08/04/2009 - 22:00

New cabernet kid on the block

08/04/2009 - 22:00


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ATTENTION all cabernet fans, there's a new kid on the block that's definitely going to shake things up a bit.

ATTENTION all cabernet fans, there's a new kid on the block that's definitely going to shake things up a bit.

Larry Cherubino launched the first cabernet under his Cherubino label at a cozy little dinner in the meat room at Mondos last week.

Its from the '07 vintage, it's Margaret River, it retails at around $85 per bottle and it certainly deserves to be considered among the top 10 cabernets in the country.

This wine looks nothing like the offerings from Moss Wood, 707 and Cape Mentelle. It is challenging, it's more light weight, it has much less oak and the fruit is picked earlier - all which give this maverick new wine a minerally, herby leafiness and a hummingly tight structure.

Now that's a very dangerous line to walk. Pick too early and you end up with those very unattractive green characters that popped up in the mid '90s from Margaret River cabernet.

So it was a brave move for Larry to make a wine in this style, and by gosh did he ever pull it off.

The 2007 Cherubino Cabernet is expressive, youthful and energetic. It jumps at you with bright red fruit notes and classic Margaret River eucalyptus and cassis beaming up from the bottom of the glass.

The mouth-feel is very long and gently gripping, it shouts Margaret River mintiness and there's a salty tang that I associate with the very best Margaret River wines.

It gets me thinking I might have to bring out the 'T' word. Terroir (tear wah) is a French wine term used to describe when a wine 'speaks' to the drinker of where it is from. Wines displaying terroir take elements of where they are from and display them in the glass; elements like soil, local flora, proximity to the sea, prevailing winds, slope of the vineyard, direction of that slope.

Terroir wines are more expressive of the vineyard than of the winery. They are very special wines that communicate with the consumer about their place in the world. Now, if you think all that sounds pretty romantic and a little over the top - I agree - which is why I'm very cautious to use the word terroir when describing any wine, but in the case of the 2007 Cherubino Cabernet, I think I'm justified.

This is Margaret River cabernet at its most exciting.

There are two other ranges of wine made by Larry, the 'Ad Hoc' range of eight wines retailing around $20 and the 'yard' range that sit in the $30-$40 bracket.

It's the Ad Hoc wines that excite me the most. This recurring theme of bright fruit flavours and minimalist handling is definitely present in these wines.

The labelling is pretty edgy, they are the sorts of bottles you want to keep and stick a candle in and put on your outside table.

My picks from the Ad Hoc range are the 2008 'wallflower' Riesling, which chalky, crisp and refreshing, and the 2007 'tree hugger' Chardonnay, which is the only interesting unwooded chardonnay I've seen from WA in years, and a good alternative to Marlborough sauvignon blanc.


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