Category Archives: Australian Cabernet

Aug 08 2016

Newcomer Cloudburst generates extraordinary excitement!

Posted on August 08, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In 2013 the Cloudburst Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 caused a major upset at the Margaret River Wine Show. The relative newcomer – 2010 was in fact the first vintage of the cabernet sauvignon – claimed trophies for best cabernet sauvignon, best single-vineyard red and best red wine of show, beating out a host of well established and famous wineries.

And the accolades have kept mounting! Here’s a recent assessment from wine critic Huon Hooke of a sampling of the last three vintages of Cloudburst cabernets, chardonnays and malbecs: “All are superb. These are wines of great finesse, spot-on ripeness and wonderful intensity. They’re beautifully balanced and promise to be long-lived.” (A Cloud bursts in Margaret River by Huon Hooke, The Real Review 14 June 2016)

And more exultant praise for the chardonnays from Jeremy Oliver in the most recent edition of his Wine Annual: “Another leader in the chardonnay stakes is the Margaret River newcomer of Cloudburst, whose three releases to date reveal a combination of concentration and richness in wines of seamless elegance and brightness hitherto unseen in this country.” (Jeremy Oliver, Wine Annual 2016)

We hear a lot about artisanal wines, but the Cloudburst wines are the real deal. They are practically hand-made from the vineyard up by owner/winemaker Will Berliner, an ex-pat New Yorker, who studied wine at UC Davis.

According to wine connoisseur and Cloudburst fan Andrew Hamilton: “His work in the vineyard to my knowledge is unparalleled in the Margaret River region. In fact, I don’t know a single producer in the greater Margaret River region who can claim that their vineyard has never once seen a tractor besides Cloudburst. His vines are close planted Burgundy style with vines and rows equally spaced at a meter apart from one another. His approach to winemaking can easily be described as minimalist and he’s a true believer that great wine comes from great fruit and as such he focuses incredible effort into producing the best fruit possible annually.” (Cloudburst Dinner at Rockpool in Perth,.. [Read More]

Aug 08 2016

The Ageing Potential of Australia’s Great Wines

Posted on August 08, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti Brown named her top three wines for 2015. These aren’t current vintage wines, but rather rare treats she’s been lucky to sample, often in the company of the winemakers themselves. Of the three,  two were Australian – a 1982 Cullens Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River and a Wendouree Shiraz, Clare Valley 1995. The third – unsurprisingly I guess – was a 1967 Echezeaux, Domaine de La Romanee Conti! (I’m guessing few people in the world would have a chance to try one of those!) (Lisa Perrotti Brown’s Guide to the Best of 2015,.. [Read More]

Jul 07 2016

Leeuwin Estate Masterclass with Winemaker Phil Hutchison

Posted on July 07, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Recently the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti Brown singled out “eight stellar” Western Australia producers “who are killing-it when it comes to innovation, quality and coaxing the terroir into the bottle: Cloudburst, Cullen, Frankland Estate, Leeuwin Estate, Moss Wood, Peccavi, Plantagenet and Woodlands.” (Western Australia Killing-it, 4 March 2016, eRobertparker.com)

Of course, to see Margaret River pioneer Leeuwin Estate on this list is no surprise. Still owned by its founders Denis and Tricia Horgan and now under the direction of their children and grandchildren,.. [Read More]

May 05 2015

Henschke Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon: One of Australia’s most elegant and complex cabernet sauvignons

Posted on May 05, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In recent years a series of great vintages in Bordeaux and burgeoning Chinese demand for First Growths have put the spotlight back on cabernet sauvignon – sparking renewed reverence for its potential to produce the world’s most complex, elegant and age-worthy wines.

The return to popularity of cabernet sauvignon has also encouraged Australia’s top winemakers to narrow their product range and focus attention on perfecting their cabernet sauvignon and cabernet blends. Virginia Willcock, chief winemaker at Vasse Felix in the Margaret River, for example, told wine critic Huon Hooke,.. [Read More]

Jun 06 2012

Are Australia’s Top Cabernets Undervalued?

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In its promotional material for its Bin 707, Penfolds states that “Bin 707 is Penfolds’ Cabernet Sauvignon version of Grange: ripe, intensely-flavoured fruit; completing fermentation and maturation in new oak; fully expressing a Penfolds understanding of multi-vineyard, multi-region fruit sourcing.”

No-one can doubt the pedigree of Bin 707 or its status as one of the Australia’s benchmark wines. It is up there with Grange in the pantheon of Australia’s 17 most exceptional wines, as ranked by the Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine V –.. [Read More]

Jun 06 2012

Mount Mary Quintet: The Quintessential Cabernet Blend

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

When I was reading Jay McInerney’s article on Paso Robles blends, I couldn’t help thinking about Australia’s most renowned blended wine, the Mount Mary Vineyard Quintet Cabernets. Justin Smith of Saxum, one of Paso Robles’ most respected winemakers, told McInerney that “Blends are a great tool for winemakers to be able to bring complexity and balance to their wines, especially when working within a single site.” (Discovering the Beautiful Blends of Paso Robles by Jay McInerney, The Wall Street Journal, 15 June 2012)

Mount Mary has been putting Smith’s approach into practice for over 40 years… [Read More]

Jun 06 2012

Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvigon: Taking Margaret River Cabernet in a New Direction

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In the June/July 2011 edition of Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine, wine critic Nick Bulleid MW offered the following summary of the general style of Margaret River cabernet sauvignon:

Stylistically I see Margaret River cabernet at its best as intensely varietal, with blackcurrant and other dark fruits plus hints of capsicum and herbal overtones often describes as “bay leaf” or “seaweed”. While some drinkers weaned on cabernet from hotter areas regard capsicum and leaf characters as under-ripe, I disagree: they an essential part of high quality cabernet, with one proviso –.. [Read More]

May 05 2012

Balnaves of Coonawarra The Tally Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: In the Style of a Fine Bordeaux

Posted on May 05, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Before joining Balnaves of Coonawarra from Wynns Coonawarra in 1995, winemaker Peter Bissell had stints working in New Zealand, Bordeaux, and as a flying winemaker for Penfolds in Russia and the South of France. But it was his time in Bordeaux that most influenced the style of the Balnaves long-ageing premium reserve cabernet sauvignon, The Tally: “One thing I picked up from Bordeaux is that structure and balance are more important than any particular flavour you might see in the wine…When I came to Balnaves we started doing more time on skins and making wines with a more obvious tannin structure… [Read More]

May 05 2012

Balgownie Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: A Perrenial Favourite

Posted on May 05, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

This week is so far shaping up to be all about Victorian wine. On Saturday night, we had friends for dinner and opened a magnum of the Wild Duck Creek Estate Shiraz Reserve 2003. It was absolutely sensational. Delicious ripe fruit flavours wrapped in a very balanced, medium body package with superbly integrated tannins, still firm but softened a bit from bottle age. I’m sure the wine could easily handle another five to ten years in the cellar.

Last night I enjoyed another Heathcote shiraz –.. [Read More]

Sep 09 2011

Wine of the Week: Katnook Estate Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon – A Wine to Benchmark against a Top Bordeaux!

Posted on September 09, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In his review of the Katnook Estate Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 the Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker asks, “Is this Australia’s answer to a top-class Pauillac?

The luxury 1992 Odyssey (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) is Katnook Estate’s top cuvee. The wine spends 30 months in French oak, and comes across as a serious Bordeaux look-alike. The dark ruby/purple color is saturated to the rim. The nose offers up reticent but promising aromas of cigar box, cedar, fruit cake, black currant, and toasty notes. In the mouth, black cherry/black currant flavors are impressive and full-bodied,.. [Read More]