The distinguished cabernet sauvignon and its blends rank second only to shiraz as Australia’s top-performing variety this year. Flying solo, the dominance of Margaret River is complete, claiming more than half of the coveted positions in our best-of line up.
Second and third places rightly go to Coonawarra and Yarra Valley respectively, albeit both well behind Margaret River in sheer numbers. Hence it was an unexpected and refreshing outcome that the three contenders to come forward in our final judging would hail from Langhorne Creek, Pyrenees and the Yarra Valley. Even more surprising that the single Langhorne Creek listing in our top 28 should rise all the way to the top. No surprise at all for anyone who’s avidly following the rise and rise of 2018 Winemaker of the Year Paul Hotker at Bleasdale.
2023 Cabernet Sauvignon of the Year
98 points | Price when tasted $79
Open fermented, left 8–12 days on skins, matured for 12 months in French puncheons (20% new). A best-of-the-best barrel selection. The bright colour is as it should be, the bouquet rimmed with the violets that are often talked about (not by me, until, that is, you come across a wine such as this). Notes of cedar and cassis are not far behind in their appeal. Then the glory of this magnificent wine’s palate takes total control of all the senses, the sheer intensity of the fruit making the finely tempered tannins and French oak applaud from the wings of the stage. – James Halliday
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*This is an edited extract from the 2023 Halliday Wine Companion, with reviews by Dave Brookes, Jane Faulkner, Ned Goodwin MW, James Halliday, Erin Larkin, Jeni Port, Philip Rich and chief editor Tyson Stelzer.
Top image credit: Wine Australia.