Barry Weinman: 22nd February 2024
Whilst it appears that every year is a good year in Margaret River, there are clear vintage variations that impact on the style of the wines. And some years are just that little bit better. 2018 was lauded as one of the best vintages of recent times, and the 2020 appears to be at least as good.
Barry Weinman: 9th July 2023
It is no secret that the Barossa Valley makes brilliant shiraz, and, in this tasting, several wines shone for their quality and relative value.
But the highlight of the tasting was the sheer quality of the Barossa cabernets from Welland.
Barry Weinman: 16th April 2023
How good is Western Australian cabernet? The answer is truly awesome. The latest releases from the likes of Moss Wood, Cullen and Leeuwin Estate are some of the best wines released under these labels. But the West does not have it all its own way, with terrific wines being made across the country.
1 August 2022
For me, the greatest value wines made by Cherubino have been the reds. And the value is apparent right across the range.
3rd March 2022
Some of the big guns were out in this tasting and they did not disappoint.
Cullen’s 2020 Diana Madeline is a superb wine. The generosity of flavours are a highlight. Meanwhile at Moss Wood, the Ribbon Vale reds stole the show from their big brother. The Merlot was a real surprise package.
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.
22nd March 2021
I was lucky enough to have a sneak preview of several yet to be released Margaret River Cabernets, including the 2018s from Brookland Valley. As good as the Estate is, the Reserve is just that little bit more special. Both are worth looking out for.
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.
30th July 2020
When I think of versatile red grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon does not normally spring to mind. Shiraz, after all, is the ultimate chameleon, thriving in all but the very coolest vineyards in the country.
10th April 2020
I hope you and your family are safe and well during this difficult times.
Given everything that is happening globally, it seems a bit irreverent to be reviewing fine wines. But given that we are living in relative isolation, a decent bottle of wine at the end of the week might bring a little consolation.
Barry Weinman: 25th November 2019
This article first appeared in the Western Suburbs Weekly on the 22nd November 2019
In James Halliday’s Top 100 wines, a remarkable 27% of the wines reviewed came from Western Australia. South Australia was next best with 25%. To put these figures into perspective, Western Australia accounts for only 5% of all of Australia’s wine, whereas South Australia produces 50%.
Barry Weinman: 23 October 2019
The life of a wine taster may sound glamorous, tasting dozens of wines each week, trying to find high quality and good value wines that we are happy to recommend. But the reality is often quite different from the image.
10th July 2019
It is always an interesting exercise when two bottles of the same wine end up in a tasting, or in tastings that are close together, as it is a chance for panel members to measure the consistency of their notes and scores. The closer the scores, the happier the panel. (Read More)
Barry Weinman: 31st June 2019
In the global wine market, Western Australian wines are positively cheap, when quality is factored in. In an effort to lift the profile internationally, a number of producers have released, or are planning to release limited edition Reserve wines at a higher price point.
Barry Weinman: 28th May 2019
There are some varieties that are just that little bit more special to taste than others, and Cabernet Sauvignon, either alone or blended is one of those. Part of the attraction is that Australia (and Western Australia in particular) makes Cabernet-based wines that are the equal of any in the world when assessed for quality as well as value, so the quality of our tastings can be quite high.
Barry Weinman: 15th April 2019
Margaret River has a reputation for producing some of the greatest Cabernets in Australia, if not the world. So it came as no surprise to the panel that the 2016 Cape Mentelle Cabernet is a truly outstanding wine.
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.
Barry Weinman: 27th February 2019
In a line-up of fine wines, three really impressed the panel. Each wine took a different approach in expressing its personality, but in each case, the results were outstanding.
Over time, their personalities will gradually express themselves allowing the patient to determine the final pecking order, but from a value perspective the Leeuwin Estate is the pick.
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.
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.
23rd June 2018
When it comes to selecting a dozen or so of the state’s best Cabernets to put into a tasting like this, we are blessed for choice, with several well-established wineries producing some of the best Cabernet-based wines in Australia (and, perhaps, the world). There is also a new breed of wineries that are producing great wines, making the choice even more difficult.
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.
22nd December 2017
Western Australian Cabernets shone in our latest Cabernet tasting, with Redman providing an excellent alternative from Coonawarra.
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.
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.
12th December 2016
I recently wrote about the current range of Shiraz released by Cherubino and this time it was the Cabernets that shone. These are very fine, elegant wines that will be extremely long lived. I left the bottles on my tasting bench and they continued to improve for 4-5 days, and were still in excellent condition after a week!
18th September 2015
Jeff Burch, proprietor of Burch Family Wines (Howard Park, Madfish etc), recently hosted a tasting of a cross-section of 2005 Red Bordeaux, in conjunction with Sommeliers Australia. The nine wines came from a number of the major communes, in an effort to demonstrate the stylistic differences that can be expressed across the region.
Barry Weinman: 21st July 2016
A decade ago, the wines from Woodside Valley Estate started to make a real impact. I reviewed the 2004 Baudin (Cabernet Sauvignon) very well and have several bottles in my cellar. They also supplied fruit to other wineries in the region.
Barry Weinman: 20 July 2016
Wynns Black Label Cabernet is one of the most important wines in Australia’s wine history. A wine that has formed the backbone of many Australian cellars for over 50 years. According to James Halliday, the first Wynns Cabernet was released in 1954!
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.
Part One: Cabernet
18th May 2016
Houghton must surely be the most important winery in the history of Western Australia. Established in 1836, Houghton set the standard for Western Australian wines. Much of Houghton’s reputation can be credited to the skill and passion of Jack Mann, a brilliant winemaker who has made numerous remarkable wines over a number of decades.
Part Two – Cabernet Sauvignon
Barry Weinman: 7th May 2016
It is the Cabernets of Xanadu that have really made people pay attention, winning multiple trophies at capital city and national wine shows. The 2013 Xanadu Cabernet, for example, was awarded the best Cabernet Sauvignon trophy at the 2015 National Wine Show in Canberra.
3nd April 2016
Margaret River is synonymous with high quality Cabernet based wines, so it should come as no surprise that several of the wines reviewed for this tasting scored very well. What did surprise though, was just how good the two wines from Vasse Felix were.
18th March 2015
The wines under the Streicker/Clairault labels continue to impress. In this tasting it was the entry level Cabernet from Clairault that made the biggest impact. Whilst the Estate and Cellar-Release are both impressive, it was the value of the Margaret River Cabernet that made me pay attention.
I have noticed an interesting trend developing in my cellar of late. I love to buy Shiraz, but I tend to open Cabernet to drink.
10th September 2015
Western Australia and Margaret River in particular, has had a string of excellent vintages stretching back to 2007. Whilst there have been some year-to-year variations, the consistency has been remarkable. The question is whether there is one year in particular that is even better than the others?
The Three Musketeers: 5 September 2015
Lindeman’s has a proud history of producing some of the best Cabernet based wines in the country from the famous Coonawarra region of South Australia. In the 1980s and 1990s, no cellar would be complete without a cross-section of these wines (and the wines from Wynns).
5th July 2015
The life of a wine writer is not as glamorous as you might imagine. Tasting through 20 Sauvignon Blancs for example, is difficult due to the high acidity. Many of the panel tastings that I hold have numerous commercially sound, but unexciting wines, with just a few interesting/high-quality wines interspersed to justify the time taken to try them. Then there is the spit buckets…
Vintage in Focus by Barry Weinman
27th June 2015
I am in the fortunate position to be able to drink old wines regularly. Often, this is in the setting of dinner with friends, or a themed tasting. It is a rare treat however, to be able to drink a number of aged wines from the same vintage.
Reviewed: 22th February 2015
There were a number of highlights with this tasting.
The Cape Mentelle Cabernet is nothing short of spectacular, but it comes with a caveat. This is not a wine for the average drinker. It is very shy and tight, requiring coaxing to see its potential. For the patient few, with appropriate cellars, this wine will be spectacular in two decades’ time.
Reviewed: 26th January 2014
The big surprise here was from Grace Farm. This is not a winery that I am familiar with, but the wine is excellent. The vineyards are situated in Wilyabrub, and the vines planted in 2006.
Reviewed: 1st January 2015
I must admit to getting a little confused by the wines released by Larry Cherubino. There is no question about quality; it is the vast array of wines that he produces that is hard to keep up with.
Reviewed: 1st December 2014
The Redman family are pioneers of the Coonawarra region, having been involved in growing grapes and making wine for almost a century.
15th September 2014
While Western Australian Cabernets made up the bulk of the wines in this tasting, Coonawarra was not to be outdone, with the Wynns Alex 88 making a real statement.
This is the first single vineyard Wynns that I can remember, and it certainly made me sit up and pay attention.
Reviewed 6th June 2014
Houghton’s place in the history of viticulture in Western Australia is unique. Soon to celebrate their 180th anniversary, Houghton dates back to the very early days of settlement in the state.
Reviewed: 20 April 2014
This tasting offered up an interesting cross-section of cabernets from around the globe. I was pleased to see that the styles of the wines reviewed accurately reflected the region in which they were produced. This really added interest to the tasting, as the wines reflected the terrior in which the grapes were grown.
Reviewed: 27th March 2014
The dream run of vintages continues in the south west of Western Australia and the wines reviewed below deliver on the potential.
Reviewed: 23rd November 2013
Reviewed: 16th August 2013
Reviewed: 20th July 2012
Everyone knows that Margaret River makes Western Australia’s (and possibly Australia’s) best cabernet based wines. Right? They certainly make the most high quality cabernets of any region in Australia. The region also produces the highest number of quality wines as a percentage of the total volume produced.
Reviewed: 4th June 2013
One of the local wine groups recently hosted a tasting of many of the best 2010 cabernets from Margaret River. This presented a wonderful opportunity to look through a very strong line up.
Margaret River has been blessed with many good or great vintages starting in 2007 and continuing to 2013. 2010 is considered by many to be one of the best!
Reviewed: 18th May 2013
Margaret River or Coonawarra? I often ask myself that question when I am purchasing or opening cabernet based wines. Ten years ago, I would also have included Bordeaux in the equation, but the tremendous prices being charged for decent Claret makes Bordeaux an unrealistic option for me.
Reviewed: 6 January 2013
Cabernet based wines must surely be the King of wines. Powerful, structured and majestic, their ability to age is second to none when it comes to red wine. This power was certainly on display during this tasting, though the expression varied. In some, the power was overt, while in others, there was latent power wrapped up in a cocoon of silky fruit.
Reviewed: 12 December 2012
A large bracket of cabernet based wines makes for a tiring tasting. The firm tannins and relatively reserved fruit present a challenge. This was typified by the wines from Moss Wood and Cape Mentelle. Both are obviously high quality, though they really need several (many) years in the cellar to show their best.
Reviewed: 18 September 2012
A strong line up of wines, though there was some diversity to the styles, reflecting the different locations in which the grapes were grown.