Houghton 2019 Vintage Premium Reds
Barry Weinman: 23rd September 2021
Superficially at least, there has been significant changes at Houghton in recent years. None more so than the sale of the original winery in the Swan Valley. But in reality, this was just a superficial measure, as the heart of Houghton had moved years ago to their winemaking facilities in Nannup.
The other note-worthy change was the departure of senior winemaker Ross Pamment in mid 2020. Whilst this had the potential to be more significant, Ross was succeeded by the very talented Courtney Treacher which is great news for fans of the Houghton style.
Courtney has been managing the Nannup facilities since 2013, and has been instrumental in crafting wines such as Jack Mann and Gladstones ever since.
Very safe hands indeed!
So to the release of the 2019 premium Houghton Cabernets. The Jack Mann is rightly considered one of Australia’s great Cabernets. Ironically, this wine comes from the Justin Vineyard in Frankland, rather than Margaret River, the spiritual home of Cabernet in Western Australia.
Also from Frankland, the C.W. Ferguson is another cracking wine, which in 2019, is the equal of Jack Mann, albeit in a slightly lighter, more perfumed style.
The trio is rounded out by the Gladstone from the Batley vineyard in Margaret River. This is a completely different beast and serves to highlight the stylistic difference between the regions. 2019 was a cooler year and this is reflected in savoury, herbal notes that complement the immensely dense fruit.
The wines spend approximately 16 months in high intensity French oak, of which 30%-40% is new.
Amazingly, over five days on the tasting bench, the fruit in these wines just got better and better, especially in the C.W. Ferguson and Gladstones.
Houghton – Jack Mann – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2019. Gorgeous ripe redcurrant fruit that has hints of violets and blueberry. This smells expensive. The palate is silky, supple and moreish. There is great depth and density, but this is all about restrained power. The fruit slowly builds in the glass, and this took three days to really show its best. Very age-worthy. 95+pts – $175
Houghton – C.W. Ferguson – Cabernet/Malbec – 2019. What a delightful wine. The pretty blueberry fruit has great depth, supported by supple spice notes (cloves). The fruit on the palate is initially closed and retrained. With plenty of air however, the wonderfully vibrant fruit shines providing great drinkability, even at this early stage of its life. The (expensive) oak has been carefully managed to ensure that the fruit remains the focus. My pick of the range and likely to be excellent value. 96+pts – $78.
Houghton – Gladstones – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2019. This is a very different style, with much greater fruit weight and density to the wines from Frankland. Not better nor worse, just different. The precise cassis-like fruit is perfectly ripe and quite beautiful., with great length of flavours. The texture is a highlight and the finish near seamless. The cooler year is reflected in supple earthy/herbal notes that complement the fruit very well. A textbook example of very high-quality cooler year Cabernet that is very age-worthy. 96pts – $100.