Monday, 28 January 2013

Cape Mentelle Cabernet Merlot 2010

I bought Cape Mentelle on the strong recommendation of various employees of various wine shops and have now tried it on a couple of occasions. I rather like Aussie wines at this price point (£12-15) as they often have great character and are readily accessible, meaning they're a good one to use to introduce a friend/group to wine tasting. With strong flavours that are often comparatively easy to identify along with some occasional subtleties, they nearly always go down well in a blind tasting.

Cape Mentelle is made in Margaret River, in Western Australia. A cool climate, Margaret River is often regarded as one of the top Aussie wine-producing regions, especially for its Cabernet Sauvignons. In due course I will be trying Moss Wood's Cab Sauv, described by Jancis Robinson as 'The Latour of the Margaret River' so I will hopefully be able to build you a picture of the region over the coming weeks or months.

Nose: Immediately obvious are tobacco, cedarwood and some smoke. So far, a very classic Cab Sauv blend. There's fruit at the back of the nose and a hint of pepper. Here's the reason I like these sort of wines as an introduction - plenty of interesting smells that can easily be identified. So far, so good.

Palate: Ah, it's clear we're in Australia now. Lots of rich red fruit hits the palate immediately, with cassis leading the way with some seriously jammy oomph. There is, however, an interesting twist, as the palate suddenly turns dry, with some decent spice and bitterness (coffee, perhaps dark chocolate) coming up to claim the fore. As it develops, the cedar from the nose comes through, clearing off the palate nicely. There's a certain level of astringency to this, but I feel sure that this will fade with some time out of the bottle. Quite a 1-2-3 structure in that the constituent parts are very separate, but this is by no means an unpleasant wine. Eminently drinkable and a crowd pleaser.

Body: I'm sure you can guess from the above that this could only go into the 'full-bodied beast' category, with some serious tannic power to back it up. I wonder if it might be worth leaving it for a year or 3?

Finish: Medium length, fairly basic, but pleasant nonetheless. Nothing worthy of note.

Conclusion: As I noted in the introduction, I'm a fan of this sort of wine. It has good, strong flavours and has clearly been made with a clear purpose in mind. No smoke and mirrors or attempts to beat Bordeaux here, it's Aussie Cab Sauv at its simple best, and it's happy to be it.

Points: 86. At the price, well worth a pop. Interesting enough for a tasting, but would match well with any red meat, ideally a suitably red cut of beef. Yum.

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