Cabernet Sauvignon: April 2020

Cabernet Sauvignon: April 2020

Barry Weinman: 10th April 2020

I hope you and your family are safe and well during this difficult times.

Given everything that is happening globally, it seems a bit irreverent to be reviewing fine wines. But given that we are living in relative isolation, a decent bottle of wine at the end of the week might bring a little consolation.

With the border closures, and their impact on freight, what better time to focus on the great wines made here in WA?

I recently reviewed Chardonnays made by Vanya Cullen, but this week, it was the Diana Madeline that stunned the (socially isolated) panel. Here is a wine that is only 13% alcohol, yet has perfectly ripe fruit.

I can’t remember a better wine under this label.

At a more approachable price level, there were several wines that stood out.

Singlefile has consistently produced high quality wine from a number of varieties, with Cabernet, Chardonnay and Riesling all featuring strongly year after year.

The entry-level Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot is my pick at the moment. Excellent fruit quality and deft winemaking (cold soaked berries, extended maceration, 13 months in French oak, 30% new). A tremendous bargain at only $25.

Marri Wood Park is the run by Julian Wright and his children. There are seven hectares of vines, planted in 1993. There is a very hands-off approach in the vineyard (dry grown, no fertilisers), which are certified biodynamic, resulting in quite low yields.

The wines are made by Nic Peterkin from L.A.S. Vino, and the focus is on Cabernet, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.


Woodlands – Cabernet Sauvignon – Clementine Eloise – 2016 (18.7/20pts). Beautifully fragrant and intense fruit on the nose, with blackcurrant, cassis, menthol and a touch of cedar. On the palate, the perfectly ripe fruit continues, but this is framed by the tannins and supple oak leading to a taut finish. A great wine, but really needs years.

Woodlands – Malbec – 2018 (18.5/20pts). Very drying and firm, a wine with density and gravitas. Bordeaux- like, with leaner fruit and dry, savoury complexity. A serious, intense wine that needs years in the cellar, but with air, the fruit really builds.

Marri Wood Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – Single Block – 2018 (18.5/20pts – $40). This is reserved and taut, yet the berry fruit has lovely mouthfeel and is polished, refined, elegant, and very long. A savoury, textural wine that combines high quality, perfectly ripe fruit with sympathetic winemaking. Approachable, but better with 5 – 10 years in the cellar. Great value!

Woodlands – Cabernet/Merlot – Margaret – 2017 (18.3/20pts). I like that a lot. Fine, elegant and refined, the pristine fruit displaying blueberry, cinnamon and spice. Textured, dense and powerful, this is a bigger, richer style that is full of immediate pleasure, though also worthy of mid-term aging.

The Yard – Cabernet Sauvignon – Riversdale – 2018 (18.4/20pts). More approachable and even delicious, with ripe blueberry fruit that is floral and perfumed. The fruit weight is not overly dense, making for great drinking. Ultimately, there is a degree of restraint that suggest cellaring is in order.

Singlefile – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – 2018 (18.2/20pts – $25). The ripe fruit is rich and intense, with concentrated berry notes. Excellent depth on the palate, with the fruit wrapped in a savoury, textural blanket. Clearly different to the wines from Margaret River, but equally worthy. An all-purpose wine that would be great with food, but even better in 5 -10 years. Bargain!

Cullen – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Diana Madeline – 2018 (18.8/20pts). Superb fruit has been massaged in the winery to produce a wine that very elegant and refined. The palate is ripe, supple and completely seamless, yet the tannins sneak up on the close, leaving a dusty, textual component that adds depth. A beautiful wine, and perhaps the best yet under this label.