Saturday, June 09, 2007

Cabernet Sauvignon - Australia vs. California

My orignial intent this evening was to compare a cab-dominated Bordeaux to the Vasse Felix acquired at Edward's suggestion. Unfortunately, my Bordeaux are too young, and I could not find a good match of similar price/similar vintage. Thus, I threw in a Californian to see what would happen.

The following wines were tasted head-to-head tonight, unblinded, and in the presence of grilled steak. It is interesting to note that while both of these wines hail from world famous winemaking countries, this was not a heavyweight 'Napa vs. Coonawarra' match, as both wines are from more 'off-the-beaten path' wine regions.

2003 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon (Margaret River)
2003 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles)

Vasse Felix is one of the pioneers of Australia's Margaret River winemaking region. Rather difficult to find here in Canada, Edward's recommendation led me to acquire some of the last few bottles in Quebec. The 2003 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon was a deep cherry red, and started off very smokey and vegetal. Fresh red cherries, violets, green pepper and leathery, it was very Bordeaux-like on the nose. On the palate it was medium-bodied and well balanced, with crisp acidity, supple tannins and bright cherry fruit. A lengthy finish, this wine probably needs a few more years in the cellar to pull together. A better match for tonight's marinated steaks.
14% alcohol
Score: 17.5/20
Price: C$34 (SAQ)

The wines of Justin are not available here in Montreal, so I bought this in Toronto (before it disappeared there). The 2003 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon representing California has been tasted here previously, but I scored it higher tonight. Very dense purple in colour, it was also very smokey and vegetal, but with a dark cherry fruit. Minty, with cocoa and tar in the background, it was slightly less impressive that the Vasse Felix. On the palate the unfiltered Justin was very powerful - medium to full-bodied with jammy cherry fruit and firm tannins. Nice, but missing some of the complexity of the Aussie above. This wine will improve, and is great drinking on its own.
14.5% alcohol
Score: 17/20
Price: C$30 (LCBO)


Edward said...


I'm glad you liked the wine. Vasse Felix is in the 'dress circle' of Margaret River - very close (neighbours in fact) to Cullen and also near Moss Wood.

All three properties were started by medicos with an inclination to booze. (who would have thought that. . .)

Joe said...

I was waiting for you to reply...nice wine, and I have two more bottles to monitor their development. Medicos with an inclination to booze? Shocking!