After a surfeit of pinot noir it was with some joy that I unwrapped the parcel from Collaboration Wines to discover a chardonnay and a cabernet sauvignon dominant blend. I like cabernet very much and can’t understand why it seems to get such a bad press here. Admittedly if you’d only drunk some of the grisly examples made in New Zealand, either in the thin, weedy green style (early 1970s) or dry, tough and tannic style (Hawke’s Bay until five years ago) then perhaps you’d wonder what all the fuss was about.
But great Bordeaux remains just as much a pleasure as fine Burgundy. As someone tweeted last week, “not sure why to promote one grape variety you have to put down another”. Isn’t there room for good expressions of all grapes? (though personally I still struggle with cabernet franc as a single varietal wine). And when an Australian sommelier sneers “you like a weed of a grape”, well that only makes me like it all the more.
Julianne Brodgen spent 8 years working in the Napa Valley, which explains perhaps why she has such a deft hand with cabernet. Make no mistake, this is not some supercharged, full throttle example. Rather with only 13.5% alcohol, the 2010 Argent Cabernet Sauvignon $40 sits very comfortably in the medium bodied category. The nose has graphite, pencil shavings and a touch of blackcurrant, the palate silky with ripe, low impact tannins. When first opened my only slight reservation was just a touch of vanilla oak right on the finish, but this became much less noticeable once the wine had had a little air.
The 2011 Aurulent Chardonnay $30 is also well made, staying true to the Hawke’s Bay style; ripe stonefruit, a touch of bran biscuit complexity and an attractive leesy, creamy edge. A good wine but for me perhaps a little bit safe?
Collaboration refers to the partnership between Julianne and Angela Tirrell, a Californian artist whose paintings feature on each label. An assured and exciting new label to watch.