Had the opportunity to train an eager palate this week, so the lineup was a batch of six Aussie cabernets.
The wines were masked so the taster was forced to go back to basics and use the principles of taste assessment-forget the guessing part.
And the tasting sequence was 2010 vintage (warm climate-McLaren Vale) followed by five cool region grown wines from the 2009 and 2008 years.
The McLaren Vale boomer was a richly-textured Kangarilla Road 2010 ***; 14%, AUD 20, probably as many wines of this region do, tasting a little like full flavoured shiraz with just a bit more dryness.
Cooler climate cabernets show more of the grippy tannin that cabernets must have and these five were really good drinks.
First was Leconfield Coonawarra 2009 ****1/2, 14%, AUD 29, colour a little aged, great florals and blackcurrant juiciness, drying, elegant, lots of flavour backbone and just drinkable powdery tannins.
The next Coonawarra was Koonara Ambriel’s Gift 2008 ****1/2, 13.5%, AUD 30, a knockout nose of great ripe bits-licorice, jam, oak sweet nuance, then a sweet mint, spicy and big-flavoured memory.
Coonawarra number three was Di Giorgio Family 2008 ***1/2, 14%, AUD 26, a wine smelling of black fruits, chunky, angular, lots of grunt but not the elegance of wines prior.
The last was Zema Estate Cluny, Cabernet Merlot 2008 ***1/2, 14%, AUD 26, a tad expensive, a spicy style, easy, lots of aroma and equally soft and supple in the mouth.
To complete the cabernet expose, an outstanding Margaret River cabernet sauvignon was exposed-Cape Mentelle 2009 *****, 13.5%, AUD 89, was just heavenly.
The beguiling features of this wine-spice and cedar oak, a very sexy smell, including the telltale bayleaf nuance,long and lush tannins, powderyness, and juiciness despite the fair barrage of tannin that cabernet gives.
Just a total wine.
And what is the take home story?
1. Warm climate cabernet is fuller bodied that cool climate cabernet, the former may not even show much “cabernet” character!
2. cool climate wines are medium bodied with an associated whack of natural tannin which is drying yet a major part of the character of the wine.
Two renowned Australian areas where it grows well are Coonawarra (South Australia) and Margaret River (Western Australia). Never ignore these two regions when looking to appreciate cabernet sauvignon.