The Many Faces of Cabernet Sauvignon

The Many Faces of Cabernet Sauvignon

Barry Weinman: 30th July 2020

When I think of versatile red grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon does not normally spring to mind. Shiraz, after all, is the ultimate chameleon, thriving in all but the very coolest vineyards in the country.

Whilst Coonawarra is perhaps the spiritual home of Cabernet in Australia, Margaret River is, for me at least, the reigning king of Cabernet production.

But looking a bit further afield, there are a number of regions producing very fine Cabernet. In South Australia for example, Barossa, Clare Valley and even McLaren Vale can produce excellent wines. Each region has a slightly different take on the style.

This week, I have reviewed a number of quite different styles, including two from the same producer. The Pedestal, Peos Estate and Higher Planes are all notable for offering excellent value. The Higher Planes is also noteworthy for being a 2014 vintage.


Shingleback – Cabernet Sauvignon – Davey Estate – 2018 (18/20pts). Intense blackcurrant fruit with hints of mint and menthol. Very fine and polished tannins and supple oak and silky texture add to the appeal. Now – 10 years+.

Shingleback – Cabernet Sauvignon – D Block Reserve – 2017 (18.5/20pts – $60). Fragrant and attractive, with intrinsic power to the ripe blackcurrant fruit. Souring cherry-like acidity and fine tannins build on the close, complemented by quality oak.  A serious wine that will be long lived, but its immediate appeal makes this hard to resist.

Howard Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – Abercrombie – 2017 (18.5+/20pts). Initially shy and restrained, building bright blueberry fruit and even a touch of violets building with air. The palate is taut, dense and restrained with a core of ripe fruit that slowly builds. The tannins and oak are not obvious but make their presence felt in the way the fruit is shut down on the close. Potential.

Higher Planes – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2014 (18.5/20pts – $40). The nose is quite seductive, the fine fruit perfumed and redolent of ripe berries and cassis. The palate is most beguiling, with mint, gentle eucalypt and a hint of dried herbs. The finish is ultimately shut down by the very fine tannins and oak, yet remains near seamless. Good value.

Peos Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Four Aces – 2018 (18.5/20pts – $35). A real surprise package that is supple, restrained, elegant and fine. This is tight and dense with very polished tannins and fine-grained French oak (50% new), leaving the fruit a little subdued at first. With air though, the blackcurrant fruit starts to shine. With only two barrels produced, this is a great effort from this Manjimup producer.

Pedestal – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2018 (18.4/20pts – $25). Clearly different to most here, in that this wine is all about immediate pleasure. Builds layers of rich, ripe fruit that are supple and deliciously succulent. Excellent texture and oak to close. Not as serious as the big boys but gets big points for being a great drink.