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2009 Clarendon Hills Hickinbotham Cabernet Sauvignon
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- Cellar 8 - 10 years (2020-2022)
- 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.
The Hickinbotham vineyard planted in 1960 is dry grown in rocky, red, ironstone rich soils. Ageing takes place in 100% new tight grained French oak barriques for 18 months. Superb opaque inky black crimson colour with deep black crimson hue. The nose is very perfumed with lifted violet and blackcurrant top notes supported by some underlying cedar, liquorice and spice. The palate is filled with decadently rich blackcurrant and cassis fruit followed by some liquorice, cedar and spice. Well constructed, slightly chewy and dry at present but nonetheless very fine grained tannins are in perfect balance and carry the densely concentrated fruit beautifully. Long blackcurrant, cassis, cedar and spice aftertaste.
Destined for greatness over the next 8-10 years and beyond (2020-2022+)