The dawn is rising on another vintage and, as David Pike discovers, it could be a pretty good one.

IT has approached that time of the year when I get to see dawn on a daily basis.

The grapes have started heading into wineries around the top of Margaret River over the past few weeks, with the southern wineries just really getting under way.  Glorious sunshine with some fairly strong winds is making for a better mood among winemakers and viticulturists.

In fact, if the warm days and cool nights continue then who knows, it could be considered a pretty smart vintage. Chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are coming off the vines at the moment and, except for a little botrytis (most of which has been cut off and dropped), the fruit looks quite good.

Still sparing a thought for those grape growers in Coonawarra I thought I would take a look at my tasting notes from a few months back when Katnook winemaker Wayne Stehbens was in town to show his current release of Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon.

Odyssey is a remarkable wine that spends an inordinate amount of time in oak – around 36 months – before being released.

It is a powerful wine that ranks with Australia’s best cabernets, all be it in what some would describe as an old fashion style.

Coonawarra produces magnificent cabernet-based wines, but does Margaret River produce better?

Something old

Katnook Cabernet Sauvignon Odyssey 1992 19/20

Powerful and vibrant aromas, with violet and blackcurrant cassis notes, typical touch of green leaf and leather notes.

The palate is showing delightful sweet and a savoury fruit, still rich with cassis dominating notes, undertones of damsons, seamless tannin and integrated acidity, a great length of flavour. Still with a few years ahead of it but if you have some in your cellar then best knock the top of it sooner rather than later.

Something new

Katnook Cabernet Sauvignon Odyssey 1998 18.5/20         

Massive wine, deep red colour, intensity of fruits with damsons, spice, cassis and cigar box aromas, and a nudge of coffee mocha.

The palate still needs plenty of time to integrate. Right now it is full of ripe rich fruits, tight tannins, a touch of green leaf mint, spice and some extractation. Plenty of length and persistence.

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