Just for interest, today I opened up 3 Cabernet based wines, all from the 2007 vintage, all available for $15 a bottle (though the Angoves & the Taylors have a higher RRP), from 3 different regions.
It's always an entertaining exercise doing a comparison like this (or I think so), as it tends to unearth/confirm/deny trends. What it can also do is highlight wines that you wouldn't normally expect to win.
Whilst this comparison doesn't actual sound that complimentary to the wines below, it serves as a great reference point for value benchmarking which I always like to see.
Onto the wines:
1.Taylors Cabernet Sauvignon (Clare Valley, SA) $15-$17, Screwcap, 14.5%
From a tough (hot) vintage in South Australia, this has always been a value staple, though the Taylors reds of late seem to have become tougher and more overripe than they used to, possibly due to several warm years in SA.
This certainly smells warm, and young, and very ripe indeed. It carries a nose of dominant caramel oak over some faintly strained red fruit, showing both under and overripeness, matched to a warm and tannic palate that is full of grunt, but lacking in polish, with a green streak through the middle and quite harsh edges.
The overall impression is of a tough wine made from a tough season, with some potential to improve with bottle age but not much to love right now. 14.9/81+
Angoves have made their reputation on value for money wines, showing that fruit driven, well made quaffers are always welcome. This newish addition to the range comes from the Limestone Coast, a somewhat untapped massive wine region that has always promised greatness, but never quite delivered.
It's definitely another fully ripened red, with a nose that is slightly baked in its fruit expression, topped with a whiff of formic and again both under (green, peppery elements) and over (fruit cake) ripeness. The palate is much more restrained and medium bodied than the Taylors above, with some more varietally correct dark berry flavours, intermingled with mintiness and some dry tannins.
Again this is a challenging wine to really like, though the added perfume and 'calmer' (strange expression perhaps, but this felt much more easy to slip into than the Taylors) palate made it somewhat more drinkable. The end result again is just ok. 15.3/82+
The relative unkown player in this trio, Barwick is a Margaret River based producer who bottle quite a range of bargain wines, particularly some very fine value whites. With the awesome 2007 WA vintage behind them, I fully expected this to be drinkable.
Immediately lighter in the aromatic stakes, with a much more reticent nose showing dill, redcurrant and dusty red berries. The palate feels rather balanced and tame after the previous two, if more rounded and decidedly less intense. What makes this a much more pleasant experience however is this lack of intensity: After the previous two wines 'sensory attack' approach, this felt so much more welcoming and, ultimately drinkable.
The Barwick White Label Cabernet is ultimately a simple wine done quite well and certainly tastes BBQ friendly and drinkable. 16.1/87
Conclusion Whilst its far too small a sample for real results, I still found this to be an interesting, if unsurprising, exercise. The two 07 South Australian reds showed the (sadly) expected challenges of an extremely tough vintage, and I would struggle to really recommend either of them. Conversely, the WA red was almost pre-ordained to be the pick of the bunch, with it's perfect vintage conspiring to produce goodness.
However, I think that in a more suitable vintage there probably wouldn't be such a chasm in quality between these wines. In such an instance then, I'd actually put my money on the Angoves to be the leader of this trio, as underneath all its mixed ripeness foibles, it was the only one of this three to show some real personality.
But personality or not, on this showing the absolute winner of the lot is the Barwick. It showed - Bradbury style - that mild manners and consistency will beat out more favoured opposition when they all fall down. More power to it.
2009/10 WCA Wine Journalism 'Young Gun; Wine Judge; Gourmet Traveller WINE and Breathe Hunter Valley magazine contributor; LattéLife & The Retiree columnist; National Liquor News tasting panellist and Chablis lover who fell into the liquor industry chiefly to buy cheap beer.
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