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Corker of a red scores a rare 99

Points: 99
Rating: Stars

Ray Jordan has had almost as many wines as waters but he can still be impressed, today bestowing on a couple of married Margaret River vignerons his highest-ever score of 99 out of 100.

The Weekend West’s wine writer said Moss Wood’s 2014 Wilyabrup cabernet sauvignon is as close to perfect as a wine could be, even edging out the celebrated Penfolds Grange.

“I’ve always maintained Grange is Australia’s greatest wine but it’s not necessarily our best,” Jordan said. “To me, Moss Wood cabernet encapsulates everything that’s Margaret River and this one just absolutely nailed it.”

Most critics agonise over a low score, but Jordan thought long and hard about going into uncharted 99 territory.

“I pride myself on giving scores that are relevant and over the years I’ve seen a lot of really good wines that have gone only as high as 98 points,” he said. “But this cabernet is a cut above, even upon release — who knows how good it’ll be in a few decades. “It’s a wine that will live for 40 years,” Jordan said. “That’ll see me off the planet and a lot of other people.

“And when you think about it, at $120-odd a bottle … Grange and Hill of Grace are up over $800 a bottle. I think I’d rather six bottles of the Moss Wood.” Keith Mugford, who has owned and run Moss Wood with wife Clare since 1985, said the accolade was humbling. “If a wine is good enough to get that acclaim that’s just fantastic,” he said. “It’s a great thrill and we’re really proud.”

Mr Mugford said he and his wife suspected the 2014 would be a corker as they prepared it for bottling in November.

“It definitely had a beautifully bright, really lifted aromatic profile and we thought: ‘Hmm, we’ve got something here’,” he said.

Still, Mr Mugford is reluctant to take all the credit. “I think we’re a bit lucky, really,” he said. “We had things in our favour. We’ve got a good vineyard … and 2014 was a really terrific season.

“Mother nature smiled on us and gave us near-perfect conditions for ripening.” The winemaker is excited the high score might get people talking about “good old Moss Wood”.

“Ray’s comments will cause a stir because you’ll get those people who will look at the score and go ‘Wow, that must be a great wine’ and go looking for it to see if they agree,” Mr Mugford said.

“Then I guess you’ll get people who look at it and say ‘Hang on a minute, how can that be right’. You’ll always get dissenters and I have absolutely no doubt that there will be a bit of healthy debate.” Jordan doubts he will be doling out another 99 soon — and certainly not a 100.

“I’d never give a wine 100,” he said. “I don’t think there’s such an animal. Is anything in this world perfect? But this is as near as dammit.”