While Australia and Chile are well known for the quality of their Cabernet Sauvignon, other countries are snapping at their heels, with China and Israel in particular impressing in our annual blind-tasting competition, writes Alice Liang.
Robust yet approachable, Cabernet Sauvignon has long been a staple in consumers’ cellars. “In Hong Kong, Cabernet Sauvignon has become a brand name for people to go after,” said judge Jessica Ochoco, senior sales executive at Altaya Wine. “Most of them encountered the grape variety because of Bordeaux, but thankfully, after getting on with the first growths, they are willing to explore the same variety made in other regions.”
The dbAsia Cabernet Sauvignon Masters brought together entries of 100% Cabs along with blends made up of at least 50% of the grape variety from popular New World countries, such as Australia and Chile, to up-and-coming gems, namely from China and Israel. The panel was able to explore the potential that the grape variety can offer.
As one of the world’s biggest producers of Cabernet, Australia showed how good it is as a producer. Penfolds, the powerhouse of Australian wine, achieved a Master with its exceptional Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2017.
The Cabernet-dominant blend impressed independent wine educator Rebecca Leung with its “supple concentration of vibrant fruit and floral flavours”. Leung said the wine was ready to enjoy now.
The panel also raved about the wines from Wakefield Taylors. Priced under HK$100, both Wakefield Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 and Taylors Reserve Parcel Cabernet Sauvignon won Gold as they proved to be outstanding value for money.
According to Derek Li, Group Sommelier at JIA Group, the former has a “juicy and firm tannin structure topped with mint and herbal notes”, while the latter offers “an intense fruit flavour with a hint of cedar wood”.
Moving upscale, the winery’s costlier wines were awarded Silver medals. Hugo Poon, head of sourcing at Quintessentially, said: “The Wakefield Taylors St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (HK$250) boasts an impressive iintensity. The acidity integrates with the sweetness perfectly. Meanwhile, in Wakefield Taylors’ The Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, I spotted rich scents of coffee, vanilla and cherry with a nice finish.”
Chile is another country well known for good-value Cabernets. A couple of New World Cab stars are produced in Central Valley regions such as the Maipo Valley and Colchagua Valley. In our competition, Luis Felipe Edwards Family Selection Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, costing less than HK$100, took home a Gold medal. Li said:
“The wine exudes rich and intense flavours of plum, violet, nutmeg and cinnamon. This is an easygoing wine that I find very enjoyable.” Meanwhile, Luis Felipe Edwards Doña Bernarda 2015, a Cabernet blended with Carmènere, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, was awarded a Silver medal in the competition.
Other hightlights in the competition included Silver medallists Viña Carmen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 and Viña San Pedro Tarapaca Gato Negro Cabernet Sauvignon 2019. Both wines are good value, having a price tag of less than HK$100, showing the value of Chilean Cabernets.
As an emerging wine-producing country, China shone in the competition by showcasing the graceful development of its wines. Hailing from Tianjin, Dynasty Fine Wines received Silver and Bronze medals respectively for its Premier Royal Selection – Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2008 and Wisemenship Collection – Ravissantia 2010 respectively.
Carrying a price tag of HK$301 and above, the panel preferred the former as “it offers a lot of tertiary notes such as espresso coffee, caramel, toffee, and dried plums, while being powerful in style,” said Ochoco.
The Upper Galilee region in Israel has started to gain a good reputation for the wines produced there. Situated at a high altitude, Barkan Vineyards is located in the cooler northern part of the region. The high performer stood out in the competition by winning two Gold medals. Named according to the height at which the grapes are grown, The Altitude Series achieved recognition from the panel.
In particular, Gold medallist Altitude Series 624 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 delivered “a fantastic body and richness,” according to Vincent Chue, beverage director at Tapa Room. He added: “The use of oak is apparent, but it is well balanced, and shows high drinkability.” Meanwhile, Cabernet Sauvignon Superiore 2016, which also won a Gold medal, showed a totally different profile. Li said: “The wine is pleasing and elegant. I am attracted to the intense characters of cassis, roasted coffee beans and nutmeg.”
Unoaked – 100%
|V.E.S.A.||Birds of Paradise Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon||Central Valley||Chile||2018||Bronze|
|Vinedos Emiliana||O Reserva||Central Valley||Chile||2018||Bronze|
|V.E.S.A.||Gamma Reserva||Central Valley||Chile||2018||Bronze|
Oaked – 100%
|Taylors||Taylors Wakefield Estate Cabernet Sauvignon||Clare Valley||Australia||2018||Gold|
|Taylors||Taylors Reserve Parcel Cabernet Sauvignon||Clare Valley||Australia||2018||Gold|
|Viña Carmen||Carmen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon||Maipo Valley||Chile||2018||Silver|
|Vinedos Emiliana||Indigo Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon||Maipo Valley||Chile||2017||Bronze|
|HK$101 – HK$200|
|Tempus Two||Pewter Series Cabernet Sauvignon||Coonawarra||Australia||2017||Silver|
|Vina San Pedro||1865 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon||Central Valley||Chile||2018||Silver|
|Viña Santa Rita||Santa Rita Floresta Cabernet Sauvignon||Maipo Valley||Chile||2018||Silver|
|Nepenthe||Altitude Cabernet Sauvignon||Adelaide Hills||Australia||2017||Bronze|
|McGuigan||The Shortlist Cabernet Sauvignon||Coonawarra||Australia||2017||Bronze|
|Katnook Estate||Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon||Coonawarra||Australia||2017||Bronze|
|HK$201 – HK$300|
|Barkan Winery||Altitude Series 624 Cabernet Sauvignon||Galilee||Israel||2016||Gold|
|Allegiance Wines||The Artisan Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon||Margaret River||Australia||2014||Silver|
|Barkan Winery||Altitude Series 585 Cabernet Sauvignon||Galilee||Israel||2016||Silver|
|Barkan Winery||Altitude Series 720 Cabernet Sauvignon||Galilee||Israel||2016||Silver|
|Taylors||Taylors Wakefield St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon||Clare Valley||Australia||2017||Silver|
|Vina Tarapaca||Gran Reserva Tarapaca Etiqueta Negra||Maipo Valley||Chile||2018||Bronze|
|Katnook Estate||Katnook Founder’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon||Coonawarra||Australia||2017||Bronze|
|HK$301 – HK$400|
|Dynasty||Wisemenship Collection – Ravissantia||Tianjin||China||2010||Bronze|
|HK$401 – HK$800|
|Dynasty||Premier Royal Selection – Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve||Tianjin||China||2008||Silver|
|Taylors||Taylors Wakefield ‘The Visionary’ Cabernet Sauvignon||Clare Valley||Australia||2016||Silver|
|Allegiance Wines||Unity’ Cabernet Sauvignon||Margaret River||Australia||2015||Bronze|
Oaked – Blend
|Luis Felipe Edwards||Family Selection Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon||Colchagua||Chile||2018||Gold|
|Vina San Pedro||Gato Negro Cabernet Sauvignon||Central Valley||Chile||2019||Silver|
|Vina San Pedro||Gato Negro Cabernet Sauvignon- Merlot||Central Valley||Chile||2019||Bronze|
|Viña Santa Rita||Medalla Real Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon,||Maipo Valley||Chile||2017||Bronze|
|Taylors||Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon||Clare Valley||Australia||2016||Bronze|
|Vina Chocalan||Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon||Maipo Valley||Chile||2018||Bronze|
|Vina San Pedro||Gato Negro PeRRRfect Red Blend||Central Valley||Chile||2019||Bronze|
|Alpaca||Alpaca Cabernet Sauvignon||Central Valley||Chile||2019||Bronze|
|Alpaca||Alpaca Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot||Central Valley||Chile||2019||Bronze|
|HK$101 – HK$200|
|Vina Chocolan||Gran Reserva Origen Cabernet Sauvignon||Maipo Valley||Chile||2018||Silver|
|Vina Tarapaca||Gran Reserva Tarapaca Cabernet Sauvignon||Maipo Valley||Chile||2018||Bronze|
|Viña Carmen||Carmen Delanz Alto Jahuel||Maipo Valley||Chile||2018||Bronze|
|HK$201 – HK$350|
|Luis Felipe Edwards||Doña Bernarda||Colchagua||Chile||2015||Silver|
|Vina El Principal||El Principal||Metropolitana||Chile||2015||Silver|
|Vina El Principal||Memorias||Metropolitana||Chile||2016||Bronze|
|HK$351 – HK$500|
|Penfolds||Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz||Barossa Val||Australia||2017||Master|
|Barkan Winery||Cabernet Sauvignon Superiore||Galilee||Israel||2016||Gold|