Sure, Australia makes a great deal of amazing Shiraz, but one shouldn't miss out on the many delicious Cabernets the continent has to offer, often at bargain prices.
Australian Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in many of the same appellations that are famous for Shiraz (such as the Barossa and Clarendon Hills) but is also successful in Western Australia (such as Margaret River). And not unexpectedly, they are most often made in a bold, hedonistic style.
Australia has had an oversupply of wine grapes in recent years, and has been exporting tankers full of inexpensive wines. These mass-produced bottles (often with animals on their labels), should not be confused with higher quality offerings.
These were well-made wines overall, and while the top bottle outpaced the second place finisher by double its points, each bottle earned some marks.
Big thanks to Joyce and Addy for coming as guest tasters.
First Place: Elderton Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 (Barossa). Offering aromas of wet soil, cedar, roses, blackberries, and black licorice. Pretty. Joyce was reminded of "walking in the woods", while Ali felt it was like "dried flower in a cigar box". Delicious, silky texture, with flavors of milk chocolate and berries, with a mouthfeel that David felt was "kind of like cashmere". Andy thought that its long finish "kept delivering delicious flavors". Four of the six tasters gave this their top mark. A total of 30 points. David's bottle. About $27.
Second Place: Peter Lehmann Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (Barossa). Lots to admire on the nose, including blueberries, blackberries, licorice, espresso, caramel, tobacco, and brown sugar. Smells a bit hot, and looking thick in the glass. Good attack, including black tea and cough syrup. Joyce's favorite of the night. Received 15 points. Ali's bottle. About $15.
Third Place: Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 (Coonawarra). A bit closed aromatically, with hints of dust and rotten berry. Ali disliked this wine, saying it was "like the cleaner they use for public restrooms". Lighter in texture, tasting more acidic than the rest, with a shorter finish. Nonetheless, it earned 14 points for third place. Joyce's bottle. About $28.
Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvingon 2004 (South Australia). Earthy, and somewhat closed, with tobacco, grass, and smoke scents. Ali was reminded of something "somewhere between anise and mint", with Kristin thought is was reminiscent of "artificial sweetener". Ends sharply, and a bit tart. Kristin's favorite of the night. Received 10 points. Kristin's bottle. About $10.
Woop Woop Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (South Eastern Australia). Perfumed nose featuring honey, lavender, Indian spices, bacon, blackberries, and pepper. Tasting heavily of butter, along with strawberries. Joyce felt it had "a yogurt mouthfeel", while others detected some astringency on the finish. Received 9 points. Addy's bottle. About $10.
Marquis Philips Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (South Eastern Australia). Aromas of cherries, red apples, tobacco, licorice, and mint. Kristin felt strongly that it smelled of "buttery movie popcorn". Candied and syrupy, with black cherries, coffee, and licorice flavors. Finished slightly sweet. Received 6 points. Andy's bottle. About $18.