Cabernet Sauvignon – New Release Tasting – September 2017

Cabernet Sauvignon – New Release Tasting – September 2017

Barry Weinman: 5th September 2017

The panel had their work cut out this week, with almost 40 Cabernets and blends split over two sessions. The reason for splitting the tasting is that we find that after about 25 wines, our palates (and brains) start to fatigue, with later wines suffering as a result.

Eleven wines made it to this review, and are all are worthy of attention. There are a number of styles, with several good value, early drinking wines, plus age-worthy reds of some note.


Te Aro Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Pump Jack – 2014 (18.4/20). Taut and firm, the structural components add a lovely textural mouth-feel, but do shut the fruit down somewhat on the long finish. Will be an excellent match to a good steak now given the fruit and acid, but will be at its best in 10 – 15 years.

Gralyn – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2012 (18.3/20). Cooler fruit characters that are restrained. Taut and angular palate, yet the tannins are polished and fine, adding chewy texture to the finish.. Needs ten years to really shine.

Woodvale – Cabernet Sauvignon – Orchard Road – 2014 (18.2+/20). Succulent minty fruit, with a touch of eucalypt oil that is so typical of the Clare Valley. The serious fruit had decent power. The palate is defined by the ripe, lingering fruit that sits well with the supple savoury oak and dusty tannins. An impressive wine now – 10 years.

Salomon – Cabernet Sauvignon – Finniss River – 2014 (18/20). An excellent wine from the Braeside Vineyard. Dense, ripe fruit with eucalypt and mint over cherry and spice. The compact, medium-bodied palate shows ripe fruit and fine tannins. The oak adds savoury notes. Excellent fruit and polished winemaking. (18 months in french oak, 50% new).

After Hours – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2014 (18/20). The fruit is ripe and a pproachable, and is complemented by gentle tannins and oak. The acid adds life and carries the finish. Decent length and balance with a touch of spice to add interest. A delicious and enjoyable wine that is easy to drink. (Received a gold medal from one panellist).

Passel Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2015 (18/20 – $42). Dense, yet approachable fruit on both the nose and palate. The mouth-feel and texture are a highlight, with chewy tannins adding structure. Good balance and length to close.

Vasse Felix – Cabernet Sauvignon – Filius – 2015 (18/20 – $28). Refined and elegant, with ripe, medium-weight fruit complemented by fine tannins and texturing oak. The acid adds life. Excellent fruit and winemaking. Slightly chewy, the drying finish adds life. Value.

Flametree – Cabernet Sauvignon /Merlot – 2015 (18/20). The precise ripe red berry fruit is really quite attractive. On the palate, the fruit is elegant and finely balanced, with fine tannins, savoury notes and excellent length. A classy wine.

Woodlands – Cabernet Sauvignon /Merlot/Malbec – Margaret – 2015 (18.5). Initially taut and lean, this wine is all about potential. Whilst the serious fruit is shy and reserved, there is near seamless palate transition, with the feather-light tannins dusting the palate leaving a drying finish. A 20 year proposition, but will be superb now with a bit of air and decent food.

Flametree – Cabernet Sauvignon – Embers – 2015 (17.6/20). Refined and elegant, with no rough edges. Well made, balanced and long, with fine tannins and decent fruit weight. Would benefit from a few years in the cellar, but an excellent drink now.

Stella Bella – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz – Scuttlebutt – 2015 (17.5/20). Good fruit and smart winemaking on show. There is an attractive degree of fleshiness to the ripe cabernet fruit, with just the right amount of tannins and oak to add depth. Not serious, this is a well-made, easy drinking wine.