Wine review — Majella, Balnaves, Howard Park, Moss Wood

Majella The Musician Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz 2008 $18
Barwang Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 $20

Prof and Tony Lynn’s Musician gives elegance a good name. It’s sourced entirely from the Lynn’s southern Coonawarra vineyard and made specifically for early drinking. It captures Coonawarra’s bright, magic berry aromas and flavours. And though it’s soft and easy to drink, it still has the structure of a real red. The sensational 2007 is still available around town, but we can move onto the vibrant 2008 with equal confidence when the 2007 sells out. I rate this as my top Australian red under $20. And for something chunkier and chewier, try the tight and tannic Barwang 2007 – a firm steak wine from the neighbouring Hilltops region.

Balnaves Coonawarra ‘The Tally’ 2007 $90
Balnaves Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 $35
Balnaves Coonawarra Cabernet Merlot 2007 $24

This one cuts the mustard in any company – a deep and powerful but elegant red built for long cellaring. It’s from two of Doug Balnave’s best vineyards and matured in top-notch new French oak – a classic example of ‘letting the wine eat the oak, not letting the oak eat the wine’. In a scaled down version, Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($35) goes more than half way to ‘The Tally’ while Cabernet Merlot 2007 ($24) delivers drink-now Coonawarra flavour and elegance. This is a terrific estate offering great value.

Howard Park Scotsdale Great Southern Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 $40
Howard Park Leston Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 $40
Moss Wood Margaret River Moss Wood Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 $100

Scotsdale Great Southern presents ripe-berry flavours – in a lovely interplay with oak – without the leafy notes seen in the Margaret River wine. To me it’s the more outstanding of the two in 2007. The law of diminishing returns applies to wine, too. So, no, Moss Wood isn’t two and a half times better than the $40 Howard Park wines.  But there’s discernibly more body, extra flavour concentration and a lovely slick, silky depth – in the taut, elegant regional mould. The lofty price reflects scarcity and a hard-won reputation earned over many decades by one of Margaret River’s oldest vineyards (founded 1969). Pure class.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009