Mastering cabernet

Cabernet sauvignon grapes (Photo: )

My recent International Cabernet Family masterclass at WineSquare turned up some outstanding wines, and the talk was greatly enhanced by the unplanned arrival of old friend Peter Cowley, the chief winemaker of Te Mata Estate, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Peter brought a bottle of his latest Coleraine cabernet merlot, the 2015, which proved to be one of the top wines of the day: bright, fresh, youthful and ripe, with great intensity of flavour and promising to be long-lived. Alas, it’s all sold out.

Peter’s laconic wit bubbled to the surface from time to time; when I suggested a particular wine would go well with roast lamb, the Kiwi in him responded:

“I knew sheep would come up at some stage.”

Twelve wines were poured, covering 12 regions and seven countries: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, the USA and France.

We started with the bargain wine of the tasting: Lake Breeze 2014, from Langhorne Creek, a lovely wine and a bargain at AUD $24, filled with bayleaf and subtle mint characters together with bright cassis fruit.

This was followed by Vina Aquitania Reserva 2014 from Chile’s Maipo Valley (AUD $32), a pleasant and approachable wine with typical Chilean blackberry jam character and fair value, although I’m told their prestige bottling Lazuli is outstanding. Man O’ War Ironclad 2011 (AUD $42) from New Zealand’s Waiheke Island was good in a forward-developed, savoury style, which couldn’t have been more different to the Te Mata Coleraine. It’s nice now but I wouldn’t expect it to live half as long as the Coleraine.

The 2013 Le Haut Medoc de Lagrange (AUD $50) from a property neighbouring and owned by Chateau Lagrange, Bordeaux was an excellent wine, a classic Medoc cabernet merlot and again fair value. The Achaval Ferrer 2014 (AUD $65) from Argentina’s Mendoza region, better known for malbec, was a good and typical cabernet without particular terroir character, and the 2010 Trinchero Cloud’s Nest (AUD $99) from Napa Valley’s Mt Veeder was a typical Napa whopper which pushed ripeness to the limit without being overripe.

The other three Aussies, all from classic cabernet regions, were all superb, the Grosset Gaia 2014 (AUD $79) from Clare being an elegant, tidy wine, which experience tells me will really blossom with time in the cellar. Parker Estate First Growth 2013 (AUD $99) from Coonawarra was excellent with its bright cassis and mint fruit, and full-body. The 2013 Leeuwin Estate Art Series (AUD $68) was statuesque, wonderfully structured and brimming with Margaret River blackberry character backed by stylish oak, while the Yeringberg 2015 Cabernet Blend (AUD $89) from the Yarra Valley arguably stole the show, with its graceful elegance and wondrous complexity.

My next masterclass at WineSquare is on September 13 with co-host Andrew Thomas of the Hunter Valley’s Thomas Wines, and the theme is shiraz and semillon from the Hunter Valley and Barossa Valley: compare and contrast.

  • Where: WineSquare, 63-65 Pyrmont Bridge Rd, Camperdown
  • When: September 13th
  • Time: 6.30-8.30pm
  • Cost: AUD $45
  • Bookings: Call WineSquare on 02 9098 8600 or Email

2 thoughts on “Mastering cabernet”

  1. Huon Hooke
    Huon Hooke says:

    Agree Chilly, the 15 Yarra Yering No. 1 is awesome. And they still had enough cab to make a Carrodus cabernet sauvignon at $250!!

  2. Charles Hargrave says:

    With your comments on the 2015 Yeringberg Cabernet blend it must have been an awesome year for Cab in the Yarra because I think the Yarra Yering No. 1 from 2015 is absolute perfection.

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