98 Points Huon Hooke
Way back in the 1970’s, there were two vintages that came to define our Cabernet Sauvignon style, 1975 and 1976. As a consequence, we considered them almost like twins. They weren’t identical and each one drew attention because of their quality and style – the older sibling classically elegant and refined, the younger one plump and generous. Much debate has surrounded which was best. In his article in the West Australian, “High Five”, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the modern iteration of Margaret River, Ray Jordan noted the importance of them both but plumped for the ’75, as do we.
The idea of twins has come up again as we reflect on the style and quality of our new release 2015 vintage except this time they’re identical. We keep accurate records of vintage conditions and we have never had two seasons so alike as 2014 and 2015. The similarities between temperature, rainfall, season length and ripeness are remarkable. Down the track, it will be interesting to see who of the keen judges will be able to tell them apart in blind tastings.
As with human twins, their parents can usually tell them apart and we have some tips about the key things in the 2015 season which may help.
Most noteworthy is 2015 had near-perfect temperatures, with 1029 hours in the ideal range of 18 to 28⁰C. There was just enough extra warmth to really push Cabernet Sauvignon to ripe fruit notes, with the mercury spending 35 hours above 33⁰C and with a maximum for the season of 37.3⁰C on 3rd February, if you’re interested.
We even got some useful rain in February, something we don’t see too often, when 18mm fell in the first 2 weeks. The Cabernet varieties can benefit from that sort of top up, which allows them to finish the last 4 weeks of the season without excessive moisture stress.
The clue here is the ’15 has a predominance of the floral and black fruit notes and a nicely ripened tannin, perhaps slightly better integrated than its older sibling.
Mother Nature never lets us have things all our own way. During Spring, while Cabernet Sauvignon was flowering we had 70mm rain and 10 nights when the temperature dropped below 8⁰C, both of which disrupt the process. The result is yield was down 41% to 4.31 tonnes/hectare. While disappointing, this was nothing compared to the Petit Verdot which was down a whopping 81% to 0.77 tonnes/ha. Which is, of course, the next clue, because the influence of this variety is barely perceivable in the finished wine, contributing only 0.92%.
95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc & 1% Petit Verdot
“Deep red/purple colour, with a lightly toasty bouquet featuring some smoky oak, quickly giving way to violet and blackberry aromas with a sprinkling of dried herbs; the palate intense and fresh, clean and lively, with brilliant depth of dark and red berry fruit flavours. The acidity is refreshing on the finish and the tannins are firm and upright. This seems to be a more elegant style of Moss Wood, but still concentrated, and a long-term keeper. This is a great Moss Wood cabernet.” – 98 Points Huon Hooke