Today is Cabernet Day, which, like all the other days, no one cares about bar a handful of marketers.
But you know that already. Rather than stew on why we need ‘days’ in the first place, I’m instead going to talk about four Cabernet-based flagship reds that all shoot for the stars (with various success)…
Levantine Hill Samantha’s Paddock Melange Traditional 2016
Huge bottle, huge prices, huge ambition. I find these Levantine Hill wines to be fascinating and indulgent wines no matter what the sticker price, with a detail that is a step above so many peers. This is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec, built in a mode that is very much Yarra claret. Or at least the 2015 was, with this vintage more Australian, or even more mod Bordeaux rather than luncheon claret. Rather ripe given the modest alcohol, this carries a classic tobacco leaf/bay leaf/blackberry fragrance but with an extra layer of concentrated fruit this year. Concentrated, that’s the best word for this. A grandiose take on Yarra Bordeaux blends with dark berry fruit and a real deepness and compact palate. Bitter, dark fruited, unready, powerful. Quite secondary too. But perhaps not a seductive wine. More commanding than anything else. Ultimately high high quality but not there yet. Too bold, even, for drinking now. Best drinking: later. I’d wait five years and drink over twenty. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13%, $200. Levantine Hill website. Would I buy it? No. Well, I’ll drink yours and happily have some in my cellar. But I wouldn’t buy it myself at this price.
Maverick Ahrens’ Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
The less excessive Barossa Cabernet from Maverick but aims very high. It’s actually a quite satisfying wine in that Barossa Cabernet drinking mode. Bold red and black fruit with a wonderfully plush and quite vibrant (given the ripeness) palate. It’s full bodied, yet quite gentle and berried woth that mid palate roundness upping the appeal. I can’t see the X factor here given the pricetag to drive the score higher, but it’s quite well balanced modern Barossan red. Best drinking: over the next fifteen years. 18/20, 93/100. 14%, $180. Maverick website. Would I buy it? I’d drink it, but too rich for me.
Blue Pyrenees Richardson Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
The most characterful parcel of wine selected by the Blue Pyrenees winemakers is the tag line. It’s such an old school wine too. Deep. Minty. Firm. Ultra Pyreneesian. Tannins are raw and so is the acidity. No doubting the impact though. Long, choc minty and structured ripe Cab style. Not easy drinking, but built to last. Not my bag, in the slightest, but I can appreciate the breadth and the finish (hence the good score). I just couldn’t drink more than a glass. Best drinking: Give it ten years and may well satisfy. 17.7/20, 92/100+. 14.5%, $72. Blue Pyrenees website. Would I buy it? No.
Terre à Terre Crayeres Vineyard Reserve 2016
The big dog flagship to the ‘red‘, and a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (68%), Shiraz (16%), Cab Franc (16%) from Wrattonbully. Matured in 84% new oak for 11 months and then 17 months in older oak. 936 six packs produced. I loved the 2018 Cabernet Shiraz and honestly I’d prefer that success story over this wine – it just has more energy and less artifice compared to this red. Cask dominates the nose, palate and finish, the tail spirity and a bit heavy. Ambitious and long but I don’t see the balance to be drinkable anytime soon. It will live forever, however, and it’s and the score is a nod to the future (I was lower at first). But another wine where less would be more. Important plus sign. Best drinking: next decade. Or at least late 2020s onwards and then for as long as the cork holds up. 17.7/20, 92/100+. 14.5%, $90. Terre à Terre website. Would I buy it? Not this decade.
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Impressive to see the restrained 13% alcohol level for the Levantine Hill Samantha’s Paddock Melange, which sounds like a very impressive wine, but $200? I’m with you, happy to share a few glasses, but from somebody else’s bottle. And great to see the spotlight on Cabernet though for me, every day should be a Cabernet day!