I HAD a cracking evening with a selection of Coonawarra reds the other day and it’s become my new favourite Aussie wine region. When I first started tasting the Australian reds in the 1980s, I thought the world would never improve on the Shiraz’s from the Barrosa, then I discovered the slightly silkier versions of the Hunter and my allegiances changed.

In the naughties, I became hooked on the wonderful classy reds from Margaret River with their Bordeaux-like qualities but as I approach my 60th year on the planet, I realised my palate was looking for a region that encompassed elements of all the above. Finally, I found it in Coonawarra.

It probably helps that the dominant grape variety is Cabernet Sauvignon, which in my humble opinion is the greatest of them all, but it turns out that the key to the success of the region is something the French winemakers would be proud of...terroir.

There's a particular type of brick red soil called terra rosa which it turns out is a vine's best friend. When you add the maritime climate which is almost identical to that of Bordeaux, if perhaps a tad more generous in the sun department, then all of a sudden you've got a Torvill and Dean type partnership. In addition to Cabernet, the region is also pretty good at Shiraz although my maturing palate tends to prefer the latter in blends these days.

The other notable thing about the reds of Coonawarra is their ability to age, something that any Bordeaux fan will appreciate. So there you have it, Coonawarra wines rock and it's all down to the muck, folks.

Coonawarra Special Reserve Cabernet

What a cracking wine for the price. Ripe blackcurrant aromas with creamy autumn fruits, pepper and hints of cocoa on the palate.

Marks & Spencer £10

Balnaves Cabernet Merlot

Cassis, plums, and vanilla, three of my favourite essential food groups. This is a really classy smooth wine, almost creamy on the palate. It's a cracker on its own but pair it with rich food for a dreamy experience.

Majestic Wines £20.99 mix 6

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