Sirromet owner Terry Morris laid down the challenge to his chief winemaker Adam Chapman last year.

That was to make the best cabernet based blend possible, or as the US makers would have it “make a meritage”.

So yesterday the project became communal when Terry Morris asked a handful of scribes and company executives to get their tongues wet tasting off the components for Cabernet Blend X.

 I was not surprised when the invitation said the process would take ninety minutes.

Laid out were 23 barriques of dry red representing cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot, and later revealed some cabernet shiraz, all from the 2009 vintage from Sirromet’s three Granite Belt vineyards-Seven Scenes, St Judes and Night Sky.

After having been given a clipboard I worked my way through the barrels, scoring each wine, and rating them as likely or unlikely partners in my “wine blend in the sky” the working name I have dubbed this process for future reporting when the wine is blended, bottled and released.

And how did they taste? As encountered in a scrambled lineup was a very soft petit verdot, lots of barrels of mint/leafy and chocolate mocha cabernet with varying degrees of ripe tannins, generally on the mild side, some great plump and ripe merlot, and finally some cabernet shiraz which was chunky, quite plummy and obviously important in the final blend.

I learnt afterwards that every taster’s scores will be anonymously compiled and used as the consumer anchor for the final blend made sometime soon by Adam Chapman and his assistant German-trained Velten Tiemann.

After this small tasting effort there were four unmarked carafes containing cabernet blends for a relaxed taste.

These turned out to be Primo Estate Moda Cabernet Merlot 2005 (88), plum and spice, had a very chunky square palate, very big wine, finishing very chewy and spoilt by brett; Chateau Gazin Pomerol 1997 (merlot 85), too leafy and too green to enjoy, palate being astringent, unyielding to bitterness of tobacco, the Sirromet merlot components being far better than this over-rated wine.

The next Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1997 (cabernet, merlot, franc, verdot 93) was the best of the four wines, sweet berry nose, cedary oak, very sweet fruit on the palate, and a very, very soft, non-Bordeaux finish while the last wine was simply tired, an Achile-Fould negociant bottling of Chateau Beycheville 1961 (80), bretty nose, reduced, old damp boots style, dried out and very astringent, probably a great wine once.

The two 1997 Bordeaux are rated 84-87 as vintage years by Paker’s chart with the Mouton drinking beautifully now.

The tasting finished with a great lunch personally served by head chef Andrew Mirosch, choking us with wonderful tastes of chilli prawn, tempura bug, rabbit backstraps in lentils and tempting tri-flavour wontons of bug, yabby and prawn.

 Served were Sirromet Seven Scenes TM Viognier 2006 USD 88 (92), irridescent green and gorgeous with its juicy palate of ginger and melon, then Seven Scenes Chardonnay 2009 USD 24 (91), taut, honied and restrained now, and a keeper for 3-5 years.

Further information: 41/2 star winery James Halliday Australian Wine Companion 2011 Edition

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