Cracking Cabernets: Bargain Alert

Cracking Cabernets: Bargain Alert

24th March 2024

There is an almost never-ending stream of great cabernets coming out of Western Australia, but they often come with a premium price tag.

However, there is value to be had at several price points as the panel discovered in a large tasting of primarily top-end cabernets this week.
Ok, so none of the wines are outright cheap, but if quality is what you are after, then these wines offer superb value at several price points.

Leading the charge is the cracking 2020 cabernet from Victory Point. The Berson family supply fruit to some of the region’s finest wineries, with small volumes made under the Victory Point label. At $55 from the winery, this is one of the great bargains.

A real surprise was the 2018 Cabernet from Galafrey. A good year in the Great Southern combined with mature vineyards and a quality winemaker has resulted in an affordable, age-worthy red of some note.

The final wine is Juniper’s Cornerstone Cabernet from Wilyabrup. From the much-lauded 2018 vintage, this deserves to be popular.


Galafrey – Dry Grown Vineyard – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2018. This is still just a baby. There are attractive blueberry fruit notes, but straight out of the bottle, this is a bit grippy. Having said that there is no denying the impressive intensity and length of the fruit. With air, and despite its relative immaturity, the palate is remarkably seamless in the way the fruit transitions from front to back. But this needs time. A decade would be a great start. A bargain for the cellar. 14.0% – 94pts – $35.

Victory Point – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2020. Wonderful nose, wonderful palate, wonderful wine. This has intense blackcurrant fruit supported by very sympathetic, quality oak handling. The red berry fruit on the nose sets the scene, but it is in the mouth where this gets really exciting. The palate is totally seamless and the mouthfeel and balance exquisite, with great concentration of fruit and length/persistence. A magical wine that despite its immediacy (it is delicious right now), is capable of medium-term ageing. 15 months in French oak barriques (38% new),13.5% alc, 96pts – $55. (packed in a lightweight bottle).

Juniper Estate – Cornerstone – Wilyabrup – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2018. Precise, ripe and so, so approachable, yet there is a serious nature to this wine lurking beneath the placid exterior, with the tannins kicking in on the finish, closing down the fruit somewhat. But with air, the fruit quality really shines, complemented by supple winemaking inputs. 94% Cabernet (Houghton clone), with a splash of malbec and cabernet franc, 17 months in French oak barriques (45% new). 14% alc – 95pts – $80.

Leeuwin Estate – Art Series – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2020. Oh wow. The quality and class of this wine just leaps out of the glass, with superb fruit that has both red and blackberry characters. Supple, texturing oak adds to the innate depth and power, but the wine remains lithe and elegant the entire length of the palate. One of the superstars of the 2020 vintage and a huge bargain at $100. 13.5%, 97pts – $102.

Other highlights

Cape Mentelle – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2020. The blueberry fruit is an absolute highlight. Pretty, fresh, vibrant and polished. The tannins and oak serve merely to highlight the fruit quality, adding mouthfeel and texture without impeding the flow of the fruit in the slightest. A lovely wine. 13.8%, 95pts. Confusingly, Cape Mentelle makes two similarly labelled wines. This was the expensive one under cork.