A Coleridgian tribute to an award-winning Western Australian red.
From 453.75 Czech koruna, £17.95, $22.95, €21.40, AU$32.99, HK$170, 1,200 Thai baht, CA$50.70, SG$70
At Xanadu did Glenn Goodall a stately Cabernet decree. Goodall has been senior winemaker at Xanadu in Western Australia since 2016, having joined the winery in 1999 – and under his lead, their wines have won a string of awards, including Australia's Best Cabernet in the 2020 James Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge for the 2018 vintage of this Cabernet Sauvignon.
It was this accolade that brought the wine to my attention, because bordeaux expert Jane Anson asked if it could be included in a tasting hosted at 67 Pall Mall in Singapore, the theme of which was the best bordeaux-style wines made outside France.
I duly sought the bottles, only wincing slightly at paying over twice the UK price here in sunny Singers, and tasted the wine in mid March. It delivers absolutely everything you could expect from classic Margaret River Cabernet: the ripe fruit, the eucalypt complexity, the juicy acid yet grippy tannin. However, it was perhaps unfair to taste it alongside mature vintages of Guado al Tasso, Opus One and Mas La Plana, which – at many times the price – are fierce competition indeed.
Even so, the Xanadu stood its ground. When I tasted the wine again in late April, alongside several others from the Xanadu range, it was even more impressive. It's the compression of fruit and tannin that is so enjoyable, achieving ripeness and structure in excellent balance. The blackcurrant flavour is as pure as Alph the sacred river, and the eucalypt aroma isn't too far off the incense-bearing tree that Coleridge conjures in Kubla Khan.
Goodall has experience of working in Bordeaux, Stellenbosch and Hawke's Bay, all reputable Cabernet regions, doubtless informing his understanding of making great wine from the variety. The 2018 vintage comprises 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec. After three or four days of cold maceration for 20% of the fruit, fermentation completed in a week at around 25 °C before 14 months of maturation in French oak, of which 40% was new. It's a straightforward winemaking protocol, reflecting Goodall's 'deep respect for the vineyard where […] true quality begins'.
If the 2018 vintage is unavailable near you, Goodall (pictured above on the right, next to his winemaker colleague Brendan Carr, courtesy of Xanadu's Instagram account) has made plenty of other award-winning Cabernets. The photo is captioned 'For the 8th year running, Xanadu picked up the Cabernet Sauvignon Trophy with our 2019 Reserve' at the National Wine Show of Australia, and their website further mentions '110 trophies and 304 gold medals (and counting) accumulated since 2007 including the coveted Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy for our 2016 Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon'.
We've given their Cabernets plenty of plaudits here on JancisRobinson.com too, with an average score of 17 and several bottles that scored 18 and 18.5 points. The milk of paradise indeed, as Coleridge might have written.
Read many more articles about the fine wines of Margaret River.