Cabernet is probably the least appreciated grape in the Graham household, even though I have a cellar full of Margaret River, Coonawarra & Hawke’s Bay reds.
Cab’s unpopularity is purely a reflection of how many unfun, hard, minty tannic straight Cabs pass through the door every month. It was a similar vibe at the Winewise Championships judging though, with whole classes that felt like I was fighting mint and tannins…
This Longview Macclesfield Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, however, is much more enjoyable.
Under the new relabelled Macclesfield range, this is the most successful Longview Cab in some time. Pencil shavings and bay leaf, the palate refined, taut and prim. It’s a pretty wine. A moderate, mid weight, proper Cabernet, the mode more about fragrance rather than red or black fruit power. There’s a slight mixed ripeness thrust of dried fruit towards the finish but it’s fleeting, and not enough to derail what is a classy red.
Best drinking: now to at least fifteen years. 18/20, 93/100. 14%, $45. Longview website. Would I buy it? Worth a bottle.
Also this month
Brand & Sons Bakers Run Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Another solid Coonawarra red from Sam Brand’s Brand & Sons. Authenticity here in droves too. Mint, cedar, dark berries. Vanilla oak cuts like a swathe through the middle of it, alcohol just a little spirity. This feels correct, and very much how $26 Coonawarra reds should be if a little stewed/minty. Good. Best drinking: Worth 2-3 years and then drink over fifteen years or more. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14%, $26. Would I buy it? A glass.
Brand & Sons Single Barrel Cabernet 2018
This is more the top end of the Brand & Sons scale has has more of everything. Huge numbered bottle, every bit the top end packaging. I was expecting this to be a much thicker oakier wine after the Bakers Run. But it’s mid weight, a little minty, rich through the middle, and drying to finish. There is a eucalpyt streak through the firm tannins, but it’s not disruptive. It’s a long way from ready, but unquestionably classic Coonawarra Cab, even given the raw finish. I don’t love it, but it’s good quality. That mintiness is a bit divisive though. Drink the Bakers Run now, this later. 17.5/20, 91/100+. 14.5%, $95. Would I buy it? No.
Yalumba Sanctum Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Spend less money, get more drinkable wines. Coonawarra shouldn’t be like that! This is thick cut $25 Coonawarra Cabernet driven by an ocean of blackberry fruit, regional mint and gruff tannins. A tad inelegant and warm/drying to finish but gee there is a solid core of dark fruit that drives this. I’d drink more than most in this little lineup. It feels substantial- a correct $25 Cabernet. Good. Best drinking: now to fifteen years. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14%, $28. Would I buy it? Worth a glass or two.
Carillion Block 22 Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Again, I’m not sure of how this fits with the Pepper Tree super premium Wrattonbully reds, but let’s plod on. Wild ferment. 50% new oak. Minty, thickly proportioned, and typically Wrattonbully Cab. The tannins are a bit minty, the acid a bit twangy too. It’s likely going to be quality in time, the oak well folded in, the palate long. But for the next ten years the question will be if the balance comes together. For now, it’s a bit raw and minty. 17/20, 90/100+. 14.2%, $50. Would I buy it?
Geoff Merrill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
A caricature of a wine, but not a bad wineA blend of McLaren Vale & Coonawarra fruit, the wine spends an astonishing 32 months in 85% new French oak. WHY? Bourbon-like oak is the main deal here, highlighting the sweet fruit. It’s a sweet wine of obvious appeal, Cabernet in the background, sweet alcohol to finish. Gee it’s a big alcoholic red, but it works for what its trying to be. Best drinking: now or in many years. It’s almost timeless. 17/20, 90/100. 14.5%, $50. Would I buy it? No.
Tokar Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
Light, elegant Yarra claret style. It’s something of a doughnut wine, with some gentle leafiness to start, a lean middle and then fine tannins to finish. Affable though in its mid weight mode. Time will be very kind too – the sort of thing you pull out in a decade and admire the sleek beauty. A little too light for big points now though. Best drinking: now or in a decade. 17/20, 90/100. 13.5%, $30. Would I buy it? Worth a few glasses.