Although still popular with consumers and discount retailers (doubtlessly relative!), the base range of Annie's Lane has hardly inspired me lately. In fact, the last Annie's Lane base range wine that did meet with my approval was their Cabernet Merlot from the excellent 2002 vintage (92pts-June '06), which caused enough excitement for me to sit a bottle aside until now.
Appearing a dark brick-red/crimson, its lively perfume of herbal-edged sour plums and raspberries also reveal aspects of dusted earth, aniseed and toasty chocolate oak, which altogether suggests there's plenty of life in this cheap cabernet blend yet. Smooth and syrupy on entry, its vividly flavoured, medium-full bodied palate progresses with a dusty extract of surprisingly assertive, prickly tannins, leaving the mouth with lingering nuances of black plum and fennel. Even at 8 years old there remains ample fruit and structure, but thankfully, it's completely in balance.
ü+ At its often discounted price the 2002 Annie's Lane Cabernet Merlot beautifully demonstrates the (not always relevant) theory; 'good vintage + cheap wine = great value for the cellar'. In hindsight I might've preferred this at 10, or perhaps even 12 years of age. Drink to 2012.