The Hills are Alive

Clarendon Hills McLaren Vale

Clarendon Hills is a family run winery based in Clarendon, McLaren Vale, South Australia. The company was founded by noted biochemist Roman Bratasiuk in 1990. Now Clarendon Hills is recognised by its exceptional consistency and quality, not least by Robert Parker, the world famous wine critic who says it is one of the world’s greatest wine estates and that Roman Bratasiuk is one of planet earth’s greatest winemakers.

I had the pleasure of meeting the highly knowledgeable Alex Bratasiuk on his recent visit to Macau. He is the second generation custodian of Clarendon Hills, who now manages the direction of the winery, while Roman continues with the winemaking duties. We discussed our love for old vine Syrah and Grenache, varietal expressions and a sense of place or terroir, which Clarendon Hills has in abundance. Clarendon, Kangarilla and Blewitt Springs regions all have different and contrasting soil types, similar to Burgundian terroir.

At a sumptuous dinner at Copa Steakhouse at Sands late last year, the menu that as wine pairings go, was a match made in heaven.

First to arrive was the Copa beef tartare that was paired with the Bakers Gully Syrah 2006, followed by the seared goose liver and duck breast with the Hickinbotham Grenache 2007. Oak wood smoked lamb chop with Sandown Cabernet 2006 was next, followed by braised marinated beef short rib with barbecue sauce and the Hickinbotham Syrah 2006. The cheese platter was presented with the extravagant Australis 2006 and last but no means least, dark chocolate pudding with chilli ice cream.

All the wines at Clarendon Hills are made by hand, using only natural processes, and my wine of the night was the Hickinbotham Grenache 2007 made from old vines from the roaring twenties, and this wine did indeed roar. Aromas and flavours of red cherries, plum and sweet spice followed with an enticing acidity that keeps this wine fresh and elegant. Dish of the day was the oak wood smoked lamb chop, succulent tender lamb, cooked perfectly, marinated in a barbecue sauce and gently smoked. This matched perfectly with the Sandown Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.

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