Tasting recent vintages the success is of little surprise – the quality has been on an exponential curve. Interesting then to go back a few vintages and see how some older wines are travelling.
It’s only a budget wine in the Clairault range, but it comes from a very good Margaret River vintage, and it looks to have held up reasonably well, if a little dried out. Bricking slightly at the rim, the nose is maturing, leafy, with dried roasted meats, all edged in volatility. It smells like a 6 year old wine, with its slight leatheryness, but it hasn’t lost its varietal and regional identity
The palate has blackcurrant and dried muscadelle pruneyness, with good leafy black fruit flavours. The problem is the back end is losing its charm, finishing hard and slightly astringent, some raw oak tannins propping up the finish.
Not bad, but hardly moving wine, of mid weight and still some drinking appeal. 15.8
Clairault Estate Cabernet Merlot 2003 (Margaret River, WA)
$30, Screwcap, 14%
Much denser than the straight Cabernet, this is dark and inky in colour, though it doesn’t feel anymore extractive than the standard Cabernet. Smells of cedar, smoke & bacon, the nose is maturing and slightly sappy, if lacking a little freshness. The palate is still very firm and dry, with gritty tannins and acid rising up on the finish.
The structure here is spot on, but the fruit lacks the vitality to keep up. Not a bad wine, to be consumed with something meaty over the next year or so. 16.7