Australian Cabernet Sauvignon review
Wine review of 5 Australian Cabernet Sauvignon red wines from Sainsburys, Morrisons, Tesco and Waitrose. Including one from the leading brand Wolf Blass. Each wine will be blind tasted by our panel and given a winehack rating, helping you to choose the best supermarket wine.
If a grape variety was a brand in its own right, not many of them would be truly global. Cabernet Sauvignon however is the Coca Cola of grapes. Almost every wine growing country produces some Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact you’re often drinking it even when you don’t realise, as it’s a key player in many of the world’s most famous wines. Left bank Bordeaux counts Cab Sav at its most prominent grape in the blend, as does Chateau Musar from Lebanon and countless other blends, often referred to as Bordeaux style.
Cab Sav itself is something of a blend in its own right, it came to be in the 17th Century in South Western France as a chance cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc grapes. It certainly favours warmer climates, hence its popularity in both Australia and California. It’s often associated with a grassy aroma and blackcurrant and cigar box notes with a hint of eucalyptus. It’s also a very tannic wine with high acidity so its normally either fermented or aged in oak to soften the tannins. The combination of tannin and acidity also makes it a perfect grape for ageing; hence it’s use in some of the most collectable wines on the planet.
In Australia, the first Cab Sav vines were planted in 1886 at Penfolds Vineyard, specifically the Kalimna Block 42 vines. Block 42 itself is probably the most famous Auzzie Cab Sav, only produced in the absolute best vintages and as such was only ever released in 1953, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1996 and 2004! From the Block 42 in Barossa came the Grange wines which are equally famous. Although never as popular on the export market as Shiraz, Aussie cab sav is growing in popularity and often makes for a better value buy than its American counterparts.
The blind tasting...
Given the prominence of cab sav in older, collectable (and expensive!) wines, it was interesting to see how a more modest supermarket range fared! We have 5 wines again this time with 5 tasters. Once again we plumped for a range around the £10 mark, the outlier being Lidl where the most expensive we could find to compare was £5.99! Lidl and Tesco were own brand offerings with Sainsburys and Morrisons offering branded options, plus we picked a bottle of the popular Wolf Blass Yellow Label as a final comparion which is available nearly everywhere it seems!
Classic flavours that are associated with Cabernet Sauvignon are…
As per the wine hack blind tasting rules all the bottles were fully covered so no one knew which they were tasting or in what order. So how did the wines compare?
Smell quite intense dark fruits, cherry, vanilla notes
Taste not too heavy, summer fruits, slightly tart but not overly so
Finish slighly lingers with moderate tannins, but not overly harsh
Buy this if… .you like, erm, mass label cab sav. You seem to see it everywhere and we are pretty shocked at our tastebuds and nasal gear delivering this wine the top spot! Still the blind tasting doesn’t lie… overall the consensus was it’s well balanced and rounded, if not overly complex
Smell warm, oak, plum, not overly powerful
Taste good balance of depth and smoothness, slighly surpressed blackcurrent, cassis
Finish smoothest finish and well balanced, hint of spice and sweetness
£11 (On offer for £9.50 at the time of writing)
Buy this if… you want the smoothest of the wines on offer here, a real contender particularly when discounted
Workshop Wine Co. Mastercraft Clare Cabernet Sauvignon, Morrisons
Smell potent…cigar box, leather and dark fruit
Taste lighter red fruits, slightly more acidic than others, zingy Vimto!
Finish smoother on the finish with vanilla hint
£11 (this was recently on offer for £7.50 and looks like it’s now out of stock at the time of writing)
Buy this if… you want those smoky notes but something slightly fresher on the palate. The slight acidity means we’d suggest it’s better with food
Smell slightly muted, chocolate, rubber
Taste Quite light on the palate compared to others, but pleasant
Finish medium length, hint of caramel but slightly bitter
Buy this if… you like a very good value rounded, if quite a light bodied cab sav. It seems a little unfair this comes 4 out of 5 and you can’t really go wrong picking it if you only want to spend £5.99!
Smell Quite powerful, blackcurrent and peppery hint
Taste tastes like the hangover has already started – harsh
Finish unbalanced, bitter and acidic
Buy this if… you like your wine dry as a badger – we had high hopes for this from the label and winemaker collaboration, but everyone felt it was harsh on the palate, the dryness seemed to overpower any nuance the wine may have had!
With thanks to our 3 guest tasters Catherine, Will and Natalia who joined the wine hack team for the latest blind tasting