This cabernet, opened some 42 years after its vintage, speaks from a different and distant past. But its reach is neither a cold nor confronting one. Its expression of the comfort of familiar places sings loudly. “Place of origin is a matter of importance in any bottle of Australian wine. Grape variety is a matter of interest.” This quote from Eric Purbrick of Tahbilk from circa 1960 seems apt generally, but particularly so in the context of this Tahbilk cabernet from the 1971 vintage.
Tahbilk is of course one of the few Victorian wineries able to provide a more or less continuous narrative from the first boom in cool climate Victorian viticulture in the nineteenth century to the present day. And their 1971 cabernet proved to be an excellent wine, worthy of the acclaim that it has garnered.
WS Benwell wrote in 1960 in his book Journey to Wine in Victoria that those who do not know their Tahbilk reds well enough are apt to mistake its intensity of colour for a sign of extreme youth, and that it takes a long time to lighten out. And true to this guidance, decades later, the colour of the 1971 vintage is still strong at 42 years old. The wine wastes little time showing its wares, revealing a distinctive aroma of blackcurrants, intermingled with mint, tobacco and tar. It is almost sui generis, and is a worthy expression of a long standing central Victorian terroir. The palate is medium bodied, but its length is long, and its acid still fresh, with flavours of tobacco, blackcurrants and tar carrying through. An outstanding, complex, complete and interesting wine. History in a bottle. Outstanding
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