Victorian winemaking doyen Alister Purbrick’s 45 years of experience has taught him there’s only a handful of regions in Australia capable of producing outstanding cabernet sauvignon vintage after vintage.

The fourth-generation winemaker, who is stepping into semi-retirement after guiding the fortunes of his family’s iconic Tahbilk winery since 1978, lists Margaret River, Coonawarra and Clare Valley as the standouts, along with the hills and ridges of regions such as Yarra Valley and McLaren Vale/Adelaide Hills.

Of course, Tahbilk, located within the unique inland water system of Nagambie Lakes in central Victoria, has also built an international reputation over decades for its high-quality old vine cabernet, winning trophies and gold medals across the globe.

Tahbilk’s premium Eric Stevens Purbrick Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 leads an all-star cast of cabernet in The Australian Wine Club’s deal of the week offer.

Our club has the best cabernet regions covered: Margaret River is represented with the 95-point Moss Brothers Fidium from the West’s brilliant 2020 vintage; Coonawarra’s Redman shows off the 50th vintage of its flagship 2019 cabernet; and Sevenhills’ gold-medal winning Inigo typifies Clare Valley’s beloved rich, smooth style.

Alister, whose family have run the historic Tahbilk estate since his great-grandfather brought the property in 1925, says the most consistent cabernet producing regions have a cool climate and a long ripening season, enabling cabernet fruit to ripen slowly to develop the full spectrum of flavours before harvesting.

“If it’s too hot, the grapes ripen too quickly without being able to develop all the subtle flavours but your climate can’t be too cold either, as you’ll struggle to get the fruit fully ripe,’’ he says. “When you look at what regions do cabernet well around the world (beyond Australia) it’s really only Bordeaux and the higher ridges of Napa.”

Tahbilk is located within Goulburn Valley but typical warm conditions are mitigated by an abundance of lakes, billabongs and creeks associated with the Warring or Goulburn rivers. The cooling effect creates a microclimate, one of the reasons Nagambie Lakes was recognised 20 years ago as a distinct wine region.

Nagambie – this is the microclimate you’re looking for.

Tahbilk’s flagship cabernet is named after Alister’s grandfather Eric Stevens Purbrick – a business powerhouse who spent decades setting Tahbilk on its successful course after taking over a run-down operation in 1931.

With cabernet, Tahbilk’s winemaking team looks to achieve a fine balance between warm dark fruit flavours (like mulberries and blackberries), savouriness from the estate’s soils which are rich in iron oxide and subtle spice and texture from the careful use of oak in maturing the wine.

In the 2017 vintage, slightly less new French oak was used than usual (42 per cent) as the grapes were “perfectly ripened” due to good weather conditions.

“The fruit intensity was so good we wanted to really showcase the fruit to show the terroir of this place,’’ Alister says.

The Fab Four

Tahbilk Eric Stevens Purbrick Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Crafted from three blocks, including the oldest cabernet vines on the estate, planted in 1948. Aromas of cassis, dried sage, sandalwood and hints of eucalypt and tea-leaf notes lead to a medium-bodied palate of warm dark fruits (mulberry and blackcurrant) with aniseed, black olives and sweet spice riding on fine tannins to a long, long finish. Juicy acidity adds freshness. 95 points from Team Halliday. Superb value in this deal. 14% alc; RRP $73 a bottle.
SPECIALS $64.99 a bottle in any dozen; $24.99 in cabernet dozen.

Moss Brothers Fidium Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
Plush Margaret River classic from a superb vintage. Expressive aromas of cassis, pencil shavings, capsicum, dried bay leaf and cedar. Generous layers of fruit flavours (blackcurrants, plums and cassis), vanilla, mocha and spice come in waves across a velvety palate. Deliciously mouth filling but elegant. 95 points from Wine Pilot. 14.5% alc; RRP $55 a bottle.
SPECIALS $44.99 a bottle in any dozen; $24.99 in cabernet dozen.

Redman Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
The 50th consecutive vintage of cabernet from this Coonawarra pioneer. Intense blackberry nose, with hints of fennel, olive tapenade, rose petal and smoky cedar. Juicy blackcurrant, cassis and plum flavours flow across the palate. Good structure and acidity. Medium-bodied in true Coonawarra style. Heavenly with a good old-fashioned lamb roast and rosemary. 91 points from Team Halliday. 13.5% alc; RRP $35 a bottle.
SPECIALS $29.99 a bottle in any dozen; $24.99 in cabernet dozen.

Sevenhill Cellars Estate Grown Inigo Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
From one of Australian wine’s historical treasures comes a cabernet full of Clare character and generosity. Concentrated flavours of blackberries, blueberries, dark chocolate, cedar box and cinnamon coarse across the juicy palate. Sevenhill is still owned by the Jesuits who planted the first grapes in Clare in 1851. Gold at New Zealand World Wine Awards. 94 points from Team Halliday and a red star for exceptional value. 14% alc; RRP $28 a bottle.
SPECIALS $21.99 a bottle in any dozen; $24.99 in cabernet dozen.

CABERNET DOZEN Three bottles of each wine above for $24.99 a bottle. SAVE $273.

15-BOTTLE DEAL Add three bottles of Riverbank Estate Langhorne Creek 2019 (RRP $22 a bottle) for only $22.19 a bottle across the 15-bottle deal.

Order online or telephone 1300 765 359 Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm AEST. Deals available only while stocks last. The Australian Wine Club is a commercial partnership with Laithwaites Wine. Stockhead is partnering with The Australian Wine Club on this offer.