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Home Winners > Winners 2018 > NEW WORLD: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Bordeaux Blends: Australia

Winner Details

Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz, Merlot & Bordeaux-style blends, Australia

2018 Gold 2      Silver 7      Bronze 5      Commended 6
2017 Gold 3      Silver 6      Bronze 3      Commended 5

Australia’s performance with Cabernet, Merlot et al rarely hits the same kind of heights as its efforts with Shiraz, and that was especially true this year. Two Golds was on the ‘meh’ side of average.

There was, our tasters admitted, perhaps an element of them going into flights from Coonawarra and Margaret River with unrealistically elevated expectations, but wine styles that are really on their game deliver under that kind of pressure.

Strangely, there were fewer comments than over the past few years about the new ‘lighter’ style of wines. In fact, if anything, our tasters felt things were moving back in the ‘big ripe fruit’ direction, which was a bit surprising.

Of more concern, perhaps, is the apparent death of Cab/Shiraz as a category. Once a staple of wine lists and retailers’ shelves (and, indeed, this competition), its entry is now so diminished that we’ve rolled the few medals we got into this section. Is it really as 1980s as shoulder pads and big hair? Say it ain’t true…

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘They were pretty high-priced, starting at £10 or £11, which for a crowd-pleasing red style is quite high. And they often didn’t deliver quite as much as they should.’ Annette Scarfe MW, team leader

‘Coonawarra and Margaret River are distinct, and if you can accommodate them on a list it’s good to have both. If I had to choose I’d lean to Coonawarra, as they’re more interesting, with notes of eucalyptus and riper fruits.’ Mikolaj Harmider, Adam’s Restaurant

‘You can’t fault these for their sweetness and seduction, but not many left you thinking you’d like to drink a whole bottle.’ Andrés Ituarte, Coq d’Argent

‘I was impressed with the wines from Margaret River and Coonawarra – they were well priced and well made. You probably still have to educate customers on the differences between the two, but they both have all the boxes ticked to be on the market, with price justified by quality.’ Jurijs Nemkovs, Hakkasan Mayfair

‘We don’t list any [Australian Cabernet]; it’s too ripe, too overblown and I don’t want it to overpower my food, but for barbeque restaurants it’s more appropriate.’ Laurent Richet MS, team leader

Award winners

Found 18 wines

New World: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Bordeaux Blends, Australia

RedHeads, Esulé, Woman with Gun 2015, McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia

Gold medal winner

This had all the hallmarks of a Gold medal red blend, with Erik Simonics of La Dame de Pic at Four Seasons describing ‘a dark, heavy wine, yet balanced, and with a long finish’. Piers Gibson-Birch of Wernher Restaurant at Luton Hoo Hotel Golf & Spa went on to find ‘good quality of oak and fruit, with a slight jam character joining eucalyptus and blackberry’, describing it, crucially, as ‘worthy of the price!’

£19.89 Direct Wines Production

Voyager Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia

Gold medal winner

‘It definitely says “Margaret River”,’ began impressed team leader Jade Koch on encountering this Gold-worthy Cab, while Hakkasan Mayfair’s Jurijs Nemkovs described ‘a ripe character on both nose and palate’ and went on to praise its ‘good concentration of complex, dark fruit, and good acidity, too, as well as some sweetness on the finish’. ‘Rich, powerful and concentrated, with Christmas spices and oak and vanilla, as well as some medium tannins,’ added Coq d’Argent’s Andrés Ituarte.

£24.50 Great Wine Estates

Cape Barren, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc 2016, McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia

Silver medal winner

‘A crowd-pleasing style,’ began team leader Annette Scarfe MW, going on to describe ‘a well-balanced wine, with generous use of creamy vanilla oak, and culminating in a spicy finish’. Freelance sommelier Julio Iglesias found it ‘floral and balsamic, with good fruit and tannins’.

£10.88 CAPE BARREN WINES

Katnook Estate, Merlot 2014, Coonawarra, South Australia, Australia

Silver medal winner

For Coq d’Argent’s Andrés Ituarte, this represented ‘good quality, with jammy red berries and some eucalyptus, along with some soft, toasty overtones, and a good tannic structure’, while Mikolaj Harmider of Adam’s Restaurant described ‘ripe cherry, hibiscus and raspberry, as well as a touch of savouriness’.

£17.86 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Peter Lehmann, Mentor, Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Barossa, South Australia, Australia

Silver medal winner

‘A dark, rich and full-bodied wine,’ began Erik Simonics of La Dame de Pic at Four Seasons, further finding ‘rich, dark fruit joined by some sweet spices, and culminating in a long finish’. Suave Wine’s Joseph Lunn described ‘blackcurrant and blueberry fruit, as well as interesting tertiary characteristics’.

£18.63 Liberty Wines

JJ Hahn, Homestead, Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia

Silver medal winner

Piers Gibson-Birch of Wernher Restaurant at Luton Hoo Hotel Golf & Spa found ‘ripe, dark fruits with pleasing freshness and well-integrated sweet spice, all converging to create a rich, classic Aussie red style’. ‘A juicy, fruit-driven wine,’ added Erik Simonics of La Dame de Pic at Four Seasons.

£11.63 Matthew Clark

Fraser Gallop, Parterre, Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia

Silver medal winner

‘A perfumed nose leads to a rich, ripe palate, with baskets of fruit, as well as some added mocha,’ began team leader Sarah Jane Evans MW, adding that this had ‘firm but well-managed tannins, and a vibrant, long finish’.

£21.83 Bibendum

Lake Breeze, Bull Ant, Cabernet/Merlot 2014, Langhorne Creek, South Australia, Australia

Bronze medal winner

‘Reminiscent of walking in the British countryside in autumn,’ began Suave Wine’s Joseph Lunn, describing ‘plenty of red and black fruit, like blackcurrants, as well as spice and leather notes, and good concentration of fruit, as well as some herbaceousness’.

£11.72 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Xanadu, Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia

Bronze medal winner

‘A well-made wine, with balanced dark cherries and some sweet spice on the nose, leading to ripe cherry notes on the palate,’ said Hakkasan Mayfair’s Jurijs Nemkovs, while Coq d’Argent’s Andrés Ituarte identified ‘blueberries, blackcurrants and cocoa notes, with some moderate tannins, too’.

£13.15 Bibendum

Berton Vineyard, Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Coonawarra, South Australia, Australia

Bronze medal winner

‘A vivid wine, and mouthwatering, with a palate bursting with black and red fruit, and leading to a tannic sign-off,’ said team leader Sarah Jane Evans MW, with Hakkasan Mayfair’s Jurijs Nemkovs describing ‘dark fruits and some spice, as well as a herbaceous note’.

£11.70 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Madfish, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2014, Western Australia, Australia

Bronze medal winner

‘A lovely expression of ripe cassis that is juicy but not confected,’ thought team leader Annette Scarfe MW, with Piers Gibson-Birch of Wernher Restaurant at Luton Hoo Hotel Golf & Spa finding ‘a herbal note, with green leaf and celery’.

£9.30 Enotria&Coe

Dandelion Vineyards, Damsel of the Barossa, Merlot 2016, South Australia, Australia

Bronze medal winner

‘Generous use of good quality oak here, backed up with abundant ripe damsons and plums, as well as some liquorice notes,’ was team leader Annette Scarfe MW’s appraisal, with Erik Simonics of La Dame de Pic at Four Seasons succinctly describing it as ‘rich, complex, balanced and juicy’.

£17.67 Dandelion Vineyards

Xanadu, Exmoor, Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia

Commended medal winner

£10.01 Bibendum

Zonte's Footstep, Blackberry Patch, Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia, Australia

Commended medal winner

Calabria, Three Bridges, Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Griffith, New South Wales, Australia

Commended medal winner

£8.50 Fuller's

RedHeads, Whip-Hand 2015, Barossa, South Australia, Australia

Commended medal winner

Howard Park, Miamup, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia

Commended medal winner

£12.74 Enotria&Coe

Balnaves, Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Coonawarrra, South Australia, Australia

Commended medal winner

£21.34 Liberty Wines

 

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