Key Review of Wine 17 May 2015

Cabernet from river and vale

Margaret River, Coonawarra and the Yarra Valley are considered the leading regions when it comes to cabernet sauvignon. This statement will be disputed by some wineries in other regions but I am speaking in general terms.

Quoting Anthony Rose who is the wine correspondent for The Independent (UK) who wrote on the 2nd of May:

Last month, in a blind tasting of New World alternatives to Bordeaux, I compared the 2011 Alter Ego of Château Palmer to the 2011 Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot. Both still had a good 10 years in them but the Cullen cabernet, with its rich blackcurrant core underpinned by subtle vanilla oak and mulberryish acidity, was already more approachable, and largely preferred.

With wines such as the cedar-scented, herb-infused, cherryish 2009 Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot, with its silky texture, Western Australia has become a stronghold of elegant Bordeaux styles.

The superb Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon is not cheap at £59.75, but its 2013 Amy’s Blend, £14.95, a stylish blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and malbec, is a more affordable chip off the Moss Wood block.”

Below I review seven Margaret River wines (one mixed region). Points-wise they fall between 93 and 95 with several of them having more points to come.

The McLaren Vale is not noted for its cabernet sauvignon but it has my support; I love them. It’s a fuller, often rounder style. Bluntly, it’s more Australian than those of Margaret River, more tooth and claw.

Any comments you may have on the notes, the wines or the regions will be great to hear.

Drink well, be safe,


The River

Evans & Tate ‘Breathing Space’ Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

I found mint on the nose but just a hint, it was soon overtaken with the classic blackcurrant. Great structure and a wine where I am happy to use the hackneyed phrase, “punching above its weight.” 94 points and value at $19.

Howard Park ‘Miamup’ Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

There is plenty of good, even great cabernet to be found all over Australia but MR has that extra edge, cool yet strong, and extremely pleasing from first sip to last. 94 points and well worth $28.

Evans & Tate ‘Redbrook’ Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Very tight at the beginning, it benefits from decanting. It’s OK drinking, but really does require more time, so 93 now but I think another three to come as it ages. For a wine to save, the $45 price tag is not unreasonable.

Howard Park ‘Leston’ Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Closed on first tasting but some air improves the wine immensely. The flavours are intense, deep and long, so I give it 93 but feel it will prove a great wine in the longer term for those putting a case or two away. It’s incredibly good value at $46.

Houghton ‘Jack Mann’ Frankland River Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

This travels slowly across the palate as well as deeply ingraining itself on the consciousness. A wine of great distinction. 95 points now with more to come as the oak integrates and worth the $115 asked.

Ferngrove ‘Majestic’ Frankland River Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Very fresh, even cool on the nose, like standing on a moor and getting faint hints of heather, cool in the mouth as well with a tart edge of mulberry. Still on the young side but I’m not convinced it will grow a great deal. It worked better at the table than it did in the tasting. 93 points and depending how it develops will prove if $32 is worth it.

Howard Park ‘Abercrombie’ Mount Barker & Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Not light on the nose but I found it hard to define, black fruits on entry with oak and acid all in check. Although flavours are abundant they are tight and in control, sitting pert at the moment ready to unfurl and when they do a very beautiful wine will emerge. Drinking very well at the moment and an easy 94 but with three perhaps even four more as it ages. Do not wince at the price of $113, it’s worth it for those who have that sort of money to spend on wine.

The Vale

Chapel Hill ‘The Parsons Nose’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Quick question, “Tony, recommend a good bottle of red?” Quick answer, “A bottle of McLaren Vale red around $15.” Too easy, not enough detail? Maybe but in my experience I’m rarely disappointed in McVale red wine around this price point. This is no exception it has depth, length and character, great stuff. 92 points.

Shingleback ‘Red Knot’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

The track record for this wine over many years is magnificent, so good is this wine that I often buy it if requiring a few bottles for a gathering. 94 points and a bargain at $15 or less. only to be found at Dan Murphy’s and BWS stores.

Oliver’s Taranga ‘Vine Dried’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Oh, so deep and dark, mystery and things that live deep within the forest. It is different and I admit it’s to my taste, perhaps not others. 94 and, to me, worth the $35 asked.

Richard Hamilton ‘Hut Block’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Rich nose of mixed red/black soft fruits, sweet to start with savoury taking over as it travels across the palate, good weight and balance resulting in a smooth journey with a long lingering finish. 94 points and value at $20.

Ballast Stone ‘Monster Pitch’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

It is a very sound glass of wine that doesn’t raise the drinker to heights but doesn’t dump on them either. 92 points and a fair price at $17.

d’Arenberg ‘The Coppermine Road’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

True it’s pricey at $65 and perhaps should be closer to $50 but if buying wine in that price bracket it’s not an issue. That aside, it’s damn fine wine, richer than many cabernet based wines but also very complex. 96 points.

d’Arenberg ‘The Coppermine Road’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

There is still plenty of the 2010 around but as this issue of the Key Review of Wine was to go out the 2011 arrived, so I thought it interesting to include it. Dark fruits on the nose, not as deep as the 2010 but still very good and will live for many a year yet. 94 points but I think more to come as it ages.

The next KRoW will be on one McLaren Vale winery Fox Creek and its range of red wines.

The following KRoW will be devoted to wines on sale at Aldi.

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