Category Archives: Cabernet – Wine Reviews

Cabernet Sauvignon – New Release: March 2019

Barry Weinman: 16th March 2019

In a line-up of high quality wines, the Vasse Felix Cabernet really stood out. A wine with great poise and balance that has a very premium feel about it.

At the more affordable end of the spectrum, the Thorn Clarke Sandpiper is an excellent effort, with delicious fruit and supple winemaking.


Moss Wood – Merlot – Ribbon Vale – 2016 (18/20 pts). A very fine wine, though this is closed and tight. The fine tannins and acid suppress the fruit, though the souring acidity adds drive to the finish. Give it a few years to open up, and 10 years to shine.

Flametree – Cabernet Sauvignon – SRS – 2015 (18.3/20+pts). A step up in power and fruit weight, this is dense, powerful and compact. Darker fruit characters combine with serious oak on a palate that is chewy and textured, with an abundance of fine tannins on the finish. Needs years, but will be very good indeed.

Thorn Clarke – Cabernet Sauvignon – Sandpiper – 2017 (17.8 – 18/20pts – $20). An approachable, modern wine with delicious red berry fruit, gentle spice and supple texture. Souring acidity and excellent structure add to the appeal of this excellent value wine.

Vasse Felix – Cabernet Sauvignon – Gold Capsule – 2015 (18.5+/20pts). Refined red fruits with just a touch of mint and eucalypt. The palate is fine and silky, with the tannins gradually building, eventually closing down the fruit. This is a serious, powerful wine, where the fruit has been expertly managed to make it approachable now, yet is also guaranteed to age well for a decade or more. A complete wine with great poise.

Thorn Clarke – Cabernet Sauvignon – William Randell – 2016. (18+++/20pts – $60). Textured, rich and chewy, with ripe, dense fruit of some power. The finish is textured and chewy, with the fruit a little subdued right now. An impressive wine with exemplary tannin management, this demands a rich dish if drunk young. Gets very chewy on the  close. 20 years.

Cabernet: October 2018 New Releases

Cabernet: October 2018 New Releases

Barry Weinman: 8th October 2018

It was no surprise that the wines from Victory Point, Higher Planes and Fraser Gallop shone in this tasting. What did surprise though, was that these premium Margaret River Cabernets can all be picked up for under $40 a bottle.

It was also good to see some solid wines from Sandalford. If the quality of the new releases are anything to go by, then this will be a winery to watch over the next few years.


Fraser Gallop – Cabernet Sauvignon – Parterre – 2013 (18.3/20pts. $45). Appears more serious on the nose, with high quality oak framing the fruit. The palate is a highlight, as the silky texture is the perfect foil for the ripe, cool-climate berry characters. Hints of mint and eucalyptus round out an impressive, age-worthy wine. (The winery has moved on to the 2014, but this is a bargain at $35 from Nicks).

Higher Planes – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2013 (18+/20pts. $38). High quality fruit, with raspberry, blackcurrant and even a touch of cassis on display. Fine, texturing tannins and supple oak serve to close down the fruit on the finish a little, so give it some air, or 10+ years in the cellar. A classic Margaret River Cabernet and very good value.

Victory Point – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2014 (18+/20). A treat to see this in the line-up. High quality fruit, supple oak  (30% new) and texturing tannins all play an important role on the near-seamless finish. Flavours include blackcurrant, cedar and menthol. Great now, but even better with 10-20 years in the cellar.Xanadu_Exmoor_Cabernet

Xanadu – Cabernet Sauvignon – Exmoor – 2015 (18/20pts – $18). For an entry-level wine, this is a cracking effort and got extra points for value. Supple mulberry, dark berry and plum notes, with silky oak adding texture. Well-crafted and persistent, this could even take a few years in the cellar.

Grace Farm – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2015 (17.8/20pts). I like this. There is ripe, if somewhat subdued blackcurrant fruit, balanced by fine, textural, almost graphite-like tannins and supple oak. Excellent length to close. A very good wine.

Sandalford – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Margaret River – 2017. (17.8/20pts) – A smart wine from the winemaking team at Sandalford. Silky, supple and refined, with elegant, medium weight fruit. A smart, fruit driven drink, with floral fruit.

Winery in Focus: Sittella (Part One)

Winery in Focus: Sittella (Part One)

Barry Weinman: 10th September 2018

The Berns Family started Sittella with the purchase of land in the Swan Valley in 1993 that now houses the winery and vineyards. They subsequently bought and sold (in 2003) a vineyard in Margaret River, before purchasing their definitive Margaret River vineyard in the Wilyabrup sub district in 2010. This is a mature vineyard planted on heavy loam/gravel soils.

The family recently purchased another 5 hectares adjacent to the Margaret River vineyard and are embarking on an impressive planting program. Impressive, not because of the size of the vineyard, but rather for the planning, care and expense that has gone into choosing the site, grape clones and trellising.

This attention to detail in the vineyard is replicated in all aspects of the winemaking process. Winemakers Colby Quirk (Senior Winemaker) and Uri Berns have a stated aim of producing the best Cabernet Sauvignon in Australia, and are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to improve on (the already high) standard that they have achieved with Cabernet and Chardonnay.

Their success has not happened overnight. As this tasting demonstrated, the winemaking team have been honing their skills and refining techniques over the 6 years that they have been working together. They have tweaked vine management and adjusting winemaking to allow the fruit quality to shine in the bottle.

From 2015, both the Chardonnay and Cabernet have moved to another level of refinement.

Given the passion and skills shown by the winemakers, along with a serious investment in the vineyards and winery, it is not surprising that the wines are very high quality. What really surprised was:

  1. The wines are seriously cheap for the quality on offer
  2. The sparkling wine program is, if anything, even more significant than that for the still wines.

I will write in more details about the sparkling program next week, as the quality/value on offer would be hard to beat anywhere in Australia. The sparkling wines really are that good! There are also other worthwhile wines in the range, including a delicious Swan Valley Verdelho and an unctuous PX (Pedro Ximenez), made from base material going back to 1998.


Reserve Chardonnay

The fruit for the reserve is sourced from 1.5 hectares from the Wilyabrup Vineyard. The vineyard is planted with Dijon 95/96 clones, which produces less of the pineapple characters associated with the Gin Gin clone that is ubiquitous across the region. Production is limited to 200 dozen/year.

There has been a clear evolution in style over the 5 vintages, with the oak becoming ever more refined and the fruit more complex. The oak regime is consistent, with 25% new each year. The aim is to use the best oak possible, with only subtle changes to the forest and level of toast over time.

Sittella – Chardonnay – ReserveWilyabrup – 2013. Complex, with powerful stone fruit on the nose, along with creamy notes from the lees work and oak. With passionfruit and hints of tropical fruit, this is a bigger style, with the ripe fruit balanced by toast notes. Textured, chewy and powerful, though the oak sits a touch prominently on the close.

Sittella – Chardonnay – ReserveWilyabrup – 2014. The depth and power are palpable, yet the balance and poise are noteworthy. This is supple and refined, with stone fruit characters over creamy winemaking inputs. The high-quality oak is finely meshed with the fruit adding to the mouth-feel and texture. Seamless, balanced, long and silky, the acid finish is a highlight. Wonderful drinking over the next few years.

Sittella – Chardonnay – ReserveWilyabrup – 2015. More restrained and taut, with the fruit tightly bound at present. An evolution in style, with the balance a highlight. Supple and textured, the subtle stone fruit, minerality and lemony acid leads to a very long. The result of perfectly ripe fruit combined with silky winemaking. Now – 2023.

Sittella – Chardonnay – ReserveWilyabrup – 2016. From a warm, dry year. Restrained, yet with latent power. The fruit and oak are in perfect harmony, yet the whole package is reserved and tight. Near seamless palate transition, with the oak adding depth, but no overt flavour. Supple, long and age worthy, this is not as intense as the 2017, but will be better drinking in the short term.

Sittella – Chardonnay – ReserveWilyabrup – 2017 ($31.50). From a very cool year, with fruit that was in perfect condition when harvested. Fresh, powerful and zesty, this is all potential right now. The fruit is dense and ripe, though tightly bound and shy. The palate is supple, balanced and very long. Subtle pineapple and lemon, along with the trademark white peach fruit. Tightly coiled and powerful, there are hints of spice, citrus and minerality to close. Needs years, but a great wine already.

Cabernet Sauvignon

The stated aim of the winemakers is to make the best Cabernet based wine from Western Australia (and Australia). To this end, there has been a huge time investment in the vineyard, with every aspect of production carefully managed to ensure that the absolute best fruit is produced.

This attention to detail has been clearly carried through to the winery as well. The oak is the best available, with 40% new each vintage. The current vintage is 2015 and only 150 dozen are produced each year.

Sittella – Cabernet Sauvignon – Berns Reserve – 2012. Pristine fruit that is just starting to show some development, but this is still fresh and youthful. There is a generosity to the fruit that is captivating, with the fine balance and structure framing the fruit perfectly. Very long and fine, the red berry fruit is supple and succulent and there are hints of mint to close. A great drinking red that will also live for a decade or more.

Sittella – Cabernet Sauvignon – Berns Reserve – 2014. A touch more herbal, but still ripe and supple. This is quite tight and needs years to hit its peak. The fruit is complemented by silky tannins that add a little grip on the back palate, with supple oak and fine, tight acidity. A superb wine in the cooler spectrum that will live for 2 decades or more.

Sittella – Cabernet Sauvignon – Berns Reserve – 2015. ($52). An amalgam of fruit and savoury characters, with brilliant red berry/cherry fruit, hints of cassis and mint and very fine, texturing tannins. Superbly made, and worthy of extended time in the cellar. Gets a little chewy to close, so give it 10 years to really start to open up. A great wine!

Sittella – Cabernet Sauvignon – Berns Reserve – Wilyabrup – 2016. Harks back to the 2012, with brilliant ripe fruit, but the structural components are, if anything, turned up a notch here. Chewy, texture, and long. The perfectly ripe fruit is poised and balanced. Near seamless and with great density of fruit, a great wine is the making and a long-term prospect.

Sittella – Cabernet Sauvignon – Berns Reserve Wilyabrup – Buckshot Vineyard – 2017. Fragrant red berry and mint fruit that is refined, fine, elegant, and showing tremendous depth. Yet somehow, this manages to be restrained and tight. The finish is remarkably silky, supple, long and fine. In what was a tricky vintage for the region, the vineyard was intensely managed from bud burst to harvest, to produce an exceptional wine that may prove to be one of the best Cabernets to come out of Margaret River from the 2017 vintage.

Shottesbrooke – Winery in Focus – August 2016

Shottesbrooke – Winery in Focus – August 2018

Barry Weinman: 25th August 2018

Shottesbrooke hails from McLaren Vale and got underway with the establishment of the cellar door in 1994. Given the location, it is no surprise that there is a focus on Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet, complemented by aromatic white wines from the Adelaide Hills.

Winemaking is led by Hamish McGuire who took over as head winemaker in 2004. Hamish also happens to be the son in-law of founder Nick Holmes.

The wines are divided into a number of levels, starting with the Discovery Series, then ascending through the Estate, Single Vineyard and Reserve ranges. Complementing the core range are the 1337 and Expressions lines which include sparkling and fortified wines.

For me, the real interest is with the McLaren Vale reds. As might be expected, Shottesbrooke makes high quality Shiraz. The surprise for me was just how good the Cabernet-based wines are. Wines like the Punch Reserve have led me to reassess my preconceptions about the regions that the variety is suited to. Whilst it is a bigger style than Margaret River for example, with more obvious new oak, the wine remains balanced and age-worthy.

The pick of the range however, from a sheer deliciousness point of view, is the Single Vineyard Grenache. Fragrant and fine, a superb wine coming from 80 year old bush vines.


Shottesbrooke – Grenache – Single Vineyard – 2016 (18.4/20pts – $33). This took a day to really open up, but I was rewarded with fragrant plum, cherry and bright red berry fruit that was quite captivating. The palate has it all; Density, structure, slightly chewy tannins and persistent, high-quality fruit. Long, fine and silky, this is a treat now, but will also age well for 5 – 10 years. A beautiful wine.

Shottesbrooke – Shiraz – Estate – 2012 (18/20pts – N/A). A delicious wine showing ripe fruit and hints of savoury complexity. The fresh acidity and fine tannins combine to make a great drinking wine. The length and complexity are noteworthy, but it is the delicious McLaren Vale Shiraz fruit that is the star.

Shottesbrooke – Shiraz – Estate – 2015 (17.5/20 – $20). Mocha notes over ripe plum and red berry fruit. The palate is fresh and lively, with fine tannins and well-judged acidity adding life. The finish is quite chocolatey, with Middle Eastern spice notes building. Excellent fruit quality built in a medium bodied style that will be great drinking now with Moroccan food but really needs 5+ years to hit its peak (if the 2012 is any indication). Excellent Value.

Shottesbrooke – Shiraz – Tom’s Block – Blewitt Springs – Single Vineyard – 2015 (18/20pts – $40). The pick of the current batch of Single Vineyards wines for me. The balance between ripe, elegant fruit and fine oak hits the sweet spot. The tannins are fine and supple, combining with the acid to keep the wine alive and fresh. Hints of sage on the finish make a lamb roast a great match. From a warmer year, fermented in and aged 16 months in older oak.

Shottesbrooke – Shiraz – Eliza – Reserve – 2014 (18.5/20pts – $60). Superb fruit on the nose that is ripe, concentrated and dense. Think plum and red berry, with vanilla/cedary overtones from the oak. The palate is thick with fruit. Very deep and dense, the concentration of fruit is palpable. There is a fine, almost silky mid palate that leads to a long finish that is a little shy now, but perfectly balanced. An impressive wine that, whilst just starting to open up, needs 10+ years to shine. Fermented and aged in new oak .

Shottesbrooke – Cabernet Sauvignon – Estate – 2016 (17.5+/20pts – $20). Lithe and supple by comparison to its bigger siblings, this is a fruit-driven wine that is approachable, has bright acidity and decent length. With air, the sweet berry fruit really shines, making for a very enjoyable wine.

Shottesbrooke – Cabernet Sauvignon – McLaren Flat – Single Vineyard – 2012 (18/20pts – N/A). A savoury, spicy wine that is complex and intense. Chewy and textured, with menthol, sage and rosemary, with an almost gamey note. This is a big, powerful, dense wine for those looking for a hearty red. Age-worthy.

Shottesbrooke – Cabernet Sauvignon – Punch – Reserve – 2012 (18.5/20pts – $60). Lovely cassis and fresh berry fruit to open, with hints of sage, rosemary and mint chocolate. The depth and density of the fruit is impressive, as is the balance, with the finish remaining lithe and supple, despite the intensity of the fruit. Very long, the oak is apparent on the finish, but is well matched to the fruit. At 6 years of age, this is just starting to open up, but is still worthy of extended time in the cellar.

Shottesbrooke – The Proprietor – 2012 (18.3/20pts – $60). Cabernet Sauvignon (49%), Merlot (42%) and Malbec (9%) aged in a blend of new and seasoned oak. Closed and subdued in comparison to the Punch, yet there is no doubting the quality of the fruit and winemaking. Somewhat of an iron fist in a velvet glove, this is fine and almost silky, yet there is brooding power to the fruit. Needs years to come around, but will be worth the wait.

St Mary’s Winery – New Release – August 2018

St Mary’s Winery – New Release – August 2018

Barry Weinman: 12th August 2018

For more than 100 years, Coonawarra has been famous for its red wines, particularly those made with Cabernet Sauvignon. The region is defined by the strip of Terra Rossa soil that sits over limestone.

Coonawarra lies within the broader Limestone Coast geographic region with the boundaries tightly defined in 2003 following a protracted battle by industry stalwarts on both sides of the boundary. A number of other sub regions sit within the Limestone Coast, including Padthaway, Wrattonbully, Mount Benson and Robe.

Sitting 15km West of Penola, St Mary’s vineyards do not sit in the Coonawarra sub-district of the Limestone Coast, but the vineyards have the same soil composition as its more illustrious neighbour. Like Coonawarra, the winery vineyards are capable of producing high quality red wines, including a surprisingly tasty Pinot Noir.


St Mary’sCarillon – 2015 (18.3+/20pts – $40). A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Lovely bright fruit that shows, mint, eucalypt, menthol and blackcurrant with even a hint of cassis. The fruit on the palate is mouth-filling and balanced, with fine tannins, racy acidity and excellent length. This is a delicious wine that can happily be drunk now, but would benefit from 5 – 10 years in the cellar. Sealed with a good quality natural cork.

St Mary’sBells & Whistles – Red Blend – 2014 (17.5/20pts – $18). A great value blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Classic Coonawarra nose, with menthol, eucalypt and bright blueberry fruit. Continues on the palate, where the souring acidity takes hold, keeping the fruit in check. Bright and fruit driven, this is an affordable everyday red that will accompany food well.

Howard Park Scotsdale and Leston 2016

Howard Park Scotsdale and Leston 2016

Barry Weinman: 4th August 2018

I have written previously about just how good Cabernet can be from the Great Southern. Wines like the Jack Mann and Cherubino speak volumes about the potential.

Another fine producer of Great Southern Cabernet is Howard Park, with their flagship wine (The Abercrombie) having a significant proportion of fruit from the region.

So when the the2016 Shiraz and Cabernet from the Leston & Scotsdale ranges arrived, it was an excellent opportunity to sit back and look at how the regions differ.

At Howard Park, both the Leston Cabernet and Shiraz use fruit from Margaret River, whilst both Scotsdale wines are from the Great Southern.

As with previous vintages, what is most noticeable is how supple and fragrant the wines are from the Great Southern. These are seductive wines that are delicious now, but also eminently age-worthy, By comparison, both the Leston Shiraz and Cabernet are taut and restrained, needing years to show their best.

All four of the wines are excellent and ageworthy, so my suggestion is to drink the Scotsdales, whilst waiting for the Lestons to mature.

Also included in this tasting was the brilliant new Cellar Collection from 2016. This wine seems to combine the best of both regions, and at $35, seems like good value too.


Howard Park – Shiraz – Scotsdale – 2016 (18.5/20 – $50). Sweet, fresh strawberry fruit that is seductive and ripe on the nose, with savoury undertones of cedar and spice. The palate is firm, yet balanced, with fine tannins that frame the plum and redcurrant fruit. Hints of liquorice on a supple, textured finish. Delicious!

Howard Park – Shiraz – Leston – 2016 (18/20pts – $50). Opens with blackcurrant and mint, with hints of chocolate and dark spices. The palate is tight, firm and age-worthy, yet the finish is near seamless. One for the cellar and likely to score higher points in the future.

Howard Park – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz – Cellar Collection – 2016 (18.5/20pts – $35). Approachable, seductive fruit sets the scene, with a core of dark fruit and tannins that keep the mid palate in check and aid the overall balance. Aromas of mint, blueberry fruit and herbal notes add to the package. An extra half point for being absolutely delicious now, yet this would benefit from 5 years in the cellar.

Howard Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – Leston – 2016 (18.5/20pts – $50). Impressive wine where everything is in balance. There is mint and eucalypt highlights to the bright berry fruit on both the nose and palate. It is the way that the palate comes together that is a stand out. The red fruits meld seamlessly with the fine oak and textural components from the mid-palate to the close. At the close, the tannins do shut down the fruit so give it at least 5 – 10 years to start to open up.

Howard Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – Scotsdale – 2016 (18+/20pts – $50). Riper, more approachable than the Leston, with the fruit in the red berry spectrum. That said, this is a serious wine with fine oak and silky tannins supporting the fruit nobly. The finish is carried by the acid, allowing this wine to be enjoyed in its youth, but the patient will be rewarded with a splendid wine in 10+ years.

Cabernet Sauvignon: March New Release


Cabernet Sauvignon: March New Release

Barry Weinman: 18th March 2018

Whilst the panel was expecting the strong showing from the West Australian wines, a highlight of the tasting was a Cabernet from Langhorne Creek. The Authur’s Reserve from Lake Breeze impressed with its dense, high-quality fruit that maintained elegance despite its power. Not to be outdone, the Cape Mentelle continues to impress. This is an outstanding wine.


Cape Mentelle – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2014 (18.7/20 pts – $120). Lovely fragrant red-currant fruit on the nose. The palate is supple, long, elegant and refined, yet there is great depth to the  fruit, with tar and hints of liquorice to close. Near seamless, yet the fine tannins and oak make the palate quite compact now. A brilliant wine of great finesse.

Lake Breeze – Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot/Malbec – Arthur’s Reserve – 2013 (18.4/20 pts – $44) Superb fruit on show here; dense, dark, brooding and almost inky. There is fresh acidity, ripe black currant fruit and very fine tannins. The finish is firm and structured, yet retains a degree of elegance and impressive length. Will be long lived.

Vasse Felix – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2015 (18.2+/20 pts – $45). Closed and tight, with menthol, eucalypt and savoury fruit. The palate is firm and unyielding, the oak and tannins serving to shut down the fruit. Needs 10 years + before drinking. A more restrained wine than the 2014, but it will reward patience.

Devil’s Lair – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2014 (18+/20 pts – $50). A very fine and elegant wine with savoury tannins and oak adding depth. The flavour profile builds and evolves in the mouth. The finish is long and fine, though quite closed. Give it time.

Vasse Felix – Cabernet Sauvignon – Filius – 2015 (18/20 pts – $30). The second Cabernet Sauvignon released under the Filius label and a worthy follow-up to the brilliant 2014. A long and savoury wine with fresh acidity, fine tannins and chewy texture. Builds velvety fruit with air.

Devil’s Lair – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz – Hidden Cave – 2014 (17.9/20 – $25). A fine, elegant wine of great charm. Blackcurrant and mint combine with fine, textural tannins and oak into a delicious package that would also take some bottle age. Excellent value.

Cabernet – New Release – May 2017

Cabernet – New Release – May 2017

Barry Weinman: 28th May 2017

In Western Australia, the majority of wineries make their Cabernet/Merlot blends in a softer, more approachable style, that is suited for earlier consumption. Their more serious (and expensive) wine, however, is labelled as straight Cabernet.

An obvious exception to this is the Diana Madeline from Cullen- a lovely wine by any measure.

A highlight of this tasting was the Xanadu; another brilliant wine from Glen Goodall. The other highlight was the wines from Redman. Interestingly, it was the cheaper wines that really caught my attention, though the winery should be commended for having the 2006 Redman available for sale.


Cullen – Cabernet Sauvignon – Diana Madeline – 2014 (18.7pts – $130). Fantastic fruit on both the nose and palate. Mulberry and blueberry fruit builds combine with a supple mouth-feel. This is a superb wine, with great intensity and depth to the fruit, yet with a degree of elegance and polish. The fine tannins are there in significant proportions, yet this remains balanced the whole lengths of the palate. As good as it is now will be even better with 10 years in the cellar.

Leeuwin Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Art Series – 2013 (18.5+pts – $79). Inky and tight, yet there are blue fruits just starting to poke through along with a touch of eucalypt and cedar. The tannins are fine and almost silky, yet the overall package is somewhat taut and shy. An impressive wine that will be a great wine with 10-15 years in the bottle.

Xanadu – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2013 (18.5pts  – $38). Really deep smelling fruit on a complex, yet perfectly integrated nose. There is depth to the palate, yet this is silky, refined, elegant and very long. The supple mouth-feel is a highlight and the finish near seamless. Superb and very refined, this actually smells expensive. Great now, but will live for 20+years.


Redman – Cabernet Sauvignon – The First Divide – 2015 (17.7pts – $30). Purple and very youthful. Ripe, almost succulent fruit on the nose, with red berries, menthol and a touch of cedar. The menthol characters are striking on the palate, with peppermint overtones, mid-weight fruit, good length and textural tannins. Excellent short to mid-term drinking.

Redman – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2014 – (18pts – $33). Generous fruit up front on the nose. The palate is rich, ripe and plump. T he generous fruit is matched to soft, supple tannins and savoury oak. Quite dense and tight, with an almost chewy texture to close. I really like this now, but it would also benefit from 5 years in the cellar.

Redman – Cabernet Sauvignon – The Redman – 2006 (18pts). Lovely ripe, sweet fruit on the nose. Blackcurrant, almost Ribena-like, yet there is a degree of restraint and elegance on the palate which is complemented by the complexity of bottle age. The souring acidity adds life. A bigger style, but one that works very well. Redman’s should be congratulated for releasing a wine with 10 years of bottle age!

Penley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: April 2017

Penley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: April 2017

Barry Weinman: 30th April 2017

There have been some changes at Penley Estate over the last few years. None have been more important than the appointment of the talented Kate Goodman to lead the winemaking, following the retirement of Kim Tolley. The packaging has also been refreshed, complementing the changes in the winery.

My first impression is that the quality of the wines is high, with the lower priced wines offering excellent value.

I look forward to watching their evolution over the next few years.


Penley Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc – Gryphon – 2014 (17.5pts – $20). The ripe menthol fruit is true to this wine’s Coonawarra origins. Mouth-filling, the fruit lingers and is complemented by tight tannins. This is actually quite impressive, and represents excellent value

Penley Estate – Cabernet/Merlot/Shiraz – Timbrell – 2014 (17.5pts – $30). Almost plum like fruit, with a core of mint and gentle eucalypt characters. The tannins are relatively fine and non-obtrusive, allowing the fruit to take centre stage. This is ripe and plush, making for excellent short – medium term drinking.

Penley Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Tolmer – 2013 (17.8pts – $30). Powerful and brooding, with firm, chewy tannins. The fruit is inaccessible at first. Mouth-coating, with air the fragrant blueberry/mulberry fruit opens up and is complemented by a touch of cedar. A youthful, complex wine that needs a few years to open up.

Penley Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Steyning – 2013 (18+pts – $45). Fragrant and pretty. Vibrant red fruit with a Margeaux-like floral lift. The palate is balanced and harmonious, with the ripe fruit carrying all the way to the close. The acid, tannins and oak balance the fruit nicely, aiding mouth-feel, though the tannins do get grippy to close. Very easy to drink, yet will age well for 10+ years..


Western Australian Cabernet – 2012 Vintage

Western Australian Cabernet – 2012 Vintage

Barry Weinman: 20th May 2016

Over the last few weeks, I have written about the fantastic Cabernets from Xanadu and Houghton, ranking both amongst the best Cabernets from Western Australia. The only trouble is that these were not blind tastings, so label bias is a factor.

So when the opportunity arose to try these wines in a blind line up of some of WA’s finest, I jumped at the chance. Hosted by Lamont’s – Cottesloe, the tasting allowed me to put these wines into perspective, when compared to their peers.

There were many great wines in the line-up, with almost all scoring 18.5 or higher. Every wine reviewed here is brilliant, but if I had to single out one wine on the day, the pick for me was Houghton’s Jack Mann. This is of course subjective, as other reviewers had a different favourite.Jack Mann

From a value perspective, the Parterre from Fraser Gallop is worth a mention. This was up with the best from a quality perspective, yet is available for under $40.


Houghton – Cabernet Sauvignon – Jack Mann – 2012 (19pts). Almost ethereal, this has great presence on both the nose and palate, with the subtle fruit perfectly matched to the structural components. The palate shows mulberry fruit, supple tannins and great length, aided by a touch of minerality. A magnificent wine that almost defies description.

Cullen – Cabernet Sauvignon – Vanya – 2012 (18.8pts – $350). Supple and delicious fruit on the nose. The palate is rich and dense, with the fine tannins and acid playing the perfect counterfoil, ensuring great balance. The oak adds depth on the finish, but also just closes the fruit a little. A lovely wine that will be great any time over the next 20 years.224235-Howard-Park_2012_Abercrombie_Cabernet web

Howard Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – Abercrombie – 2012. (18.8pts). Full of restraint and elegance, with a touch of mint and eucalypt on the nose. Continues on the palate, with the ever-so-fine fruit balanced perfectly against the oak and tannins. The acid is polished and gives the finish drive. Very long and very moreish, this is a great wine.

Vasse Felix – Cabernet Sauvignon – Heytesbury – 2012 (18.7pts). The fruit has a slightly cooler feel, with the mint and eucalypt set against elegant blackberry and cherry notes. The palate is taut and fine, though this needs time to really hit its straps. A great wine with the structure to live in the cellar for decades.

Wynns – Cabernet Sauvignon – John Riddoch – 2012 (18.7pts $120). Dark, brambly fruit, with almost a hint of crushed ants, chocolate and menthol. Tremendous depth and power to the fruit, yet this remains balanced and harmonious. The finish is driven by the fine acidity, with the tannins and oak building on the close. Classic Coonawarra and an impressive wine.ET-Redbrook-Cab-Sauv

Evans & Tate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Redbrook – 2012 (18.7pts). Mint, eucalypt, and fresh herbal notes over red berry fruit. The palate is fine and supple, with the savoury tannins complementing the fruit superbly. Long, supple and delicious, this appears quite fruit forward initially, but the structure builds to close down the finish. Impressive.

Houghton – Cabernet Sauvignon – Gladstones – 2012 (18.7pts). Fragrant, almost pretty fruit, with blackberry and an almost tar-like minerality. The palate is refined and fresh, with great length. The structural components slowly building on the finish. A sleeper, this is a wine that will only get better over the coming years. Points for potential.

Xanadu – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2012 (18.7pts). Ripe blackcurrant and mulberry, with hints of cassis and spice. The nose is quite hedonistic and very attractive. The palate is fine and silky, yet full of life, with exquisite fruit quality and super-fine tannins. A remarkable, elegant wine that is a joy to drink. Will open and build for 15+ years, but irresistible now.

Cullen – Cabernet Sauvignon – Diana Madeline – 2012 (18.6). Closed and unyielding on both the nose and the palate. Whilst the palate transition is near seamless, the fruit is subdued and needs time to open up, as the classy oak and fine tannins keep everything in check. No denying the quality, but patience is required.

Deep Woods – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2012 (18.6). Closed and taut, with precise ripe fruit, hints of spice and an almost graphite-like note. The palate is dark and brooding, with brambly fruit shrouded in a cloak of fine oak and tannins. Powerful and very long, this is a wine that needs 10 – 15 years to start to approach its best. Stately, in the style of Pauliac.

Moss Wood – Cabernet Sauvignon – Wilyabrup – 2012 (18.6pts). More accessible fruit, with red currant and plum notes. The palate is rich and vibrant, with the plum fruit giving way to souring acidity that perfectly matches the fruit and slightly chewy/textural tannins to close. A savoury wine that will be fantastic with food now, but will get better for many years.

Cherubino – Cabernet Sauvignon – Frankland River – 2012 (18.6pts). Elegant and supple, with bright red fruits and a silky structure. Very high quality fruit here. The finish is very long, aided by souring acidity and excellent balance. Made in a style that preserves the fruit, relying on acids and fine tannins for longevity and depth, rather than overt oak. Lovely wine.

Woodlands – Cabernet Sauvignon – Thomas – 2012 (18.6). Graphite and tar over blueberry and spice. The cedary/vanillin oak adds depth, giving way to savoury acidity and a brine-like tang. The tannins build on a close that is very long. Will be long lived, yet is approachable now.

Cape Mentelle – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2012 (18.5). Pretty fruit on the nose. This is elegant and polished. In the mouth, there is succulent red fruits, earthy/mineral like texture, spice, vanillin oak and fine tannins. Closed and restrained initially, this really comes together with air, suggesting a long future (and possibly even higher points).NVPTCAB

Fraser Gallop – Cabernet Sauvignon – Parterre – 2012 (18.5pts). A touch lighter red-brick colour. The fruit here is just a little more accessible. The palate is fine and silky, with savoury fruit and a strong vein of minerality running through to the close. Very long, this has great presence. Now – 20 years. (At under $40, this is excellent value).