Go on – admit it. At some point, we’ve all hugged the life out of a cheap box of goon and regretted it the next day. Regardless of that hangover – the humble cask holds a proud place in our nation’s history, it has been the training wheels for many of us who’ve gone on to become wine lovers. Including me.
Tuesday 24 February 2015 will see this brilliant Aussie invention honoured with a 50th birthday party in the posh Sydney suburb of Vaucluse. The Wine Wankers have started the party early however, by tasting our way through 20 of the nation’s most premium cask wines. We wanted to know; has the quality of cask wine improved, and if so – what is Australia’s best cask wine? But before we get to the results – let’s get some background info out of the way, really quickly in bullet points!
- Invented by Riverland winemaker, Tom Angove in 1965
- Invention was finally patented in April 1965
- Idea was inspired by from the flexible packaging of old goat skins that stored wine in biblical times
- Tom was inspired to store wine in a plastic bag and store it in a box
- The ‘airless flow’ of the cask is why the invention is genius; wine comes out, but no air goes in. So therefore the wine doesn’t become oxidised!
- In 1973, before wine casks really took off, each Australian was only drinking 9.8 litres of wine per year. Wine had a “special occasion only” image. After ten years of cask presence, per capita consumption rose to 19.3 litres.
- In 2015, the cask is still as popular as ever; one in every three glasses of wine drunk in Australia comes out of a cask
- Contents stay fresh for 6 weeks after opening
If you haven’t ventured into the cask section of your local bottle shop lately, you’re in for a treat. Cask producers have responded to the trend of consumers drinking less wine, but drinking better quality. You’ll now find real varieties and actual vintages, and even popular regions such as McLaren Vale and Marlborough. What’s more, packaging size has reduced. You now find ‘magnum’ sized cask wines; 1.5 litre versions.
The verdict – Australia’s best cask wines
Yalumba 2014 Chardonnay. A$13 for 2 litres. Score: 8/10
I’m not surprised a chardonnay took out top honours, Australia excels at terrific value chardonnay. Great balance with some lovely cool climate flavours of white nectarine, lemon and honeydew melon. Value plus and very smart.
Runner ups – whites
Ta_Ku Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough). A$24 for 1.5 litres. Score 7.5/10
Not too bad considering this does herald from a cask, lovely crisp tropical fruit and gooseberry flavours matched with some grassy herbal characters.
Yalumba 2014 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc. A$13 for 2 litres. Score: 7.5/10
This is almost a perfect quaffing white wine blend, definitely a fridge staple! There’s plenty of interesting fresh and lively tropical fruit characters matched with fresh herbs.
Debortoli Premium Verdelho. A$10 for 2 litres. Score: 7.5/10
There’s a party in my mouth! This is what you should be buying if you’re having a pool party. It’s seriously fun. Bags of fruity tropical flavours matched harmoniously with lemon and lime zest. More!
TOP REDS – EQUAL FIRST
Debortoli Premium Cabernet Merlot. A$16.50 for 4 litres. Score: 8.5/10
A sensational wine with amazing balance and delicious cabernet fruit flavour of casis and oak. Brilliant value.
Hardy’s The Chronicles Butcher’s Gold Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale) A$25 for 1.5 litres. Score: 8.5/10
Terrific varietal flavours of plum and spice with lashings of toasty oak.
And finally, because we are celebrating a 50th, we should be celebrating with bubbles. Wine cask champagne to be exact. Take it away Cheryl.