Cab-sav, merlot, franc, shiraz, petit verdot

Cabernet blends

lady-912374_960_720Domaine A ‘Petit a’ 2010: Cabernet sauvignon is the leading grape, at 60 per cent. The remainder is merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot. This is marketed as the second wine of Domaine A, hence ‘Petit a’. It’s a serious wine, made and blended with great skill. It’s gentle on the top level but has an underlying strength: the iron fist in the velvet glove syndrome. 94 points and a reasonable price at $45.

Domaine A Tasmania Cabernet Sauvignon 2008: This is 90 per cent cabernet with the remainder being merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot. It’s a classic Bordeaux blend and could be a Bordeaux on the nose. There is an intensity to the wine as it travels across the palate, with the flavours at first penetrating then softening as they drift away, leaving a fine, memorable impression. It still has time to go but even now is a 94-point wine, with I think another two points to come. The price is $120 a bottle, in a global context it’s not over priced for the quality

Paulett Polish Hill River Cabernet Merlot 2012: A 70-30 blend, the sharper cabernet edge is dulled too much with the richer merlot for my taste, but that is a very minor gripe. Overall, it’s a damn fine wine. 93 points and value at $25.

St Hugo Coonawarra Barossa Cabernet-Shiraz 2013: Gorgeous, sensual nose that is all black slinky dress over fully toned body. In the mouth it sits tense at the beginning before unfurling itself in a lazy stretch across the palate. In short, it’s one hell of a wine. 96 points and in global terms $55 is a bargain. What wasn’t sure of was its ageing potential, as it’s drinking so well now. According to the winemaker Dan Swincer: “With careful cellaring, say 10 to 20 years will see further development of the fruit and tannins.”

Lehmann Hesketh ‘Mk.01’ Cabernet Shiraz 2013: Is this the birth of a great brand? I think it may be. Not just a brand, but the first of a wine that should in time find a place on the Langton’s list. It should also find a place in global recognition as one of the great Australian wines.

Everything about this wine is pedigree. The names behind it are legendary in the Australian wine industry. Phil Lehmann is the son of Peter, and Jonathon Hesketh is the son of Robert. The two fathers were involved with Masterson Wines back in 1977, when Peter, who was winemaker at Saltram, was instructed to cut down on grape purchases from Barossa growers. The story is that Peter had given growers his word to buy the grapes, so he refused to do so. Eventually this led to the setup of Masterson, which bought the grapes that Saltram wouldn’t. Masterson morphed into Peter Lehmann Wines.

Moving on a generation, Phil is rapidly becoming one of Australia’s greatest winemakers. The range and styles for which he is responsible is huge, and one day I must write about both in detail.

Meanwhile, this wine is 60 per cent Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon from the Hesketh-owned Parker Estate 95 block, and 40 per cent shiraz from Lehmann’s House Block in the Eden Valley. Each step of the winemaking process, from vineyard to oak, is first class. Add Lehmann’s talent and the result has to be fantastic. Fantastic it is, even at this youthful age. It’s drinking well now and rates an easy 95, but I think a couple more points will come as it ages. For those who have it, $50 is a good price, and in global terms cheap.

Sandalford Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2014: Easy drinking but far from bland, this has the qualities we have come to respect from Margaret River. Sound wine and worth $20. 92 points.

Thorne-Clarke ‘Shotfire’ Barossa Quartage 2014: A classic Bordeaux mix led by cabernet sauvignon followed by varying amounts of cabernet franc, petit verdot and merlot. It instantly fills the mouth with big flavour. Fortunately it settles down to travel at a sedate pace with the flavours revealing themselves, still rich but within bounds. 93 points and well worth the $25 asked.

Mount Avoca ‘Back Block’ Pyrenees Cabernet Merlot 2014: A truly delightful wine. It’s soft in style and if not concentrating one could swig it down and let the talk of the table dominate. However, it is worth taking a moment to taste all the subtle points that are within this wine. One will enjoy the way it weaves across the palate, with lots of interesting flavours released as it travels. 94 points and worth the cellar door price of $35.

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