These turbulent times recently got just that little bit sadder with the news that the Zema family patriarch, Demetrio, passed away very recently, at the age of 87.
Zema Estate is located in Coonawarra, making a fine array of reds, although it always seems to me that it never quite gets the accolades it deserves. Not sure why.
I only met Demetrio a couple of times, and that was a while back, but he struck me as a lovely, hospitable man who tolerated no nonsense. I remember someone asking for a spitbucket near the vines, only to receive a withering response, followed by a big smile.
The Zema family strike me as the quintessential blend of Italian immigrants and good Aussies. Any visit to their winery was always accompanied with seemingly endless plates of fabulous food. And naturally, the wine to wash it down. Followed by a discussion about the footy (if I recall, son Nick had some rather dubious allegiances).
Demetrio arrived in Coonawarra back in 1959 – it must have been a wild, desolate place then – from Calabria, but did not establish his own operation until 1982. The family suffered another tragic loss a few years ago when son Matt passed away. Matt’s brother Nick is responsible for the wines.
The ‘Family Selection’ is the pick of their wines and while this Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 has been available for a little while, it can still be found. At $48, it is cracking value. You can pay twice that and not drink so well.
It is sourced from three selected vineyards with the intention to produce a wine which will age for at least a decade (it will do that standing on its head). It was made with partial barrel fermentation and then two years in French oak. The team at Zema have noted that they were aiming for a bigger and bolder, richer style with this ‘Family Selection’ and they have achieved that, but they have also maintained refinement and elegance.
The wine is inky black. Aromas of cloves, black olives, mint, black cherry and licorice flood from the glass. The oak is nicely integrated and one is left with a touch of the vanillin. On the palate, black fruits, tobacco leaf notes and cassis characters emerge. This is a seamless style, with the finest of tannins. An extremely well structured wine with balance, length and good acidity. Good complexity. Supple texture. This is a wine that has a very long future ahead of it.
I’m sure Demetrio would have been very proud of it. Raise a glass of it to celebrate the life and contribution of Demetrio.
Check out more of the Zema Estate range here.