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2006 Clarendon Hills Astralis Syrah
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- Cellar 10 - 15 years (2018-2023)
- ABV 14.5%
- Closure: Cork
Despite producing some of the finest red wines in Australia, few Australian's will have ever tasted the superb Reds that come out of a collection of old vine vineyards under the 'Clarendon Hills' label. A sub-district, Clarendon lies 10 km north east of the McLaren Vale township and is 250 metres higher above sea level. Consequently, the region picks 2-3 weeks later than McLaren Vale and generally enjoys longer, milder ripening conditions. Miniscule output and premium price ranges are secondary to this vineyard's apparent alienation, which is actually a self-imposed predicament that says more about owner-winemaker, Roman Bratasiuk, a former biochemist for the Australian government. 'Australians don't know what to do with my wines' he claims, 'because they don't taste like everyone else's' which equates to approximately 98% of annual production being exported. Batasiuk's highly individualistic philosophy is certainly reflected in his wines which draw inspiration from the Classed Growths of Bordeaux and the great Shiraz and Grenache wines of the Rhone Valley. Also notable is a complete absence of American oak. 'My Syrahs are not typically Australian; they are not over-laden with American oak and aren't jammy...In McLaren Vale there are many winemakers with academic degrees who are making recipe wines with American oak like those made by everyone else. I make wine intuitively, by instinct and imagination, not with a textbook.' Bratasiuk has been described as brash, even arrogant. Regardless of one's attitude towards the man, there is no denying the extraordinary achievement that Clarendon Hills is: His wines possess an uncanny and universal ability to incite superlatives.
The 2006 vintage in Clarendon experienced a 'Mediterranean finish' to what was otherwise a typical Australian summer. The earlier onset of Autumnal coolness slowed ripening towards the end of the harvest season and enhanced colour development and skin thickness. All the Clarendon Hills wines are sourced from single vineyard sites from vines mostly around 85 years old. Hand picking occurs over several passes to ensure optimal ripeness of the fruit. Fermentation takes place using wild yeasts, followed by extended maceration. All the wines were aged for approximately 18 months in new and used, tight grained French oak barrels and finished without fining or filtration.
A perfect expression of Shiraz, which once again places Astralis in the rarified company of Penfold's Grange and Henschke's Hill of Grace as one of Australia's most consistently outstanding and collectable wines
Totally opaque black purple colour with black purple hue and paint like cling to the glass. The nose on all Clarendon Hill Shiraz wines is impressive and it’s hard to imagine that one could get any more aromatics out of a wine, but Astralis does just that. Magnificent perfumed nose with aroma of violet, anise, liquorice and vanilla. The palate is a seamless essay of flavour infusions. Flavours of ripe plum, cherry, blackberry, vanilla and black pepper are fused – a palate of exceptional length and concentration. Velvet smooth tannins, followed by an extraordinarily long aftertaste of liquorice, confectionary, dark cherry, spice and smoky oak. Our scores will on pump Roman’s ego up a couple of notches – so be it. An extraordinary effort!
Cellar 10-15 years (2018-2023)
A big wine, but amazingly supple, graceful and pure, offering cascades of wild blueberry, black cherry and plum fruit that play against spices such as cardamom, clove and black pepper. It's all seamlessly integrated with fine tannins and enough creamy oak to complete the picture. Syrah. Drink now through 2020.
Wine Spectator Magazine
The 2006 Syrah Astralis Vineyard is more reticent than its peers. It reveals a splendid nose of toasty oak, crushed rock, Asian spices, violets, blackberry, and blueberry compote. It is tightly wound but impeccably balanced. Full-bodied, opulent, and intense, it will evolve for a minimum of a decade and provide pleasure through 2036. It is an exceptional achievement.
Dr Jay Miller – The Wine Advocate #173, October 2007