Judging the Shiraz category with Australian wine industry legend Brian Croser, it was remarkable how reluctant he was to commit to a score for very young wines (2010 and 2011) on account of how primary and unresolved he thought they were, typically referring to them as “callow”.
So when best to get a sense of a wine’s pedigree? In an incidental conversation with Eben Sadie recently, he suggested that eight years after vintage for reds and five years for whites was usually the defining moment and I think he’s pretty much bang on.
Last night, Peter Barlow 2004 – the flagship single-variety Cabernet Sauvignon from Rustenberg in Stellenbosch. It was made by Adi Badenhorst before he left for the Swartland to start his own venture and was made in an flamboyant style: ultra-ripe fruit, spontaneous fermentation, 20 months in French oak, 70% new. On the nose, dark fruit, cigar box and a slight iodine note, before a palate showing huge fruit concentration, the tannins just starting to soften contributing to a mouthfeel which can only be described as creamy. It gave the sense of a wine which had shrugged off the simple attractions of youth and was set for a long and imposing period of maturity. Score: 16.5/20.