For some time, I wanted to pitch the two leading Margaret River Cabernets against each other. The time was right after socialization became possible again in NSW. The rules were simple; 4 pairs of one Moss Wood vs. one Cullen, going from 2015 to 2007. Some friends had to identify the producer.
Cullen Diana Madeline 2015, 2010, 2009, 2007
The four major overall conclusions were:
1) These two wines have distinctive styles. The Cullen wines were very pure and pretty, red fruits and capsicum were dominant flavours. The Moss Wood wines had firmer tannins and a more robust structure. Black fruits characterized these wines. As a result of these distinctive features, 90% of the voting was correct.
2) Cullen is the feminine wine, Moss Wood the masculine. Interestingly, the older Cullen wines were not that far from Moss Wood, structurally. But then the tannins became quite fine and soft, and the wine more feminine. The Moss Wood profile did not vary much over this time.
3) Moss Wood won the wine of the night convincingly, with the 2007, 2010 and 2008 in the top three spots. All wines showed really well.
4) It was felt the 15 and 14 wines were not ready to drink yet, in particular the Moss Wood, whereas the older wines showed excellent integration. This goes to show that top Margaret River Cabernets should be cellared for 10 years at least. The 07s had many good years in front of them.
In more detail: 2015 Diana Madeline: ruby colour, very pretty and elegant, feminine, red fruit, cassis and dried leaves (95 points)
2014 Moss Wood: more violet colour, bigger, more sumptuous, more acidic, stronger tannins, longer finish, good potential (95 points)
2010 Diana Madeline: colour more purple, a little cloudy, perfumed, elegant, capsicum notes, slight dip on the mid palate, but lovely overall, lacking a bit of bite (95 points)
2010 Moss Wood: glorious nose, very aromatic, blackcurrant, cassis, liquor, concentrated, a little sweetness, but great mouthfeel, complex (98 points)
2009 Diana Madeline: firmer tannins than the previous two Cullens, interesting flavour profile of red berries, pomegranate, and capsicum, stem influence?, good acidity (96 points)
2008 Moss Wood: quite dark, blackcurrant, plum, and bramble, multi-dimensional and complex (96 points)
2007 Diana Madeline: a brighter colour than 2010, red berries and capsicum, more generous in the mouth (95 points)
2007 Moss Wood: a big wine, yet velvety, dark fruit, cedar, mocca, a musky flavour, high tannins, tannins and oak well integrated (97 points)