Western Australian Cabernet Sauvignon

Reviewed: 27th March 2014

The dream run of vintages continues in the south west of Western Australia and the wines reviewed below deliver on the potential.

Of particular note was the Cullen Diana Madelaine.  Given the reputation of this producer, it is not surprising that it received gold medal points.  What was interesting however, was the way the wine presented.  Whilst recent vintages have been very austere, the 2012 is full of vibrant fruit.

Part of the story is told by the alcohol content.  At 13.5%, it is still at the lower end of Australian red wine, but it is at least a percent higher than the previous vintage.  Given the biodynamic nature of the vineyard, I assume that lunar cycle allowed for later picking dates than the year before.  Either way, the wine is a standout and can be enjoyed now or in 20 years.


Cullen – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc – Diana Madelaine – 2012 (18.5+).  Excellent depth here, with dark blackcurrant fruit that is rich, but not heavy.  The palate is silky and supple, with very fine tannins coating the tongue, but not interfering with the texture.  Excellent length and refinement on the finish.  A subtle wine, where the fruit is allowed to shine above the supple oak.  A lovely wine and the most accessible from Diana Madelaine for some years (13.5% alc).

Juniper Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2010 (17.8).  More peppermint here, with ripe, cool fruit characters.  There are also hints of eucalypt.  This is a leaner example that is more akin to Bordeaux in style.  Good length, but needs some time to add flesh to the bones.  The finish is elegant and supple, with ripe tannins. (RRP $60).

Xabregas – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2011 (17.5 – 18).  Dense, dark fruits here.  Powerful and textured, with firm, yet fine tannins.  Prodigious length to the palate with blackberry and blueberry over savoury fruit.  The finish is incredibly long, the tannins drawing the palate to a close.  An intense wine that needs many years to show its best.  Worth a punt at around $30.

Xanadu – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2011 (17.5 – 18).  Lovely wine!  Combines ripe fruit with restraint and lovely texture.  A really complete wine that has sweet fruit, ripe tannins and supple texture on the finish.  Now or in 5 – 10 years. (RRP $30).

Flowstone – Cabernet Sauvignon/Touriga – 2009 (17.5).  An interesting blend that combines the minty cabernet with plump touriga fruit characters.  The nose has attractive, generous fruit that is ripe and rich, with some mocha notes.  Cedar, spice, camphor, mint, eucalypt and gentle, dried herbs evolve in the mouth.  A big style that will appeal to lovers of big, juicy reds.

West Cape Howe – Cabernet Sauvignon – Book Ends – 2011 (17.5).  Blackcurrant, plum and cherry fruit on the nose.  The palate is savoury and tight, with the acid and fine tannins effectively shutting down the fruit initially.  Opens to show nicely ripe fruit characters with decent depth. (RRP $28).

Willoughby Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2011 (17 – 17.5).  What this wine lacks in initial generosity, it makes up for in restrained elegance.  Classic cool-climate cabernet that has mint and eucalyptus over blackcurrant and plum fruit, with chocolate and cedary oak highlights.  Not overly dense, but an attractive wine that offers value. (RRP $22).