet Sauvignon is the culmination of an excellent vintage and top Australian winemaking and is a dead-ringer for a Left Bank Cabernet. Dense, full-bodied, and packed with juicy plum, spearmint, and fresh cassis, all bracketed by sweet French oak spice. See for yourself what happens when Bordeaux meets Coonawarra.
The Hamilton family behind Leconfield is Australian wine royalty. Incredibly, it wasn’t until age 76 that the legendary oenologist Sydney Hamilton set out to create an iconic Australian Cabernet of his own. In a rapid four vintages, Leconfield went from rookie to MVP, with both the ‘78 and ‘80 vintages in becoming hot-ticket collectibles. In 1981, his nephew Richard Hamilton took over and continues to run the property today with winemaker Paul Gordon, increasing the vineyard holdings and honing the viticulture of the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mother Nature does much of the work here, as Sydney foresaw. Lying over a limestone bed, the region’s signature terra rossa soil is well-draining and packed with nutrients and minerals, perfect for the cultivation of exceptional Cabernet. The nearby Southern Ocean provides a refreshing maritime climate, its cool breezes helping to lengthen ripening, ensuring that grapes are packed with voluptuous fruit concentration when harvest arrives.
In the 2014 vintage, a wet winter refreshed the region’s Cabernet vines and cool weather stretched the growing season letting tannins ripen and keep acidity levels refreshingly high. A late harvest led to wines with “ripe flavors and deft balance,” according to Wine Spectator, who deemed the vintage “outstanding.”
After 29 months in new French oak, The Sydney is refined and well-integrated, beautifully fusing Australia’s signature ripeness and power with European elegance and nuance. Left Bank by way of Southern Australia, this astonishingly complex red could cellar for another decade or drink beautifully tomorrow.