I’m loving the 2010 McLaren Vale reds that have passed through the tasting room of late. Tonight I have a Cabernet in front of me from noted producer Chapel Hill.
Cabernet is an interesting beast, and I feel the degree to which it changes by region is underplayed compared to, say, Shiraz. This varietal has a range of expressions in Australia, and this wine is a case in point. Stylistically, it is a long way from something like Coonawarra Cabernet. It lacks the edge, the muscularity and the intense dusty leaf that are beloved by many Cabernet enthusiasts but which may, indeed, be offputting to others. Here, the McLaren Vale has turned out a soft, almost cuddly version of Cabernet that owes as much to its region as its variety.
The aroma is rich and expressive, showing a good deal of dark berry fruit, hints of crushed leaf and lashings of oak. It is well integrated and retains just enough of Cabernet’s stand-offishness to set itself apart from the region’s other red varietals. As it gains air and time, oak steps forward and contributes even more vanilla and custard to the aroma. The palate shows good density right down the line, with nary a dip at any stage. In many ways, this is a straightforward, honest wine, putting what it has out there for our enjoyment, not playing games nor hiding its character. Its structure is a little raw at this stage, tannins in particular feeling quite astringent and aggressive. There’s plenty of fruit, though, to keep things drinkable, and some overtones of red berry flash in and out of a primarily dark flavour profile. As with the aroma, oak is a significant influence in the mouth. The finish is notable for its length and elegance.