My bro-in-law picked up a bottle of D'Arenberg's Galvo Garage, a wine I had been meaning to try for some time, so I decided a little blinded mano-a-mano with a Californian cab was in order (after all, he brought just one bottle...).
I am a big fan of d'Arenberg's wines, so it was no surprise that the 2004 d'Arenberg "The Galvo Garage" (Cabernet/Merlot/Petit Verdot/Cab Franc from McLaren Vale) went over so well - bright cherry fruit, subtle floral and spicy notes on the nose, a velvety texture with a tannic bite (the PV, perhaps?) on the palate. A loooong finish, this wine was a touch awkward in its youth but hints at greatness - stick it away for a few more years.
screw top. 14.5% alcohol
Price: C$26.95 (LCBO)
The 2001 Arbios Cabernet Sauvignon, a pure cabernet from the Alexander Valley, showed better the last time it was reviewed here. An attractive plummy/pruney nose, with leathery black pepper and oaky violet notes in support, but the first sip was all hot and alcoholly, hiding some lovely fruit and velvety tannins underneath. This may keep a few years, and was a bit better once the alcohol blew off.
cork. 14.2% alcohol
Price: US$32.50 + tax (Sherry-Lehmann)
Ok, so I now have at least three California vs. Australia "blinded head-to-head" tastings so far (1,2) - Australia has won all three, and in two of three cases the wine was cheaper than its American counterpart. Statistically insignificant, but trending in the wrong direction...