The Margaret River enjoys and enviable reputation as a producer of top shelf Cabernet, but it’s generally vineyards like Cullen, Vasse Felix and Moss Wood, that receive all of the accolades. And I have to admit to historically being a card carrying and flag waving member of the West Australian Cabernet fan club, especially when it comes to the wares of the big name and well established wineries.
But in every industry, it seems there is a young up and comer whose star is on the rise and I suspect I’ve found the next superstar of Margaret River Cabernet.
It’s not an Estate that I managed to find on my last visit to the region, but Juniper Estate in the Wilyabrup sub region are a small producer making outstanding wines that have somehow managed to fly beneath my radar. At the entry level, their Juniper Crossing range drinks much better than its $20 prize point, but at the top end, their Estate Cabernet is a serious collectable in waiting.
The 2010 Juniper Estate Cabernet Sauvignon sells at close to $50 a bottle and while that might seem steep, you need to put it in perspective when you are talking about a future icon of Australasian wine making. For example, the Moss Wood Cabernet from the same region sells at over $100 a bottle while the Cullen Diana Madeline sells at about the same price. Their quality and reputation is such that they are highly sought after by collectors and have had a tendency to appreciate in value every year and, at least my view (in expert) opinion, the Juniper Estate is equally as elegant and refined as its higher priced cousins. I reckon it is probably only a matter of time before the laws of supply and demand see its price point matching that of the more established Cabernet from the Margaret River.
For the moment, the 2010 Juniper Estate release is still purple and quite vibrant in the glass. On the palate, there is a youthful exuberance to the intense black current, blackberry and ripe cherry fruits that stamp their authority on the first sip you take. But as the regional characters developed through the finish, there are savory herbs, tobacco, a touch of vanilla and the most delicious “claytons” tannins (so fine that you’d hardly know they were there) you will ever find.
Flavour meets austerity in a glass and I reckon it has at least 10 to 30 years ahead of it. The only criticism I can make is perhaps the understated packaging – but then again, if the bottle, cap and label were more sophisticated, I suspect it would already be more than twice the price!
So my tip is to buy, but not drink, the 2010 Juniper Estate Cabernet. I suspect that it is destined for greatness and I am sure that a decent capital gain awaits the patient buyer.