Western Australian Cabernet – 2012 Vintage
Barry Weinman: 20th May 2016
Over the last few weeks, I have written about the fantastic Cabernets from Xanadu and Houghton, ranking both amongst the best Cabernets from Western Australia. The only trouble is that these were not blind tastings, so label bias is a factor.
So when the opportunity arose to try these wines in a blind line up of some of WA’s finest, I jumped at the chance. Hosted by Lamont’s – Cottesloe, the tasting allowed me to put these wines into perspective, when compared to their peers.
There were many great wines in the line-up, with almost all scoring 18.5 or higher. Every wine reviewed here is brilliant, but if I had to single out one wine on the day, the pick for me was Houghton’s Jack Mann. This is of course subjective, as other reviewers had a different favourite.
From a value perspective, the Parterre from Fraser Gallop is worth a mention. This was up with the best from a quality perspective, yet is available for under $40.
Houghton – Cabernet Sauvignon – Jack Mann – 2012 (19pts). Almost ethereal, this has great presence on both the nose and palate, with the subtle fruit perfectly matched to the structural components. The palate shows mulberry fruit, supple tannins and great length, aided by a touch of minerality. A magnificent wine that almost defies description.
Cullen – Cabernet Sauvignon – Vanya – 2012 (18.8pts – $350). Supple and delicious fruit on the nose. The palate is rich and dense, with the fine tannins and acid playing the perfect counterfoil, ensuring great balance. The oak adds depth on the finish, but also just closes the fruit a little. A lovely wine that will be great any time over the next 20 years.
Howard Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – Abercrombie – 2012. (18.8pts). Full of restraint and elegance, with a touch of mint and eucalypt on the nose. Continues on the palate, with the ever-so-fine fruit balanced perfectly against the oak and tannins. The acid is polished and gives the finish drive. Very long and very moreish, this is a great wine.
Vasse Felix – Cabernet Sauvignon – Heytesbury – 2012 (18.7pts). The fruit has a slightly cooler feel, with the mint and eucalypt set against elegant blackberry and cherry notes. The palate is taut and fine, though this needs time to really hit its straps. A great wine with the structure to live in the cellar for decades.
Wynns – Cabernet Sauvignon – John Riddoch – 2012 (18.7pts $120). Dark, brambly fruit, with almost a hint of crushed ants, chocolate and menthol. Tremendous depth and power to the fruit, yet this remains balanced and harmonious. The finish is driven by the fine acidity, with the tannins and oak building on the close. Classic Coonawarra and an impressive wine.
Evans & Tate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Redbrook – 2012 (18.7pts). Mint, eucalypt, and fresh herbal notes over red berry fruit. The palate is fine and supple, with the savoury tannins complementing the fruit superbly. Long, supple and delicious, this appears quite fruit forward initially, but the structure builds to close down the finish. Impressive.
Houghton – Cabernet Sauvignon – Gladstones – 2012 (18.7pts). Fragrant, almost pretty fruit, with blackberry and an almost tar-like minerality. The palate is refined and fresh, with great length. The structural components slowly building on the finish. A sleeper, this is a wine that will only get better over the coming years. Points for potential.
Xanadu – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2012 (18.7pts). Ripe blackcurrant and mulberry, with hints of cassis and spice. The nose is quite hedonistic and very attractive. The palate is fine and silky, yet full of life, with exquisite fruit quality and super-fine tannins. A remarkable, elegant wine that is a joy to drink. Will open and build for 15+ years, but irresistible now.
Cullen – Cabernet Sauvignon – Diana Madeline – 2012 (18.6). Closed and unyielding on both the nose and the palate. Whilst the palate transition is near seamless, the fruit is subdued and needs time to open up, as the classy oak and fine tannins keep everything in check. No denying the quality, but patience is required.
Deep Woods – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2012 (18.6). Closed and taut, with precise ripe fruit, hints of spice and an almost graphite-like note. The palate is dark and brooding, with brambly fruit shrouded in a cloak of fine oak and tannins. Powerful and very long, this is a wine that needs 10 – 15 years to start to approach its best. Stately, in the style of Pauliac.
Moss Wood – Cabernet Sauvignon – Wilyabrup – 2012 (18.6pts). More accessible fruit, with red currant and plum notes. The palate is rich and vibrant, with the plum fruit giving way to souring acidity that perfectly matches the fruit and slightly chewy/textural tannins to close. A savoury wine that will be fantastic with food now, but will get better for many years.
Cherubino – Cabernet Sauvignon – Frankland River – 2012 (18.6pts). Elegant and supple, with bright red fruits and a silky structure. Very high quality fruit here. The finish is very long, aided by souring acidity and excellent balance. Made in a style that preserves the fruit, relying on acids and fine tannins for longevity and depth, rather than overt oak. Lovely wine.
Woodlands – Cabernet Sauvignon – Thomas – 2012 (18.6). Graphite and tar over blueberry and spice. The cedary/vanillin oak adds depth, giving way to savoury acidity and a brine-like tang. The tannins build on a close that is very long. Will be long lived, yet is approachable now.
Cape Mentelle – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2012 (18.5). Pretty fruit on the nose. This is elegant and polished. In the mouth, there is succulent red fruits, earthy/mineral like texture, spice, vanillin oak and fine tannins. Closed and restrained initially, this really comes together with air, suggesting a long future (and possibly even higher points).
Fraser Gallop – Cabernet Sauvignon – Parterre – 2012 (18.5pts). A touch lighter red-brick colour. The fruit here is just a little more accessible. The palate is fine and silky, with savoury fruit and a strong vein of minerality running through to the close. Very long, this has great presence. Now – 20 years. (At under $40, this is excellent value).