The Cape Jaffa winery was established back in 1993 at Mount Benson and produced their first vintage in 1995. Owned by the Hooper family, Derek and Anna Hooper can draw on their winemaking experience gained from a number of high-profile estates around the world. Mount Benson is about 300 km south of Adelaide, forming a distinct sub-region of the Limestone Coast that is blessed with terra rossa soils overlaying limestone bedrock (similar to those of nearby Coonawarra), a cooling maritime influence and plenty of fresh water for these droughty times. Always known for the high quality of their Cape Jaffa organic wine range, the entire 25 hectare vineyard is biodynamically managed. Furthermore it is now officially certified BD by the ACO since 9th April 2008, a process that took four years – some achievement! It is the handpicked grapes from these vines that make the small quantities of the La Lune range of biodynamic wines.
Cape Jaffa’s biodynamic La Lune range comprises a 2006 Shiraz, a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2007 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc. There are just 3,000 bottles of each –hand-made wines with a minimal use of sulphur as preservative, the reds bottled under cork and the white under screwcap.
Even the labels are unique – they are made of unbleached cotton twill weave – illustrating both sustainable credentials and pointing up the premium credentials of these wines. Cape Jaffa has also just announced a range of excellent environmental initiatives under their carbon neutral scheme which complement their established good practices such as recycling waste water.
The wine featured here is the 2006 La Lune Shiraz, a superlative Australian Shiraz and my personal favourite of the three. My bottle was number 2,859 and was shown blind to a group of wine lovers. We concluded that this is a very fine Australian Shiraz that has enormous potential. Here’s why.
The Shiraz grapes were given two-week skin maceration before fermentation in tank with natural yeasts then matured for 2 years in new French oak barriques. This produces a big Syrah in style – think Hermitage but with the volume set at 11. Deep ruby coloured, the nose has floral hints and a touch of white pepper which overlay pure dark fruits. On the palate these resolve as plum, blackberry and black cherry wrapped up in a little vanilla oak and with an earthy and savoury/meaty undertow. A long length and some black pepper spice complement a great depth of fruit. Meanwhile, commendable alcohol control ensures excellent balance and an absence of alcoholic heat.
Almost irresistible now despite being so young, with elegance and complexity as hallmarks, I would expect this wine to develop secondary characteristics of game and leather over the next 10 years – and that is the fate of sister bottle number 2,844!
Meanwhile, the garnet coloured 2006 La Lune Cabernet Sauvignon already has that eucalypt/tobacco nose and cassis fruit though it is dominated by structure at this stage – still austere with tight tannins and a moderate 13% alcohol. Bottle 1,276 really came to life with food (Lamb Shanks on a cold winter’s night) though ideally it wants a few more years cellaring, when left-bank Bordeaux fans will find much to enjoy.
The 2007 La Lune Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc is also an easy recommendation – barrel fermentation adds a thwack of smoky new oak to the nettles and citrus, enjoyable now, with a lovely full and smooth texture and fresh acidity, this just needs time for the oak to calm down so I’d suggest putting it away for a couple of years.
Price wise, both reds are AUS$37 cellar door, while the white is just AUS$12.50. At time of publication there were no details available on UK/USA distribution or pricing, but I hope that subsequent vintages will be made available.