Tasting T3.2 Australian Cabernet Sauvignon

Finally said Harry, some red wine. After our first two tastings both being white wines and of the light summery style with a lighter food accompaniment. We looked forward to some powerful wine and food to match.

With each tasting so far, and we expect this to continue, we taste the 5 or 6 wines one after the other on their own. Once we have marked up and noted our aromas and tastes, we then prepare our food and cook it. We then retaste the wines with the food as we eat. So far, we have tasted the wines in the same order, although you never know when the first tasting will dictate that we need to change the order.

To assist us with appreciating the powerful set of Australian Cabernet Sauvignon’s we decided to grill some meat on the BBQ. Nothing too much just some good quality beef, Tomahawk steak, thick cut Rib-eye, Rump and Hanger Steak, all from nice heritage breeds. We do suffer on your behalf!

Our Antipodean wine tastings will be as follows:

T3.1 Australian Shiraz

T3.2 Australian Cabernet Sauvignon (This tasting)

T3.3 Aus/NZ Chardonnay

T3.4 Aus/NZ Reisling

T3.5 NZ Pinot Noir

T3.6 NZ Sauvignon Blanc (which we kicked off with)

Coonawarra initially and then Margaret River put Australian Cabernet Sauvignons on the international map in terms of quality as world class wines. Langhorne Creek is less well known but also produces some top Cabernets.

Coonawarra (South Australia) - These wines benefit from terra rossa over limestone soil with a continental climate. This produces wines that are medium bodied, displaying supple silky tannins with well-integrated acidity and defined fruit characters. A satisfying savoury and lingering palate, of dark red berries, blackcurrant, mint and violets.

Margaret River (Western Australia) - These wines have deep well drained red (iron) gravelly loams and a Mediterranean / maritime climate.  This produces wines that tend to be medium bodied, very perfumed and elegant, powdery fine tannins and crisp acidity. Suitable for long term ageing.

Langhorne Creek (South Australia) - The wines from Langhorne creek are mainly deep alluvial sandy loams with patches of clay and a maritime climate. This produces wines that are medium to full bodied, aromatic and fruit driven tending towards blackcurrant, liquorice and dark chocolate mint flavour with firm, integrated tannins and a persistent length.

Today we will be tasting 6 wines, 2 each from each of the 3 different areas, although from Langhorne Creek it will be the same wine but from two different vintages. This tasting (and the steak) had Harry’s mouth-watering, let us see if he is satiated!

The wineries are,


Yalumba is owned and operated by the Hill-Smith family and has been since 1849. Based in the Barossa Valley but has vineyards in Eden valley and Coonawarra. It also has a Nursery and Cooperage (to make the wine barrels).

Deep Woods

Deep Woods is one of the top medal and trophy winning wineries on the Australian wine show circuit in recent years.


Noon is a relatively small vineyard and winery in McLaren Vale. Grapes are also sourced from friends the Borrett family vineyards in Langhorne Creek just a few miles to the south. All their wines are produced from small vineyard blocks and made by hand so only in limited quantities.


Flametree Wines are located on the picturesque shores of Geographe Bay and owned by the Towner family. They work with local growers to source the best fruit they can over a period of time.

Penley Estate

Currently run by two sisters Ang and Bec Tolley who along with their brother Kym (now retired) built the business from the ground up back in 1988.  They have 90 hectares of Coonawarra vineyards.

1st up is..

Yalumba The Cigar 2017

This wine is named after the unique cigar shaped strip of rich terra rossa soil that defines the Coonawarra wine region. It is a contemporary medium to full bodied wine with rich fruit characters and soft round tannins. Aged in new and older French oak.

Nose: Purple colour on viewing. Aromas of dark fruits on the forefront . Mainly blackberry and black cherries with hints of eucalyptus surrounding your senses. A beautiful start to a tasting that I was extremely excited about!!

Palate: Exactly the same as above. Like eating a black fruit salad. Blackcurrants and dark cherries were the main protagonists with plum and eucalyptus coming through towards the end to round of a lovely tasting experience. A light body, low acidic wine that was lovely to drink immediately with low tannin and a short finish. It was a fantastic wine to start the tasting with and we were all very happy! £25 a bottle.

Deep Woods Estate Reserve 2018

This wine is produced using grapes from the warm northern part of Margaret River. A cassis dream. Aged in seasoned French barriques for 18 months.

Nose: Purple colour on viewing. Booming with eucalyptus (is exactly what I wrote) with aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry and cassis once you have worked your way past the eucalyptus. My father thought he could smell violet as well… an interesting thought that did present itself a little later on, with further investigation.

Palate: A fruit bomb… an absolute fruit bomb, really well produced however as there is depth of fruit not just fresh fruit. Sour cherries, blackberries, plums and blackcurrants. A beautifully crafted wine with a medium body, moderate acidity, moderate tannin and a medium length finish. This was certainly a step up from the previous wine and very impressive. £50 a bottle (so no wonder it was very good!)

Noon Reserve 2018

The grapes for this wine have been sourced from Langhorne Creek since the first vintage in 1996. This is a riper style than many, displaying Blackcurrant fruit with a full body. Roughly 1/3 new French oak.

Nose: Medium red colour on viewing. Australian bush (earthy notes) was very prominent at the beginning which was very different and interesting. Following on with similar dark fruits of blackberries, blackcurrants with hints of cassis towards the end.

Palate: Australian bush following through from nose to mouth, a lovely and different expression of Cabernet Sauvignon that was welcomed at the table. Dark fruits again on the forefront, however hints of chocolate started to become apparent towards the finish. That was very interesting and certainly something that I wanted to explore more of. This particular wine was light bodied with moderate acidity, however the tannin was extremely powerful, verging on full tannin in all honesty. We decided that the age had already started to assist the tannins with bedding in to the wine so to speak, so moderate tannin was ticked with a moderate finish. An absolute powerhouse of a Cab Sav. £50 a bottle.  

Flametree SRS 2016

SRS stands for Sub-regional Series which is a powerhouse of elegant complex styles which typify the remarkable attributes of each of the unique terroirs within the region. The Sub-region for the Cabernet Sauvignon is Wilyabrup. 14 months maturation with 50% new oak.

Nose: Deep red colour on viewing. On first sniff, it appeared that this wine may have started to close up a bit (a tad concerning as we had double decanted it). Eventually however we were presented with lovely aromas of cassis, dark cherries and eucalyptus. It was still, however, dark and brooding. Hoping that on taste we would be able to get more from this very powerful wine.

Palate: Oh boy did we… it was unbelievably fresh. The melange of eucalyptus and cassis made for a perfect balance of freshness and was extremely different to anything we had so far tasted. Extremely tannic however, this wine is already 6 years old and needs more time. This is one that will last for 15-20 years easy. Full bodied, moderate acidity, full tannin and a medium-long finish. This wine has all the qualities needed to age for a long time. Only £35 a bottle…

Penley Estate Helios 2016

Smoky, Cedary and packed with Cassis. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon with 40% new oak. Richly concentrated and full bodied. A big wine.

Nose: Deep red colour on viewing. Australian bush aromas graced us once more! Cassis and blackberry hints with dark chocolate all mixing together made for a lovely fresh and expressive wine. Jen (who lived and worked in Australia for a year) suggested that this smelled like the outside of a sunny Aussie day… if that’s what it smells like I need to get there immediately.

Palate: Extremely fresh, this time however it was the mixture of Australian bush, cassis and blackberries that gave this wine a new dimension. Eucalyptus notes came through towards the end and was rounded out with dark fruits, plums and blackcurrants. A full bodied wine with moderate to full acidity. Full tannins which were very much already integrated with the wine therefore not too overpowering but added power and ageing ability. A moderate to long finish to round out a really beautiful wine. £40 a bottle.

Noon Reserve 2014

From a larger than average, late harvest. Soft and early maturing savoury, plush and velvety with a super ripe cassis.

Nose: Medium red with a hint of browning colour on viewing. This was exceptional. Truly extraordinary. Deep and dark aromas of extremely powerful fruits. Cherries, blackberries and blackcurrants. Eucalyptus and Australian bush coming through as well, then completely taking over towards the end and leaving you with an intense earthy aroma. Just beautiful.

Palate: Given its age, this was fresh and vibrant with incredible depth and structure. This wine really took the biscuit. Absolutely fantastic, the dark cooked fruits of plum, cherries and blackberries giving power and depth to the wine. The eucalyptus and Australian bush bringing structure and mouthfeel. Medium bodied with full acidity, moderate tannin (by this stage nearly all tannins had been integrated fully with the wine) and lovely long finish. This was a stand out wine, not just for this tasting but overall it was truly extraordinary.

Conclusion… Alas, we must now score them and I’m sure there won’t be many surprises:

Yalumba The Cigar 2017: 89 points

Deeps Woods Estate Reserve 2018: 94 points

Noon Reserve 2018: 93 points

Flametree SRS 2016: 90 points

Penley Estate Helios 2016: 93 points

Noon Reserve 2014: 97 points

I was ecstatic at the end of this tasting. All of these wines gave something different and interesting. All of them are worth buying and drinking if you are fan of Aussie Cab Sav and even if you’re not I would certainly recommend all of them as a good starting point.

All of them showed incredible expressions of the various regions that they come from. None of them disappointed and we all felt extremely spoilt by what we had just tasted. Australian Cabernet Sauvignon is not something that my Father and I drink often, but I certainly feel like that will change now. 

Again thank you for reading and we hope you have enjoyed it!

Harry & David

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  • Don Lunn

    Excellent resume!
    You should sell a great deal of this to all your red wine drinkers.

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