The hit list.
Jane Faulkner’s current top10 Australian cabernets.
2015 Cullen Wines Vanya, Margaret River, $500
Biodynamically grown fruit, 100% cabernet sauvignon, sourced from vines planted in 1971. It spends 10 weeks on skins in terracotta vessels then basket pressed to French oak barrels for 5 months – 66% new; apart from SO2, nothing else added other than love and respect. This is elegance, craft and beauty rolled into one. All the heady, varietal charm at play tempered by its detail and superb tannin structure.
2016 Yarra Yering Carrodus Cabernet Sauvignon,
Yarra Valley, $275
Fruit off the south-west corner of the 1969 plantings, destemmed, crushed, plunged twice daily and on skins for 12 days. Two French oak barrels made, one new and one aged 18 months. Simple, really. Yet how on earth does Sarah Crowe manage to get this to be so ultra-fine and elegant? It’s earthy with a hint of boot polish, cassis and florals, just medium-bodied with the most exquisite tannins. A beautiful wine.
2015 Houghton Jack Mann
Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Frankland River, $137
At last a label change stating the fruit comes from Frankland River, off the famed Justin vineyard, and one of the finest Jack Mann wines ever released. Youthful and vibrant with blue fruits aplenty, cassis and currants, plus Mediterranean herbs flecked with cedary spice. A textural, savoury wine, fuller bodied with such detailed tannins, lithe and long and the oak superbly integrated. A classy cabernet.
2014 Vasse Felix Tom Cullity Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec, Margaret River, $180
The second release of Vasse Felix’s flagship wine and while the cabernet is distinct, it’s lifted with 16% malbec and 4% petit verdot. Aged 18 months in French oak barriques with 62% new and you wouldn’t know it, everything is so integrated and balanced. Medium-bodied, tannins are refined, supple, ripe and savoury. There’s a completeness and precision to this.
2013 Wynns Coonawarra Estate
John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon, $150
First produced in 1982, Wynns’ flagship wine is made only in great years, from the best parcels of fruit, this aged 16 months in French oak,
21% new. It has great presence and poise with complex flavours of blackberries alongside black olives, cured meats, some leafy freshness and the earthiness of a just-packed tobacco pipe. Full-bodied, wonderful tannin structure and assured two decades ahead of it.
Matthew Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, $150
Mostly cabernet sauvignon, there’s
4% malbec and 2% cabernet franc in the midst with Wilyabrup regional characters shining through. Heady aromas of cassis, mulberries, tobacco, eucalypt and oak spices, quite floral too. Full-bodied with fine-grained tannins, rich and deep, lovely to drink now, better in years to come.
2013 Bellwether Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, $60
The Coonawarra stamp is distinct with its leafy freshness, dabs of menthol and eucalypt, and aromas of mulberries and blackberries. There’s oak spices, ripe tannins and bright acidity moving across the more medium- to fuller-bodied palate with a promise of a delicious drink now or into the future. 2016 Hickinbotham
Trueman Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale, $75 McLaren Vale is not my go-to region for cabernet, yet this often charms with its varietal complexity. A core of excellent fruit and supple, ripe tannins, it's fuller-bodied and the oak restrained – a mix of new and seasoned Bordeaux barrels, aged 15 months.
2015 Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, $65
One smell of this gorgeous wine and there’s no mistaking its provenance – it’s Margaret River through and through. An intense mix of mulberries, cassis, crushed herbs with a hint of boot polish and lots of oak spice. Exuberant and full-bodied with shapely tannins.
2015 Xanadu Stevens Road Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, $75
A single vineyard, 100% cabernet, it’s earthy-toned with menthol, juniper berries, cassis and leafy freshness, some new leather and oak spices too. Full-bodied, firmly structured with youthful, formidable tannins and needs more time to settle.
It has power, drive and long-term ageing on its side.