50 years of Redman Cabernet Sauvignon

FIFTY+SA Wine Critic, Nick Stock, recently gathered in Melbourne to taste fifty years of Redman Cabernet Sauvignon.

Nick Stock is one of Australia’s most well-known and highly-regarded wine critics. He opened McLaren Vale’s hottest new beachfront bar and restaurant the Silver Sands Beach Club in 2022. Read more of Nick Stock’s work over at nickstock.com.au

Tasting fifty consecutive years of one single wine is not something that many wineries anywhere in the world can offer. Yet the Redman family in Coonawarra just opened their family museum collection to a small group of us in Melbourne recently and this will go down as one of the greatest and most memorable days in my life as a wine critic.

They parted with their last magnum of 1970, the first vintage of cabernet to be made by the late Owen Redman. Of the entire production of 500 magnums, this was their last remaining and it was superb. Starting with this, we tasted through decades of wine in a tasting that lasted the entire day.

These wines spanned three generations; from Owen in the 1970’s, then to his sons Bruce and Mal Redman who remain involved today alongside the third generation Dan and Mike Redman. It really is like a time capsule experience, each vintage the result of thousands of hours of work and many hands.

It really is like a time capsule experience, each vintage the result of thousands of hours of work and many hands.

This idea of wine being cellared is one that has become a rarity in the fast-paced life of today. I mean, we often struggle to find time to go and buy a bottle, let alone pop it in a cool wine cellar and come back to it in 10, 20 or even 50 years time.

And yet this idea that the greatest wines are those that get better over time is one that still rings true in the world of quality wine. There are many things I look for when tasting wines and the qualities and style are all-important. Yet the advice of when to drink that wine is arguably the most important piece of the puzzle.

Over time, wines change in their appearance and over a long period of time they change a lot. Yet in the first phase of the life of a red wine like Redman Cabernet Sauvignon, let’s say the first ten years, there’s no radical change, more just a settling down phase, or bedding in.

In fact the main influence on the taste of a young wine is that of the growing season or vintage. Tasting 50 years one after the other, I saw cool, warm, wet and dry years. Years of drought and years of frost – all elements laid bare. And it is a tribute to the Redman family’s experience and unwavering commitment to the ethos and practices set down by Owen Redman, that even the toughest vintages came up trumps in this tasting.

And that is what makes this a wine to buy and stick away in your cellar, wine cabinet, or someone else’s cellar you can trust! These wines are currently in career-best form as young wines and they demonstrated unequivocally through this comprehensive tasting that they all continue to improve in the bottle.

Tasting 50 years one after the other, I saw cool, warm, wet and dry years. Years of drought and years of frost – all elements laid bare.

The current retail price of the excellent 2021 Redman Cabernet Sauvignon at $35 represents incredible value and this is a wine that will outperform many wines that are on shelves at twice that price. So do yourself a favour. Go and buy at least 6 bottles (preferably a dozen), drink one or two (ok three), and put the rest down to cellar. Leave them to rest for ten years and then give one a try.

You’ll be so happy that you tucked these bottles away. If you need further proof, Redman are offering a few select bottles of museum wine every year, the current vintage on offer is 2013 which you can buy only from the winery in Coonawarra.

See you at the beach!

Have a glass of…

2021 Redman Cabernet Sauvignon

A stellar vintage with such evenness and measure, plus a sense of concentration and purity that really impresses. Deeply intense, ripe, dark berry fruit aromas and flavours with a succulent and juicy feel the whole way through. Long, vivid and seamless. Drink or hold.

2018 Redman Cabernet Sauvignon

An innately complex vintage with such impressive aromas of poached red berry, red currant and black currant, as well as chocolate, dark tobacco and violet. The palate has real depth and drive carrying ripe and fleshy fruit long and pure. Powerful drive to the finish. Drink or hold.

2002 Redman Cabernet Sauvignon

A definitively cooler year and this shows some cooler herb and pepper characters. The palate has a firmer feel with fresh redder berry fruits also sitting bright. Flavours cruise long and stay really focused. The fruit concentration is undeniable. Still plenty to come. Drink or hold.

1985 Redman Cabernet Sauvignon

Though we are getting into fully mature wines here there are bright red fruits on offer along with some aged characters of leather, earth and dried mushroom. The palate has a sleekly aligned feel, very elegant, smoothly honed and almost glossy in texture. So impressively poised. Red fruits hold long. Drink now.

1976 Redman Cabernet Sauvignon

A famously great vintage, this shows riper fruits and almost tarry, dark berry aromas that open to blueberry and darker plum. The palate has a velvety smooth texture, long and fine tannins hold ripe berry flavours even and deep. Impressive and powerful yet still focused. Drink now.

1970 Redman Cabernet Sauvignon

One of only 500 magnums that were hand bottled, this is the inaugural vintage. The nose is classic mature cabernet with dried red currant and black currant, cedar, tobacco and leafy elements. The palate holds an impressively fresh core of red plum, red currant and black currant flavours. So elegant, still very fresh. Drink now.

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We would like to acknowledge the Kaurna people as the custodians of the lands and waters of the Adelaide region.

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