Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What's in Your Cabernet?

The Herald article number 2 can be found here and the article submitted can be found below. Given that the my column is only published once a fortnight it really does bring home how rubbish I am at posting usually. I will write up the Sauternes tasting soon though. A couple of people might be interested after all.


What’s in Your Cabernet?

There was a time when it felt like Cabernet Sauvignon was taking over the world. Every self-respecting New World (Australia, Chile, and North America) vineyard owner was ripping up their vines and re-planting this most distinguished varietal. With good reason too. Cabernet Sauvignon is responsible for arguably the world’s greatest wines.

When we get a true expression of Cabernet Sauvignon we can expect a wine with good primary fruit flavours, most commonly blackcurrant, but also many secondary flavours often very specific to the region or winemaker involved. It is this diversity of flavour combined with its ability to remain so very Cabernet Sauvignon that has led to the wine world’s romance with this grape.

Good Cabernet driven Bordeaux are well out of my price range unfortunately and so I am left with a hunt for reasonably priced expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon. This invariably leads to the New World and more often than not, single varietal wines. Today we have three bottles for review each with suitably different takes on the grape in question.

First up we have the Adobe Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Chile (10,000w, Lotte Dept. Store Myongdong). There was a time when it was a widely held belief that any Chilean Cab Sauv would be good quality at a good price. There are plenty of bottles on the shelves in Korea that belie that belief but fortunately this is not one of them. This is an organic wine from a very strong budget priced Chilean producer. This is a fruit forward wine with blackcurrant so powerful you could be forgiven for thinking you had been given a glass of Ribena (blackcurrant juice). It also has those hints of cedar you might expect but this is not an overly complex wine. On the palate that blackcurrant keeps coming with sour plums and a really good, subtle mint finish. Though it suffers from slightly bitter tannins this is a cracking value bottle of wine. You have seen the price of Organic produce here haven’t you?

The final two bottles are both from a renowned Burgundy producer, Michel Laroche. These are interesting in that one is from France, Laroche Vin De Pays D’Oc 2005 (Vins De Maeils, 16,000w) the other from Chile, Laroche Punto Nino 2005 (Les Vins Maeils, 22,000w). We have an Old World/New World battle from the same producer! The French has a very un-giving nose, not especially fruity with a hint of dried fruit. It has a weedy mouth feel with some raisin and little else. It is not unpleasant but is difficult to recommend. The Chilean is much more upfront with a strong berry driven nose, blueberry, raspberry and strawberry. This is much softer fruit than I would expect though there is a touch of brambly, plum fruit and some subtle vanilla. It has a good, intense palate with tobacco, and bay leaf countering the chocolate and plums. It has really well integrated tannins and is, essentially, a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon.

As a footnote, the Lunar New Year has led to call centres being installed in many wine shops, (what better gift?) so if you can’t find, ask.

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