What a great night and opportunity this was to taste wines from two of the big name Cabernet producers in Margaret River from some generally good to great vintages. These wines were all from the same cellar and only the Mount Langi ring-in was tasted blind.
Lanson Black Label NV
The nose is fresh and lively with aromas of apples and a touch of toast. The palate doesn't have a great deal of depth, but it is very refreshing which is the whole point of this wine. Good value for money in the Champagne stakes.
Cullen "Diane Madeline" Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1999
A deep colour. Some toasty chocolate/mocha oak with dusty and briary/brambly aromas. The palate is fairly generous with good intensity and body. There is a suggestion of oak backing to the palate, but also the depth of fruit to hold it in check. Fine tannins complete the package, but you will need to have patience to let this wine really show what it can do in about 10 years time.
Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
Blood, iodine, blackcurrant and briary aromas. Slightly astringent tannins on the palate with deep, dark fruit loitering in the background. Medium length and without real texture or complexity, but you suspect that this wine will look better in 6-8 years time.
Cullen "Diane Madeline" Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1998
There is a hint of floral, violety youth to the nose that is smothered by a wave of vanilla oak. Again on the palate, oak dominating any character that the wine may have had to offer. Seems to have good length and plenty of firm tannins left. Is it just in a difficult phase of its life? Perhaps it is, I struggle to see that there will be enough fruit left to swallow the oak in the future.
Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
A melange of un-diluted lime cordial (it had a sweet concentrated artificial lime smell), spearmint and weedy aromas. Very astringent, austere palate with no generosity of flavour or depth. The only bottle left unfinished at the end of the evening.
Cullen "Diane Madeline" Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1996
The first bottle shared some common characteristics with well worn sport shoes - somewhat smelly and lacking fruit. Not corked as far as we could tell, just bad.
The second bottle was much better, plenty of blackberry, tobacco and roast beef. Had lots of rich, deep fruit on the still youthful palate. Good balance and length, perhaps lacking in character and complexity at the moment to be considered better than very good, this may come with time.
First bottle: 82/100
- Second Bottle: 92/100
Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 1996
A floral nose with blackberry, cassis and plum. Shines on the palate, with excellent balance, super length and tannin structure. Not really showing any secondary development at all yet, but it has the structure to end up being excellent in 5-10 years time.
Cullen "Diane Madeline" Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1995
Probably the best judged use of oak on the Cullen wines on the night, well integrated and balanced cedar as well as floral scents and loads of sweet fruit - raspberry, cherry and blackcurrant. The palate shows excellent balance and great structure with fine tannins. Some very deep-seated fruit lends a restrained intensity to the palate. Will live and develop positively for a long time.
Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 1995
Was a little bit furry and mousey with some game, bramble and pencil shaving aromas coming in underneath. I thought that the palate was elegant bordering on under-fruited. Not close in quality to a bottle we opened earlier in the year from the same cellar.
Cullen "Diane Madeline" Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1994
A tight nose with some tar, blood, blackcurrant and tomato leaf. The palate is austere and the drying tannins are the prominent character that lead into a rather abrupt finish.
Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 1994
The nose was fairly restrained with some soap, herbs, briary notes and tobacco. The palate has a twinge of astringency, foiling the otherwise excellent line and length. A generous, rich berry flavour to the palate which I think should carry this wine forward for some time yet.
Cullen "Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1991
Ash, tobacco and blackberry on the nose. The palate is elegant and balanced but also a touch dull, lacking any great levels of complexity, intensity or depth. A good wine, drinking well now, but unlikely to get much better with additional age.
Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 1991
I think that the first bottle was mildly corked or at the very least the fruit was stripped from the palate.
The second bottle was somewhat better with a bloody, tary and iodine nose. The shows good depth of fruit considering the age and decent balance, but not a great deal of complexity or interest really.
First Bottle: NR/100
- Second Bottle: 88/100
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 1997
Corked! Equivalent to two bottles being undrinkable. Bloody corks.
Chateau Cantemerle 1983
Roast vegetables, cigar box and well integrated cedary oak. The palate is balanced, savoury and all the components were well integrated. Pulled up a touch short on the finish and just started to slip out of balance after 30 minutes in the glass, but a nice mature wine while it lasted.
Mount Langi Ghiran "Langi" Shiraz 1994
Dried chilli flakes, chalk, nutmeg, blackberry and some trademark pepper that became much more obvious to me once the label was revealed
The palate is spicy and has great balance and length. Shows excellent aged texture and complexity. A super wine that must be close to hitting its peak, but has the structure to live for a long time.