I would love to drink expensive wines all day, every day. But since I’m not independently wealthy, I have to seek out well-priced, good-value wines for those weekdays when I’m craving a decent glass but don’t have the money to spend on something really nice.
Rawson’s Retreat is a fantastic little wine for its price (less than $15). This Cabernet Sauvignon is made by Australian wine giant Penfolds, which also makes Grange – Australia’s most renowned and expensive wine. Think of Rawson’s like baby Grange: just a tiny little taste of an amazing cult wine. It’s also quite different from the usual sort of wine you’d expect from Australia – it’s very different from the average Aussie Shiraz at the same price point, most of which I absolutely cannot stand for their sickening cheap vanilla overtones and cloying sweet fruit. Ugh.
This is exactly the kind of everyday drinking wine I love: restrained but juicy fruit, balanced acidity and tannin, just enough flavour to keep things a little interesting but nothing that overwhelms or jars your palate in any way. The initial whiff was a bit baffling: buttered popcorn, especially like those popcorn-flavoured Jelly Belly beans. Weird. This blows off (thankfully) and reveals typical black fruits along with a hint of tomato leaf (though it’s not at all a vegetal wine). The tannins are just grippy enough to have a clear presence but aren’t overwhelming, and precede a nice spicy dry finish.
Rawson’s Retreat is not simple but it’s also not complex. It knows its place, and is one of the rare wines that’s 100% fairly priced. A perfect wine for a simple weekday meal, especially anything based on red meat, or to accompany a bowl of popcorn while you marathon TV shows.