A bracket of 1994 cabernets

I was fortunate to taste recently a bracket of 1994 cabs blind, with a representative from each of the Yarra Valley, Coonawarra, Margaret River and Pessac-Léognan in Bordeaux.  The least expensive of this set in fact showed most impressively.  Aged Coonawarra probably deserves more attention than it gets.

Wantirna Estate Cabernet Merlot 1994
Wantirna Estate was planted in 1963 and now sits in a slightly unlikely position inside Eastlink in amongst Melbourne’s eastern suburban sprawl.  Their wines however are sought after, and deservedly so.  The 1994 cabernet merlot tasted here is holding on, by its nails only, to its drinking window.  It has high toned aromatics of dried tea leaves, tomato leaf and soy.  The palate has mid range length on the finish and piquant acidity.

Rating: Good

Château Haut-Bailly Pessac-Léognan 1994
1994 isn’t the greatest of Bordeaux vintages, but this Pessac-Léognan from Château Haut-Bailly remains of interest.  It has aromatics of caramel, blackcurrant, dried leaves and a sinewy, blood like character.  With time, it opened up with further licorice and olive notes, not unlike a Coonawarra.  Ready to drink now, the palate is mature, with a medium length finish and blackcurrant overtones.

Rating: Good to Very Good

Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1994
This bottle held up the least well of the bracket.  It continues my seemingly random walk of mixed experiences with Cullen wines.  Cloudy in the glass, it has aromatics of caramel, plums, soy, tomato leaf, cedar and baked fruit.  The palate is full bodied, with predominant soy and plum characters and medium to long length on the finish.  While possessing impressive length, this tasted a little clumsy and would be unlikely to improve from here.

Rating: Good

Wynn Black Label Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 1994
Despite being perhaps the most modestly priced wine in this set, it impressed.  Quite extraordinarily, it tasted like it was only a couple of years old.  A deep purple in colour, it has aromatics of blackcurrant, cigar box, sweet spices, clove and licorice.  The palate has between medium and long length and fresh acidity.  This may have a further decade left to evolve, and I expect would improve further in the bottle.  This is another example of a Coonawarra wine ageing extremely well.

Rating: Good to Very Good

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