11/11/2010 - 00:00

The big taste-off

11/11/2010 - 00:00

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I’M not sure if you’ve noticed, but the Great Southern has been producing some blindingly good cabernets over the last few years. There is talk around the traps that they may even be challenging Margaret River for the title of best cabernet region.

The big taste-off

I’M not sure if you’ve noticed, but the Great Southern has been producing some blindingly good cabernets over the last few years. There is talk around the traps that they may even be challenging Margaret River for the title of best cabernet region.

A few of us scribes got together to settle this once and for all, to pit the best of Margaret River against the best of the Great Southern.

We chose the fantastic 2008 vintage and ended up with 17 wines in a blind line-up with the sole purpose being to help their team gain supremacy in this most important of competitions.

We filed in to the tasting room at Lamonts Cottesloe with an air of anticipation, we felt like the proverbial wild-west shopkeep watching as two gunslingers faced off in the middle of the street at high noon – in the Margaret River posse were names like Cullen, Moss Wood, Heytesbury, Cape Mentelle. The Great Southern sharp shooters were Jack Mann, Howard Park, Forest Hill and Plantagenet. With relish, we swirled and sniffed through these heady brews, wondering if the little brother from further south could match it with the big boys of Margs.

Before we get to the result, I have to make mention of the overall quality of the tasting – of the 17 wines, I only pointed two wines under 17/20, while nine of the wines scored 18.5/20 or above. I don’t recall a line up ever showing as consistently high scores as these. Regardless of origin, all wines had excellent balance, and displayed considered and consummately professional winemaking, very good to superb quality and length of fruit.

Of my top nine wines, five were from Margaret River. My top three (from third to first) were Howard Park (Great Southern), then Moss Wood (Margaret River) with Cullen (Margaret River) taking the top spot – just.

Margaret River has been turning out the best cabernet in the country for more than 25 years – that’s not me being parochial, it’s a fact – and it sits comfortably on the international stage as an often cheaper, more reliable, riper alternative to the great cabernet predominant wines of Bourdeaux and the Napa. After a tasting like this it is obvious that the wines of the Great Southern have a rightful place beside their northern contemporaries, especially considering that the average retail price of the Great Southern wines is just more than half that of the Margaret River wines.

So who won? Well it was close, very, very close. My average score for Margaret River wines was 18.8, those from the Great Southern scored 18.4.

In real terms this means that, as wine lists across Perth become more diverse, it’s comforting to know that we don’t have to look any further than our own backyard to find the very best the world has to offer.

 

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