Top 15 Cabernet Sauvignons
This year saw the drinks business build on its successful Masters series with the introduction of a competition dedicated to the world’s most widely planted grape variety, often referred to as the “King of the grapes”, Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Drinks Business Global Cabernet Sauvignon Masters stands out for its assessment of wines purely by grape variety rather than region.
Divided only by price bracket and whether the style was oaked or unoaked, the blind tasting format allowed wines to be assessed without prejudice about their country of origin.
Wines were scored out of 100, with those gaining over 95 points being awarded the top title of Master. Those earning over 90 points were given a Gold, those over 85 points a Silver and those over 80 points a Bronze.
The wines were judged by a stellar panel of Masters of Wine at Elysee restaurant in Goodge Street on 8 May.
The judges were: Mark Savage MW of Savage Selection, Sebastian Payne MW of The Wine Society, Demetri Walters MW of Berry Bros & Rudd, Rebecca Palmer of Corney & Barrow, Justin Knock MW of Encirc, Vanessa Cinti of CUT at 45 Park Lane and Hugo Rose MW of the Wine Investment Association.
Joining our MW’s on the judging panel were Patrick Schmitt, editor of the drinks business, and deputy editor Lucy Shaw.
With over 200 entries from nine different countries, click through to find out which wines topped our list…
15. Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 & Black Label Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Two wines from the Wynns stable struck gold in our competition. The former, John Riddoch 2010, was first made in 1982 and conceived as the flagship wine for the Coonawarra-based estate, while the latter, Black Label 2008 was first produced in 1954, with chief winemaker, Sue Hodder counting to carry the torch for the Coonawarra region.
14. Jackson Family Wines Stonestreet Monument Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Sourced from a handful of blocks situated on the spine of the primary mountain crest that runs through the Alexander Valley estate, the 2010 vintage includes a splash of Petit Verdot and Malbec to round out the Cabernet.
13. Bird in Hand Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
In 1997, Bird in Hand’s winemaker, Andrew Nugent, planted the seeds of the Bird in Hand vineyard and olive grove across 100 acres of fertile ground in the Adelaide Hills. The 2010 vintage of the resulting Bird in Hand Cabernet is made from grapes crushed in open top fermentors, this limited edition Cab is pumped over twice daily to maximise flavour and tannin extraction and then matured in tight-grained new and one year old French oak for 16 months.
12. Cederberg Five Generations Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Situated at over 1,000 metres altitude, Cederberg is one of South Africa’s highest altitude wineries. Run by fifth generation owner/winemaker David Nieuwoudt, the Five Generations Cabernet represents the pinnacle of what the estate can achieve with the variety, combining power and elegance.
11. Cono Sur Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
While better known for its plethora of Pinot Noirs, organically farmed Chilean Estate Cono Sur makes mighty fine Cabernet too. This single vineyard example comes from the El Recurso vineyard in the Maipo Valley whose alluvial soils contribute to the wine’s deep colour and aromatic complexity.
10. Terramater Altum Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Also hailing from Chile’s Maipo Valley is this lightly oaked Cab from an estate founded by three sisters – Gilda, Edda and Antonieta Canepa – in 1996.
9. Savanha Naledi Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Another entry from South Africa, according to its makers, Savanha wines offer “a taste of South African sunshine at every level, at the best value possible.”
8. Terranoble Reserva Terroir Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Another Chilean entry, this time from an estate in the Central Valley founded in 1993, the grapes for this Cab hail from Los Lingues, located in the footholds of the Andes mountains in the Colchagua Valley.
7. Taylors Promised Land Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
A single bottle of first growth Bordeaux first drew Bill Taylor to the Clare Valley with the intent of producing world-class Cabernet Sauvignon. This Cab in particular is crafted from quality fruit sourced from both the family’s Clare Valley estate along with grapes from Padthaway.
6. Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2009
Made in one of the world’s Cabernet heartland’s – Australia’s Margret River – the Stevens Valley site was chosen in particular for this Cab due to its gravelly slopes and a block of 35-year-old vines, which add to the complexity of the blend. Visitors to the estate are greeted by a giant Australian flag hoisted up onto the tallest flagpole in the country.
5. Bodegas La Rosa Finca La Escondida Reserve 2013 & Cientoquince CXV
Founded in 1892, Bodegas La Rosa has prided itself on making affordable Argentine wine for over a century. Based in Santa Maria, a province of Catamarca just south of Salta, the estate, owned by Peñaflor, reserves its best grapes for Finca Escondida Reserva, which are harvested by hand and, after fermentation, spend a year in French oak. The Cientoquince meanwhile, was created to mark the 115th anniversary of the estate.
4. Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Proving Chile has become a serious contender in the Cabernet steaks is this wine from Santa Rita. Hailing from the Maipo Valley, each lot is individually vinified for optimum ripeness and then aged in French oak barrels.
3. Torres Mas la Plana 2010
The first of three wines to achieve the top honour of a Master medal, Torres’ Mas La Plana is made from Cabernet grown in a 29 hectare vineyard of the same name in Penedès. Going against the grain, the Cab is housed in a Burgundy bottle and has been turning heads since it first came to be in 1970.
2. Pascual Toso Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Another Master winner, this award winner comes from Argentine estate Pascual Toso, which was founded in Mendoza by Piedmont-born Toso in 1890. Hiring Paul Hobbs to consult in 2001, today the bodega enjoys success in the international market. The hand picked grapes in the Reserve Cabernet hail from the Barrancas vineyard in Maipú.
1. Katnook Founder’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Topping our list is this Master medal winner from Coonwarra. Named in honour of the original land holding of John Riddoch, the founder of Coonawarra, according to its makers, the Founder’s Block range is styled for everyday drinking due to their fruit driven nature and “pure” Coonawarra character. Made using minimal oak maturation, approximately 15% of the 2010 vintage was matured in a combination of French and American barriques.