Moss Wood 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon
Bright youthful, deep brick red colour, attractive primary fruit, violets, toasty oak, leather, chocolate and mulberry. The wine sings with generous primary fruit. On the palate, the generous dark fruit flavours and full body make it almost plump and round, but underneath is a firm but well-integrated tannin structure and toasty, smoky oak in the background. It has good length and finishes with some violet notes.
How does it compare with its recent siblings? At Moss Wood, the 2001 is the current benchmark and maybe the ’04 doesn’t quite reach it. And hard core wine lovers might even prefer the concentration and slumbering intensity of 2003. However, the 2004 has delicious, up-front generosity with complexity, not dissimilar to the 1994 and perhaps may be described as a more complete version of the 2000 (the ultimate user-friendly, gluggable vintage) but more mysterious. An indication of its appeal may be seen by the fact that Keith has taken to calling it "yummy" and we just how great it would have been if Mother Nature had allowed the grapes to sit on the vines for those few extra days of slow ripening. (Wow!)
The growing season leading up to the 2004 vintage was a very encouraging one with good rainfall following excellent flowering conditions. This meant that bunch weights and therefore yields were good. There were no disease issues and the weather had been mild up to the beginning of vintage. All the early varieties were due for harvest on or slightly behind the average starting date. When it was getting close to the cabernet harvest a routine sample was taken on Thursday 18th March and concluded that the grapes were nearly ripe but probably needed between 7 and 14 days more. There was a warm weekend coming, but we considered that since it was mid-March, it wouldn’t get too hot, probably not much hotter than 30°C.
Keith headed to Perth confident that all options had been covered and that he could go to Adelaide for a Moss Wood function, happy the vineyard was fine for at least the next week. Next day he was sweltering in the Qantas Club lounge because the air conditioning wasn’t working. No Qantas jokes please! Perth was having such a hot day, the air conditioning demand exceeded the power utility’s capacity to generate electricity and so there were power cuts across the metropolitan area. The Moss Wood weather station record revealed that Friday and Saturday were a pleasant 33ºC and 34ºC respectively. However, Sunday and Monday were scorchers – 39ºC and 40ºC! Sampling continued over the weekend and the results confirmed that the 7 to 10 days ripening had taken place in 4 days instead! So picking commenced with a vengeance and all the fruit was off the vines in two days.
The fruit for the Moss Wood 2004 Cabernet was hand picked, destemmed into open tanks, hand plunged four times a day until dryness, after which it was plunged twice a day and monitored for tannin extraction. The temperature in the fermenters was monitored so that it did not exceed 30°C. Once the team felt that the wine had achieved its best tannin balance, it was pressed and racked into barrel for malolactic fermentation. Typically, Moss Wood Cabernet is left on skins for ten to 14 days post fermentation: the 2004 averaged 14 days. In the first year, the batches were kept separate for barrel trials and monitored. After a year, all batches were combined and then racked back into barrel as a “Final Blend”. At the end of the second year, fining trials were conducted and the decision made not to fine. The wine was then filtered and bottled on 7th May 2006.
This wine will be delicious for the next few years, possibly closed at five to seven years of age although it should start to open at about ten, and be at its best at 15 years and beyond.