I asked Keith Mugford which variety he would plant (if pressed) on the Moss Wood estate vineyard.
'Cabernet... Maybe a little Malbec & Petit Verdot, but otherwise, just more Cabernet'
That succinctly describes the Moss Wood ethos. Its all about Cabernet. Maybe a little Chardonnay and Semillon for interest (Keith didn't even talk about Pinot, thankfully), but its Cabernet that remains the focus of this blue chip Margaret River winery.
The release of the 2006 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon then is particularly interesting in the scheme of things, given both the quality of the 2005 vintage Moss Wood Cabernet that preceded it and the generally rubbish (for Cabernet particularly) conditions that marked the 2006 vintage.
What I am happy to report is that, in contrast to many other MR wineries, there is not a trace of greenness in the 06 Moss Wood Cabernet, and when placed alongside the other wines from this portfolio it looks appropriately house styled and, well, good.
However, and there is a definite however, there lies another wine in this range that I would happily consume over said 06 Estate Cabernet. Whats more, its priced at just under a third of that of the grand vin. It's name is Amy and this tasting reminded me of how glorious she is, albeit cast in a style that is much more immediate and short term.
Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Vineyard Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Chunky citrus nose, some gooseberry Sauv aromatics but it all feels too ripe to be even slightly herbaceous and varietal. Actually, it was quite shy at first, but after some time in the glass it showed its true self, which is tropical guava meets citrus and typical Moss Wood flavour. Very good, but a little too rounded for me. 13.5% 17.5
Moss Wood Semillon 2008
Last time I tasted this it tasted like very little, this time it tasted like someone had taken the very little and added some nuts. Very tight green nose, nutty (almonds maybe) with a tinge of buttery oak/malo/yeast influence & melon. On my sheet here I have written 'nutty bag of acid'... Not much joy as yet. The score reflects this. 14.0% 16.8++
Moss Wood Chardonnay 2007
Can I call this a typical Moss Wood Chardonnay or is that just lazy? Whatever, it's not for those who like Chardonnay in the minerally, 'white peach & milk', cool climate style. Rather, its a fully ripe, red wine drinkers Chardonnay.
Creamy, yeast & cashew nut nose, obviously generous, oaky and ripe (though the oak is very high grade vanilla - it almost smells like money, the oak is that good). The palate is unashamedly brash, full flavoured, oaky and yet still it all works, finishing quite tight & lean.
Stuff the subtlety, this just over delivers on flavour, I just know that Moss Wood fans will love it. Will get better too as everything integrates. 14.5% 17.6+
Moss Wood Pinot Noir 2006
Who buys this? It's like that damned 20 to 1 show on Channel Nine. They keep running it, with old moon face hiding his embarrassment at the obvious, lazy programming shiite that it is. But somehow it keeps on turning up every week, so someone must be watching it.
This Moss Wood is a much better wine than that, but in all honesty it's a waste - that land could, as Keith said, be turned over to making more glorious Cabernet. Maybe its a mother in law wine, made only for the inlaws to shut them up (what are the in laws like? They might be lovely people. Keith should make them a special wine from Cabernet grafted onto Pinot rootstocks).
But back to the wine - it actually smells really good and Pinoty, albeit in a big and ripe sappy style. Big, heavily extracted, eucalypt and sap, but nice. The palate however echoes the extraction with heat and general clumsiness. Still drinkable, though really not enjoyable. 13.5% 16.4
Moss Wood Amys Cabernet Blend 2007
Last time I tasted this I urged everyone to try a bottle. This time, that urge has now become insistent, nay loudly insistent. Buy some. Buy 6 at least. Its the best value Moss Wood ever. It reminds me alot of the equally brilliant Woodlands Margaret Cabernet Merlot 2007 of a week or so ago, another great value wine. 07 Margaret River reds just look better and better.
A dense, luxuriously dark colour, the nose has dark fruit, chocolate coffee oak, cedar and really perfectly regional, aromatic fruit. Sniff after glorious sniff, it urges you to come back for more. Yum Yum. The palate just mirrors that - deliciously plus in that style that Moss Wood does so well, perfectly balanced with a thrust of tannins to finish. Background leafiness reminds of its cool clime origins, again welcome and delicious. Already drinking well. Winner. 14% 19.0
Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Merlot 2007
Hard to pin down this. So tight that it hurts. Its seriously good, but in a limited tasting situation like this, this just come across as closed. Very tight nose, tightly packed with whispers of chocolaty french oak, the palate has mulch and some hidden Merlotish blueberry/raspberry soft fruit in there somewhere. The tannins however just close it all back down again. Needs years. Serious indeed! 13.5% 17.8++
Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Cabernet Merlot 2007
If i thought the last wine was closed and tight, I wasn't prepared for this. Its like an iceman, stuck in an ice cave at the bottom of a glacier. Stuck. Still, it has more dark fruit on the nose, but with little else escaping, save for the alcohol on the back end and the oak through the middle. Hold. Hold. Decant. Could be amazing. 14.0% 17.9++
Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
This even has its own different coloured capsule to remind that it is the best, chuck out the rest.
Classic Moss Wood nose. It smells plush & ripe and sweetly oaked/fruited but also elegant. Another tight nose, edged with volatility, but smelling distinctly cassisy in a red soil derived Margaret River fashion & edged with chocolate oak that is pure Moss Wood (and addictive).
All good so far.
The palate is slightly woody, though not green, more just a little awkward and edgy, lacking the perfect flow of ripe fruit. It feel like Moss Wood Cabernet & tastes like it too, but it will never be a great wine, always running at 9/10ths. Should be reasonably long lived nonetheless. 17.7