Reviewed: 6th June 2014
Houghton’s place in the history of viticulture in Western Australia is unique. Soon to celebrate their 180th anniversary, Houghton dates back to the very early days of settlement in the state.
The purpose of my visit to Houghton was primarily to try the recently released 2011 Jack Mann, but I also took the opportunity to taste through a cross-section of the range.
The key feature of the Houghton range is their ability to deliver great value wines at all ends of the price spectrum. From the humble Stripe range, right through to Jack Mann, the quality is excellent within the respective price points.
Whilst some wines within the cheaper ranges are stronger than others, the price makes them all worth considering. For me though, it is at the premium end where the quality/value proposition gets really interesting. Starting with the Wisdom range, the wines are uniformly superb.
Houghton – Cabernet Sauvignon – Wisdom – 2011 (18). There is a significant step up in fruit quality and depth compared to the cheaper wines. The nose has pretty fruit (violet and blackcurrant), with cedar and spice in the background. In the mouth, this is silky and supple, with waves of ripe fruit washing over the palate. The length, depth, texture and persistence are all excellent. A pleasure now, but will be better with time.
Houghton – Cabernet Sauvignon – CW Ferguson – 2008 (18.3+). Beautiful fruit that is just starting to blossom. There is a floral lift to the nose with violets, mulberry and supple spice. In the mouth, this is still quite structured and firm, the chewy tannins adding texture. Initially the fruit is quite shy, but this really builds depth with air. Excellent length to close.
Houghton – Cabernet Sauvignon – Gladstone – 2011 (18.5). Quite different to the CW Ferguson, as this has more overt fruit power. The nose has blackcurrant and even a hint of cassis, with tobacco leaf and cedar adding savoury complexity. The palate is rich and dense with precise, ripe fruit notes. Despite the obvious power, this retains a degree of supple drinkability. The finish is remarkably fine.
Houghton – Cabernet Sauvignon – Jack Mann – 2011 (19). The nose is reserved and tight. The power of the fruit is palpable, even if it is somewhat suppressed right now. The palate displays awesome fruit, with spectacular depth. The wine builds and evolves as the fruit starts to unwind. The length is a highlight, as are the silky/fine tannins. This is the most immature of all the cabernets. Everything is in place, but it needs a little time to really meld. A superstar!