GO ON, be honest, when was the last time you picked a bottle of Australian cabernet off the shelf? Cab merlot or cab shiraz perhaps but cabernet on its own seems to have fallen out of favour with the public these days but it’s such a shame as it really is the undisputed King of Australian wines.

It’s also one of Australia's oldest grape styles with plantings dating back to the early reign of Queen Victoria, which is kind of strange when we still refer to it as the New World in the wine trade. Cabernet’s spiritual home is, of course, Bordeaux but to the best of my knowledge it's never produced a single varietal wine there, despite providing the backbone for some of the finest wines in the world. Personally, for me, it’s a dead heat between Australia and California these days for the world's best cabernets but if you add price into the equation then the land Down Under takes the crown by a long mile.

Margaret River in the west produces a classy, cold fruit style, very similar in many ways to the top end clarets while the Coonawarra is like a posh red light district for the grape with nothing left to the imagination and plenty of sexy cassis flavours within easy reach. If you want something in between then Victoria and McClaren Vale are the regions to aim for with silky fruits and soft tannins. I guess I'm a tart when it comes to cabernet, though, as I've no memory of tasting one I really didn't like but perhaps my habit of avoiding three for a tenner offers helps in that respect.

So, what should you look for in a decent cabernet? Definitely blackcurrants, quite often chocolate and herbs, particularly mint, and of course in the really classy ones the holy grail of cabernet (for me at any rate) a cigar box aroma on the finish. Here's a couple to tempt the fussiest palates.

Sexy Beast Cabernet, Australia

Quite simply a stunning wine. Earthy without being dry, with rich generous tannins, lashings of cassis and hints of mocha and mint. Life is too short not to indulge.

Majestic £21.99 or £18.99 in a mixed six

Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet, Australia

Freshly crushed blackberries on the palate with soft tannins, hints of vanilla and a classy cedar wood finish.

Laithwaites £15.99