Thursday, November 11, 2010


- McLaren Vale, SA
- $57.50-$90
- Screwcap
- 14.5%alc

The highly innovative Joe Grilli makes his iconic Moda Cabernet Merlot in the Italian Amarone style. After harvest the grapes are air dried on outdoor racks (for around 2 weeks) to increase skin to juice ratio, concentrating the flavours in an almost raisined fashion. The resulting wine is a lusciously rich, ripe dry red which seems to overcome difficult seasons with absolute ease. Just ask popular UK critic Oz Clarke, who recently named Joseph's Moda as the world's second best wine!

In tune with other Moda wines, the 2008 is aromatically deeper than a rabbit's hole. Its typically moreish, ultra-ripe raisin, chocolate and leather aromas have already set themselves in for the long haul, while drier, dusty notes of tobacco and herb straddle the higher tones as an essential counter balance to the smooth richness residing beneath. The palate manages to be extravagantly luscious, smooth and rich without being heavy, jammy or offensively ripe whatsoever. Then considering its generous proportions, it's amazingly balanced and even, saturating the palate from front to back, as lingering touches of tobacco leaf and incredibly polished and smooth, powdery tannins ride like surfboards along its tidal wave of massively deep, dense flavour. It isn't exactly the medium-bodied, elegant cabernet many Australians are looking for, but it's near impossible not to be impressed.

ü+ The 2008 continues a run of consistently delicious Moda wines from up-and-down McLaren Vale cabernet vintages. How does Joe Grilli do it, and why aren't there more imitators? There may be nothing plain about Moda, but it's just plain yum. Drink to 2024.
95 points


  1. Not sure I've ever had an Amarone Cabernet, but definitely sounds like something worth checking out!

  2. Good to see a review of the 2008 Moda, and I note the interesting range of prices you give. I find this is a wine it is often cheaper to wait and buy at auction than from retail, and certainly from the cellar door.

    These wines (in my top few Australian wines) really need 10 years age before getting into them (minor exception for the occasional off years).

  3. Red,

    The closest thing I've had to an Australian Amarone cabernet outside of Joseph's was an Oliver's Taranga Vine Dried Cabernet, but as the name suggests the grapes are dried on the vines, not racks. Fortunately, the Taranga wine sold for about half that of the Joseph ($30) but unfortunately the last vintage was a 2006 and it's been sold out at cellar door for years. :(

    Fingers crossed another one will come along soon, because at $30 it was a more than affordable snap of the delicious Amarone style.

  4. Paul,

    Fantastic wine the Moda isn't it? As I mentioned in my note I'm always amazed at its consistency of style across vintage - it seems to of become one of those wines where you happily always know what you're gonna get.

    The prices I state in my notes (which is something I've never explained, but probably should!) indicate the cheapest retail price I've seen for the label in the last few years (without necessarily being the current vintage) to the most expensive, without taking into account 'bulk' buys or secondary market prices.

    The 2008 Moda is currently $65 at cellar door, but I recall a few years ago when Joe was between vintages he pulled out bottles of the 2001 for sale at the cellar door, at $90 each from memory. He's doing a similar thing with the 2004 Angel Gully Shiraz at the moment

    (David Jones Liquor also helps to define the right hand price point in many instances - don't buy from there - even if you get the 10% or 15% staff discount!)

    Chris P

  5. $57.50 a bottle for the 2008 Moda at Discount Wines/Candamber here in Canberra. Dan Murphy's prices would probably be around that point too, but I've not checked. I buy the Primo Estate Joseph red bubbles at retail, rather than the cellar door, Moda most commonly at auction.

    That said, Primo are great to deal with. Very professional, friendly and fast with cork problems etc.

  6. Thanks for the info Paul, that Discount Wines/Candambar sounds like a pretty handy store! I'll update the post as soon as I figure out what the hell happened to my bottle shot!?

    I'm with you on the Sparkling Red (I picked up some of the 2010 disgorgement from the CD as well as the Moda) and certainly with you on their service as well. Mark at the cellar door is one of the best in the Vale (he has the award to prove it!) and Joe's young sons are progressing nicely as junior wino's too :)

    As a lover of Italian-styles I take it you enjoy the Joseph Neb as well Paul? I was keen to pick up a nebbiolo as well but the 2007 was still kicking around, so, I guess I'll just have to wait a fraction longer.

    Chris P