Bloody good Cabernet

I have mentioned on countless occasions that I am not the biggest fan of Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines, however Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet is one that really tickles my fancy. Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet is a Western Australian Cabernet from Margaret River that is fun and serious, accessible and structured, approachable young and age worthy.

Deep Woods’ winemaker, Julian Langworthy – recently decorated as Australian winemaker of the year by James Halliday, is sure that Margaret River can make the best red wines in the world. To his mind, that means Cabernet. My, does he not show that off with the Estate Reserve Cabernet!

The Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet is usually made from the first vines planted at Deep Woods – they were planted back in 1987. This wine is entirely drawn from those plantings so, as this is a 2017 wine, the vines were exactly 30 years old when they produced this wine. This is a good, mature age from which to be making wines. However, they do not count as old vines by any stretch of the imagination.

Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet is not a cheap wine, but it is worth every penny. Deep Woods also produce a few Ooooh fancy bottlings of Cabernet in good vintages. I would avoid them if I were you. Not only are these priced like diamonds, but one also gets the feeling that they are simply trying too hard to be something different to that which the terroir is finely tuned to produce. Stick to the Estate Reserve Cabernet, it is proper Aussie Claret at its finest!

I would also avoid the wines that are designated as ‘single vineyards’ and are cheaper than this. They are usually Cabernet-Malbec-type blends and the last one I had the misfortune not to have avoided tasting was bloody awful. Just shell out the money and get the proper stuff, ok?

Previous vintages of Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet have been amongst the few Cabernet-based wines to merit a place in my cellar and wine fridge. My few remaining bottles after this will make it in one of those as well. However, as I said this is fun, it is riotously fun, and accessible to drink young, so I am going to enjoy this bottle with The Editor before and during dinner.

One last thing before I pop this, I will not be popping it! Like 98% of Australian wines this has a screwcap and hooray for that! Corks are detestable. With a screwcap there is no danger of the wine being ruined with cork taint, the wine will not oxidise and it will not get filled with bits of rotting tree bark when it is fully mature and you try to get the blasted thing out. As far as I am concerned, the sooner all wines are bottled with a screwcap the better, doubly so for those that will improve with age. Corks are a relic of the past – to hell with them!

Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet 2017Estate Reserve Cabernet 2017, Deep Woods

This has a highly attractive nose. It bursts with sweet, fresh, perfectly ripe blackcurrants. Fresh, you will note, not Crème de Cassis, not stewed, not jammy. Nor is there any hit of over ripeness, Deep Woods Estate Reserve may have highish alcohol at 14.5% but it does not have a heavy nose of sickly fruit. Fresh and perfectly ripe.

There are seasonings of cedar wood, pencil shavings, gravelly aromas and a hint – a hint, nothing excessive – of new oak vanillin. It is complex, fresh and, whilst youthful, totally accessible – you do not have to overmuse yourself to enjoy the nose of the Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet.

I would go as far as saying Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet 2017 smells like a barrel sample of very serious 2019 Claret. It has a lot of sweet fruit, it is somewhat boozy, it has typical Claret-y aromas, and it smells simply delicious. This is no splute, Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet is the cat’s cufflinks – you cannot wait to dive in and indagate what you know will be simply lubricious pleasures.

And they are! It has a lot of fresh, ripe fruit but, again, it is not the jammy fruit of typical Cabernet hailing from the Barossa Valley, neither is it a heavy soup monster of one from Napa. This vivacity to the fruit makes it a total joy to drink.

Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet enhances this joy and vivacity by having a brilliantly scintillating acidity present suffusing the palate with life and energy. It is a positive rejuvenating tonic of a palate.

The tannins of the Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet are ripe, but they have an idoneous level of firmness and rigour to them. Not the marcidity of the tannins from grapes left on vines for too long to build up excessive levels of booze. Not a generic Californian Cabernet, not a bog-standard Australian Cabernet, but a bold, vibrant, fresh, delicious Cabernet that could hold its head aloft in the very greatest company of Cabernet wines.

Again, I am reminded of 2019 Claret of the very highest levels. Sweet fruit, high alcohol and ripe tannins, yes, but no excess, no flab, no crapulence! Big and bold, but balanced and beautiful. It is a sophisticated charmer that makes one want to keep pouring more and more for one’s self. Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet similarly has a serious structure that will see it through a long life.

Quite brilliant.

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