June 2006, and the theme is a mirror image of the April dinner except we’ve exchanged Shiraz for Cabernet: Options night on 2000,2001,2002. In this wide brown land, there’d have to be some region that did well in those years, surely? Well, yes, as it turns out… Tasted blind, obviously, except for the first & last wines. Everything sealed under cork tonight, and no casualties this time.
nv Billecart-Salmon Reserve Brut (Champagne)
Lots of fine bubbles in the glass here. Strawberry/pinot notes are apparent on the nose. Dry palate, with fine delicate yet persistent bubbles, light clean body, medium acidity, good length finish on this aperitif-style wine. Lovely.
On to the blind wines…
Mint, spearmint and eucalyptus mark this as an Australian wine above all else! Despite these green-tinged aromas, still quite primary in their fruitiness, I wouldn’t call this unripe at all. The palate adds a touch of understated oak to the low acid, medium-weighted feel. Tannins are soft and integrated, weight of wine is front-mid palate, alcohol seems balanced enough. Cool-climate characters were quite the pointer, in the end, when the wine turns out to be
2001 Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon (Coonawarra, 14%)
Surprised to see the alcohol so high; whatever the labels says it doesn’t seem to cause a problem on the palate.
Asparagus fruit drink anyone? Yet none of the options are for Tasmania…! There’s also some oakiness discernable under all the olive and green. Not especially intense on the palate, the tannins are soft, acidity is low, oddly enough – you’d expected your tongue to be burnt right out of your head after the bouquet. The finish is short – no surprise there.
2000 Leconfield Cabernet Sauvignon (Coonawarra, 13%)
In retrospect all the clues were present – clearly these guys don’t prune at all! I gather the style’s changed significantly since the arrival of ex-Rouge Homme winemaker Paul Gordon from the 02 vintage…
Chocolate, vanilla and blackberries. Very popular with the crowd. Ripe, warm climate wine. Clunky acidity, moderately tannin, something of a mid-palate hole emphasized by a decent back-palate. Still very primary in character. Medium length finish.
2002 Saltram Mamre Brook Cabernet Sauvignon (Barossa, 14.5%)
Not a bad showing really. I think the acidity’s a bit soft for it to be a long ager, but it’s very pleasant now.
Warm climate blackcurrant fruit, minimal acid, soft tannins, mostly furry mouthfeel. Medium-bodied, just a bit anonymous.
2000 Coriole Mary Kathleen Cabernet-Merlot (McLaren Vale, 14%)
Perhaps a reflection of the vintage? Should have had a bit more character.
Blackcurrant and vanilla nose, clean, medium intensity. Oak gradually emerges. Medium-high tannins on palate, understated acid, medium/full body, quite polished, still plenty of ripe primary cabernet fruit. Back palate is a little soft perhaps? Young, will develop. Pretty good stuff.
2002 Giaconda Cabernet Sauvignon (Beechworth)
Very generous, especially since it was purchased from the restaurant list. My first taste of this label. Classy wine.
2001 Majella Cabernet Sauvignon (Coonawarra, 14%)
My wine, so name comes first. The nose is ripe, but oaky. Palate has good black fruits, mid-weight tannins, some sophistication, and almost-good balance, but overall I find it just too woody, notwithstanding that its good quality wood. Less is more, please.
Intense blue/black fruits, not especially sweet. The palate is primary, very fruity, yet with a dry and dusty sheen to it. Well balanced, components all fit together, fruit does emerge but doesn’t show off, respectable length finish – good wine.
2001 Plantagenet Cabernet Sauvignon (Mt Barker, 14.5%)
Bit of a sleeper, this. A good vintage for the region shows it off better than the challenged SA wines of the same years, perhaps?
Lots of vanilla – US oak – on the high-intensity nose here. Dark black fruits struggles to emerge from a tannic astringent palate. Good palate balance, rich mouthfeel, warm texture. Clean and young. My, those tannins do grip.
2002 Brown Brothers Patricia Cabernet Sauvignon (King Valley, 14%)
Might age really well if the tannins soften out gracefully.
A faintly volatile (or is that a reflection of the late hour…?) ripe cabernet nose, very lifted fruit. Ripe palate in the typical Oz mold, Quite tannic, acid fits in too, palate is rich and weights on both front and back, and yet… Quite warm, and it’s almost as though the alcohol accentuates is slight mid-palate hole. Young, but I’d don’t known about improvement here.
2000 Bowen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Coonawarra, 14.5%)
Hmmm. A winery who, although not exactly an underachiever, fail to impress as much as I expect.
2001 Konrad & Co ‘Sigrun’ Noble Riesling (Marlborough) (375ml, 10.5%)
A super copper & brass nose. The palate frames the lovely rotten marmalade fruits in a scaffold of lively acidity. Rich but fresh at the same time. Not a massively-bodied wine, but persistent on the palate. Wonderful stuff.
Overall a reasonable showing from some tricky vintages.