Thursday, April 21, 2011


- McLaren Vale, SA
- $95
- Cork (Vintage dated)
- 14.5%alc

From an Adelaide point of view, I've always considered Clarendon Hills to be 'the Wendouree of the south' (there are numerous differences though, not the least of which is consistency). Roman Bratasiuk crafts spectacular individual vineyard reds of immense power, depth and concentration, to which there are few rivals within McLaren Vale. Clarendon Hills wines are expensive and tricky to find, but if the style suits, then the best wines are a must try experience.

From vines planted in 1925, Clarendon Hills' 2006 Blewitt Springs shows one of those classic old-vine McLaren Vale grenache aromas, combining sweet fruit with savoury complexity. There are expressions of leathery earth, game meats and perhaps mushroom, expressed with perfume and intensity, and bolstered by a wonderfully deep, bright core of multi-coloured forest berries adding real sex appeal. Its ripeness is generous and vivid, without being excessive. An incredible acid/tannin structure, rare in Australian grenache, harnesses the palate with a sensuous, net-like coverage. Within its ultra-fine, slick and fanned-out confines resides a mouthfeel of genuinely elegant suppleness, filled out by a richly flavoured symposium of berry compote notes. Although it becomes progressively drier and fine-grained to finish, in a more than welcomed, procrastinating fashion, it also shows a slight jammy quality and a warm hint of menthol.

O The supple, elegant feel of this well structured grenache comes across as something of a surprise from Clarendon Hills, yet it reflects its variety and vintage to perfection. Even for the price, this is quite a grenache, but if it wasn't for a touch of warmth at the finish, then it would've scored an extra point and a tick. Drink to 2018.
94 points


  1. Wendouree of the South would seem appropriate. Tried a couple of their wines for the first time at the Langton's tasting last year and was pretty impressed. Super rich and concentrated as you say, but pull it off well.

  2. The richness is similar, but this is where the similarities end, I think. Many single vineyard wines at Clarendon Hills, only major varieties at Wendouree, Clarendon Hills hedonistic, Wendouree more earthy, Wendouree long lasting, Clarendon Hills less so, Wendouree priced reasonably.

    I have only had a few Clarendon Hills, but as you say, a good one can be spectacular.


  3. Cheers guys.

    There's certainly a (large) number of differences to both labels, but the reasons I tend to associate the two, which aren't necessarily relative to wine style, are as follows (it's a personal thing I guess).

    High quality (although I believe Wendouree is more consistent), low quantity (certainly on Australian shelves) and high prices (Wendouree's wines aren't so high if you're on the mailing list, but once they hit retail, they're about the same as most Clarendon Hills in Adelaide).

    However, the real reasons I mentally associate the two, is because when they're at their peak, there seems to be a slight gap between the quality of their reds and what the rest of their respective regions have to offer, especially when it comes to looking across the range. But first and foremost, is the 'air of mystique' that revolves around both brands. I can think of a few wineries in Victoria and one in Tasmania (Domaine A) that have this 'mystical' quality, but only these two in my home state.

    I'm clearly not alone over here. You should see the fuss kicked up around the Clarendon Hills stand ever since they first decided to enter our largest consumer voted shiraz tasting. I think they've won top gong every year since (I only voted for their entry once ;). Now if only Wendouree would come along to the party.... :)

    Lovely stuff, both labels though. Wonderful reflections of region and style. A comparative tasting would be great to see.

    Chris P