Strutting its stuff at present, the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Sandown Vineyard (made from 75-year-old vines) is Bratasiuk's St.-Emilion from McLaren Vale. A wonderfully rich, packed and stacked, dense purple-colored wine, it offers up scents of fruitcake, creme de cassis, underbrush, cedar, and spice box. Full, rich, and powerful, displaying even more potential and intensity than it did last year, this beauty can be approached now, but it won't hit its stride for another 3-4 years. It should last for two decades.
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.
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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.
In 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.
Like 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.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.