We have named the wine Red Letter Day, because, although we love the style, we have been able to produce a sparkling red only intermittently over the past 30 years. So to be able to make one – and make it available – is a “red letter day”. I produced my first sparkling red in the early 1980s.
At that stage, although I loved the style, it was becoming increasingly hard to find, with Seppelts being the last large producer on the shelves. I, along with a few other small producers, decided not to let this iconic style of the Australian wine industry fizzle and die out, particularly since this style is uniquely Australian. I am not aware of anyone else around the world putting full-bodied red wines through the champagne process.
Because making sparkling reds is a lengthy and expensive process, we are listing this wine at $30 per bottle.
This wine is dedicated to our dad, Alexander Murray Forbes. Murray (as he was known to everybody) worked tirelessly planting, and then trellising, the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes, with me, back in 1970’s. Murray’s friendly good humour always came to the fore in those long days in the vineyard.
I believe that these three varieties work particularly well in the cooler climate and terroir of the Eden Valley area. The renowned structure and longevity of Cabernet Sauvignon provides the backbone to the Alexander Murray wines. The first blend I made under this label was in 2010 and it proved magnificent. Particularly once it had achieved a few years of age in the bottle. Unfortunately, in both 2011 and 2012, the weather gods determined that the later ripening Cabernet Sauvignon would not achieve full maturity and I chose not to include it for this label. (The 2013 blend went to make our delicious sparkling red.) Little did I, (or Murray), realise that the Eden Valley climate, although very liveable and usually fantastic for grapes, would make this variety, and therefore the blend, sometimes difficult to achieve.
In 2014, when all the varieties did achieve full ripeness, the soft cherry/blackberry overtones from the Merlot are supported by the complex characters generated by the Cabernet Sauvignon and topped off by the fruit lift from the Cabernet Franc. This complex bundle of flavours, with layer upon layer of “berry” characters, makes this wine a delight to drink either with food or on its own. It is exciting to be able to get this blend together again, and I believe this wine will age well for at least another ten years from 2017.
This wine is another fine example of what can be achieved with maturation in the bottle. The richer golden hues still have a tinge of green which shows it has freshness and time left to mature further. The glorious toast and lime marmalade aromas are supported by the rich complexity on the palate, making this wine suitable to accompany a similarly rich dish such as paella.
2010 produced fine mild conditions with only a few severe heat days early in the season.
These heat spikes were too early in the ripening cycle to be a significant problem, so the fruit was harvested with an excellent balance of flavours.
This wine is exhibiting a pale straw colour with green tinges, a lively herbaceous lime aroma and mouth-filling zesty citrus flavours with tropical overtones.
The great richness and palate “feel” lead me to contemplate the future with excitement since I feel that this richness will develop into a very complex palate and will ensure another long-lived wine.
Alcohol 12.9 %
The adverse weather conditions during the 2011 ripening period meant the Cabernet Sauvignon did not achieve ripeness and the rich “berry” fruit characters I always seek. In the absence of this variety we could not produce an Alexander Murray blend, so I have chosen to highlight the other two varieties, Merlot (75%) and the lesser known Cabernet Franc (25%) to create the Fraternal Blend.
Because it is a member of the Cabernet family, the Merlot contributes similar “forest fruit” characters that make these wines from the cool Eden Valley region an absolute delight. The fruit highlights provided by the Cabernet Franc are totally compatible, making this an excellent combination.
The conditions over the 2017/18 summer were clear and dry, with classic Eden Valley cool nights. This enabled the fruit to develop intense flavours and consequently the wine shows excellent varietal nose and palate. Coming from the aged vines of Michael Noack’s vineyard, this wine exhibits an extremely long, flavoursome and balanced palate.
I am confident that this wine will age superbly and easily achieve 10 years of age and more.