Tag Archives: comparison

Cabernet – New Release

Part One – 31 May 2010

Wow, what a tasting! There was not a bad wine to be seen anywhere.

Ten years ago, a tasting like this would have been unheard of. To have fifteen wines in a tasting and have every one of them score a bronze medal or better would have been quite remarkable. There are several reasons for this increase in quality across the spectrum.

Most importantly, the wholesale adoption of screw caps has removed the problems associated with cork. I estimate that, traditionally, up to 15% of all wines bottled under cork had obvious signs of cork taint. There has also been a dramatic improvement in the quality of corks too, as producers introduce measures to reduce bad quality corks.

There has also been changes in vineyard management and fruit selection, as well as improvements in wine-making techniques. Hygiene is also an important factor too. Finally, the grape glut over recent years has seen quality fruit from premium regions being used in inexpensive wines.

Ultimately though, the consumer is the winner. Wines like the Angoves – Vineyard Select, Long Flat, Ferngrove – Symbols and Xanadu – Next of Kin are very good wines in their own right, and represent superb value.

Drink Up!


Voyager – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot. – 2005 (18.2). Herbal edges with cedar and concentrated fruit. The palate is powerful and ripe with mint, mortein, cassis and dark fruits. The texture is dominated by mouth-coating tannins. Needs years to show its best. Drink with a veal chop.

Angove – Cabernet Sauvignon – Vineyard Select – 2008 (18). Wow. A crowd pleaser. Forward and ripe, this has black fruits, cedar, cigar box/tobacco leaf, blackcurrant and a touch of ribena. There is even a touch of peppermint and fly spray (A good thing). There is plenty of grip from the oak, but the fruit handles this with ease. Tremendous value.

Xanadu – Cabernet Sauvignon – Next of Kin – 2008 (17.8). Savoury notes to the dense, quality fruit. Ripe, textured, long, powerful and quite seamless. A complex wine, though the oak is a touch assertive now, (this should settle in a year or two). Bordeaux-like in style. Great value here.

Galafrey– Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2001 (17.6). Lovely developed fruit here. Dense, with mint and a touch of eucalypt. The palate is textured, dense and leathery. The ripe fruit is in the black fruits spectrum with mulberry and plum. Good length and mouth-feel. A nicely aging wine that is currently available from the winery.

McHenry Hohnen – Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Petit Verdot – Rolling Stone – 2008 (17.6). Balanced and enticing nose. This has ripe fruit in the red berry spectrum, and a silky mouth feel. Fine tannins are apparent on the finish, but a lovely wine that will improve with age.

Balnaves – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2007 (17.5). Leads off with mortein, mint, redcurrants and cedary oak accents. The palate continues the theme nicely. The fine tannins are a little assertive right now, but these should integrate. Typically Coonawara and an excellent result for the year.

Goundrey – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Homestead – 2008 (17.3). Silky, supple and enticing. This is an elegant and refined wine with lovely fruit. Violets, redcurrant, camphor and spice all appear on the palate with quite seamless oak. A leaner style, and good value again.

Mount Avoca – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2008 (17.2). Bright ripe fruit on the nose and palate. This is not the densest wine here, but it is pretty and focused with fine tannins. Easy drinking over the next 5 years.

Ferngrove – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot. – Symbols – 2008 (17). Sweet fruit on the nose with camphor. The palate is dense and showing a touch of extract with licorice, spice and leather. Really slips down easily and hard to resist. A solid wine that is a bargain.

MadFish – Cabernet Sauvignon – Gold Turtle – 2008 (17). Savoury, yes, but complimented by fine ripe fruit. Dense, ripe and closed, with herbal characters to close. Very youthful. An interesting wine that will improve with a few years in the bottle.

Galafrey – Cabernet – 2005 (16.9). An interesting wine that is a bit old fashioned in style with dusty, earthy fruit. Opens nicely, and drinks well.

Long Flat – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – 2008 (16.6). Fruit is in the cooler spectrum, with herbs and eucalypt fruit characters on the nose. Continues on the palate with some cedar and tobacco. Ripe tannins are a touch firm on the finish. Great value at less than $10.

Windrush – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2008 (16.4). A good quaff this. Fresh and juicy fruit to start, with ribena, plum and herbal notes. This is a fruit-forward style with minimal oak apparent.

New Release Cabernet (and Rose)

21 October 2009

I would like to start this review with a question. How many wines can one man make and for how many wineries? The man of the moment in Western Australian wines is undoubtedly Larry Cherubino. Having made a reputation for himself at Houghton Winery in the late 1990’s, Larry has since branched out with his own winery and as a contract/consultant winemaker for numerous local operations from the Great Southern and Margaret River.

Larry produces his own wines under the Cherubino/The Yard/Ad Hoc labels and is a consultant to many others. In this tasting, apparently the Pedestal and the Capel Vale both claim his input.

Of the wines tried, the Capel vale was a standout. This is not going to be cheap (think $70+), but it was very good. From a value point of view, the Higher Planes will make good drinking over the next few years and is a relative bargain at $20. It is not surprising to note that both these wines came from the stellar 2007 vintage.

We are steadily working our way through the backlog of Roses. I am pleased to report that we are down to a dozen or so bottles. What I now realise is that there is no “textbook” style for these wines. They vary significantly from fruit driven and sugary sweet to the dry and oxidised styles (See Shemerdine).


Capel ValeThe Scholar – Cabernet – 2007 (18.5). Dense and concentrated nose with cool fruit. There is a touch of mortein (good) and mint (also good). Some herbal notes too. The palate is ripe, fresh, long and supple. Really builds in the mouth. The fine tannins close down the fruit now, but the finish is silky. Developed ripe blackcurrant and mulberry fruit with air.

Houghton C W Ferguson – Cabernet Malbec – 2007 (17.5). Clean and fresh, opens with some menthol and eucalypt fruit, but the fruit is ripe. The palate starts austere and dry, as the fruit and oak tannins hide the fruit. Could have a bit more flesh, but should develop nicely with a few years in the cellar.

Higher PlaneSouth by South West – Cabernet Merlot– 2007 (17.3). Seamless, fine and elegant. Very closed at the moment. A pretty wine.

Castelli – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2008 (17.2). Dense and ripe fruit here with a touch of licorice and spice. The palate is dominated by black currant, spice and cedary oak, with a touch of vanilla on a drying finish. Medium bodied, the fine tannins close down finish. Classy.

Pedestal – Cabernet Merlot – 2008 (17). Complex nose with dense cabernet fruit and a touch of cherries. The palate is chewy, rich and textured. Not sophisticated but good drinking. A big man’s wine.

Pepperjack – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2008 (17). Opens with eucalyptus and menthol fruit. This is a big wine. Round sturdy fruit in the black spectrum. Eye watering. A cabernet for shiraz drinkers?

AmberleySecret Lane – Cabernet Merlot – 2008 (16.5). Dumb to start with and very closed. The palate has some spice oak and red currant and it builds some chocolate texture with air. Not as concentrated as the best here.

Kiss Chasey – Rose – 2009 (16.3). Sweet smelling with some floral overtones. A touch of savoury characters too. The palate is savoury, spicy, long and interesting. There is gentile cherry fruit with a drying finish.

Shelmerdine – Rose – 2008 (16). This was a very pale brown in colour, attesting to the oxidised wine making style. The nose is clean and bright, but lacks any strong fruit character. This is an unusual style that should suit food.

Bordeaux versus Margaret River

28th June 2009

The aim of this tasting was to compare wines from Bordeaux and Margaret River. It is my view that Margaret River region produces the best new world cabernets and in quality terms, the wines can match the best of Bordeaux. All wines were served blind and in pairs. The wines were matched for vintage, and with the odd exception (sorry guys), there was one from each region.

Style wise, the wines from Bordeaux wines were characterised by their firmer (but fine) tannins. The New World wines tended to have slightly riper fruit characters, but this was not uniform. The tasting highlighted the quality of wines from both regions, but also serves to highlight the much better value that the Australian wines offer. With the best Margaret River wines nudging $100, they represent better buying than the best bordeaux’s (the 2008 indents are charging $400 – $500 for 1st Growths).

Myles emphasized that our palates get used to certain styles of wines. This is very true, and people who only drink big Australian Reds would find some of these wines challenging. Preferences were spread across the group, with no real tendency towards one style or the other.

Thanks to Norbert and Kerry Fandry for hosting this tasting and dinner.


Vasse Felix – Cabernet – 1982. (17.5) Colour still bright with an orange rim. The nose is soft, fragrant and perfumed. There is a touch on mint and menthol, but the wine is balanced and smooth. The palate is fine, long and silky. The fruit is fading, and the tannins are soft but present.

Chateau Branaire Duluc-Ducru – Bordeaux – 1982 (18.5). Colour still bright with an orange rim. Leads with earthy characters. This is a complex wine. Opens up with air to reveal some lovely perfumed fruit. The complex palate still has bright fresh fruit characters. It is very long and fine, with some cedar/cigar box to close. Lovely

Phelan Segur – Bordeaux – 1994. (Corked)

Penfolds – Bin 407 – Cabernet – 1994 (18). Mint and menthol to open, but rich fruit develops with air. The palate is long, bright and earthy. Serious complexity. The finish is round soft and succulent. Very good

Chateau Soutard – St Emillion – 2001 (18.5). Complex nose with typical cool fruit characters. The palate is complex, deep, long and fine. The tannins shut down the fruit still. Chocolate to close (5yrs)

Arboleda – Merlot – 2001 (17). Unusual nose of dried herbs. Continues on the palate, but is swamped by sweet fruit with chocolate overtones. textured and long. The palate is better than the nose.

Vasse FelixHeytsbury – Cabernet – 1997 (18+). Wow, powerful fruit. Dense, ripe with a touch of menthol.The powerful palate is full of chocolate fruit that is long and layered. There is some licorice to close. There was a question over whether the tannins would outlast the fruit. Drink up and lets not find out.

Chateau Lagrange – Pomerol – 2005 (17). Mint and cassis on the nose. The palate is lean right now with pronounced drying tannins. May evolve.

Leeuwin EstateArt Series – Cabernet – 2002 (18.7). Complex, earthy with a touch of classic Margaret River Mortem. This wine is all about the superb structure and texture on the palate. There is minty fruit, but this wine will need 10 years to show its best.

Chateau Branaire Duluc-Ducru – Bordeaux – 2002 (18.5). Tight and long with a touch of cassis. The palate is fine and tight, though the tannins shut down the finish. Will be very good. (10 years)

Voyager Estate – Cabernet Merlot – 2004 (18.3). Powerful. Ripe and succulent fruit with a touch of mint, tobacco and complex earthiness. Lots of ripe cassis on the palate with a silky textured finish. A bit of a fruit bomb, so will appeal to many.

Chateau du Pez – St Estephe – 2004 (18). A complex wine with a touch of herbal/menthol fruit. A touch of mocha and meaty characters too. The palate is complex and surprisingly ripe. The finish is fine and silky. An elegant wine that needs a few years to open up.

Leoville Poyferre – St Julien – 1995. (18). Earthy fruit with chocolate and coffee notes. The palate is long and silky, with complex earthy fruit. Tannins remain firm.

Devils Lair – Cabernet – 1995 (17.5). Cooler style with minty fruit. Develops chocolate fruit as it opens. The palate is a touch lean and drying.

Rauzan Segla – Bordeaux – 1994. (17.5). Complex, ripe and earthy. The palate shows cassis, lanolin and earthy notes. The mid palate fruit is flattened by drying, dusty tannins.

Pierro – Cabernet Blend – 1994 (18). Both Chocolate and mocha on the nose. The palate displays cassis fruit, with a touch of mint and menthol. Ripe fruit, good texture and viscous. Drinking well

Stony RidgeWaiheke Island – Cabernet – 1996 (17.9). Gorgeous nose. This displays ripe powerful fruit with a touch of herbal complexity. The palate is complex, and powerful with tobacco and menthol.

Les Forts de La Tour – Bordeaux – 1996 (18+). Leathery, complex and earthy. The palate is big, rich and ripe. Very long with leathery edges to the black fruit.