Wine Reviews: Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-26-2018

Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard is the Australian jewel in the crown of California’s Jackson Family Wines. Purchased in 2012, the winemaking is a coordinated effort between Chris Carpenter (of Napa Cab fame) and distinguished Australian winemaker Charlie Seppelt.

The site, which sits above the Onkaparinga River, has a long history, as vines were first planted in this area in the mid-1800s. Alan Hickinbotham established the company in 1971, planting dry-farmed Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz on these McLaren Vale slopes.

I recently received four reds from Hickinbothom, and was impressed yet again with these wines. Sure, they are packed with rich, dark fruit, but they show so much more than that. Depth, complexity, aging potential, vibrant acidity, complex non-fruit elements, these are fascinating wines that, I think, deserve serious respect. The Peake Cabernet was one of the most penetratingly beautiful Aussie wines I’ve tasted in quite a while.

I received these wines as samples and tasted them single blind.

hickinbotham2015 Hickinbotham Merlot The Revivalist – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $75
Light purple color. Nose shows tart but deep fruit (blueberry, dark plum, roasted fig) along with waves of eucalyptus, mint and earthy-tobacco notes. Full and structured with a chewy feel but underlying acidity keeps it fresh. Blackberry, tart blueberry, gushing fruit but so pure and vibrant. Notes of dusty earth, minerals, violets, eucalyptus and mint, with vanilla and coffee woven in well, and some sweet pipe tobacco on the finish. I’d love to bury a bottle of this for 6-10 years, the quality is that high, but it’s also delicious young. All Merlot. (92 points)

2015 Hickinbotham Shiraz Brooks Road – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $75
Bold purple color. On the nose: tart black currants, roasted fig, saucy blackberries, violets, eucalyptus, black pepper glaze, and some vanilla. Full-bodied with solid tannins for structure (but not harsh) and mildly fresh acidity. Blackberry, blueberry and cassis, the fruit is suave and delicious and loaded with violets, cocoa, black pepper, eucalyptus, dark chocolate, earthy and tar tones. Great stuff, but this needs a solid decant or, preferably, a few years of sleep. All Shiraz. (92 points)

2015 Hickinbotham Cabernet Sauvignon Trueman – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $75
Light purple color. Deep and gorgeous nose of rich plums and black currants, but the fruit is laced with complex notes of tobacco leaf, cigar shop, mint, bay leaf, leather, some cocoa and vanilla. Full-bodied with solid tannins, moderating acidity keeps it lively, and the fruit comes in waves: tart black currants, black cherry, chilled plums. Complex and earthy with notes of loam, roasted herb, spearmint chewing tobacco, notes of cedar and vanilla and mixed in but not dominant. Long life ahead here, but this is gorgeous stuff. (94 points IJB)

2015 Hickinbotham The Peake – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $150
Light purple color. Wow, the aromas are fantastic: black cherries, currants, blackberries, loaded with fruit but elegant, too, and backed up with black pepper, bell pepper, iron, chewing tobacco, graphite and dark chocolate. So rich, structured well with serious tannic grip, but the wine maintains an effortless and velvety feel. Rich, plush, bold but not too dense, with roasted plums, currant paste, blackberries, the fruit is yummy but nuanced. Cocoa, graphite, loam, charcoal, grilled herbs and coffee, lots of complex elements here. Beautiful young but burying this wine for a decade and forgetting about it would be a solid move. This blend of 56% Cabernet and 44% Shiraz is sourced from the estate’s oldest vines, planted in 1971. (96 points IJB)

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