Clarendon Hills Wines Unmasked

Clarendon Hillls

2001 Clarendon Hills Sandown Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale, South Australia

Tasted blind:  Opaque purple/ brown colour. Lovely lifted nose that grew in intensity over a 4 hour period, starting quite closed and dumb when opened and evolved to beautiful black currents, spice, anise and cedar. The weight of the wine was quite light in the mouth but had great intensity and flavour redolent with black currents, cedar, liquorice, chocolate and toasty oak. Very fine grained tannins and a long lingering finish. Drink over next 10 years. 96/100.

Winemaker Roman Bratasiuk likens this wine to French St Julien second growth, Chateau Leoville Las Cases. Grapes sources from 50-90 years old vines around the town of Clarendon, cropped at 2.5 tonnes to the acre. Nicks Wines gave this wine 99/100.

2006 Clarendon Hills Hickinbotham Syrah, Mclaren Vale, South Australia

Blind tasting notes: Nose of spice, pepper, anise, mocha, grilled meats/bacon and dusty oak. Rich mouthfilling palate with great intensity and full of spice , coffee and rich cream. Strong drying tannins and long finish. I picked this as a 2008 McLaren Shiraz. Not too far off…. Drink over next 3-6 years. 95/100.

Nick wines tasting notes: The nose is a pure sniffing pleasure, with violet top note followed by anise, liquorice, cedar and vanilla. The palate flavour profile is explosive – black and white pepper is overlaid with plum, liquorice and spice – totally mouthfilling, with outstanding length and depth. Fine dryish tannins, perfectly balanced – a touch more assertive than the other vineyards Syrah, but well structured. Exceptionally long aftertaste of plum, liquorice, spice and a hint of smoky oak. Cellar 8-10 years (2016-2018) 99 Points

Food and Wine in Canada’s Capital

Beckta menu2008 Riesling

I was in Ottawa last week and got together with 2 sommelier buddies, Astrid and Perry to try some local wine and food. Naturally I had to bring some Aussie reds to compete. We selected the Beckta dining and wine restaurant on 226 Nepean Street, Ottawa. A great restaurant with great food and friendly service. We enjoyed sharing our wines with the Beckta’s sommelier.

We started the evening with a Riesling from Ontario – a 2008 Henry of Pelham, Speck Family Reserve. The wine opened with a soft nose with some secondary kerosene characters and soft apple and citrus on the nose. The palate was broad and flavoursome without that steely backbone evident in many top Aussie Rieslings. A very enjoyable wine that complemented my Root vegetable soup. A good pairing!

Aussie CabernetsNext we tried 2 aged Aussie cabernets from my cellar: a 2004 Balnaves from the Coonawarra district in South Australia that is famous for its cabernets and a 2005 Chapel Hill from McLaren Vale in South Australia that’s probably better known for its big shiraz reds. Both wines were stunning and were tasted after one hours decanting.

Quebec Duck Magret
The Balnaves colour was a dark plum with a purple hue and the nose was redolent with blackberry and blueberry fruit, earth, and cedar. The palate was soft and mouthfilling with spicy berry fruit, cedar and tobacco leaf. The tannins were nicely integrated and the wine would easily cellar for another 5+ years. I enjoyed the wine with the Quebec Magret Duck that was cooked medium rare to perfection and the flavours worked well with the wine.
The Chapel Hill was a monster wine with bid fruit, and big tannins. Even though only a year separated the two wines the difference was palpable. My view is that the stelvin enclosure on the Chapel made the difference. The wine was young and fresh and still quite primary, with rich spicy black fruits, anise, pepper and cedar. The palate had not integrated fully and the wine definitely needs more time in the cellar! However, Perry said it worked well with his Wellington county beef striploin that was most enjoyable.

My scores: Riesling 91/100, Balnaves cabernet 95/100, Chapel Hill 93/100.
The reds cost approx $35 each when purchased.

Sensational Penfolds St Henri 2004

Well cellared - note no travel on cork!

The Penfolds St Henri Shiraz is an iconic Australian wine that relies on fruit purity rather than oak to express its character. The grapes are drawn from multiple vineyards in South Australia (Barossa Valley, Langhorne Creek and Adelaide Hills) and is predominantly Shiraz (95+%) with a small amount of Cabernet. The wine is aged in large old oak vats.

Opened 10 Oct 13. The wine was quite subdued on opening, but began to open after an hour. Soft spicy cherry and black fruit on the nose with a hint of tobacco leaf. The palate was plush and mouthfilling with beautiful dark berry fruits, plums, mocha, anise and soft earth. Great balance, integrated tannins, rich fruit and a long finish. Lovely wine, but a little closed even after 3 hours.

Day 2. Wine still drinking beautifully with some secondary characters starting to emerge.

Day 3. Wow! The wine has blossomed. Dark, rich berry fruits, earthy undertones and great balance. Wonderful structure and polish. You could be excused to think this had only been opened a few hours ago! I wondered how it would taste on Day 4…..but I’ll never know as I didn’t have the willpower to stop! Could easily cellar for another 5+ years, but why wait? Great wine. 96/100

Well cellared wine – note no travel on cork!