Arriving in Australia during the Gold Rush of the mid-19th century, John Riddoch was the Scottish pioneer who founded the Coonawarra Fruit Colony, planting vineyards there in 1891 and building a winery.

Arriving in Australia during the Gold Rush of the mid-19th century, John Riddoch was the Scottish pioneer who founded the Coonawarra Fruit Colony, planting vineyards there in 1891 and building a winery. He would have been amazed to find that over a century later his region would be planted to 5,400 hectares of grapes.

Riddoch's distinctive three-gabled winery was bought by Samuel and David Wynn in 1951. Today, the majority of Wynns' grapes are cabernet sauvignon with 240 hectares over 30 years old. These unirrigated, low-yielding, old vines were the inspiration for producing a super-premium cabernet sauvignon from the best of the Black Label vats. The first Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon was made in 1982 by John Wade, and it is still only produced in vintages Wynns consider good enough to justify the John Riddoch name.

A tasting of John Riddochs the evening before the Black Label celebration showed that these richly endowed wines are generally more substantial and concentrated than Black Labels with a firmer backbone that indicates a drinking period starting some seven years after the vintage and ageing for up to 20 years. The John Riddochs of the 1990s are still youthful, with excellent vintages in 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1998 and 1999. The 1998 Wynns John Riddoch (£30 at Majestic, £30.99 at Oddbins) is fragrant and intense with a tight cassis core of sweet fruit richness that will open out in two to three years time and gradually ease and improve over the next decade.

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