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NEW RELEASES: 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon, Moss Wood - 'A Goldilocks wine?'

April 2023


2020 Cabernet Sauvignon, Moss Wood

 £280 per 6 bottle case in bond

moss wood

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I was interested to taste the 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon from Moss Wood, having been so impressed by the 2019 last year, as I had read that 2020 was considered a classic for Western Australia’s Margaret River.
I am rather sceptical of early pronouncements of greatness, and it does often sound like there are no problematic vintages anymore. I was, however, intrigued to read owner Keith Mugford’s comments, where he highlighted the fact that, in 2020, they experienced no extremes and that the moderate temperatures (by Australian standards) carried all the way through to harvest. He termed the average temperature a ‘Goldilocks-like 20.4 degrees Celsius’. Certainly, judging by the wine in the glass, the fruit has ripened beautifully without losing the aromatic freshness, which for me, is key to Moss Wood’s appeal.
It seems the 2020 was the product of a slightly warmer, but nonetheless very even vintage – harvest kicked off eight days earlier than the norm. The 2019 was the product of a cooler year as I recall. Having checked on Moss Wood’s informative website, there were 129 days between flowering and harvest for their 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon compared to 116 for the 2020. What struck me is that there is a fascinating double-header on the cards down the line, as both these vintages are fine prospects for extended cellarage, yet their styles differ.
A little background:
Moss Wood is, to me, the greatest estate for Cabernet Sauvignon in Australia – others may disagree, but they would most likely have it in the top four or five examples. Established in 1969, Moss Wood is located in Western Australia in the Margaret River. Current proprietors, Clare and Keith Mugford have been involved in the winemaking and viticulture of the estate since 1984 and 1979 respectively. Cabernet Sauvignon has been the main focus since the estate’s inception and, rather than adopt some European role model for their wine, they are intent on expressing what is individual to their vineyards in the Wilyabrup region, and they are keenly focused on pushing quality ever higher. The maritime climate is key to the quality of the Margaret River and has led to this region being recognised for the quality of Cabernet-based wines.

Please see below for my note.

2020 Cabernet Sauvignon, Moss Wood
£280 per 6 bottle case in bond 

90% Cabernet Sauvignon with 3% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot.
Aged for 28 months in 225-litre French oak barriques of which 15% are new oak.

Bright, deep purple in hue, the aromatics are instantly appealing – a melange of dark berries, blackberry, cassis to the fore, a certain spiciness with the merest hint of background toast and a gently scented note. If my memory serves me well, this is fuller, and a touch more powerful than the more streamlined 2019, but there is no loss of poise. It has terrific depth and concentration – it is brimming with ripe, bold Cabernet Sauvignon – dark juicy berry fruit, with a redder fruit lift to the finish that enlivens the palate. Wonderfully pure with beautifully expressed tannins, and while it is currently in an exuberant mode, it is easy to see that the near perfect ripeness and concentration here warrant patient cellarage. That black fruit pastille character picks up on the finish, lending a primary moreish-ness to the palate. Spice and gentle toast emerge on a finish which is impeccably balanced. A bold, rich vintage with so much more to come – this is a knockout. (SL) Drink 2030-2042+

I rate Moss Wood highly – different vintages shape the outcome, but the winemaking style is so settled that you really see what each vintage brings to the wine in a remarkably unfettered way. The stylistic contrast between the 2020 and 2019 is significant, but qualitatively they operate on the same level.  Which one do I prefer? You would have to ask me in ten years’ time, but, for me, the joy is in the comparison, knowing each is from a notable vintage.

Please let us know of your interest.

All the best,

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Atlas Fine Wines Ltd. 

Blackwell House, Guildhall Yard
London, EC2V 5AE
T: +44 (0) 20 3017 2299
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