The ICC group met on Thursday 7th April for a Tasting comparing New and Old World Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Actually this amounted to comparing New World varietal wines with Cabernet Dominated (Left Bank) Bordeaux. The clarets had a Cabernet content in the 65% – 80% range, in all cases Merlot being the most significant complementary grape, although all had some Petit Verdot, two also had a tiny amount (<3%?) of Cabernet Franc and one had a similar touch of Malbec! The wines were in pairs, but not blind, allowing us to compare wines of similar value directly. The approximate value of each wine in the first pair being: £14; the second pair: £16; the final pair: £20.

Here are my Notes:

“TECTONIA” (VOLCANES DE CHILE) 2012 (Maipo Valley, Chile)  –  14%  –  Stone, Vine & Sun
Nose is forward and striking with obvious black fruit, wood, vanilla – the palate follows closely with warm, impressive impact but the grainy – yet still sweet – early finish makes the wine seem simple and a little short although the finish itself has some length.
Ratings:        Quality:  13.5/20   Value:  13.5/20

EXHIBITION HAUT-MÉDOC 2012    –   13%     –     Wine Society
This is a typical claret composition, showing a savoury nose and less black fruit. The wine has a, dry palate with notes of mocha and damson fruit and a cool acid line asking to frame food. More lean and cool overall impression but similar quality…
Ratings:        Quality:  13.5/20   Value:  13.5/20

THE COVER DRIVE (JIM BARRY) 2011 (Coonawarra) –  14%   –      Stone, Vine & Sun
The is more balanced than the previous NW wine, the nose has blackcurrant and blackcurrant leaf notes – with aromatic herbs too, but contained within the general vinous quality of the nose – not a fruit-bomb. The palate has greener herby elements, eucalyptus, with sweeter fruit – cherry even – helped by some acidity building to a grainy, mouth-puckering finish… a step up.
Ratings:        Quality:  14.5/20   Value:  14.5/20

L’HÉRITAGE DE CHASSE-SPLEEN 2009 (Haut Medoc)   –  13½%   –    Wine Society
Another classic claret mix – and a nose with similar components, though with a smoky trace and better merged together. Palate has herby warmth with classic notes of cedar, oak and menthol and fruit more in the blackberry line. Quite sharp fruit acid persists into a grainy and grippy finish. Again – side by side the claret seems cooler, and a similar (IMO slightly bigger) step up.
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  15/20

RODNEY STRONG ALEXANDER VALLEY 2011   –   14½%      –   Wine Society
Very open wine: black fruit, vanilla. Palate full of woody warmth a warm herby line and black fruit building into soft chewy tannins and enough acidity to give freshness despite its weight, Striking with variety of aspect though all big, succulent and soft giving a curvaceous wine.
Ratings:        Quality:  15.5/20   Value:  14.5/20

“BARON NATHANIEL” PAUILLAC  2010 (Rothschild)   –   13½%    –    Fareham Wine Cellar
This has a high CS content, at 80%. Light fruit, again black-berry rather than -currant, with a dry woody undertow. The nose has power with drying fruit acidity and very supple and grainy (almost chocolate) tannins. Building to a long finish with a bitter black cherry note leading out. Again, cooler seeming (although the warmest of the three clarets) and good.
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  15/20

All in all an interesting tasting with many of the differences in styles well exhibited. In general the NW examples show fruit, some sweetness and have succulence… The clarets seem cooler, with food-friendly acidity and more nuance and cerebral pleasure. The quality – which pretty well followed cost – seemed to me to be more significant than style in this tasting, unless you have a preference for a specific style or want to match a specific meal…

Until next time…