Cloudburst Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

‘Who?’ ‘I think I have heard of them’ ‘Aren’t they the guys made at Woodlands?’ ‘Never seen the wines’. Unusual reactions for a wine that scooped the pool including best cabernet sauvignon, best red and best wine of show at Margaret River Wine Show. I’d heard of the unicorn wines of Cloudburst, tracked down their website, seen the $150 price tag and learned that the wines aren’t even sold in Australia. Almost mythical. Someone in the US when I last visited asked if I had tried the wines. I hadn’t. I hadn’t seen a bottle until I stumbled into one on a heck of a fancy wine list in New York City. Take a look at the website and the wine is listed at the who’s who of US high end dining establishments. Word in the US is that they are at about that enigmatic ‘cult wine’ status, and we don’t even get a run at them here. Intriguing!

Will Berliner is the winemaker/proprietor. Bespectacled, neatly cropped hair, neutral US accent, super nice to chat to and genuinely stoked to have returned to the stage for Margaret River awards gala night on the three occassions, ‘but even after all that amazing buzz, I still got up early and walked through the vineyard, plucked a few leaves, felt the serenity of the site. I do that most mornings’, he explains. Berliner graduated from a degree in Ecological Oriented Biology at Yale, settled in Margaret River with his wife and sought a place that combined many elements of nature that pleased him, then begun with grape growing as an experiment, having worked out he reckoned he had an ideal, nay, exceptional site. The vineyard is somewhere tucked behind Woodlands and around about Caves Road, was planted in 2005 and raised biodynamically from the get-go.  The site is close-planted and no machinery is used in the vineyard, it’s all worked by hand. No additives or touch ups in the winery, fermented naturally.

There’s two chardonnays released too – a 2010 and 2012 wine so far. They didn’t get any awards at the show, but I went back and re-tasted them at the exhibitors’s tasting. They’re both full flavoured, powerful and carry a tight coil of acidity that drags flavour long. The 2010 is exceptional, but I can see how one would miss it in a wine show, or think it was over the top or something. A lot going on. The 2012 feels a bit unresolved.

I tasted this cabernet wine several times across the show from initial judging to call back to trophy next day, and various iterations from fresh pour to open-for-hours. I tasted the wine again the last day of the show. Drank a small glass. It’s exceptional – sleek, medium bodied, pure of fruit, tense in tannin, seamless. There’s a good energy about the wine – it feels bright but silky, yet concentration isn’t sacrificed and there’s a complex savouriness and dried herb leafiness in tow. So long in flavour. Just so. So very good.

As said earlier, none is sold in Australia. Yet. I think the groundswell has caught up with Berliner who initially didn’t have a producers licence to actually sell in Australia, or some technical trifle, and the wines are of course so very sought after overseas, but he told me this week that he has a licence now and he is thinking about shipping back some of the stock to Australia to sell here. The sum total of wine in Australia is three dozen of his own personal stash – the wine show took one dozen, bought a dozen, and he needed six or so bottles for sundry wine show stuff. Six precious bottles left, or so.

Time to scramble.

Tasted : NOV13
Alcohol : 12.5%
Price : $150
Closure : Screwcap
Drink : 2013 - 2033
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