Wickman tasting of icon Aussie Cabernets

Mark Wickman of Wickman Wine Auctions invited me to a really nice tasting with some of his other clients – nice people.

The tasting was partly to check the condition of these wines which have gone to Singapore and back – they were in pristine condition, obviously they have been kept under good cool cellar conditions.

Here are the wines that were tasted in order:

Mount Mary Quintet 2003 – 13% – Yarra Valley – 88 points

A charming, soft savoury food oriented wine. European herbaceousness. I came back to it at the end of the tasting and wasn’t quite so impressed (I can understand Parker complaining that this is a poor imitation of Bordeaux and that Australia should focus more on what it does best) but it is a good wine, just not really worthy of the fame and price.

Cullen Diana Magdelaine Cabernet Merlot 2004 – Margaret River – screwcap – 14% – 91++ points

Superb cab merlot fruit, lots of high quality oak, tannin, strong concentration. In spite of its youth and intensity it’s a pretty delicious wine. My only gripe with these top WA cabernets, Cullen in particular, is that they always seem so youthful, I’ve seen them soften and integrate a bit with age but not develop complex secondary characteristics of age. Perhaps they just age very slowly. That said they have delicious flavour from early on. Classy wine.

Moss Wood Cabernet 2002 – Margaret River – screwcap – 14% – 91 points

A very interesting wine, I would have picked it blind for Merlot not Cabernet, a very dense high quality merlot. Could be a Californian icon wine.

Sawdusty warm oaky nose, plummy fruit, almost a touch of that fruitcake ripeness that top Pomerols show. Plenty of stuffing, and tannin too. Very ripe but not cloying.

I’m not sure I’d have liked this wine so much if I had it alone with dinner, but I could very well be wrong. Intruiging wine. Very different from the Cullen but similar quality level.

Domaine A Cabernet 2003 – Tasmainia – 13.5% – 88 points

Lacks the concentration of the prior two wines. A bit sweet and simple at first but nice cool climate fruit flavours emerge, and a welcome degree of secondary development starting to emerge. Has some charm, it’s a very interesting and good ambassador for Tasmania – cabernet is hardly their most successful variety, which makes this all the more impressive. Suffers in comparison with the prior two much deeper WA wines though.

Balnaves ‘The Tally’ Cabernet 2005 – 14.5% – 85 points

The disappointment of the tasting. Dark yet slightly dull colour, syrupy currant nose, palate is warm-hot climate straight forward Aussie cabernet, with too much alcohol. Some people felt it was more like “dry red” than varietal. It’s a powerful wine that shows first class winemaking but a style that just tramples over terroir – I’d have never picked this as a Coonawarra wine. It’s good quality but way over-priced and competing head-on with McLaren Vale and Barossa cabernets.

Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz 2006 – Barossa – 14.5% – 90 points

I expected this wine to absolutely bomb in the company it was shown in here. This is a soft alcoholic sweet fruity Barossa shiraz with lashings of American oak, very different from the largely elegant line-up that cam before it. If it had been tasted blind this would have been an awful shock!! But fortunately it wasn’t. I had low expectations, the last Meshach I tried was very sweet, but this wine showed some restraint in the use of oak, and the added acidity gave balance without standing out. It’s not a wine I’d seek out, there are too many better and cheaper competitors, but I was pleasantly surprised here. A good example of a particular style of Barossa shiraz.

I see it won a gold at the Decanter world wine awards.

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