Which regions produce the most under-priced cabernet in Australia?
Your answer needs to include Langhorne Creek and Clare Valley. My latest tasting of 115 Australian cabernet sauvignons and cabernet blends adds weight to this theory.It seems to me that Wendouree wines, which have been beacons for a long time, have stepped up a rung in recent vintages.
Here are a couple of humdinger bargains for starters.
Tim Adams 2015 Cabernet Malbec (AUD $25, 94 points). Smoky berries, char-oak and a tincture of mint; full-body, strapping structure. Can age for 20 years.
Lake Breeze 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (AUD $27, 95 points): ripe blackberries, violets, blueberries; a Langhorne Creek wine without gumleaf. Can age at least 15 years.
And Lake Breeze’s top gun, the 2014 Arthur’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot (AUD $45; 96 pts; dark fruits, spices, star anise, concentrated, powerful and long-term), was nestled among the highest rated wines of the line-up, which were much more expensive. They included Hardy’s 2014 165th Anniversary Cabernet Shiraz (AUD $250; 96 pts; a statuesque and very long-term wine), Koonara 2015 The Head Honcho Cabernet Sauvignon (AUD $100, 96 pts; decadent; lavish), Howard Park’s glorious new ASW Cabernet Shiraz 2016 (AUD $100, 96 pts) and Hentley Farm’s iron fist in a silk glove, Von Kasper Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (AUD $89.50; 96 pts).
Speaking of Clare, the 2016 Wendouree Cabernet Sauvignon also scored 96 and was AUD $60 ex-winery, if you were lucky enough to get an allocation. It will be much dearer if you can find a bottle in a shop – because retailers capitalise on its rarity and modest ex-cellars price by piling on margin.
Incidentally, all of the 2016 Wendouree reds are sensational, and my notes on the six wines – shiraz, shiraz malbec, shiraz mataro, malbec, cabernet malbec and cabernet sauvignon – are on The Real Review now. It seems to me that Wendouree wines, which have been beacons for a long time, have stepped up a rung in recent vintages. They seem more polished: great wines indeed.