A few weeks ago, while out for lunch with a mate, I snuck into a wine tasting for Yalumba’s Rare and Fine wines, and learnt two things. The first was that Yalumba’s 2008 The Cigar Cabernet Sauvignon is going to be winning a few wine medals this year, and the second was that it’s not a good idea to take somebody else’s glass when you’re not even supposed to be there in the first place…….
The 2006 Yalumba The Cigar made its mark on the Australian wine scene when it won three trophies at Coonawarra’s Limestone Coast Wine Show including Best Red and Best Wine of Show. It’s this history, plus the fact that it shares the same fruit as it’s more famous big brother “The Menzies”, that has already seen the 2008 The Cigar take out The Big Red Wine Book’s Wine of the Year award for 2010/2011.
Now I’m not sure whether it’s because of the hole in the ozone layer, the fact that Queensland has won a record FIVE State of Origins in a row, an increase in winemaker Peter Gambetta’s skills or simply Yalumba wanting to over deliver at a price point to win market share. But to be completely honest I don’t care, to be able to buy a quality wine of this level for around $20 has me doing a joy dance around my kitchen with a huge glass of this stuff (maybe I’ve been trying too much of it?).
Yalumba are putting a lot of hard yards in on this one. Just like their $50 Menzies, The Cigar, at less than half that price, is also made through small lot winemaking techniques. The grapes are crushed to small static fermenters, and once the fermentation commences, the temperature is allowed to peak early at 30°C, then given more control around 20°C. This ensures good extraction of colour and tannin. The grapes stay on skins for around seven days, though some tanks are given extended skin contact before pressing. The wine is matured for 16 months in mainly French oak hogsheads.
In the glass it has a deep magenta colour, with an intense nose of dried herbs, mocha, sweet oak and blackberry aromas. On the tongue its surprising to find The Cigar not as powerful as the aromas suggested it might be. It was a medium bodied wine, with pure fruit flavours and a cleansing acidity. Smooth tannins work well with the fruit to give a long, savoury finish. This is one of those “crowd pleaser” type wines; it won’t offend anyone at a flash dinner party and will gain more than few interested looks at a BBQ. And to top it all off, this will mature and develop if left alone in a cool, dark lonely place for the next few years.