Cabernet and Friends

New Release

Reviewed: 6 January 2013

Cabernet based wines must surely be the King of wines. Powerful, structured and majestic, their ability to age is second to none when it comes to red wine. This power was certainly on display during this tasting, though the expression varied. In some, the power was overt, while in others, there was latent power wrapped up in a cocoon of silky fruit.

In the first category, the wines included the Deep Woods and Killerby. Powerful wines that stand up and make their presence felt. The second group was typified by the Moss Wood and Faber. Elegant, restrained wines that have supple, fragrant fruit. In a large line-up of wines, it is easy to overlook these wines as they are all about elegance and supple balance, rather than in-your-face tannins and oak.

It took a couple of days for the second group to really hit their peak, but the result was beautifully fragrant wines of charm and style. Bravo!


Killerby – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2010 (18+). Mint/menthol, eucalypt and herbal notes on the nose. The palate is chewy, textured and long. The tannins are firm and the oak is sitting over the fruit at present. Opens with air to show blackcurrant, cedar and eucalypt, with hints of bitter chocolate, coffee and spice to close. A structured, angular wine that, while a touch raw now, will be superb in 10 years. A high quality wine.

Deep Woods – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2010 (18). Closed and brooding, this is an assertive wine that has plenty of extract and grip. The length is good, while the persistence is outstanding. The wine is remarkably silky up front, though this is difficult to drink now due to the firm finish. 10 – 15 years should see this hitting its peak. With air, there are intense, ripe berry flavours with a touch of tea leaf savouriness. A serious wine for the long haul.

Wolf Blass – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Malbec – Black Label – 2008 (18). Beautiful colour. Leads off with hints of varnish and resin on the nose from the oak. This blows off to show ripe, though restrained fruit on the nose. The palate has ripe, but firm fruit, with red fruits, cedar and spice. The length is prodigious and the tannins firm and drying. The oak is ever present on the finish. Complex, structured and tannic, this opened up over several days to show lovely, fragrant fruit. No apologies required for being made in the Wolf Blass style.

Xanadu – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2010 (18). Subtle fruit and oak on the nose. Everything about this speaks quality. The refined winemaking has resulted in elegant fruit being well matched to silky oak. The tannins are polished, though noticeable, while the finish is precise. The length is very good and the mouth-feel evolves for some time after the last sip, with a touch of mocha characters to close. This is an intense wine with essence-like fruit. With air the blackcurrant, eucalypt and herbal notes really shine.

Evans and Tate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Metricup Road – 2010 (17.8). Spice to open on the nose with cedar over a core of ripe, mid-weight fruit. This is a structured, textural wine that has little in the way of primary fruit. Opens and builds with air, but some patience is required. There is no doubting the quality, it is just that there is no joy as yet. Give it plenty of air or, better yet, 5 – 10 years in the cellar to show its best.

Moss Wood – Merlot – Ribbon Vale – 2010 (17.7). Wow, the lovely perfumed fruit leaps out of the glass. This is redolent of blackcurrant, cedar and spice. There is even a hint of fruitcake. The palate is beautifully ripe and precisely weighted. The fruit is balanced by very fine tannins and savoury, texturing oak. The length is excellent and the fruit flavours build and evolve for some time. The finish is near seamless, though there is a touch of grip to close. Will age well, but is absolutely delicious now.

Faber Vineyard – Malbec – Dwellingup Vineyard – 2011 (17). The colour is almost crimson/purple. This is very deep smelling, with blueberry and raspberry over mint, with briary, earthy undertones. The souring finish adds life, though there is a touch of astringency on the close (that softens noticeably with air). This wine has excellent quality fruit that has been massaged in the winery, resulting in a pretty wine full of subtlety.

Faber Vineyard – Petit Verdot – 2010 (17). Overt nose that shows very pretty, ripe fruit and well-handled oak. The palate on the other hand is firm and quite tannic. There are also plum and mulberry jam components. After a day on the tasting bench, this really softened, allowing the pretty, fragrant fruit to shine. Whilst ideal for lovers of a big red now, this will be much better with a few years in the cellar. Diam cork closer.

Juniper Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Juniper Crossing – 2010 (17.3). Not in the “typical” cab/merlot style as this is a big, powerful cabernet with rich fruit and firm tannins. The oak sits over the fruit on the finish, further accentuating the structure. Chewy, this is a wine that I would prefer to see again in another 5 years.

Angove – Merlot – Long Row – 2011 (16.3). Plump, soft fruit with good attack. Redcurrant and spice lead on to a somewhat developed palate. (This is also reflected in the colour). Soft, round and generous, with no rough edges. The lack of fruit intensity can easily be forgiven at this price. An easy drink.