Cape Mentelle Zinfandel

Zinfandel must rank among the most challenging varieties of all to tame to any semblance of elegance, too often overstepping the mark into hedonistic raptures of exotic complexity. To tone it to such levels of restraint and sophistication as Rob Mann has achieved in 2012 is nothing short of astonishing. In my memory, unprecedented in this country. For lovers of this variety, it carries all the mixed spice, sarsaparilla, black fruit, tar and Christmas cake exoticism that we love but – crucially – it has turned the volume down to a calm rumble, and done so with consummate control, exacting focus and well-defined structure. Beautifully finely poised, powdery tannins and great persistence promise a long future. Is this Australia’s best zin? Hands down. For the record, a single hectare of 1974 vines, fermented in 3,000L French oak vats and matured in 25% new French oak for 16 months. $49 at Wine Box Warehouse.