Andrew Margan

The Margan Story

When Margan started making wine in 1997 we made 6 straight varietal wines including a Cabernet Sauvignon. These grapes came from our Vere Vineyard which had been planted in the 1950’s. When this old vineyard was removed we took cuttings from the vines as they were an old clone that showed strong Cabernet varietal notes. Most of the Cabernet planted in NSW after 1960 came from other rootstocks which have never shown much varietal identity.

Our old stocks were rare and special. We decided to replant these cuttings on the Saxonvale vineyard at the highest most westerly facing point on the volcanic red soil. This same block had been used for Cabernet Sauvignon many years previously by Saxonvale and had historically produced some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in the Hunter Valley before it was removed. The elevation and aspect of the block helps to ripen the fruit in a variety that is usually the last to be ripe allowing it to be susceptible to late Summer rainfall here in the Hunter.

Most Hunter Cabernet has been removed because of its late ripening and because it was the wrong clone and looked more like Shiraz rather than Cabernet.

With only 6 acres of low yielding vines planted in 2014 we now only produce a small amount of very high quality Cabernet Sauvignon which is why we have moved it into our White Label range. 2017 vintage was our first vintage of this fruit and it has already won a Gold Medal at the 2018 HVWS and topped its class. Only 300 dozen were made of a wine that will become a classic wine in the Hunter Valley.

Cabernet Sauvignon grown here in the Hunter Valley produces an elegant style of wine with great acidity and strength of tannins. The tannins tend to be stronger than Hunter Shiraz tannins and that is why we taste it after our Shiraz. Just like Hunter Shiraz Hunter Cabernet has a different structure to Cabernets from other areas and from our red soil we produce a fantastic example of what great Hunter Cabernet can be like. This wine will age for at least 30 years under stelvin.

 The History

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most widely recognized red wine grape varieties. It is grown in nearly every major wine producing country among a diverse spectrum of climates. Cabernet Sauvignon became internationally recognized through its prominence in Bordeaux wines where it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. From France, the grape spread across Europe and to the New World where it found new homes in places like California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, Napa Valley, New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay, Australia’s Margaret River and Coonawarra regions. For most of the 20th century, it was the world’s most widely planted premium red wine grape until it was surpassed by Merlot in the 1990s. However, by 2015, Cabernet Sauvignon had once again become the most widely planted wine grape, with a total of 341000ha under vine worldwide.

Despite its prominence in the industry, the grape is a relatively new variety, the product of a chance crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon blanc during the 17th century in southwestern France. Its popularity is often attributed to its ease of cultivation—the grapes have thick skins and the vines are hardy and naturally low yielding, budding late to avoid frost and resistant to viticultural hazards such as rot and insects—and to its consistent presentation of structure and flavours which express the typical character (“typicity”) of the variety. Familiarity and ease of pronunciation have helped to sell Cabernet Sauvignon wines to consumers, even when from unfamiliar wine regions.

The classic profile of Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be full-bodied wines with high tannins and noticeable acidity that contributes to the wine’s aging potential. In cooler climates, Cabernet Sauvignon tends to produce wines with blackcurrant notes that can be accompanied by green bell pepper notes, mint and cedar which will all become more pronounced as the wine ages. In more moderate climates the blackcurrant notes are often seen with black cherry and black olive notes while in very hot climates the currant flavors can veer towards the over-ripe and “jammy” side. In parts of Australia, particularly the Coonawarra wine region of South Australia, Cabernet Sauvignon wines tend to have a characteristic eucalyptus or menthol notes.