Hungerford Hill Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Hilltops, NSW)
$25, Screwcap, 14.5%
On the back label of this Cabernet it calls Hilltops a 'cool climate region'. Now, I'm not sure about you, but I'd hardly call a region that's even warmer than the Barossa (as measured by Heat Degree Days and Mean January temperature) a cool climate.... But am I missing something? Most of the region sits at 450m altitude, so perhaps it is cooler than I think?
Anyway, this hardly looks, smells or tastes like an elegant & sophisticated cool climate wine. Rather, this is more like the traditional Aussie stockman of wine, with a broad smile and a well worn pair of RM Williams boots.
In this wines case, you can tell its going to strong willed simply by looking at it, with the glass full of deep & darkly black juice with blood red edges. Curiously though, the nose starts with a curious dollop of mint/menthol (there is the cool climate). Service is resumed quickly though with eucalypt, plum jam and volatility aplenty, in a heady and concentrated formula of concentration and power.
Unsurprisingly the rugged and chewy palate matches the nose with suitable chunk & muscularity, with the sort of hearty, traditional flavours that could theoretically put hairs on your chest (plenty of oak in there too, though it's been eaten by the fruit). It's a wine for drinking after spending the day herding sheep, chopping wood and other manly pursuits, and is to be consumed with the largest hunk of bloody beef available.
In amongst all that concentration however, the finish is actually quite balanced, with the 14.5% hardly announcing itself, lost perhaps in the extract. The palate never feels harsh either, which indicates that Phillip John knew what he was doing with this beasty. Good value too.
The challenge that remains then is scoring this. Arguably it's a caricature of a wine that will probably fall over in a year or so, or get taken over by structure, oak and alcohol. But, on the same hand, I can see the appeal too - it's a workmanlike wine, but made with alot of heart and stuffing, even if it is roughly hewn.
I'm settling with a lowish 16.5 then, but I suspect with said steak and an open fire I could come to man up and love the stuff. The 'cool climate' argument however might require more than just meat & wine....16.5/20
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