Wolf Blass Black Label, a cabernet shiraz blend, has won the coveted Jimmy Watson Trophy four times. The first win was back in 1974 and given to the Wolf Blass Wines Dry Claret 1973, the very first vintage of the wine. Wolf Blass Wines Dry Claret went on to pick up consecutive trophies for the 1974 and 1975 vintages. Twenty-three years later, when the wine had been relabled as Wolf Blass Black Label, the 1998 vintage scored the Jimmy Watson Trophy for an unprecedented fourth time.
Today, the wine is still being lauded as one of Australia’s great expressions of the uniquely Australian cabernet shiraz blend. The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown singled out Wolf Blass Black Label as a highlight of the cabernet shiraz blends presented at last September’s Wine Australia Landmark Tutorial:
Six of the fourteen wines that were presented to us were Cabernet / Shiraz blends. Amongst the most impressive examples were the Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet / Shirazes from 1987 and 2006. I thought these two wines most clearly demonstrated how well these grapes can complement one another in the South Australian context, with Cabernet lending structural backbone and freshness of flavor profile and acidity when combined with Shiraz’s voluptuous richness. (Shiraz and The Great Australian Blend – Landmark Tutorial Day 2 by Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, eRobertParker.com, January 2011)
The Black Label Cabernet Shiraz is the benchmark of Wolf Blass’s red wine portfolio. According to the winery, up to 800 different parcels of fruit, typically from super premium Langhorne Creek and Barossa vineyards, are classified (numerous times from vine to post maturation) and the best possible final blend is then constructed. The components of the blend spend a total of 24 months in new and old French and American oak before blending and bottling, and sometimes small amounts of malbec or merlot are added to achieve the best possible blend. The wine then spends a further two years in the bottle before being released.
Gary Walsh of The Wine Front provides an excellent description of the wine’s style in his review of the superb 2006 vintage, the most current release of the Black Label:
Inky black colour and it’s a black hole when it comes to flavour too. Liquorice, mint, blackberry nip and positive cedar and coffee oak. Full bodied and incredibly dense sporting a superb set of thick silky tannins and terrific length -it’s an adjectival sort of wine for sure. Additional flavours of cloves and tar add further interest. Beautifully made and blended. 95 points. Drink 2013 -2026 (The Wine Front, 31 October 2010)