James Halliday’s Wine Companion is widely considered the industry benchmark for Australian wine ratings and reviews. For this reason, it’s generally a high achievement for wines to be scored in the upper range from 94 points plus. In the just-released Halliday Wine Companion 2022, King Valley’s Wood Park wines were recently awarded 95 points for two of their premium reds, the 2018 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2018 Reserve Zinfandel.

Founder/winemaker John Stokes says he made his first Zinfandel in 1993; two years later, it was served on Qantas First Class. Of the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, John explains that: ‘it’s a wine that captures the complexities and nuances of the cool-climate vineyard site, making it a unique product.’

Essentials Jamie Durrant takes a closer look at the pair of these high scoring red wines.

Winemaker John Stokes

Wood Park 2018 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Rich, concentrated aromas of forest berries, black pepper, bay leaf, earth and mushrooms tones make an impressive first impression. Upon swirling the glass, additional lighter cherry aromas come to the fore, making its introduction not only powerfully character-driven but also pleasantly explorative and playful – it’s a call of the wild experience!

Upon the first pour, the palate is immediately delightful and soft due to its medium weight and perfectly integrated chalky tannins. Showcasing a rare balance between deep, rich blackberry and black currant flavours and subtle spice elements: cloves, nutmeg and cassis – there is plenty to celebrate with this class-leading reserve wine.

While this wine is a beautiful match to simple choices like cured meats and rich hard cheeses, its bold flavour profile coupled with savoury elements makes it the perfect pairing for braised meats and curries.

Typically, the Wood Park Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is matured in French oak for 24 months, adding depth and complexity. It offers great drinking now and has cellaring potential for up to ten years.

Halliday Wine Companion 2022: 95 Points
Essentials Score: 4.5 stars

Wood Park Wines 2018 Reserve Zinfandel (Primitivo)

Zinfandel, also known as Primitivo in Italy, is a black-skinned grape that has become quite popular in Australia while limited in cultivation as it’s challenging to grow.

Featuring a bold nose of blackberries and prunes, additional textural flavours of charred oak and warming spices that become evident as the wine opens up.

This well balanced mid-palate weight aged wine is immediately pleasing with its ripe, juicy characters and layered spice. A tightly focused plate of sour cherries combined with hints of chocolate and spice combine with harmony and ease. Given its tightly focused palate – one with a punchy acidity – it is possible to pair this very food-oriented wine with a wide range of dishes.

Something fatty like a rich Spanish Jamón ibérico and/or manchego cheese or an aged cheddar is a suitable robust starter. A mild salami is also a good match. However, extending beyond this with more hearty meals is not required, as the wine is juicy and light enough to support simpler meals, pizza, pasta, risotto or gently spiced beef curry with sweet fruit including apples and banana otherwise a chutney.

Due to its rich flavours and thick skin, producing an elegant style is challenging. Winemaker John Stolks has managed to soften the fruit by allowing 24 months of wine maturation in American Hogshead oak prior to bottling. It is a fine drop that’s well worth investing in for future cellaring.

Wood Park Wines Online Sales
Order Wood Park wines online now at: woodparkwines.com.au

Wood Park Wines Cellar Door
At the Milawa Cheese Factory Complex
17 Milawa-Bobinawarrah Rd, Milawa, Victoria
Tel 03 5727 3778

Halliday Wine Companion 2022: 95 Points
Essentials Score: 5 stars

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Halliday Wine Companion 2022
The 2022 Halliday Wine Companion is available to pre-order now, and further information can be found at the winecompanion.com.au

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