You’ve come a long way baby…
Ever wondered how the Calabria family have managed to conquer the Riverina, including buying the McWilliams family businesses for circa $30m?
It’s with wines like this quintet.
Bold flavours for few dollars has always been the Calabria Family Wines (nee Westend) model, but this swathe of releases are more polished. More plush. More grown-up. I hate to besmirch the Riverina’s reputation, but it definitely helps that these are now largely Barossan wines, rather than from the brown open plains of our irrigated heartland.
The only oddity here is the pricing – I still can’t work out why some of these products are $25 and others $35. Tell me why?
Calabria Three Bridges Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Baross Valley fruit, sourced from ‘company owned’ and growers vineyards, with a vine age of 20-50 years. Bold, varietal, luscious blackberry fruited red – Barossa Cabernet all the way. It’s wonderfully ripe, plush and doesn’t show the alcohol. Acid is a bit tart, but there is great intensity. Plush and a winner. All this for $25? It’s the Barossa Cabernet archetype at a great price. Best drinking: over the next ten years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14.5%, $25. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Calabria Three Bridges Durif 2019
Historically one of the finest, most idiosyncratic wines from the Calabria family and no change here. Bold is selling this Durif short – it’s a wildly substantial thing. Coffee, blue and black fruits on a ripe nose. There’s this coffeed (American oak), tannic and mouth-filling strike of chunky fruit/oak thing here which is unassailable. It’s thick, and sometimes too thick, but that’s kind of the appeal. Never feels hot either. Just big. A winner. Best drinking: now and for twenty years based on previous tastings. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? A few glasses, easy.
Calabria Three Bridges Shiraz 2019
All Barossa fruit, and it’s a juicy wine too. Mid weight and surprisingly not oaky. Just red and black-fruited. Maybe a little jubey and lean through the finish, but attractive in its black and red fruit jube flavour. Some puckering acidity tingles through the finish. Good, solid $25 wine. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14.5%, $25. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Calabria Three Bridges Mourvedre 2019
From vines planted in 1914. Dark berries, sweet oak. Really plump and glossy oak lifts this up. Noticeable varietal dark berry palate. Oak is just a bit dominant and vanilla bean, but it makes for an instantly attractive wine. Good, solid, oaky Barossan red. Best drinking: will be better in 3-5 when the oak settles down. 17.5/20, 91/100+. 14%, $35. Would I buy it? A glass.
Calabria Three Bridges Grenache 2019
Barossa Grenache from vines at least 50 years old. Probably the least interesting of this years 3 Bridges range because the oak overrides the soft fruit. Plush and full though. Attractive enough. Best drinking: over the next decade. 17/20, 90/100. 14.5%, $35. Would I buy it? A glass.
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Agreed on the Durif. Was well loved at Korean barbecue in Sydney (especially at $20 a bottle haha). I’ve seen your other reviews on that and really interested to see how a spare 2018 I have develops with a bit of bottle age.