Cabernet and Malbec: February 2021

Cabernet and Malbec New Release

Barry Weinman: 6th February 2021

The highlight of this tasting was comparing and contrasting the Stella Bella Luminosa Cabernet with the Suckfizzle Cabernet. Suckfizzle is a stand-alone brand within the Stella Bella stable and is named after the vineyard from where the grapes are sourced.

Planted in the 1990s, Suckfizzle is the most southerly vineyard in the region being relatively close to Augusta. This give the wines a unique character, as a result of the cooler climatic conditions.

The Luminosa vineyard was planted in 1998 and is in Wallcliffe, close to the likes of Leeuwin Estate and Voyager.

Besides the location of the vineyards, the vintages also paint part of the picture here. There was a wet January in 2016, but being so far south, this did not impact on the quality of the fruit at Suckfizzle. 2017 was an atypically cool year, resulting in a long, slow ripening year.

Both vintages required careful vineyard management, but each have left a unique impression on the wines produced.

In a very different style, but equally successful is the Higher Planes Malbec. This has been made in a way that exacerbates the juicy red fruit and is a deliciously smashable, if not totally serious drink. Worth trying this summer over a BBQ.


Higher Planes – Malbec – 2020. Perfumed and fragrant, this is a riot of juicy fruit, with the delicious berry characters building with air. The chewy texture and gentle spicy notes make this great current drinking around the BBQ. 100% whole bunch fermentation. Excellent value. 92pts – $28.

Cullen – Mangan East Block – Malbec/Petit Verdot – 2019. Pretty plum and berry fruit, with gentle herbal notes on the nose. The palate is silky and supple and the tannins really finely polished contributing to the excellent mouthfeel. This drinks brilliantly now but could also benefit from a few years in the cellar. 81% Malbec. 92pts – $45

Preccavi – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2017. Very fine, elegant and supple, the gentle fruit slowly building. The mouthfeel is quite silky, with a near seamless palate transition. The dusty tannins and persistence of fruit add a sense of gravitas. 93pts. $75

Stella Bella – Luminosa – Cabernet Sauvignon– 2017. Lovely fruit on the nose that is perfumed, floral and ripe. The palate has more of the perfumed, blueberry fruit, supported by fine tannins and supple oak. Balanced, elegant, long and delicious, yet age-worthy all the same. 95pts – $90

Suckfizzle – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2016. This is quite special. The nose is restrained and muted at first, but the palate is fine, elegant and supple, with excellent length and near seamless palate transition. The fruit is restrained at present, but the quality is undeniable. Fine, silky, great acid balance, polished tannins. 93pts – $65