A few Cabernet highlights
Margaret River goodness
I’ve been laid low with a rather ordinary stomach bug the last couple of days, one of those illnesses that make life seem genuinely less bearable/enjoyable and generally quite shit. Now, whilst this was unfun just by itself, what I missed due to my malady was most of the celebrations of Cabernet day, the latest international ‘grape day’ on the calendar (and one of the better ones at that).
I did, however, manage to squeeze in a few cheeky Cabernet examples at the last minute, even if it was rushed and my aching belly made tasting a hazardous exercise.
The following wines then represent a tiny snapshot of a few Cabernets worth mentioning:
De Bortoli Mimi 2010 ($28)
A blend of Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo and Shiraz (or Syrah as De Borts are calling it. All the cool kids seem to be doing that in the Yarra now), it’s an odd concoction but it also sorta works. Carries a slightly sappy, blackcurrant Cabernet and red fruit Shiraz nose, over a roasted cherry and red fruit palate. It’s just a fraction ill defined and lumpy for real love but, as a satisfyingly tannic and dry pizza wine, it hits the spot very nicely. 17/90
Brands Patrons Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($75)
Beasty wine in anyone’s language. Choc vanillan nose is all formic oak, the fruit well behind at this stage. Still, it’s there, beating strongly below that oak, plus it still looks fresh, coiled and vibrantly Coonawarran (but new school ripe Coonawarra). Vanilla tipped blackcurrant palate is super backward and tight too, but shows so much yet to come. Oh so fresh! Score is lowish due to the fact it’s still a bit too stunted and oaky. Important plus signs though. 17.8/92++
The Lane 19th Meeting Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($65)
Lots of style apparent with this Adelaide Hills Cabernet, from that sleek, almost feline and slightly herbal, expensively french oaked, chocolate flakes and black fruit nose, right through the very restrained mid weight palate. It’s almost too restrained really, a little thinnish and tobacco edged in that borderline Adelaide Hills Cabernet style. Still, the form here is spot on, like an E Series Mercedes (with oak panelling). Should flesh out significantly with bottle age too. 17.3/90+
Howard Park Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($28)
I felt like a light had switched on when I stuck my nose in the glass here. Margs, you still make Australia’s best Cabernet. This Margaret River Cabernet is part of the new Howard Park Regional Series and sits just below the Leston/Scotsdale single vineyard range in price. If this is an indication of what is to come then jump on board without hesitation. Great packaging too.
It carries that 08 Margaret River red fruit ripeness on the nose, a character which I don’t always love. It works here though, giving an extra plump juiciness to everything. It’s a dusty nose too, a proper Cabernet nose with just a whisper of capsicum. Grainy, mid weight, super-glossy-fruit-meets-dry-tannins palate is a winner. It’s everything you’d want in a mid level Cabernet really, with grace and silken style. Like. 17.7/92
Howard Park Leston Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($45)
More. More delineation, more depth, just generally better. More obvious oak after the Miamup, but it matches the extra concentration too. There’s more herbs here as well and more varietal goodness. Lovely dry palate with rather bitter tannins. Very unforced, dusty, cedary red fruit, if a little too bound up in itself right now. Otherwise It’s just a heap of polished, modern Margaret River blackcurrant, dust and tannins. Nice to see a consistent house style here to boot. 18.1/93+
Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot 2007 ($60)
If the Leston is a lovely example of ripe Margaret River Cabernet then this takes it to ‘classic’ level. Simply put, believe the hype. It’s a riper year Voyager, but everything about it screams class, with perfectly judged, dark-yet-leafy, spicy black fruit and polished choc-milk drop oak. There’s an almost smoky edge to the palate, the tannins mouth desiccating and long. Real seed and skin tannins those and all class. Classic wine this, classic indeed. 18.6/95
Suckfizzle Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($50)
A walk on the wilder side here. I didn’t get a complete look at the Suckfizzle so nothing definitive, yet what I did see is a cedary, ‘I’m not afraid of some green bean’ Cabernet. The palate too looked long and rather well built if dry and on the mid weight and herbal side of things. Definitely worth a revisit methinks.