It’s time for one of my periodic forays into ultra-value territory. It’s just as well I don’t score wines, because I freely admit my expectations of inexpensive wines are quite different from those I apply to costlier labels, and those expectations probably influence my drinking pleasure as much, if not more, than any objective notions of quality.
Take varietal character. I expect most wines at the $A20+ price point to embody their varietal (and, for that matter, their regional) origins. However, I’m often happy to drink a cheap wine that simply tastes good without worrying too much about transparency of expression. So it was a pleasant surprise to immediately recognise in this wine the dusty cassis aromas for which Cabernet is so well known. It’s so correct, in fact, that it took me a moment to recognise what I think is a hint of DMS, which, in small quantities, can sometimes enhance the fruit character of Cabernet-based wines. It does so here, creating a very pure and straightforward aroma profile, fruit-focused but with just a little nougat oak to add sex appeal.
The palate doesn’t quite live up to the nose’s promise for two reasons. Firstly, it lacks drive and intensity, being quite laid back in its flow and flavour. Secondly, it shows a slight confectionary edge to the fruit flavour that isn’t really evident on the nose. I suppose it’s testament, though, to this wine’s appeal that I’m even tempted to engage it on this level. Tannins are slightly fake-tasting but technically solid and evenly spread. They’re also quite prominent for a wine that is ostensibly about quaffing. A nice dry finish ends with a lilt of oak flavour to round things off.
An excellent wine for the money.