I have been buying Moss Wood Cabernet since the early 1990s when it was hilariously cheap at Grape Ideas in Oxford, but I have no idea why I keep doing so: Cabernet rarely thrills me and neither do over-blown booze monsters. As it is currently the price of a pretty decent bottle of Burgundy I can only ascribe my purchase to sheer insanity. Good thing they put screwcaps on them these days.
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In addition to my regular, if mystifying, purchase of the top Cabernet I also scored one of Moss Wood’s Cabernet-based wines that retails at half the price: The Ribbon Vale vineyard Cabernet Merlot. I thought they would make an interesting little ‘compare and contrast’ blind tasting experience for my chums the neighbours who are more in tune with wines of this style.
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Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot ‘Ribbon Vale vineyard’ 2007, Moss Wood
My friends and I immediately commented on two features of this nose: its bombastic booze-quotiant and the powerful plum fruit character. This is certainly an alcohol-driven fruit-bomb, but at least the fruit is merely incredibly ripe rather than jammy. As I try to sniff past these monster characters much to my chargin I’m finding that there is perilously little else there. How unexciting. The palate has a ripe and rigorous tannic structure, plenty of ripe fruit, a sweet alcohol burn to the finish and… erm… oh… apparently nothing else. I can see this might appeal to the jejune lover of scale, it is well-made and asks no difficult questions of the taster, but I am finding this a deeply tiresome drink to be plodding my way through. Where is the harmony? Where is the beauty? This just flagellates my senses with its solid power without offering any further sensuously lewd pleasures after I’ve endured the pain. Not bad, just too turgid for me to continue thinking about.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Moss Wood
Hell’s bells this is even more themed on heady booze action, but I feel there is a bit more than that this time. Its blackcurrant fruit is ultra ripe and sweet, but is not even toying with the idea of stewed jamminess. Good. I’m also finding a distinct cedarwood aroma and definite gravel tones. Praise be, there is some complexity! That being said, the ‘well-titted-out Claret’ school of wines is not for me; if you like such things you’d love getting your nose anaesthetised by sniffing this. There is more to the palate as well: serious but ripe tannins are interwoven with loud blackcurrant fruit, rich, earthy flavours and a decent whack of harmonising acidity. Big stuff, clearly, but all its galumphing elements seem to combine synergistically to produce to a harmonious, complex whole. ‘Harmony’ is a word I rarely use concerning wines of this scale. That there is class here is hard to deny, but this wine is really not targeted at my aesthetic; perhaps I’ll remember not to buy some of the next vintage. However, I feel perfectly safe in recommending this to the lover of Cabernet with massive poonts; if that is the kind of thing you like it has exactly what it needs where it needs it in order to blow your knickers off. I should add that [link2post id=”449″]my experiences of ageing Moss Wood Cabernet have not been positive[/link2post].