10th June 2015
The Clarendon vineyard in McLaren Vale has contributed to some of Australia’s great wines, including the likes of Grange, as well as supplying Clarendon Hills winery. Planted in 1971, the plantings focus on Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
I was therefore surprised to hear that a few years ago, the vineyard was sold to the Jackson Family Estate. The company owns a number of wineries across the globe including some cult wineries in the Napa Valley. They also have Yangarra amongst their stable of wineries.
2012 was the first vintage under their control and Charlie Seppelt was appointed winemaker to oversee the operation. Charlie was given the daunting task of establishing a winery, complete with an oak regime to produce high quality wines from the outset.
Having just looked at the first releases, the early results look very promising. Though the wines could not be considered cheap, the pricing does, however, reflect the value of this special vineyard.
Hickingbotham – Shiraz – Brooks Road – 2012. Classic McLaren Vale Shiraz that shows bright, fresh and pretty berry fruit characters. The palate has dense black fruit, but none of the candied characters that are common in the Vale. The finish is silky and refined, with a core of minerality. The oak (30% new) has been soaked up by the fruit, so as not to appear disjointed. Opens up and gets quite chewy and textured, with licorice and spice to close.
Hickingbotham – Cabernet Sauvignon – Trueman – 2012. Cassis and mint on the nose, though the fruit is quite muted at this point. Closed, tight and refined, the palate has remarkably fine, though persistent tannins. Finishes with chalk-like minerality with graphite and olive characters. This is the opposite of what I would expect from a warmer climate Cabernet. According to the winemaker, the Hickingbotham vineyard produces some of Australia’s most tannic Cabernet.
Hickingbotham – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz – Peake – 2012. Surprisingly, this is more floral and fragrant than either of the straight wines. The palate has a savoury edge, with the quality fruit balanced by fine tannins. With air, the mineral-like texture really builds, the fruit coating the mouth and persisting for what seems like minutes. This needs years to reach its peak, but the wait will be worthwhile. 1200 bottles made.