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2009 Clarendon Hills Astralis Syrah
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- Cellar 10 - 12 years (2022-2024)
- ABV 14.5%
- Closure: Cork
Many Australians remain oblivious to the superb Reds that come out of a collection of old vine vineyards under the 'Clarendon Hills' label. Miniscule output and premium price tags 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. Bratasiuk'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." Robert Parker describes Bratasuik as "...one of planet earth's greatest winemakers." He has also 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. Since the late 1990's we've reviewed successive collections of these wines, frequently giving them our highest recommendation. 2009 is one such vintage with all varietals showing outstanding form and mid to long term cellaring potential. All the Clarendon Hills wines are sourced from single vineyard sites from vines mostly around 85 years old. Wild ferments and zero fining or filtration are the norm. Bratasuik's sons, Adam and Alex, have now joined the operation.
Roman classifies this as his 1er Grand Cru. The Astralis vineyard was planted in 1920. The wine is aged in 100% new, tight-grained French oak for 18 months. 2009 saw lower than usual crop levels (down 40%) which ripened relatively evenly over the 2008/09 summer. A short, late summer heat burst gave a welcomed kick start to the final ripening stages. Idyllic conditions ensued and the fruit was progressively picked. Totally opaque, inky black colour showing superb saturation and glass cling with a deep crimson purple hue. Perfumed aromas offer a multifaceted bouquet including ripe blackberry, liquorice and black cherry followed by some roasted meat like characters, vanillin, cedar and blackpepper. The palate possesses explosive power. An ethereal mouth full that includes ripe blackberry, dark plum and liquorice followed by some confectionary, vanillin, cedar & spice. Sublimely textured with velvet smooth tannins. Incredibly long aftertaste of liquorice, ripe blackberry, vanillin confectionary, blackpepper and spice. Quite simply, this is a stunning integration of acidity, tannin, fruit and wood.
Cellar 10-12 years plus (2022-2024+)