Cape Mentelle Cabernet Tasting 2020

Vintage 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon

There are a few things to note with the the below: firstly, I have recorded my notes as I wrote them in the book on the day – some of the regions I got wrong (can’t win em all). I’ve included the regions in the wine names anyhow, just to keep us all honest… Similarly, not all the wines have points recorded next to them. Some of the WA wines are yet to be released into market so I cannot comment on scores yet (!) and to be fair to everyone I have treated them all the same in that regard.

My wine of the day was Chateau Margaux.

Happy reading, and I hope to see you there next year!

Wine 1

Moss Wood, Margaret River

88% cabernet sauvignon, 8% petit verdot, 4% cabernet franc

29 months in French barrique (15% new)

Bay leaf, raspberry and sage – fine powdery tannins backed by liquorice and clove. Length of flavour and acid are very good indeed. Margaret River without doubt – home. Pure, with pretty florals.

Wine 2

Voyager Estate, Margaret River

94% cabernet sauvignon, 6% merlot

16 months French oak (50% new)

Savoury, salted red tomato, pomegranate, red liquorice and star anise. Spicy, full, succulent. Very layered, very good length of flavour. Very dense. MR

Wine 3

Terrazas de los Andes ‘Grand Cabernet Sauvignon’, Mendoza

100% cabernet sauvignon

12 months in French oak

We’re far offshore here – Italy? Meaty character on the nose, exotic spice – layered, spicy, intricate, long! This manages savoury freshness, interesting, almost amazing. Wouldn’t buy it.


Wine 4

Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac, BDX

70% cabernet sauvignon, 24% merlot, 4% cabernet franc, 2% petit verdot

18 months in oak (75% new)

Resinous oak on the nose, black fruits, fabulous tannin and texture – they carry the fruit over the coals of the palate. Great length. Love it. BDX.


Wine 5

Deep Woods Reserve, Margaret River

100% cabernet sauvignon

18 months in French oak

Textbook power and grace here – cooling acidity tightens up the palate, like a suit of armour around the fruit (comes with LOTR sound effects). The tannins make this very elegant. Very long.

Wine 6

Chateau Calon Segur, Saint-Estephe, BDX

76% cabernet sauvignon, 13% merlot, 9% cabernet franc, 2% petit verdot

100% new oak for 20 months

Leather straps, oak and midnight spice (star anise, pepper, all the black things etc). Saturating palate density – is modern BDX all over – the tannins are totally superior in shape and feel.


Wine 7

Chateau Montelena ‘The Montelena’, Napa

99% cabernet sauvignon, 1% cabernet franc

22 months in French oak (40% new)

Green peppercorn pate, the fruit is sweet, succulent, plump, pleasurable but almost mono-dimensional. Some American oak in there? Or an American wine… either way. No bay leaf/herbs to the red fruit, but there is an odd green character on the nose. Great length hints at high quality but this is not my style.


Wine 8

Cullen Diana Madeline, Margaret River

81% cabernet sauvignon, 10% merlot, 6% petit verdot, 3% malbec

18 months in barrique (40% new)

Creamy, cohesive/bonded tannins, the palate is densely packed with flavour and driven by tannins. The red fruit is long and salty… this is Margs, it could be nowhere else.

Wine 9

Cape Mentelle, Margaret River

90% cabernet sauvignon, 5% merlot, 5% petit verdot

18 months in oak

Leafy, floral, almost herbaceous, the palate is red fruited, salty and delicate. The oak is evident, and it makes a mark, but the tannins are fine. Brilliant length. Clove bud and aniseed. Yarra?

Wine 10

Mount Mary Quintet, Yarra Valley

45% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 16% cabernet franc, 5% malbec, 4% petit verdot

22 months in oak (61% new)

Salty, silky, delicate, fine, plump, beautiful wine. Umami/kelp/ferrous/iodine laced through the finish. What a wine! Yes. Yarra surely.


Wine 11

Vasse Felix Tom Cullity, Margaret River

82% cabernet sauvignon, 17% malbec, 1% petit verdot

19 months in French oak (61% new)

Pink peppercorn, pomegranate, raspberry, layered. This has finesse and power without weight… length of flavour and statuesque poise. This is why Margaret River is so great. Outstanding wine.

Wine 12

Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac, BDX

70% cabernet sauvignon, 23% merlot, 6% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot

18 months in French oak (60% new)

Salted meats again here. Power, poise, intensity, length. Powdery tannins. Lovely. IT perhaps?


Wine 13

Santa Rita, ‘Casa Real’, Chile

100% cabernet sauvignon

20 months in French oak (75% new)

WHAT IS THAT SPICE…. Black ant, pepper, nutmeg, xmas pudding, bonox, 5 spice… no idea. Hard to pin down. Warm, round, dense and cuddly. We must be in Chile? So foreign to me…


Wine 14

Spotteswood, Napa

89% cabernet sauvignon, 7% cabernet franc, 4% petit verdot

20 months in French oak (60% new)

Iodine, ferrous, medicinal herbs/Amaro. Different structuring and tannin shape. Prodigious length of flavour. We are far from home here, a place of warmth and sunshine. This is a beast. Beautiful, but intense. USA?


Wine 15

Leeuwin Art Series, Margaret River

98% cabernet sauvignon, 2% malbec

22 months in barrel

Pedigree Margaret River on show. Fine silty tannin, red fruit, brine, plump fruit profile – almost glossy in this context.

Wine 16

Xanadu Reserve, Margaret River

95% cabernet sauvignon, 5% malbec

14 months in French oak

Desiccated coconut, juicy fruit, lovely, very restrained but a touch flat? Plateau mid-palate, but very long. Margaret River, but where?

Wine 17

Chateau Leoville Barton, Saint Julien, BDX

93% cabernet sauvignon, 7% merlot

18 months in French oak (60% new)

Bordeaux for certain – great intensity of flavour, the tannins are countersunk into the fruit, almost embossed. The oak is sweet and expensive. Savoury spice is woven through the finish. Glorious. Yes.


Wine 18

Boekenhoutskloof ‘Franschhoek’, Franschhoek Valley, South Africa

91% cabernet sauvignon, 9% cabernet franc

18 months in French oak (80% new)

Salty red fruits, meat, spice, layers of texture, length and power. Balance and beauty. Savoury spice. Not sure this is exactly my style but it is certainly thought provoking cabernet of high order.


Wine 19

Chateau Margaux, Haut Medoc, BDX

89% cabernet sauvignon, 8% merlot, 2% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot

100% new oak

Red currants, succulent and intense, also sweet… great harmony and choral resonance… I realise I’ve drifted off in my own thoughts with this wine… the flavour lingers so. This is BDX, it is the best wine we’ve had today (this week/month etc) and it is the reason why we seek to make and drink better wine. Holy crapola.


Wine 20

Ornellaia, Bolgheri, IT

56% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot, 10% petit verdot, 9% cabernet franc

18 months in barrique

Mouth puckering tannin, savoury fruit, spice, great lenth. Very closed. I don’t want to drink this today, this week, or even within 5 years BUT the thundering length of flavours goes and goes… this is astoundingly good. Just a bit much tannin for early drinking.