Houghton Tasting 2016

As one gets older it becomes more and more apparent how little you know! It’s not supposed to work this way – you’re supposed to get wiser. And of course you do, but with wisdom comes the inevitable revealing of more and more unknowns…

And so it was with my recent visit to Houghton winery in the Swan Valley, for a special tasting courtesy of Kasia from Distinction Wines and John from Lamont’s.

Whilst other wineries in the region such as Sandalford, Mandoon, Upper Reach and Sittella had all been visited by me in the recent past, Houghton seemed to end up on the cutting room floor. Perhaps it was the over emphasis on the “strip label” entry level wine (in my mind at least) but the visit in April 2016 certainly opened my eyes.

But I digress… Kasia organised 20+ wines from the Houghton collection (including some unreleased and small batch wines) and access to the private tasting room where we commenced battle. Working through the range with John Jens and Fine Wine Club’s Barry Weinman, I realised just how much I still had to learn – and how quickly the pros can taste, spit and note!

The wines were on the whole, very good, with examples at every price point. In the mid-priced category, I thought that the Small Batch Rojo Grande 2015 was the pick of the bunch. A fine example of a GSM, medium intensity sweet spice and cherry on the nose with high tannins (drying), medium acid, plum and cloves on the palate. 13.5% alcohol and very good wine (91 points) at $25.

In the slightly more premium category ($35) the 2011 Wisdom Cabernet Sauvignon was a standout. Medium+ intensity of cassis, eucalypt and honey on the nose with fine high tannins, medium acid, medium+ alcohol (13.5%) and body of black fruits, plum and black currant leaf. This is a very good wine (93 points) which will reward another 5 to 7 years cellaring.

At the top end of town we tasted the 2012 and 2013 Gladstone’s, and the 2011 and 2012 Jack Mann, all very good to excellent wines sitting at 95 points or greater. The best of this grouping was the 2011 Jack Mann although I wrote a note for the softer 2012 – a clear, dark garnet wine with legs developing and medium+ intensity black berry fruits, cigar box and a touch of eucalypt on the nose. Medium+ soft tannins, medium acid and medium+ alcohol (14%) with medium+ body, finish and flavours of black berry fruits and vanilla. An excellent, premium priced ($110) wine (96 points) which can be drunk now but will benefit from an extended period in the cellar (15+ years).

A thoroughly enjoyable and educational afternoon.