Slightly lush but complex with a gorgeous seam of acid. I wish I’d bought more, it’s all gone now.
Three bordeaux blends of similar age from different countries – and 3 of the best cabernet regions in the world. The short summary is that these wines are peers, they were different but worthy competitors.
Chateau Smith Haut Lafite 2004 was the more enjoyed wine (by the small group of (blind) tasters), though the margin wasn’t huge. Less forceful and more complex, showing a little more development (the only bottle with cork not screwcap), with a noticeable, in this company, herbaceous tinge.
John Forest Collection Cabernet, from Gimblett Gravels in Hawkes Bay in New Zealand was firm, dense, some noticeable tannin and smokey charred oak aromas. A tad hard, but nicely savoury.
Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot is distinctly sweeter. Ruby red fruits, pastille type flavours, a tad simple. Good, but perhaps the most different and a little out-classed. Surprising given the wide acclaim accorded this wine this year by Australian wine writers.
It as also interesting that the wines were preferred in reverse order to their alcohol levels (Voyager having the highest at 14.2%).
PS Our NZ guests, not really red wine drinkers were a bit embarassed that they ranked the Voyager ahead of the Kiwi cabernet, but they were content that it performed well in this classy line-up.
Nov 2009 Update – The John Forest Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 has softened considerably. It’s nice wine with a smokey oak finish (reminds me of some South African syrah) but with only moderate concentration. Drink now.
Macedon Ranges, Victoria, Australia. 13.5%
Nice fullish red colour, varietal deep aroma slightly spirity. Rich very concentrated, creamy soft palate with touch of herbs and alcohol on the finish. A tiny bit souped up. Much is made of winemaker Michael Dhillon’s burgundy connections and knowledge but this is more like the best of Californian Pinot. A surprise then, but certainly enjoyable. Drink now.
Coonawarra, South Australia. 14%
Andrew Caillard ( in Gourmet Wine Traveller Dec 08) described this as “brilliantly focused Paulliac look-alike”. Which grabbed my interest and deep suspicion. But it is almost free of minty eucalypt aromas and flavours. Quite noticeable tannins, though more approachable than I’d expect a 2006 Bordeaux to be. Does this mark a new style for Coonswarra? Good value. I plan to buy a case.
UPDATE May 2012 – on a positive note this wine is more savoury than many of the better Australian cabernets, however it is still a tad alcoholic with too much (added) acid giving a tamarillo juice quality – thankfully this tones down a good deal with breathing (so decant for 20 mins before serving).
Dec 2012 – Opened last bottle because Dan Murphy are offering this as a “cellar release”. It’s not an old mature wine by a long way. It is Bordeaux like, savoury – whereas Margaret River wines are Bordeaux like in flavour profile. So while this is food friendly it doesn’t really capture the best characteristics of claret. Good solid claret, workman like.
Tumbarumba, NSW, Australia. 13.5%
This is rather good, and shows just how good Australia chardonnay has become. The 2nd commercial vintage from an alpine area in New South Wales I think. Nicely restrained alcohol, oak, fruit. The right balance between richness and austerity. Drink now to 2011.