12th July 2015
Reviewed by Barry Weinman
The life of a wine writer is not as glamorous as you might imagine. Tasting through 20 Sauvignon Blancs for example, is difficult due to the high acidity. Many of the panel tastings that I hold have numerous commercially sound, but unexciting wines, with just a few interesting/high-quality wines interspersed to justify the time taken to try them. Then there is the spit buckets…
Then there are the good days. Bracket after bracket of high-quality wines of charm and distinction. So it was with this tasting. This is one of the strongest tastings that the panel has seen for some time. The majority of the wines were very good, or represented good value, with a handful being quite spectacular.
The new single vineyard release from Wynns (Childs) was outstanding. This could well be the best wine made at this historic winery in recent times, rivalling the 2010 John Riddoch. Equally impressive was the Diana Madeline by Cullen – a truly special wine. Wines like the Leeuwin Estate and Wynns V&A Lane are also worthy of mention.
At the value-end of the spectrum, the Woodlands Cabernet/Merlot, St Mary’s Carillon and Flametree are all worth of mention, while the Xanadu DJL and Mosswood Amys are knockouts.
Wynns – Cabernet Sauvignon – Childs – 2012 (18.8). A potential superstar here. Fine, savoury fruit is skilfully matched to sophisticated, supple winemaking. The fruit quality is outstanding, with black currant and hints of mint. The palate transition is a highlight, with the fruit lingering, before the tannins gradually take precedence. Will be outstanding in 10 to 15 years, or with a decent steak today. A serious wine. (RRP $90).
Cullen – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Diana Madeline – 2013 (18.7). Beautifully ripe fruit has been skilfully matched to supple winemaking inputs. The fruit sits in a framework of quality oak that adds structure and depth, without dominating. The palate is supple and savoury, with fine, though grippy tannins.
Wynns – Cabernet Sauvignon /Shiraz – V&A Lane – 2013 (18.5+). Darker in every way to the other wines here. The colour is opaque. The fruit on the nose is dense and powerful. The palate has gentle red fruits and a silky mouth-feel. Very long and persistent, however this is closed and shy, only hinting at potential. Opens in the glass to show great quality fruit. Delicious now, but will get better in time as, even after 5 days on the tasting bench, the fruit was still shining. (RRP $60).
Leeuwin Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Art Series – 2011 (18.5). Whilst clearly from a cooler region, the precise, sweet fruit almost leaps from the glass. The palate has ripe fruit, though this is balanced by fine tannins and gentle, savoury oak, and the length is excellent. This Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot stands out for the way the supple fruit is given centre stage, deftly supported by the textural components. Drinking a treat now, but sure to age well for many years. Only medium bodied, but a great wine in the making. Cellaring recommended. (RRP $63).
Wynns – Cabernet Sauvignon – Black Label – 2012 (18.5). From the outstanding 2012 vintage. Black currant and plum are present on both the nose and the palate. The fruit flavours linger for a very long time, slowly transitioning to supple, savoury tannins and oak. Souring plum acidity works a treat. Richer than the Margaret River wines here, though the acid sucks up the fruit, conferring a degree of restraint. A lovely wine (RRP $45, but often discounted closer to $30).
Woodlands – Cabernet Franc/Merlot – Special Reserve – Emily – 2012 (18.3). Unusual in that Cabernet Franc is the main variety here. The nose has chocolate and plum fruit notes. The palate is very dense and powerful, yet the wine retains elegance and poise. The tannins are silky and fine, but really build on the finish. This is all potential, and will reward the patient handsomely. A bigger style. (RRP $40).
Xanadu – Cabernet Sauvignon – DJL – 2012 (18). Lovely fruit here, but the fine structural components shut down the aromas initially. The palate has excellent balance, with red fruits and cedary oak. The texture, length and intrinsic power are noteworthy. Will actually age very well over the next 5 – 10 years if given the chance, but is delicious now.
Moss Wood – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot /Malbec – Amy’s – 2013 (18). A very fine wine that values restraint and elegance over overt power. Opens with mint and eucalypt over fresh berries. The fruit quality is excellent and has been carefully matched to fine, supple French oak. The length and persistence are admirable. Lovely now, or anytime over the next 10 years. (RRP $30).
Woodlands – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – 2013 (18). A textural treat here. Yes, the fruit is ripe and of high quality, but the mouth-feel is a highlight. Very long, but not overly tannic, this would be my pick of the tasting to drink now though it could happily take 5+ years in the cellar. (RRP $26).
Flametree – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merot – 2013 (17.9). Beautiful sweet fruit on the nose with hints of blackcurrant and cassis. The palate has fine, elegant fruit and a soft supple finish. The tannins are really fine, and there is decent length and mouth-feel. Drinks well now and offers a lot of wine for the price. (RRP $33).
St Mary’s – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Merlot /Cabernet Franc – Carillon – 2013 (18). Lovely, fruit forward style, with red berries, fresh herbs, menthol and spice. The palate is fresh, vibrant and delicious. Oak and tannins sit in the background, allowing the fruit to shine. Made to be approachable now, but also improve for some time in the bottle. This would be a joy to drink with a Sunday roast. (RRP $40).