Clarendon Hills Astralis Syrah 1999
Syrah/Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Australia
The color is very dark blood red, almost black with just a little hint of purple. There is an immense variety of aromas greeting you when you first sniff this wine. Black cherries, blueberries and plums. There is an overriding sensation of earthy, mushroom like characters and more lifted aromas with licorice bark, coffee and vanilla. There are some hints of other spices as well with some nutmeg, cloves and fennel. All of this and more follows on the palate.
As well as the flavors that are described on the bouquet there are also some sweet toasty new oak characters which are quite prominent at the front of the palate. Then you taste the fruity components and finally all the spicy and other complexing factors. The overwhelming impression you get from this wine is the multitude of different levels it works on, with its scope massive and all encompassing.
You simply have to lay this wine down for many years. The flavors swirl around the mouth and are a joy to behold right now, but it needs at least a decade and will peak soon after that period, but then it will have a long window for optimum drinking, simply because the weight and density of the fruit and other flavoring components. It will probably drink well for a further 10 years.
At the moment if you need to open a bottle to see just how good the wine is, serve only aged piquant cheese, either Reggiano or aged cheddar style. It is too intense and grippy to match up with an entrée at this youthful stage.
Wine Spectator - "Amazingly rich and seductive, a towering wine with layers and layers of rich blackberry, plum, cherry and sweet spice flavors that cascade across a dense structure, polished to a fare-thee-well so the flavors ring, unopposed by tannins; the tannins are present, but totally submerged in the flavors. The kind of wine you want to roll around in. "
The Wine Advocate - "The full-bodied, rich 1999 Astralis Syrah exhibits a gamy, floral, creme de cassis, and camphor-scented bouquet. It tastes like a slightly more layered, concentrated version of the 1997, but it does not possess the power, richness, concentration, and potential complexity of either the 1996 or 1998. The 1999 is 4-5 years away from full maturity, but it appears capable of lasting at least two more decades."
Vinous / Antonio Galloni - "Deep ruby. Knockout nose combines black fruits, spices, espresso, meat and gunflint; very syrah. Tightly wound and unevolved, with black fruit, licorice and pepper flavors currently dominated by the wine oak element. Dense with extract but quite closed; doesn't yet show the sweetness of the Piggott Range bottling (or the '98 Astralis, for that matter). Strong tannins coat the teeth. Based on the track record of this wine, it's hard to imagine that it won't ultimately be the strongest of Clarendon's '99 shiraz bottlings. Rating: 93+"
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Clarendon Hills Winery
Clarendon Hills is a small family-run winery based in Clarendon, South Australia. The company was founded by biochemist, Roman Bratasiuk, in 1990. The story of Clarendon Hills is one of passion, dedication and commitment to exception wine. It all began when this biochemist and wine lover decided to produce his own wine. Though he'd never trained as a winemaker, Roman let himself be guided by his refined palate and scientific knowledge. Following his favorite producers and preferred styles, Roman sought to make a version of the wines he loved. View all Clarendon Hills Wines
About McLaren ValeView a map of McLaren Vale wineries
McLaren Vale is home to the oldest Australian vineyard, with grapes planted in 1838. It's a coastal area with the Indian Ocean bordering the west, which contributes a cooling factor that prevents the grapes from getting too hot. In all, the climate is a perfect one for the vines.
Notable FactsIn McLaren Vale, there are vines as far as the eye can see. As in other parts of Australia, Shiraz and Grenache are the most-planted grapes of the region. While red rules, whites are able to hold their own here too. With the warm yet reasonable Mediterranean climate, white grapes like Chardonnay, Semillon and even some Sauvignon Blanc grow well. The wines are round and smooth and the producers in the region are excellent.
About AustraliaLike the United States, which is about the same size, Australia's winemaking regions are huddled into one or two pockets of the country. The state of South Australia, which produces about 60% of the country's wine, also has the most wineries and sub-regions, including McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Coonawarra and Barossa Valley. New South Wales is home to the Hunter Valley, while the smaller, southern state of Victoria is best known for theYarra Valley. Head way west to the very large state of Western Australia and you'll find the tiny region of Margaret River at the southern tip.
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