Two good cabernets and a shadow

Every now and then a blind tasting just knocks your socks off, and teaches you something too.  In this case, it was helpful to learn that a "super premium" label that I have recently had doubts about gave rise to the same doubts when tasted blind, and two prestigious labels that I am very partial to, met with my unbridled adulation with labels hidden.  What were the wines?  The first was Mount Mary's Quintet 2000 from the Yarra Valley.  The latter two were the Cos d'Estournel 2000 from St Estephe and the Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron 2001 from Pauillac.  My thoughts follow.

Mount Mary Quintet 2000
My first experience with Mount Mary's Quintet was a good one.  I tasted the 1997 vintage of the Quintet alongside the 1997 vintage from Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, and both wines were largely outstanding.  Strangely enough, the wines were also uncannily similar on the palate - I had not expected that, since a tennis ball might take some time to retrieve from the other's backyard.  Given that the Comtesse is usually a very expensive wine, I thought this a rather good outcome notwithstanding the Quintet's pricing will warm the hearts of few bargain hunters.

Since then though, my tastings here and there of more recent vintages of Mount Mary's Quintet have been uniformly less satisfactory.  I suspect this is not a permissible thought based on local commendations, but I do wonder a little whether the estate is producing cabernet blends that are not really much better in quality terms than a host of cabernets available from the Yarra Valley for around the $30 mark rather than $100+.  In this context, therefore, it was interesting to taste the 2000 vintage of Mount Mary blind (a very good Yarra Valley cabernet vintage), thereby neatly rendering it free from the shackles of my rising doubts.

Unfortunately, the 2000 Quintet did not flower at this tasting.  Perhaps the shadow cast by the latter two wines impaired it so doing.  Sometimes that happens.  However, I think, in this case its quality level leads to the same conclusion.  In the glass, the 2000 Quintet was a medium intensity garnet in colour, with yellowing around the rim.  On the nose, it had a medium intensity expression of blackcurrants, cedar, sour plums, soy, anise, tea leaves, tomato leaf and some sweet cassis, marking it as quite different aromatically to the wines that followed.  On the palate, the tannins were still unresolved, but a bit dried out, with the wine tasting of soy, and being perhaps even a little skeletal.  Overall, there was some complexity with the aromatics, but the tomato leaf characters and dried out palate are to my mind undesirable characters for a wine of this price and esteem.  Acceptable to Good

Abv: 12.2%
Price: $150+
Vendors: check http://www.wine-searcher.com
Website: http://www.mountmary.com.au
Tasted: September 2012

Cos d'Estournel St Estephe 2000
I've always liked, rather than perhaps raved about Cos d'Estournel.  This appears to have been something of an error of judgement, since I hadn't quite realised that this estate's wines could be this good.  The year 2000 is of course a stellar vintage for left bank Bordeaux, so perhaps this finding was inevitable.  Still bright, the wine had a medium(+) intensity of ruby colour.  Its aroma was an alluring combination of blackcurrant, soft cedar, a sprinkle of herbaceousness and some buttery lactic characters.   Perhaps there was a smidgen of brett, but it won't trouble most, I think.  On the palate, blackcurrants and cedar flavours came together to reveal a seamless palate with stunningly long length and depth of flavours.  The 2000 vintage of Cos d'Estournel is an outstanding wine with few peers, and certainly the best Cos I've tried to date.  The biggest problem with this wine seemed to be that a couple of the bottles, other than the one I tasted from, were corked.  Ouch.  Outstanding

Abv: not recorded
Price: $400+
Vendors: check http://www.wine-searcher.com
Website: http://www.estournel.com/en/home/
Tasted: September 2012

Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron Pauillac 2001
If I had limitless cash, the Baron would feature heavily in my wine buying.  It's one of those wines that makes me ask the question as to why I bother drinking anything else.  The 2001 vintage in Bordeaux seems to have been rated more highly in France than in the United States, thus giving buying opportunities.  Which is handy because the Baron has been unerringly good in most vintages - lesser ones included - I've had the fortune of trying.  The 2001 Baron had a medium(+) intensity ruby colour, and opened to aromas of oak, blackcurrant, plums, smoke, black cherries and undergrowth.  The black cherry character threw a few off the mark in the blind tasting, but the palate was reassuringly all about blackcurrants, cedar, long length and ripe tannins.  A near outstanding wine worthy of your attention.  Very Good to Outstanding

Abv: not recorded
Price: $300+
Vendors: check http://www.wine-searcher.com
Website: http://www.pichonlongueville.com/#/fr/millesimes/
Tasted: September 2012

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