A different perspective on Cabernet blends: The Wolf Blass Master Blend Classification 2012 tasting results

No doubt there’ll be a few blends featuring Cabernet Sauvignon at Encontro com o Vinho e Sabores in Lisbon today – I tasted more than a few in Alentejo last week.  Quinta do Mouro fielded my picks of the bunch which, typically for this genre, were dominated by Portuguese varieties.  Cabernet Sauvignon tends be the salt and pepper seasoning.  Vive le difference, as they say.

And so it proved for Wolf Blass this time last week, whose Black Label performed strongly in the London leg of the Wolf Blass Master Blend Classification blind tasting and, overall, came joint second out of a core of 18 wines which appeared in London and similar tastings in Melbourne and Toronto.

Hosted by Wolf Blass Chief Winemaker Chris Hatcher, the aim of this, the first Master Blend Classification was to “classify” a selection of famous Cabernet Sauvignon blends from the 2008 vintage from Bordeaux, Australia, Italy, South Africa, Chile and California, including all five Bordeaux first growths.    The judges, including yours truly, hailed from Australia, Asia, Canada, the US, UK and Europe.

That the Wolf Blass Black Label was the sole representative of the event’s 18 core wines to feature Shiraz (27%) – the rest were classic Bordeaux blends – undoubtedly contributed to the Wolf Blass’ strong performance.  It stood out to me as a benchmark example of South Australia’s very own Cabernet Shiraz blend –rich, flamboyant and relatively penetrable.

While it’s good to cast the net wider and shine the spotlight on some hitherto unsung heroes (neither Cabernet Shiraz or, for that matter, any Australian or South African Cabernet blends featured in the so-called Judgment of Paris or Judgement of Berlin), I reckon it’d really spice things up next year to include a few more Shiraz Cabernets, plus what about Coonawarra’s (admittedly thin on the ground) Bordeaux blends?

Below you’ll find the overall global rankings of the core 18 wines and, for what worth, my top five wines were Château Calon Segur (1), Château Lafite Rothschild (2), Château Montrose/Château Ducru-Beaucaillou/ Château Haut Brion (equal 3rd). Next up came the Wolf Blass Black Label jointly with Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Palmer, Verite La Joie (London’s no. 1) and Antinori Solaia.

The Wolf Blass MBC Media Toolkit (1) contains more details, including the complete list of wines for each event (around 30 at each event), the results of each tasting (London, Toronto, Melbourne) as well as the identity of the judges.

Number 1

Château Lynch-Bages – 92

Joint 2nd

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou – 91

Château Lafite Rothschild – 91

Château Léoville-Las Cases – 91

Château Montrose – 91

Vasse Felix Heytesbury – 91

Wolf Blass Black Label – 91

Joint 3rd

Château Beychevelle – 90

Château Haut-Brion – 90

Château Latour – 90

Château Margaux – 90

Château Mouton Rothschild – 90

Joseph Phelps Insignia – 90

Opus One – 90

Joint 4th

Château Giscours – 89

Sassicaia – 89


Château Cos d’Estournel – 88


Mount Mary Quintet – 84

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  1. Mahmoud Ali

    I believe that the Cab/Shiraz (or vice-versa) blend is one of Australia’s better wines and has sadly fallen prey to the single varietal mania.

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