2006 Primo Estate JOSEPH "Moda" Cabernet Merlot

Mclaren Vale, Clarendon & Virginia Cork 15% $58- Tasted 29-30/7/09

Well, I snapped. Too many budget wines left me wanting something special. So I cracked this last night. I use Primo Estate’s first press Joseph olive oil copiously and I’ve been wanting to taste their wine since my brother returned with stories from the cellar door. This is how I love my wine to be made and sold. You pay a small fee and sit down with local bread and cheese and a generous sample of each wine. Then you are “taken through” the wines- their story explained and questions answered. It’s all about passion and character, as are the best wines of the Vale, or perhaps anywhere.

The fruit for this wine is sourced from three separate vineyards, located at the sites listed above. The Clarendon vineyard is a little cooler in climate. This is, once again, wine made with thought & care. It bears no resemblance to how Australian wine is portrayed by many overseas writers. It is intelligent and sophisticated, not industrial and sterile.

In 1953 Primo Grilli landed in Australia, leaving his homeland of Italy. You can read more about him and the Estate’s history by clicking on this posts’ heading. It will take you to a wonderful website full of information. The Italian heritage is very much on display in this wine. A blend of 80% Cabernet & 20% Merlot, the grapes are picked and left on racks to be air-dried for two weeks. Thus the wine’s name, Moda, derives from this Italian method of extracting flavour etc from the grapes. It leads to a fuller and more dense style of wine. It is matured for 24 months in a mix of one third New American, French and German barriques. I do not know what flavours German oak imparts, but I will seek more information in the future. The point is, the oak and the fruit match are matched beautifully, each very present and playing its part to perfection.

The resultant wine is nothing if not dense. Its real characteristics take at least two days to appreciate, or a long stint in the cellar. Taste it, then lay the rest down and forget about them is my advice.

On opening, the warm alcohol was very much present and I was concerned. No need, integration happened relatively quickly as the wine showed different facets of its personality. To begin with I was very much struck by aromas and flavours of cherry liqueur and cedary oak. But things moved into darker and more complex territory with time in the glass & the bottle.

Ground coffee beans and lashings of dark & milk chocolate flavour and texture wrapped themselves around a core of plums and blackberries with a dusting of pepper. Brazil nuts and peanuts joined the fray with vanilla streaks, and were completely intoxicating. An extremely slippery and delectable mouthfeel, apparent as a feature in many of my favourite McLaren Vale reds, was countered by some effective splinter like tannins, providing a raspy texture to the extremely long finish. The fruit was remarkably vibrant throughout the impressive onslaught of flavours. With further time, all of these flavours were given a coat of caramel, to complete the opulence sitting in the glass. Intellectually & sensually, utterly hedonic.

I somehow feel I have not done justice to how many different ways this wine tasted over the time I consumed it. It evolved with each sip, each smell. The complexity was more than a match for the richness.

It’s not cheap, but as Max Allen recently wrote, how “cheap” something is is by no means a measure of its value. This is value personified. Treat yourself one day. You’ll be tasting the joys of this wine well into the next.


Winery website- click on title

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4 Responses to 2006 Primo Estate JOSEPH "Moda" Cabernet Merlot

  1. Anonymous says:

    I really enjoyed this post Jeremy. And not just cause the wine sounds rad. Always good to read/hear about a wines 'story'; where its come from, how its made, a bit of history behind it etc. (probably not the best term buts its all I’m coming up with for now) This for me can make wine more than just what’s in the glass. Although I’m happy to say that at the end of the day (both literally and figuratively) that’s the most bloody important thing :)


  2. Chris Plummer says:

    I totally agree Jeremy. 2006 was certainly the best Moda Amarone I've encountered for years. Luscious, dense, concentrated, complex, dark and brooding….. but easily handling its substantial winemaker derived artifact.

    I do believe the 2007 is available at cellar door already, haven't tried it yet but it should've proved much more challenging for Joe. I'll probably wait until the 2009 disgorgement of Sparkling Red gets released in October…

    The cellar door experience is quite interesting, very 'modern'. It can be tricky trying to locate the toilets for beginners but an enriching experience for those who do ;) Their cellar door/marketing man Dave deservedly won the title of McLaren Vale's best cellar door hand this year.

    Personally I think Joseph/Primo Estate is one of Australia's real in form wineries. The most interesting wine of theirs I've had recently was certainly the 2005 Nebbiolo ($75 cellar door) which has since been superseded by the 2006. I know you like Italian varietals and I believe the 2005 Joseph Nebbiolo was the best Australian Italian varietal I've had; well worth the money if you can locate one.

    Chris Plummer
    Australian Wine Journal

  3. Jeremy Pringle says:

    Hey Dave- It was a hard one to pin down in some ways, so a hearty thanks for the feedback. I am obviously quite obsessed with wine so when one really grabs me, I love telling a story, almost can't help myself! But in the end I reckon your bang on with your last sentiment. All the detail and stories in the world won't make a bad wine taste good (nor will they inspire me to not be lazy and just list a couple of descriptors & a random score)! Happily, this wine had me chomping at the bit to say all I could about it :)



  4. Jeremy Pringle says:

    Thanks for the info Chris. I can tend to feel a bit stranded (apologies to The Saints) here in Brissy, so it's great to hear all I can about what's happening in the various "heartlands" of Australian wine. Including lavatory information! :D

    The stories behind how Joe makes his red sparklies have grabbed my attention, but you're dead right, I love my Italian varietals. Time to save up for that Neb I reckon. I have a Primo 06 Shiraz/Sangi to try soon, but I reckon I might already be hooked, line and sinker.



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