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JOHN ROZENTALS finds a truly outstanding cabernet sauvignon from the Canberra region.

June 16, 2018 Beverage, Headline News No Comments Email Email

Graeme Shaw was selling wine in China when I called into his winery at Murrumbateman, near Canberra, recently, but I did manage to have dinner at its restaurant Olleyville with his wife Ann and their daughter Tanya Olinder.

Among the wines that I tried was the Shaw Vineyard Estate 2014 Reserve Merriman Shiraz, named after pioneering local grazier George Merriman who in the 1800s owned part of the land now planted to the estate.

The name is reserved for the vineyard’s best red of the year and the latest wine to receive the honour has just been released — the Shaw Vineyard Estate 2015 Reserve Merriman Cabernet Sauvignon.

The wine comes with impeccable credentials, having won five trophies on the circuit — two from the 2017 Australian Cool-Climate Wine Show, one from the 2017 International Cool-Climate Wine, and two from 2018 International Wine Challenge, where is was voted the best cabernet in Australia.

That it came in ahead of the best reds from renowned cabernet areas such as Coonawarra and Margaret River says much about its quality.

The 2015 vintage was apparently the best in the Canberra region since grapes were planted there in the 1970s, with near-perfect sunny days right up to harvest and temperatures consistently reaching the high 20s.

The wine was matured for 22 months in French-oak barrels (a third new) and its quality is outstanding — well worthy of a happy dance from Graeme.


Shaw Vineyard Estate 2015 Reserve Merriman Cabernet Sauvignon ($65): An outstanding, powerful cabernet with the structure to improve with a couple of decades in the cellar. It shows a manifold of varietal flavours … cassis, dark berries and cedar. Some will says it’s but you can only begin to imagine what the French would charge for a red of this quality.

Gartelmann 2015 Rylstone Petit Verdot ($35): Rylstone sits high in the Great Dividing RPotange between Mudgee and the Hunter Valley and is one of Australia’s coolest, most marginal viticultural area. It shouldn’t ripen petit verdot — the ‘little green one’ — but it certainly has here. This is a fleshy, quite complex red, yet it’s also restrained and a great example of what can be achieved by sympathetic viticulture and skilled winemaking.


Willett Pot-Still Reserve Kentucky Bourbon ($110): It’s beautifully packaged in a still-shaped bottle straight off the top shelf and carries a hefty 47 per cent by volume alcohol hit. Caramel, vanilla and spices dominate the aromas, with experienced tasters also detecting citrus. Please keep a spirit of this quality away from cola. Break it down with pure water to pick up all of the flavour nuances. Obtain from

Written by John Rozentals

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