Cabernet Sauvignon: Margaret River vs Great Southern
Western Australia’s Margaret River and Great Southern are two of the country’s greatest regions for Cabernet – we talk to Tasting Panellist Adam Walls to find out why.
In a little more than 50 years Margaret River has transformed itself into one of the world’s premium wine regions. The region that stretches from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin is blessed with one of the best grape growing climates anywhere in the world. It is heavily influenced by its proximity to the ocean and enjoys a warm and consistent growing season on a very regular basis.
As Adam explain, this provides the perfect conditions for world-class Cabernet. “This pure maritime climate allows a slow and full ripening period with little disease pressure. Margaret River Cabernet is arguably Australia’s best. The wines are medium to full bodied in style – flush with blackcurrant and bay leaf (a regional signature). The highlight for many is the tannins of Margaret River Cabernet. Suave and polished with latent power are a hallmark.’
Great Southern Grandeur
Great Southern is the most isolated wine region in the world and a large and multifaceted one to boot. It can be broken down into five sub-regions, each with its own distinct climate. Albany and Denmark are the most southerly and closer to the southern ocean. Mount Barker, Porongurup and Frankland River are all based further inland and at higher attitudes.
It’s the sheer size and varying attitudes across the Great Southern that mean it is be able to master any grape variety, including, as Adam describes, Cabernet. “Planted across the sub-regions, Cabernet is one of Great Southern’s flagship varieties. The wine are powerful and muscular. They are saturated with dark fruit flavours like blackcurrant and mulberry. Notes of tobacco and dried mint are common. The cooler climate and more southern latitude when compared to that of Margaret River mean the wines have tannins that leave a powerful and more robust impression.”
A Leading Light
One of Wine Selectors’ favourite producers, with access to some of the most amazing Cabernet vineyards in both Margaret River and the Great Southern, is Byron & Harold.
Their ‘Rags to Riches’ Cabernet Sauvignon is from Margaret River and shows meaty, savoury aromatics of salami and spice, with notes of cassis, cherry and violets. It has an elegant palate with flavours of cassis, plum and red fruits, with a savoury edge. Notes of mocha oak on the finish with tight, fine tannins provide length and structure to this wine.
Whereas the ‘Partners’ Cabernet Sauvignon is from the Great Southern and displays rich, dark, alluring aromas of morello cherry, blackcurrant, dark chocolate, cigar box and hints of dried bay leaf and mocha oak. A generous, yet elegant wine with rich dark fruits and a delicate, savoury spice. Intense fruit flavours marry well with the fine, chalky tannins, resulting in a wine displaying focus and richness through to the finish.