Hickinbotham The Revivalist Merlot 2015
This is a lithe, sinuous, bright drink of considerable finesse and allure. While quite approachable now, this is one which will greatly benefit from some years in the cellar: it will flesh up beautifully without losing its finesse. The elegant aromas of red currant and bright black cherry offset the tannin structure, which is textbook: dry, dusty, vital and integral.
First planted in 1971 to dry-farmed Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard sits in the hills of Clarendon, at the upper limit of Australia’s revered McLaren Vale winegrowing region. The vineyard historically produced fruit for many of Australia’s iconic producers like Penfolds, Hardy’s, and Clarendon Hills, and was not bottled under its own label until 2012.
The confluence of the hills, ocean and ancient earth – the vineyard sits atop a 75 million-year-old geology – has a strong influence on the style of wines made here. Under the helm of winemakers Christopher Carpenter and Peter Fraser – and viticulturer Michael Lane – Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard employs organic and biodynamic farming practices to produce a range of highly distinctive and powerful red wines. Its flagship wine, The Peake, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz – a style that embraces a famous part of Australia’s winemaking history. It is complemented by a highly acclaimed lineup that has garnered attention from global critics and drawn eyes to Clarendon as a region producing some of Australia’s most celebrated wines.
Known for opulent red wines with intense power and concentration, McLaren Vale is home to perhaps the most “classic” style of Australian Shiraz. Vinified on its own or in Rhône Blends, these hot-climate wines are deeply colored and high in extract with signature hints of dark chocolate and licorice. Cabernet Sauvignon is also produced in a similar style.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.