Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Four Excellent, But Very Different Reds From Margaret River

2007 was hailed as an outstanding vintage in Margaret River. The vintage was hot, the fruit riped beautifully, and the harvest was early.As it turned out, it was the first of an unprecedented run of great vintages there. I decided to buy Cabernets from four leading producers at the time and wait. Over the last three days, I tried them for the first time.

On the first night, it was the 2007 Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2007 Voyager Cabernet Merlot. Same vintage, but totally different wines.

When I opened the Howard Park, I was slightly worried. The colour was quite a developed garnet. The nose was beautiful, though: a fragrant bouquet with smells of soft berries. This continued on the palate. Soft forest berry fruit and hints of chocolate were well integrated with smooth tannins. This was a very feminine wine, near its peak.

Score: 95/+++

The Voyager was totally different. The colour was still dark purple. The nose was not as lifted, and on the palate, it was all about blackcurrant and cassis. The fruit of this full-bodied wine is concentrated, and the mouthfeel stays the same until firm tannins take over on the finish. The French would call this a masculine wine. It has depth, just a shame it is not as elegant as the roses in front of the winery. I have seen quite a few vintages of this wine, and this one certainly bears the typical character of Voyager Cabernet Merlot.

Score: 94/++

One of the unusual aspects of this comparison was that the bigger wine was the Merlot blend, and the more elegant the Cabernet Sauvignon only version.

The following night I drank the 2007 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon. This took it up one more step in size: the biggest Moss Wood I have ever tried. The blackcurrant and mulberry flavours are intense, as are the mocca notes. This is a dense and ripe wine, yet more elegant than the Voyager. However, the strong tannins stand aside of the fruit. This wine has not fully come together yet. I have to say, it is too early to drink. Many would say, if it is not right now, it will never be. I am not so sure. The 2001 is drinking beautifully since a couple of years, and this wine is bigger and under screw cap. It is not perfect now, but I would give it the benefit of the doubt.

Score: 94/++

And finally yesterday, I tried the 2007 Cullen Diana Madeline. Again, the colour is deep purple, and the style of this wine is quite different from the way this brand has developed over the years. Vanya Cullen has made the wine more delicate over time and lower in alcohol. This one has 14%. The intense blackcurrant fruit is pure and elegant, and the wine sails down the palate like a super-maxi at 15 knots (sorry about this). There are no holes, and the finish is long and intense, supported by an exquisite tannin structure, which also speaks to excellent oak treatment. I can understand why Vanya Cullen has gone the way she has to increase the vitality of the wine, but this is a beautiful example of a full-bodied Cabernet-Merlot from Margaret River.

Score: 96/+++

I have no regrets about buying these wines from the 2007 vintage. What an excellent group of Margaret River Cabernets.



kr1 said...

Excellent writeup Thomas! Many thanks for doing a great comparison of these wines.
Another wine you may want to track down is the Blue Poles Allouran. This wine punches well above it's weight and the 2007 was a brilliant wine.
Your comments about the Moss Wood are spot on. I am finding that 15-18 years seems to be the perfect aging window for these.. We recently drank the 97 and 99 and both showed excellent harmony of flavours, structure and mouthfeel.
I must hunt down more of the Cullen, in the past it has disappointed (perhaps because these were drunk too early)

Alontin said...

Thank you, kr1, and also for your suggestion. I am not familiar with the Blue Poles Allouran, but will seek it out.