On the weekend, I organised a tasting to identify Australia’s finest Cabernet. This is, of course, a pretty impossible task. So I decided to pick producers who could be winners and select wines from different vintages, ranging from 2000 to 2014. Each participant had to rank the wines from 1to 9. The one with the lowest overall score would be the winner.
A number of things emerged:
1) The quality of the wines was exceptionally high. As one participant mentioned: There was one clear favorite, every other wine was number two.
2) Five wines were screwcapped, four wines were under cork. The wines under cork did very well, but there was no systematic difference in the ripening profile between the closures.
3) The top 4 wines came from very different geographical regions,the Barossa Valley, Margaret River, the Yarra Valley and the Hunter.
4) The top wine, by quite a margin, was the 2004 Penfolds Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine comes from the oldest known Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in the world, part of Barossa’s Kalimna vineyard, planted around 1880. It is only made once a decade or so. The flavours are incredibly intense and go on and on, very similar to a great Grange, in fact (99 points).
5) Wines 2 to 4 were very close, with 2007 Cullen Diana Madeline at number two, followed by 2000 Mount Mary Quintet and 2014 Lake’s Folly Cabernet (96-97 points). The young upstart, 2011 Cloudburst Cabernet Sauvignon, was fifth.
I would drink any of these wines happily any time a Cabernet is suitable.