2008 Westend Estate Calabria Private Bin Saint Macaire

The Saint Macaire grape has fascinated me for some time because of its rarity as a varietal wine. No longer grown in its native Graves region of Bordeaux and with little in the way of substantial literature about it, Saint Macaire is truly one of the world's most obscure varieties.  

Supposedly named after the medieval town of Saint Macaire, which is situated on the right bank of the Gironde River 50 kilometres south-east of Bordeaux or because it was widely grown in the region, statistics indicated that around two hectares existed up until the mid-1990's in the region. It appears that together with the other lesser known red varieties Carmenere and Gros Verdot, Saint Macaire succumbed to the dreaded phylloxera louse in the late 19th century and as a consequence, became all but a shriveled memory.

Despite its obscurity on the world stage, it has been resurrected in California where it is sanctioned for use in Meritage reds and in the Riverina Region of New South Wales at Westend Estate. The Calabria range of wines are premium barrel-matured alternative varietals that give the winery more feathers to its already impressive bow and the mantle as the only Australian producer of Saint Macaire. The two hectares of low yielding vines are from thirty year old plantings. 

Intense purple, almost black in the glass, it's like looking at ink. An aromatically intriguing combination of violets, spice, briary notes, white chocolate and bacon fat. The silky textured palate is complemented by black cherries, sweet dark plum flavours, spice and fine grain tannins. Well integrated vanillin oak characters to boot with a long, warm finish. Tastes older than its four years and will still be around for another four. A powerful yet approachable wine that has broken new grounds for not just the Riverina but Australian wine.    

Source: Winery Sample. Alcohol: 13.5%. Closure: Screwcap. Rating: 90 Points.

Website: http://www.westendestate.com.au/index.php 

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