1982 – a royal prince and a Jimmy Watson winner
Cape Mentelle celebrated their 1983 Jimmy Watson Trophy win (they also won the 1984 Jimmy) by opening the 1982 Cape Mentelle Cabernet in distinguished company, that being four other 30 year old Cabernet wines from Australia and Bordeaux. It is not often that an opportunity to taste older wines comes along with our attention being captured by the endless parade of new vintages and to taste these wines brings the future back into focus.
1982 was the year of Prince William’s birth, we were singing along to Split Enz’ ‘Six Months in a Leaky Boat’ & still humming Men at Work’s ‘Down Under’ and while our hair was getting moussed higher and higher, flouros had not yet ‘whammed’ in. It was also a stunning year in Bordeaux according to experts Berry Brothers and Rudd and an excellent year in Margaret River, Coonawarra and Yarra Valley according to Langtons.
When asked what he finds most exciting about making Margaret River Cabernet, Rob Mann, Cape Mentelle’s winemaker gets as lyrical as his wine and rightly so. ‘If the divine creator wanted to recreate the earth and in it have the perfect place in which to grow Cabernet to its greatest potential it would look a lot like Margaret River. The combination of influences in Margaret River are unique in Australia and are best suited to ripening the tannins in Cabernet Sauvignon while maintaining varietal fruit purity which affords the winemaker a great opportunity to make truly great wines.’
Of course, you would expect quite a few changes over the years such as the bottle being adorned by screw cap and a few label changes. However the grapes that have made the 2010 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon have come from the same vineyard as the 1982. The vines which were in their tweens effectively in 1982, are now matured 40 somethings, bringing intensity and concentration to the wine.
In the words of Rob Mann, ‘The style of wine produced at Cape Mentelle has evolved over the last 40 years as a result of many influences. Consumer trends, vine maturity, viticultural and winemaking practices have all played a part and despite harvesting at different maturities and changes in the use of oak, maceration times and blend percentages (in the case of the Cabernet Merlot) the wines have always been expressive of their origin which no amount of evolution has been able to mask. This is a great strength of our region that the wines have a unique character which is what we as a producer want to highlight more than anything in our wines.’
‘As a result, we are moving to improved fruit quality in the vineyard, berry by berry sorting for red grapes, a simplified winemaking approach, less new oak and moderate alcohol levels all with the one aim of making something fascinating to drink.’
Here is a look at some of the current vintages on offer from Cape Mentelle:
Cape Mentelle Chardonnay 2011: A rich stonefruit, citrus and vanilla styled Chardonnay with a rich dollop of cream that is still elegantly bodied and a great food wine. ($39)
Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2010: Packed with ripe black fruit, nutmeg, vanilla and dried herbs with some cola on the palate. A firm wine with dense concentration and a fine supple long length. Enjoyable now but is a good candidate for the cellar. ($40)
and the 1982…
Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon 1982: Mint dominant with tomato bush, cedar, black currant and spice aromas joined with black olive on the palate. There is charm and elegance to the body and alcohol and the tannins are powdery fine along the menthol length.
You too can taste Cape Mentelle Cabernet against the rest of the world at the Cape Mentelle International Cabernet Tasting on Saturday, 10th November at the Cape Mentelle Margaret River winery. At this year’s tasting there will be a line up of 20 Cabernets of the 2009 vintage from around the world. The final line up will be revealed on the day after the wines have been tasted blind. This will be followed by a long lunch in the garden accompanied by the Cabernets from the tasting.
images sourced from Cape Mentelle