The Bowen Estate vineyards were established by Doug and Joy Bowen in 1972. Doug was a talented viticulturist and planted the vines on Coonawarra’s prime terra rossa soil, which had produced great red wines since grapes were first planted there by John Riddoch in 1891.
Doug is a hands-on viticulturist who insists that hand-pruning brings out the best in his vines, It restricts the crop size to about 2 tonnes per acre, which results in full bodied wines with greater depth of colour and longevity. His daughter Emma reckons that 90% of the Cabernet’s character is “preset in the vineyard”.
But it was the 30th vintage at Bowen Estate, in 2004, that is the reason for the ever-increasing rise in the quality of their wines. They had been joined by daughter Emma, who had returned after various winemaking stints around the world and who Doug appointed winemaker, with Doug reverting to his true passion as viticulturist and also as assistant winemaker.
They took a hard look at what they were doing and where they wanted the winery to be in 30 years time. They had a general feeling that they could make even better wine from their 33 hectares of vineyards .
Over the years they had always picked the various blocks separately and kept the wines apart during maturation. On the tasting bench, over all those years, the quality difference from block to block remained consistent.
Every year there was a clear difference from best to not as good and it was always the same. They had also identified their best Cabernet clone, based on wine quality, so this was used to in their replanting program.
They ripped out two blocks of wines that were under-performing. Over the following two years they took cuttings of the best Cabernet to replace these two blocks. Then, in 2006, a savage frost wiped out the vintage on an adjoining 5.4 hectare vineyard, which they had intending to replant “some time”. After the frost and ground-softening rain, Doug decided to rip it out there and then. He replanted it with more Cabernet cuttings in the following November.
With the fabulous 2018 vintage, where an excellent fruit set was followed by great weather conditions from January through to picking, the fruits of this replanting have come to fruition.
“95 points. Deep crimson-purple, it is full of rich fruit, yet not extractive or alcoholic, simply full-bodied, with a perfect marriage of fruit, oak and tannins.” James Halliday
An opulent and stylish wine that leaps out of the glass. It has a classic cassis nose with peppermint sub-notes, a rich, full palate of Blackcurrants and red berries. Fine fruit are intertwined with classic French oak characteristics. This is a wine of elegant structure and an amazing example of the value possible out of Coonawarra.
A brilliant, harmonious wine from a classic Coonawarra vintage.
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