nugan – hands in many places

September 14, 2010  |  wine review

I must declare some self-interest in this column, as the owner of 12 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon in Coonawarra. Since the early 60’s Coonawarra has developed a reputation as Australia’s Bordeaux – a cool climate area in which Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot are particularly suited.

Some of the great wines – like the Parker Terra Rossa First Growths – can be quite expensive, so it’s always good to find a good value, accessible, quality wine like the Nugan 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Nugan is an interesting third generation “diversified” farming family company of Griffith origins. The family now boasts vineyards in the Riverina, King Valley, McLaren Vale and Coonawarra (where they are recent entrants). It’s an interesting trend to see winemakers sourcing fruit from, and purchasing vineyards in, Australia’s cooler climate areas. Nugan’s neighbours de Bortoli, entered the Yarra Valley in the late 70’s and have made some stunning wines there.

Before reviewing the Cabernet, let me mention one other Nugan wine under their second label, Cookoothama (aboriginal for “fertile land”). The one I love is the Cookoothama 1997 Botrytis Semillon from Darlington Point (where my father in law took his mates from the Poacher’s Paradise on legendary fishing trips). This 375 ml wine costs about $20 and gives the famous de Bortoli Noble One, a run for its money. It has dried apricots and marmalade characters with luscious lingering length and a dry finish. Yum – a fantastic sticky to serve with  your favourite pudding!

Although the current vintage is 2007, The Nugan 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon is still available at Vintage Cellars for between $15 and $20 with volume discounts. 2006 was one of the great vintages for reds in Coonawarra (just as 2007 was brilliant in Margaret River – an area giving Coonawarra a run for its money on Cabernets). My tasting notes follow:

Attractive, lifted berry nose with violets and chocolate overtones. The wine has a good acid fruit balance and should cellar for a few more years. Wild bramble berries, black currant and cassis on the palate, finishing with lovely soft tannins and lingering berry fruit. 14% alcohol. 93/100

Enjoy grazing for some other 2006 Coonawarra cabernets!


  1. Hi Ken,

    Having enjoyed wines in both the Coonawarra and in Bordeaux I can assure you that the Coonawarra does not need to be portrayed as our imitation of or attempt to be the Australian Bordeaux when it comes to wines.

    Coonawarra wines are fare superior to those of the Bordeaux region. For a start we produce the strong varietals you mention, plus of course some fantastic Shiraz. Whats more the quality of our varietals means that we don’t have to blend to create “pleasant” wines as they do in Bordeaux.

    So whilst I would describe Bordeaux wines as pleasant, I would describe Coonawarra wines as ‘distinctive’.

    Having said that I think we have a lot to learn from the froggies – sorry, that’s no longer politically correct but is meant in the most endearing manner. A lot to learn in terms of cheese, pâté and bread. There is not much better than an afternoon in the shade with a French stick complemented with home made pâté and moldy cheese bought from the village market washed down with a glass of Bordeaux.

    Now if we could only make such good bread, cheese and pâté to be complimented with a real wine from the Coonawarra…….

    …….wouldn’t be dead for quids.

  2. No need to convince me Bill….although there is nothing quite like an old Petrus or Lafite. Ken

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