Tasting Note: Clarendon Hills 1997 Liandra Shiraz


1. Introduction:
Here we go again with another wine from Clarendon Hills from the late nineteen-nineties.
Out of the many fantastic wines from mostly Rhone, but also Bordeaux, varietals in their portfolio we try the 1997 Liandra Shiraz today.
This 100% Shiraz is sourced from the historic Liandra vineyard in Southern Australia´s McLaren Vale.
Our 1997 bottle is in extraordinary condition with a healthy cork. 14,5% alc.

2. Appearance:
Deep dark-red, velvet. Intense, vibrant and deep!

3. Nose:
Dark ripe Berries; mostly Blackberry and Cassis.
Earth, Black Tea, Dark Chocolate and Tar.
Little Floral characters come with some Sweetness, Eucalypt and Oak.
Comforting, soft and inviting!

4. Taste:
Beautifully integrated with fascinating secondary characteristics.
Decent Fruit- mostly Dark Berries- with Fruit in Rum.
Earthiness, Tobacco, Dark Chocolate and Leather.
Finishes long with vivid acidity, round tannins, some fruit and little spiciness.
Nice texture and mouthfeel. Great proportions and complexity!

5. Opinion:
A full-bodied, delicious and wonderful wine that really fits!
Great sophisticated complexity, harmony, concentration and balance.
Rich, but filigree aromas and flavors.
Should be good for some more years of careful cellaring, but drinks beautifully now.

The Liandra Vineyard (photo by Clarendon Hills)

Tasting Note: Clarendon Hills 1998 Old Vines Grenache, Clarendon Vineyard


1. Introduction:
Clarendon Hills produces six different (mostly) single-vineyard Grenache wines all from old vineyards in South Australia´s McLaren Vale region.
After our portrait of the 1995 Blewitt Springs Grenache earlier this year,
the 1998 Clarendon Vineyard Grenache is the second wine by Clarendon Hills presented in this blog.
The wine, with its fruit sourced from a vineyard planted in 1920, is considered to be the entry point or ‘village wine’ in Clarendon Hills` (Grenache) portfolio.
Our 1998 bottle is in perfect condition with a healthy cork.

2. Appearance:
Vibrant dark red, crimson with little signs of aging. Slightly lighter edges.

3. Nose:
Rich and concentrated fruit of ripe Plums, Cherries and Dark Berries. Hints of Petrol.
Beautiful Floral and Herbal characteristics of Violets, Lavender, Heather and Thyme.
Some Cedar and Vanilla Sweetness.
Intriguing and beautiful!

4. Taste:
Flavors of ripe Dark Fruits as Black Raspberry, Plum and Chery. Fruit in Rum.
Dark Chocolate with traces of Vanilla and a mix of Licorice and fresh Herbs.
Finishes long with pure Fruit, present, but round Tannins and Spicyness.
Concentrated, complex and well-structured!

5. Opinion:
An intense, but nicely integrated full-bodied wine.
Even though with lively tannins and acidity, it is very balanced and approachable now.
Interestingly, compared to the 1995 Blewitt Springs, this wine- while 3 years younger- is much softer and rounder at this stage.
A beautiful, now savory and very accessible wine, which should be consumed within the next years.

The Clarendon Vineyard (Photo by Clarendon Hills)

CellarTV in brief II.: About Old Vines

Old Zinfandel vines in Ridge´s Lytton Springs Vineyard

The Magic of Old Vines

Ironically, most of the world´s oldest vines are growing in the New World, where the vineyards have not been destroyed by phylloxera. As vintners speak about old vines, they usually mean vines that are older than 20 or 30 years. That is around the time in the life of a vine, when yields are decreasing and their value is economically questioned.
But what is so special about old vines and, furthermore, so special about the ancient vines in some parts of the New World, where vines and vineyards are 100 or even 150+ years old, like some of the Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in South Australia, Argentina´s Malbec vines or California´s Zinfandel in Sonoma County or Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley?
It cannot be coincidence that mostly top producers have their hands on these specific vineyards.
There are two significant reasons that sum up the great value of old vines.

The first substantial argument for producing wine from old vines is measurable and closely connected to wine quality.
Old vines are low-yielding and, thereby, produce small, but highly concentrated berries. Their roots go deep – sometimes very deep with 15 (50) to 20 meters (65feet) or more -, their trunks and barks are thick. Due to this, these vines are able to soak up and store more minerals and nutrients than young vines; nutrients and minerals, which are also released into the berries. Thereby, these berries deliver complex, more complete and intensely flavor extracts. The result is harmonious wine, with great complexity, intensity and depth which expresses its specific vineyard site.

Secondly, old vines and their vineyards have a very distinct history and long tradition. Customers value these aspects of tradition and authenticity while, as a consequence, wineries bring their Old Vine– Wines to the market while underlining these emotional values.
Besides, along with this tradition often comes a lot of experience in how to get the best out of the old vineyard.
As multigenerational wineries have gained a deep knowledge about their vines and terroir over the years, they are, by that, able to raise the wine quality.

Well, isn´t it simply magical to drink a wine from ancient vines, while feeling and really tasting the terroir of decades?

The about 150 year-old Shiraz Vines in Henschke´s Hill of Grace Vineyard