It’s easy to be a fan of Moss Wood cabernets, and the 2020 only adds to the reputation.
Moss Wood cabernets have sparked plenty of conversation since their first release in the early 1970s.
Initial commentary was quite unfavourable, particularly from those who believed it a nice wine that might last a few years but was hardly ageworthy.
Its softness and early approachability at a time when great wines were often measured by tannin, extract and ripe fruit flavours, resulted in the wine being totally misread.
How those naysayers must feel now with the benefit of hindsight.
Even those very early wines, off vines just a few years old, subsequently lasted 20 and 30 years, resulting in mature wines of extraordinary complexity.
Of course, these days it is one of the most eagerly anticipated, revered and highly collectable of all Australian wines.
Against that background, the 2020 vintage Moss Wood cabernet sauvignon has just been released and it is another stunning wine.
I suppose over the years I have been guilty of gushing more hyperbole and superlatives over the Moss Woods than almost any other wine, and here, once again, I am at risk of going over the top.
Let’s cut to the chase. I love the 2020.
Yes, it’s a little different from other recent releases but it is still unmistakably Moss Wood.
The most striking thing is that this is one of the prettiest and perfumed of any Moss Wood I can recall.
And that’s saying something, because Moss Wood is known for its perfumes and aromatics as much as its soft palate profile.
This one is also somewhat closed and restrained on the palate, with its firm thread of chalky tannin holding things tightly, to the point where I suspect it will be at least 20 years before it starts to reveal its true potential.
And sadly, probably around the time it is at its tertiary peak, I will have left this mortal coil.
Now, for all that, there is one small problem.
A late season hailstorm resulted in a significant drop in crop, so the 2020 is in very short supply.
You best get on the good side of your local liquor store, then.
Moss Wood Ribbon Vale chardonnay 2022 ($84)
This is a decidedly fresh and fragrant chardonnay that provides quite a point of difference to the standard Moss Wood. It’s made in the same way yet the Ribbon Vale vineyard speaks its individuality. It’s flavoursome with light stone fruit and a more subtle creamy vanilla bean character. The palate is generous and full, yet the nectarine and lime edges provide a tightening and focusing effect to take the wine through to a long finish. A little flick of acid on the finish, and there you have it, a mighty good wine for now or medium-term cellaring.
Cellar: 10 years
Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Elsa 2022 ($80)
A sauvignon blanc that takes you into another zone. Full malolactic fermentation contributes to its rich generous creamy texture while the use of oak, with about 6 per cent new, adds a defining lift through the palate. The nose offers all manner of things from melon, spices and pear with a varietal gooseberry note. On the palate you get into even more, with layers of honey and lemon curd quite dominant. It’s almost languid and effortless but gathers pace to a long finish.
Cellar: 10 years
Moss Wood cabernet sauvignon 2020 ($167)
Another simply sublime edition of this great wine. The volume of fruit was down almost 60 per cent but the small berry influence has added even more intensity and depth, if that is possible with this wine. Interesting point of difference is that the combination is slightly different from previous vintages with 90 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 3 per cent cabernet franc and 7 per cent petit verdot. The petit verdot certainly brings a darker berry influence with slightly firmer tannins. The aromas are seductively perfumed with a combination of violet and redcurrant with a subtle black olive and mulberry. But the palate, oh the palate, is simply a joy. Smooth, graceful lines with fine chalky tannins supply essential definition and support and harmoniously played oak. At the moment it is quite restrained but with age, a treasure trove of delights will be released. It is a wine destined for even greater things. Extraordinary.
Cellar: 30 years
- Ray Jordan is one of Australia’s most experienced and respected wine journalists, contributing to newspapers and magazines over more than 40 years. In 2017 he co-authored The Way it Was: The History of the early years of the Margaret River Wine Region