A pioneer deserves to be remembered for taking bold risks to achieve extraordinary outcomes. Jack Mann typified this from the moment he joined the fledgling Houghton winery in Western Australia in 1922.
Mann’s legacy through 51 years as head winemaker at Houghton, until his retirement in 1974, was profound. Having been instrumental in defining superior winemaking technique – introducing sterile filtration to the winery in 1936 – and unmistakable original wine styles – cleverly using Chenin Blanc as the foundation for his durable Houghton White Burgundy (now called White Classic) – Mann succeeded in making the winery world-famous.
His achievements were honoured in 1994, when Houghton named its icon red wine, made mostly from Cabernet Sauvignon, in honour of Jack Mann. Mann affectionately described Cabernet Sauvignon as ”the only grape allowed in heaven”.
Sourced exclusively from the Justin Vineyard in the Frankland River region of Western Australia, Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon comes from vines planted in 1971 that are descendants of the mysterious original Houghton clone selected by Mann himself. Located on ancient granite gravels and enjoying a mild climate, these vines produce fruit of rare quality.
Looking through a series of back-vintages clearly illustrates how gracefully the resulting wines mature to reveal layers of intrigue and complexity.
The celebrated 2008 Jack Mann shows dignified Cabernet in its prime. There’s a rumbling mix of earthy flavours and textures that beguile for their hints of umami savouriness with blackberry heft, red soil pucker and tobacco chew rounding out a complex palate.
Leaping ahead, the 2013 Jack Mann still shows primary fruit very much at the fore, exhibiting characteristics that have become familiar hallmarks of this style: full-bodied with rich and sumptuous layers, offering purple berry seduction in a full-throated roar. Yet, despite its intensity, fine-grained tannins pull the power into line, highlighting a luscious savouriness in the middle palate.
The 2014 Jack Mann is a vivid statement, shining regal purple in the glass and with a heady nose of blackcurrant and mulberry framed by a meadow of wild herbs. A gentle wrestle between boisterous dark winter hedge berries, savoury bay leaf, tobacco and molten cocoa eventually succumbs to the pull of muscular but rounded tannins.
A cooler vintage shows the 2015 Jack Mann in more rarefied and elegant tones. Its bright scarlet colour is matched by lively red fruit aromas with a whiff of mint and blackcurrant, but its clean herbal bite and savoury roll in the back palate defines a more measured style that focuses its attention on complex textural interplay.
The raw muscle of 2016 Jack Mann suggests a long life ahead in the cellar. Its rich mélange of dark berries and soft chocolate is still tightly wound, coiled and yet to pounce, but with much still to reveal.
The current release 2017 Jack Mann is a harbinger of surprises still in store. It’s a vibrant, joyous youth with bright purple fruit and aniseed bursting on the front palate – but there’s also a beautifully measured medium-bodied palate, showing poise and assured tannins. Like all Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon, years in the cellar will come to reveal the scope of its true beauty.