2008 was a disastrous year for red wines in the Hunter Valley, and some producers — Tyrrell’s, for example — chose not to release any Shiraz-based wines as a result. According to Lake’s Folly, Cabernet fared somewhat better than its more regionally acceptable cousin, hence this wine. It’s technically not declassified, selling for the same price as the regular Cabernets. However, it has been labelled differently to mark a difference in style.
There’s also, to be frank, a fairly large gap in quality. Whether this is an issue will depend partly on one’s curiosity for the Lake’s Folly vineyard. Certainly, the 2008 wine is an opportunity to taste a completely different expression of this site, and I value that opportunity quite apart from notions of absolute quality.
On first sniff, it’s obvious this wine represents a vastly different style from the Cabernets, being both lighter and more fruit forward than usual. Although there are the usual Hunter influences here — damp earth, mostly — the fruit character is light, slightly confected and extraordinarily un-Cabernet like. There are plum skins and cherries and perhaps a raspberry or two; no cassis in sight. The palate confirms the light style of this wine and, overall, this seems much more like Pinot than anything else. The acid structure is pretty fantastic, firm and fresh, carrying a somewhat dilute wash of fruit flavour through the entry and mid-palates. There’s a lovely sappiness to the after palate that communicates freshness and life. The finish is quite long, all things considered, with a lick of raspy tannins to close.
What an oddity. It lacks the complexity, intensity and just plain awesomeness of a typical Cabernets release, but despite all that it’s curiously drinkable and really quite lovely. 12% abv.