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.