Moss Wood 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – Philip White – Drinkster –

Rating: Stars

This is about as close as we get to sublime Cabernet. From one of Australia’s most renowned vineyards in a knockout vintage, mature vines and the masterly touch of winemakers Clare and Keith Mugford, it’s a wine which the luckiest of us might still be relishing in 30 years – the Mugfords say their 2001 is only now beginning to lose some of its primary fruitiness, and that vintage was on a par with 2010. It’s a surly, confounding thing at first sniff: smudged and thick and furry with blueberry. As the great Brian Barry taught me 30 years ago, blueberry is a rare thing to capture in red wine, but when you have it, you’re rockin’. Blueberry’s not as pretty and floral a berry as many imagine. It’s nothing like blackcurrant, for example: it has little of that floozy fresh immediacy of blackcurrant, nor the naughty crème de cassis liqueur the Burgundians make from it. To me, blueberry’s meaty and pithy with hints of juniper berry – I like to keep some in my fridge until they shrivel, so I can refresh my idea of what they’re like. Anyway, this majestic bear of a thing initially smells like pure blueberry pulp. But as the oxygen of the air seeps into it, it reluctantly lets loose weeps of anise, bitter cooking chocolate and fresh-hewn blackwood. I suspect this latter tweak is not from oak – there’s barely any oak evident – but from the sheer weight of lignin pith the grapes grew all by themselves. It doesn’t appear to be ready to release any primary grape character. The wine is even more reluctant in the mouth, but trust Unca Phil: it truly is a beautiful beast that will be best after many years of cellar. It has astounding intensity and ideal balance: everything a great wine needs is in there in fine proportion. If you must trouble it young, give it a few hours of jug, and pour it into big glasses.