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Katnook Prodigy & Odyssey

By Tom Cannavan, 07/10

The 2005 vintage of the Odyssey arrived just a few weeks after this review which included the 2003 and 2004 was published, so a review of it was added in August 2010.

I've long had a bit of a soft spot for the wines of Katnook estate from the South Australian region of Coonawarra, an area renowned for great Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz in particular. Katnook has a brilliant winemaker in Wayne Stehbens, twice winner of the famous Jimmy Watson trophy for his wines. Wayne's top two wines are the Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon and Prodigy Shiraz, each of which is given extended maturation before release and which are available in limited quantities. Though these wines will age gracefully for a decade or more, they are also deliciously approachable young, so it was a pleasure to taste the current vintages, plus a bottle of the 2003 Prodigy with a little time under its belt.    bottles

the wines

UK importer of these wines is Bibendum Wines.

Katnook, Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Australia
A very good vintage in 2005 for Cabernet too, and this wine from some of Katnook's oldest parcels was aged 35 months in mostly French oak barrels. There's a huge sense of plushness and ripeness here, with fat, thick, glossy black fruit and an Agen prune darkness, with swirling mocha and vanilla bean richness. On the palate the fruit attack is intense and concentrated, with that opulent richness and sweetness, but a lovely sense of structure and precision too. The silky but grippy tannin framework and bold acidity give this a framework and edge that pushes through into a very long, spicy but fruity finish. Glorious stuff. 94/100. Around £40 per bottle, see all stockists on

Katnook, Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Australia
Another good year in the Coonawara with slightly higher than average yields and relatively cool, dry conditions. This wine spends three years in barrel, again a mix of French and American oak, around 40% of which is new. There's an immediate meatiness and slightly vegetal note when first opening this wine, but with a little air it gives up aromas that are really quite complex, with some delicate floral nuances, liquorice, exotic spiciness and keen-edged black fruit in the mix. On the palate it is much grippier, much more assertive wine than the Prodigy, with a black olive savour and plenty of earthy grip to the bittersweet black fruit. The tannins are grippy but fine, and there's good acidity too. 92/100. Around £40 per bottle, see all stockists on

Katnook, Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, Australia
The conditions of 2003 created very low yields and small berries from a long, mild and dry ripening period. The oak regime was a little different in this year, 60% of the French oak new, and only 25% of the American oak. Again, the wine spent three years in barrel. Lovely nose to this super-ripe stuff. Lots of soft, dusty black fruit and a hint of coffee, leading on to a palate showing great ripeness and sweetness, with a sour cherry acidity adding lots of savoury quality too. Resolved and smooth in the tannins and fruit profile, this nevertheless has structure and will no doubt age very nicely over the next decade. 91/100.

Katnook, Prodigy Shiraz 2005, Australia
The 2005 vintage offered a long, dry and cooler than average growing season, but one where the grapes matured earlier than expected with above average ripeness. The grapes come from a specific small vineyard, and the wine was matured for 24 months in a combination of French and American oak barriques, less than half of which were new. There's a gloriously bloody, gamy, deeply hewn character to this wine on the nose, with a flood of ripe, chocolaty berry fruit and a lovely lift of freshly-cracked pepper. On the palate it is sumptuous stuff, with those deep plum and red berry fruit notes wrapped in vanilla and chocolate, and spiced with cinnamon and pepper. Long and luxurious with its unfurling tannins, this is hedonistic, delicious stuff but not without backbone and staying power. 94/100. Around £40 per bottle, see all stockists on