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Australian wine really is growing up.
Every day it seems I encounter yet another example of a restrained, elegant Aussie wine that is a roo's leap away from the oak bombs that took the world's supermarket shelves by storm a couple of decades ago, even if they didn't wow the critics or more discerning wine drinkers.
The Adjenda 2005—a blend of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, and malbec—is one such wine. It has a dark, intense scarlet color along with a powerful, plummy richness that reminds me of dark cherries. Now this is not exactly uncharacteristic of Oz reds. But what marks Adjenda—apart from it's denied-in-Scrabble name—is that this ripe fruitiness is balanced by a bracing acidity that keeps the whole complex assemblage in harmony and prevents the wine from tipping off the edge into the seemingly bottomless trough of overcooked, New World reds.
The fruit comes from Langhorne Creek, located just south of Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula, an area that boasts a surprisingly cool climate, thanks to the maritime influence. As Adjenda's importer, the Wine Angel, explained to me: "It's a lot easier to make balanced wine in Langhorne than further north in Barossa."
It was a little tight at first—it is, after all, still young for such an ambitious wine—but after a couple of hours breathing, it opened up beautifully, revealing teasing hints of earthiness and other darker pleasure to come for those with patience to wait 10 years.
But do not be put off by this broad time horizon. Adjenda represents that Holy Grail of 21st century winemaking, a wine that can be drunk with great pleasure today—with an hour's decanting—and that will improve marvelously with age, too.
To find this wine near you, try www.wine-searcher.com.
When to Drink: Now, and for the next five years
Breathing/Decanting: Two hours breathing helps it open up
Food Pairing: It was superb with roast rib of beef
Grapes: 60 percent shiraz, 30 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent malbec
Appellation: Langhorne Creek
Region: South Australia