Wednesday, 2 April 2014

30 Wines in 30 Days - DAY 1

The Great Cabernet Tasting

When I signed up to attend The Great Cabernet Tasting at Lamont's Cottesloe wine store, I was not sure exactly what to expect:
Would it be a formal or casual affair?  
Would the demographic be aloof or relaxed?
Would I make a fool of myself as a novice taster?

As you can imagine, when I walked through the door I was a little nervous and uncomfortably aware of the fact that I was attending alone.  But I should not have been concerned - there were many lone attendees interspersed between the couples and work colleagues.  

My first impression was that it would be a fairly formal affair.  There were tables laid out with four wine glasses per setting, complete with wine judge styled tasting sheets. I introduced myself to the winemaker on my left and the fine wine merchant on my right, feeling even more out of my depth as they revealed their wine industry experience.  However, they soon had me feeling much more comfortable when they patiently ran through the conventions of the tasting and asked about my recent vintage experience.

John Jens, who has been described as "Perth's most enthusiastic and energetic wine retailer" by Qantas Magazine, was the host for the night.  He is the husband of chef Kate Lamont and a wine writer for the Western Suburbs Weekly. 

Amidst a regurgitation of impressive statistics about the success of Margaret River cabernets on the world wine stage, John conveyed his excitement for the evening's theme.  His platform for the night was that Margaret River wines only continue to improve, and therefore the selection before us was probably a suite of some of the best ever cabernets produced in the region.

I have included an abridged version of my tasting notes for the 16 wines, in order of preference.  Rather than bore you with detail, I've selected what I felt were the most outstanding/relevant features of each wine.

Probably the most controversial topic of conversation that arose throughout the evening's discussions was the differences in weight and intensity between the globally recognised wines from South Australia, and the more elegantly refined styles seen from Margaret River wines.  The question was whether or not it is necessary for Margaret River cabernet styles to move in this direction if they want to compete on the world export stage and command the $300-plus price point of the likes of Penfolds.

To be honest, I think it would be a shame to see Western Australia try to become something that it is not.  In saying that, John seemed adamant that Margaret River cabernet prices are likely to escalate in coming years as the world starts to recognise the success of the region as consistent, rather than a passing fluke.

It was an absolute privilege and joy to have the opportunity to taste such high quality Australian wines.  For those of you who are interested in the hard data on whether the night was worth the cost ($95), I've run a few quick calculations:

To purchase a bottle of every one of these excellent wines would have set me back $2,135.75 so, based upon an average of 7 glasses of wine per bottle, I gained $305 worth of value.  This does not include the invaluable learning experience I received through the knowledge of both the host and other attendees.

My take away tip from the night's tastings?

Buy up on premium Margaret River Cabernet while you can afford it!