90 Points - Robert Parker
The 2004 Grenache Clarendon Hills exhibits a lovely dark ruby color along with a big, sweet kiss of black cherry liqueur intermixed with hints of tobacco leaves and resiny pine forest scents. Aromatic, smooth, velvety textured, and sexy, this is a full-bodied, delicious Grenache.
The 2004 Grenache Clarendon Hills exhibits a lovely dark ruby color along with a big, sweet kiss of black cherry liqueur intermixed with hints of tobacco leaves and resiny pine forest scents. Aromatic, smooth, velvety textured, and sexy, this is a full-bodied, delicious Grenache to drink over the next 7-8 years.
Robert Parker on Oct 1st, 2006
Zalto Denk-Art Bordeaux Glass
Zalto Bordeaux glass is recommended for weightier style reds, probably our most widely used glass when tasting in house, this glass is great for many different wines. The large bowl helping aerate and soften tannins whilst accentuating the wines depth and concentration. The Bordeaux glass is the ideal choice for Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Zinfandel, Bordeaux or Rhone style blends and many other red wines. Surprisingly, it is also the glass of choice for oaked Chardonnay as well, the shape of the bowl accentuating the balance of ripe fruits and oak.
Clarendon Hills live under the motto of ‘purity and perfection’ and Biochemist Roman Bratasiuk has been flattering the palates of consumers and critics alike since 1989. With no formal oenological qualifications, his obsession to attain a finished product of unrivalled quality has been fuelled by a personal love of exceptional wine. At this McLaren Vale property he is now joined by sons Adam and Alex who help with management and winemaking.
Production is dedicated to varietal wines from vineyards that have exceptional soils, aspect and climatic conditions that aid optimal berry development and expression of the individual grape variety. Most vine stock is original French cuttings of more than 90 years old, which are dry farmed to prevent dilution of juice concentration. Harvesting of fruit is done by hand followed by rigorous sorting before pressing. Roman insists on using indigenous yeasts in the fermentation process as a means of expressing a sense of place and identity. This philosophy carries through to the pre-bottling stage where the wine sees no fining or filtration for maximum flavour intensity. The jewel in the crown though is the Astralis label, which is seen as an iconic wine of quality and power coming from old bush syrah vines dating back to 1920. It was this very wine that led Robert Parker to name Roman as 'Wine Producer of the year' in 1996.
"Red grapes flourish here due to the warm climate and varied soil type and the region is best known for soft and juicy Shiraz, old-vine Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot."
Nestled between the Mount Lofty and the Sellicks Ranges to the north east and south and the white sandy beaches on coast to the west, McLaren Vale’s winemaking history dates back to the 1830’s and the geological features surrounding the region are the key influences to its wine-making credentials. A relatively low lying, warm region with plenty of sunshine, plantings range between 50 and 150 metres and the climate is tempered by winds blowing through the foothills from the east and from the sea to the south west. These factors are responsible for the vast range of styles and varieties within Mclaren Vale, showcased by producers like Clarendon Hills who have a portfolio of wines that cover the diversity in sub-regions, vineyards and grape varieties across the region. It is these distinct sub-regions and variations between them that have been in discussion recently with a call to officially classify them, in order to recognize the specific identities of each micro-climate. This will eventually lead to producers being able to use these distinct terms on their labels, drawing further attention to the diversity across the region.
Early vines were planted here by names that have now become iconic in Australian wine. James Reynell and Thomas Hardy planted some of the earliest vines in 1938 and since then, the Hardy’s name has been intrinsically linked to Australian wine production. Kay Brothers is the oldest family run estate to still be operation in McLaren Vale, dating back to 1891 when they planted their first vines in the now legendary Amery vineyard. Production from these ancient vines continues today and plays a vital role throughout the Kay Brothers portfolio, yielding Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon of great depth and concentration. Since the 1990’s, Mclaren Vale’s reputation has sky-rocketed with the emergence of the boutique wineries such as Two Hands who, as well as in Barossa, have identified single plots and vineyards that further showcase the unique identity of McLaren Vale wines.
Around 50% of McLaren Vale plantings is Shiraz with many vines reaching 100 years old or more and harvesting extremely low crops of highly concentrated grapes, capable of producing deep, powerful wines that are very long lived. Cabernet Sauvignon is the second most widely planted variety creating structured wines that show intense blackcurrant flavours and cedar flavours, the cooler sites offering aromas of menthol, and licorice. McLaren Vale Cabernet has many similarities in style to wine from the northern Medoc and with age, these wines can gain great complexity and develop classic aromas and flavours of cigar box and pencil lead as they age. Grenache also has significant role to play either as a single variety or giving support to Shiraz in Rhone style blends. On it’s own it can be responsible for powerful, full bodied wines rich in black berry and luscious plum fruits. With the huge sub-regional diversity across McLaren Vale, it is no surprise that producers have identified specific sites that yield the highest quality Grenache and emphasize its qualities. Blewitt Springs is home to many old Grenache vines which are recognised for their intensity and power and Clarendon Hills are among the list of winemakers that recognized and exploited this.
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