I was quite taken with this wine’s Shiraz-based sibling; its styling was distinctive and communicated something new about Shiraz and Orange. But then, I’m forgiving of Shiraz and its stylistic diversity. For some reason, I have firmer views on what Cabernet “should” taste like, preferring more angular, crisper expressions of this grape.
Smelling this wine, my heart leapt and then quickly sank. Ah yes, there’s some leaf, dust, capsicum even, rising out of the aroma profile with exuberance and the same muscularity shown by the Shiraz. But then a thick, dark wave of fruit washes under and over the high toned aromatics, bringing the wine into “big red” territory and, for a moment, robbing me of the sort of Cabernet pleasure I was just getting ready to enjoy. Interestingly, as I’ve continued to smell the wine, I feel more and more it is a legitimate expression of the varietal, different from both our classic cooler and warmer climate styles. Some finessing, though, is required. For starters, the oak intrudes far too prominently for my tastes, pushing a high powered gloss into the wine that feels inappropriate. It’s also hot and less than resolved. However, it has a charisma and an integrity that draws me back.
The palate echoes this story. Quite aggressive on entry and full of flavour, this moves briskly to the middle palate and opens out with dark, very ripe fruit. There’s an edginess to the palate structure that amplifies the character of the oak, creating a focus that may seem at odds with the fruit. If I’m making it seem all over the place, then perhaps it is a little, and it’s not up to the same standard as the Shiraz. Yet it’s a serious wine, aiming for something particular, if unsure how to quite get there. I think the fruit here would work best in a less blustery style, focusing on the intricacies of the flavours rather than dressing up as a self-consciously “reserve” wine.