It is so refreshing to taste a young, inexpensive Cabernet not necessarily designed for immediate consumption: tight and un-effusive. By “un-effusive”, I don’t mean un-perfumed, weak or awkwardly rigid, it’s just we are all conditioned by giant, effusive wines jammed up with oak and plush concentration–the early hook of beauty designed for a generation of wine consumers who–statistically–drink things entirely too young–often right off the shelf. As a reviewer, one has to be careful with wording such as this as to not *scare away* the 99% into thinking the wine is “not good”. Fortunately, I believe most of my readers ‘get the point’. This wine IS very pretty. Now. But at the same time there are nuances built into it BEGGING for 5-10 years of rest.
Black black black staining purple, barely thinning at the edge. Stemmy eucalyptus on a chalky, cardboard base carry concentrated cherry and blackberry down a dirty wet road. Smoky Naugahyde and freshwater fish create a baseline earthy and distinct, the fruit hiding in nooks and crannies barely popping out of a nose promising acid, tannin and un-sluttiness. And again: we are all conditioned to Australia being the King of Ripe–pumping out 14+ jam stews LONG before California (and now France) followed suit. This is not one of those wines. This thing has old-world Bordeaux and early Napa written all over it. Decanted heavily.
Juicy and delicious in the mouth, but the berry is a violent mash of crushed seeds and pith. It literally drinks like a barrel-sample, taking me back to the days of purchasing futures long before release. Green, acidic, and mouth-wiping in structure, sweet, thin fruit cascades over rocky falls of tenacious grip. There’s lush floral, leather and tobacco IN there, but it takes a careful search. I feel this is a fairly new addition to the Penfold’s roster, placed squarely in price down between Koonunga Hill and Kalimna. Buy a case. Drink one now, so you can experience the beauty of a wine built like this and agree with my review, of course, then lock the remaining 11 up far away where NO ONE will find them for at LEAST 5 years. You’re gonna thank me.
2018 PENFOLD’S ‘Max’s’ Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia 14.5