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1996 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon
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- Closure: Cork
Tasting notes sourced from Cape Mentelle.
The fruit sourced for this wine comes from the estate's Wallcliffe Vineyard, planted between 1970 and 1973. The vines grow on gravel laterite soils derived from decomposed ironstone over gravelly, clay sub-soils. Vine spacing is 2200 vines/hectare with the vines trained vertically using a modified Scott-Henry method. All vines are cane pruned with some leaf removal in late summer to open up the canopy. Trickle irrigation is installed and used sparingly to maintain vine health.
1996 was a near perfect cabernet vintage characterised by mild growing conditions and a long ripening period. Spring began with enough rain to ensure that the vines got off to a good start with optimal vegetative growth. Sunny, warm weather from flowering through to berry set promised good yields. The odd shower kept vine growth vigorous up until Christmas, after which no rain fell until a brief shower in mid-March. Hot spells in January and February hastened ripening, leading to an early start to vintage with ideal conditions for good flavour development and full ripeness.
The cabernet was harvested in three batches beginning on March 21st, continuing on March 26th with the final batch picked on April 1st. Fruit arrived at the winery in top condition with ripeness ranging from 23.8 to 24.5 brix and acid levels between 6.6 and 5.5 grams/litre. The 26 year-old vines yielded a moderate 6.6 tonnes per hectare.
Fruit arriving at the winery is assessed for quality before being de-stemmed and lightly crushed so that high proportions of whole berries are conveyed to the fermenter. The must is left to macerate for a day before seeding with a neutral strain of yeast. Early vigorous extraction is followed by a gentle pump-over regime as the ferment proceeds. Cabernet stays on skins for up to 28 days depending on the health and ripeness of the fruit. The wine is inoculated for malolactic fermentation at this stage. It is pressed and racked twice before going into oak barrels, 75% of which are new, originating from Nevers, Allier and Troncais, coopered in France. The wine undergoes periodic barrel to barrel rackings and regular toppings with a final assemblage done in spring of the following vintage. After 21 months the wine is blended and coarsely filtered prior to bottling in February 1998.
Layers of quintessential cabernet aromas - brambles, blackberry, cedar and a dash of bayleaf – become increasingly complex with time in the glass. The wine is generously proportioned and multi-dimensional with blackberry and dark plum flavours merging on a seamlessly textured palate. Silky tannins, quality oak and a rich core of classy fruit distinguish this fine example of Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon. 14.4% alcohol volume.