Cape Mentelle Cabernet 2001 (review)

89 points

Margaret River, Western Australia. 15%

Personally a much awaited release from a top producer in a great vintage for WA.

Dark, shiney, though surprisingly dropping a fine crust (suggesting a degree of added acidity).

Super thick opulent aromas of warm fruit and plenty of rich new oak. Oak dominates the nose.

This is a heroic opulent cabernet, good but not fine, with lashing of new French oak. Hefty alcohol and weighty fruit – thankfully no overt minty eucalypt characters that affect so many Australian cabernets. It isn’t overty sweet either, and not jammy in spite of its weight, but is far from being bordeaux like savoury. A masculine Australian cabernet, but obviously, too obviously, from a hot vineyard with extractive winemaking.

Terroir-wise this is more like a (quality) Barossa, Napa or Cape cabernet than Margaret River. It has fabulous concentration, but even at this young age lacks freshness, also lacks elegance (which it will never gain), it also lacks sufficient complexity for a wine of this price and heritage – though it should gain something with age. With food it palls.

Interesting. But underwhelming (which seems odd to say about such a huge wine). At $50 there are many ripe concentrated yet elegant alternatives. Tasted alongside Leeuwin Estate Prelude 2001 (half the price and previously reviewed as good, but not up the usual standard) it was obviously more intense, built to age much longer, and also hotter – and less food friendly.

Impressive wine, but not one I recommend (unless you really like this sort of thing); and I can’t give it more than 89 points though no doubt there are plenty of critics (Parker included) who will go higher. Indeed here is some of the flowery criticism that a web search turned up (yes they are all Australian – as if it isn’t obvious):

This is a real cabernet. It’s not opulent, it’s not over-ripe, it’s not shiraz, and nor was it meant to be. It’s fine and gravelly and strong in its aroma, there is nothing fragile here, and then the palate impales the initial impression and does not let it go anywhere: currants, yes, but moreso ash and cedar and gravel and bitterness, with dry dark chocolate appearing but only as stumps to the house of its stylish, long flavoured, anti-sweet, rakingly tannic body. Drink: 2015-2025. 96 points. Campbell Mattinson, Winefront Monthly

Cape Mentelle’s return to prominence with cabernet sauvignon continues with this alluringly complex and tightly crafted long-term wine. Its dusty, cigarboxy bouquet of cassis and dark plums, dark olives and cedar/vanilla oak reveals meaty undertones and aromatic floral qualities. Smooth and silky, it’s firm and fine-grained; a structured wine whose slightly closed and brooding core of blackberries, cassis and plums is tightly interwoven with tannin and oak. (Margaret River, $75 retail, approx., 18.8/95, drink 2013-2021+ Jeremy Oliver, OnWine

The finest Mentelle cabernet sauvignon since the great ’95. Herbal blonde tobacco smells on the nose, with deep, deep cassis building in the glass. Even more exciting in the mouth; slippery, tongue-coating loganberry and other forest berry fruits, plus piercing juicy cassis. The tannin and oak is in complete harmony with everything else. – Tim White, Australian Financial Review

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