This new Howard Park Leston Cabernet was my pick from Friday’s National Liquor News magazine tasting of 32 odd straight Cabernets, outpointing a moody St Hugo and just shading the ’13 Vasse Felix Filius Cabernet in the process.
Actually, it was interesting to see the relative strength of this bracket compared to some of the other recent varieties. Cabernet can be brutally unfun to taste as a young wine, but the tannin management and oak integration of this bracket was pretty good, echoing a sentiment from one of my own Cabernet lineups earlier this year.
I took the leftover bottle of this Leston back from the tasting – just to confirm whether it wasn’t just the vagaries of a blind tasting – and it looked better and better the longer it was open on the bench. Time will be kind.
Drawn from a vintage that looks more consistent than the variable ’12s, the appeal of this Cabernet is all about structure, the firm, even raw tannic palate only sweetened up thanks to some mocha oak and some alcohol warmth.
With air this opened up to throw out some gumleaf, red fruit and dark chocolate, the varietal and regional signature writ large, if walled up behind the tannins at this stage. Quality wine for the future though, and every sip this screams serious wine. Best drinking: 2018-2035. 17.8/20, 92/100+. 14%, $46. Would I buy it? Price is good and quality is there, just drink it yet. I’d buy a bottle or so for the cellar.