Cabernet & Shiraz
There was little to excite the judges in this new category. Here’s hoping for better things from the pair in 2012

With a growing number of Cab/Shiraz blends coming in, we decided to give the wines
their very own shiny new category for this year’s competition. Sadly, as often happens
with such neophytes, the category proved something of a damp squib.

For starters, there wasn’t, bar a few exceptions, much to get excited about. More surprisingly, perhaps, there was a not insignificant number of pretty poor examples
at the lower end.

The Oveja Negra sneaked a Bronze on the basis that its shamelessly commercial style would see it sell by the bucketload in gastropubs and cheaper steakhouses, but none of
the other sub-£6 wines picked up any medals at all.

‘The cheap ones were not good,’ intoned Mark Deamer. 

There wasn’t much at the top end to counter this either. Given that there are some
pretty decent Cab/Shirazes kicking around Down Under, it was odd to see so few wines
of any ambition entering, and it was disheartening that price rarely bore any relation
to quality in the bottle for those that did make it.

‘For some of the more expensive wines, we just thought they were having a laugh,’
said Team Leader Caspar Auchterlonie.

All in all, this was a category that confounded expectations and raised eyebrows,
but not in a good way.


Penfolds Koonunga Hill Seventy Six Shiraz/Cabernet 2009, South Australia
£7 @ Treasury Wine Estates
With blackberry, cherry, strong eucalyptus notes and a hint of vanilla spice on the nose, the palate is juicy with enough acidity to balance the blackcurrant, black cherry and plum fruit.

Wirra Wirra Church Block 2009, McLaren Vale, South Australia
£9.97 @ Stevens Garnier
Deep and dark, black and glossy-looking, this red is perfumed with violets, and eucalyptus and mint, with the menthol-theme continuing onto the palate alongside cool black fruits. ‘Premium quality,’ observed Emily O’Hare.


Oveja Negra Winemakers Selection Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah 2009, Maule Valley, Chile
£5.74 @ Hallgarten Druitt
This has a silky sweetness of plummy, brambly spicy fruit married with textural, savoury liquorice and acidic freshness. ‘Good value and good drinkability,’ said Charlotte Jonasson.

Editorial feature from Imbibe Magazine – May/June 2011

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