Cabernet Sauvignon

Big bottle of Cabernet SauvignonMany would be surprised to find such a consistent run of intense, non herbaceous Cabernet Sauvignons from a South Island vineyard. Indeed there are not many at all in New Zealand, with various winemakers choosing for one reason or another to blend this marvellous variety with the (usually) not so marvellous Merlot. It is easy to see the reasons for this as very few NZ vineyards produce Cabernet without herbaceous characters and also Cabernet, by its very nature , is more tannic demanding either more time in the bottle or a public that is more used to drinking and appreciating these "structured wines". Although these wines are designed for "further down the road", one can appreciate them in their youth, knowing what the aged version will be like. They also generally sit well with food long before they reach maturity.

One often bandied around expression is "Bordeaux blend" with the insinuation that unless a wine is a combination of two or more of these Bordeaux varieties then it cannot be Bordeaux-like. While it is true that several varieties, including Cabernet and Merlot do exist side by side in Bordeaux it is by no means axiomatic that a wine has to be a blend. It is not uncommon for some of the very best wines to be of a single variety , depending on the season. It has more to do with the relative ripening conditions experienced by the varieties, often many weeks apart. To some Merlot is nothing more than an insurance policy.

Anyway, while there are undoubtedly some very fine NZ Cab-Merlots , Glovers is a very small vineyard with very low yielding Cabernet Sauvignon and thus we are able to , and would be irresponsible not to ,cater for the pure Cabernet fans. As the first wine was 1989 it is still too early to say what the cellaring potential of these wines is - certainly at least a decade and probably much more. They are very tannic in their youth and very concentrated - most years yielding at most 1.5 tonnes/acre. As the wines mature the tannins soften into "soft furry fruit tannins" and the wines achieve a fineness of the sort that occurs in developed Bordeaux wines. Most of them have blackcurrant/cedary notes and often chocolate and spices. They have all done time in top quality French oak but care is taken not to overdo this component of the wine.

It is true to say , as one would expect , the fruit characters in these wines have intensified as the vines have got older. I can't think of anything better to go with venison.

Cabernet Vintages:

    Enjoying wine
  • 1999 vintage: Early days but this could easily be the best of all. Colour is black/purple , with very good tannins and blackcurrant/boysenberry flavours abundant. To be bottled mid to late 2000.
  • 1998 vintage: Another excellent vintage with nice ripe fruit , blackcurrant and cedar ,long liver that should become very elegant. Due for bottling Oct/Nov 99.
  • 1997 vintage: In some ways Nelson's special vintage as we had it almost to ourselves. Not a big wine like say the 91 but very intense with very ripe fruit and potentially a very long lived wine. Already one can see the potential elegance and with the right food is great drinking.
  • 1996 vintage: Fair vintage but the Cabernet did not reach any dizzy heights. It was all bottled as Mt Lodestone Cabernet , a decent enough wine but lacking in the tannins and intensity of the Moutere label. It should continue drinking well for a few years yet.
  • 1995 vintage: Although the weather cleared up at the end of the season there was not enough heat to produce required tannins and the wine was bottled as Mt Lodestone. I have not tried it for awhile but it should still be nice drinking.
  • 1994 vintage: A very interesting vintage - not that hot but very kind never-the-less. The tannins are softer in this wine and the new oak a little more evident. It is continuing to intensify in the bottle and although nowhere near it's peak makes beautiful drinking now.
  • 1993 vintage: For many parts of NZ , including Nelson , this was the coolest year of the decade. A decent enough wine but a bit lean and in retrospect should not have been afforded the Moutere label. It has reasonable tannin and quite nice Cabernet flavours but there are better wines in the series.
  • 1992 vintage: Another cool year produced a wine that is a little austere but certainly nowhere near the end of it's time. I think that it needs a little more time to get a handle on it's potential.
  • 1991 vintage: A very big year for most parts of New Zealand and some very good Cabernets , some of which are still drinking well, many are not. The 91 Moutere is a very big wine, very intense, tannic and nowhere near peaking - it probably has another decade or so to go. It needs a little aeration to bring out the best.
  • 1990 vintage: Another good year for much of New Zealand and certainly good here. Our 91 Cabernet is not as big as the 91 but no lesser a wine. It has abundant soft fruit tannins,intense fruit and although it is a marvellous drink now , there is no hurry. Unfortunately it is an endangered species.
  • 1989 vintage: Our first and what an encouraging start. The grapes made 22Brix in April before the vines lost their leaves (young vines) and there was ample tannin and sweet blackcurrant fruit. The wine is still holding well but is probably not due for more improvement. Again an endangered species - the Bugatti Car Club bought one barrel back in 1990 - and ,I believe , drank most of it in a week.