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Introducing the Clarendon Hills 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon collection

Sandown Vineyard Vine

Introducing the Clarendon Hills 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon collection

Sandown Vineyard Vine

We recently received some glowing reviews on our 2 new release Cabernet wines. The Sandown Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 has just scored a round of 96/100 reviews from 2 different critics. Ned Goodwin MW from James spoke so eloquently about the new releases it just makes you want to open them up right now.

The Clarendon Hills Sandown Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard is located in the southwestern most part of Blewitt Springs and was planted in 1935 to Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is today a Clarendon Hills estate-owned vineyard that produces some of our best wines every year. While we have long focused on world-class Grenache and Syrah from the Blewitt Springs region, however the terroir is highly capable of producing world-class Cabernet Sauvignon. We have believed this and now the critics are beginning to also recognise our wines among the very finest in Australia.

We all talk about the famous sands of Blewitt Springs that typify the region. In fact the sandy soils are perfect for Cabernet to exceed within. The sands were all deposited some 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age when polar ice caps melted and sea levels rose significantly to deposit a sandy beach some 250 metres above sea level and 7.5 km inland from where the current shoreline is today. The sands do play a pivotal role in the modern storytelling of the region but the full story of the terroir actually began some 1600 million years earlier. Modern geological surveys assess the prevalence of ancient geological formations dated between 600-1600 million years of age throughout the region. This is some of the oldest geology on earth and pre-dates many of the famous terroirs of France that are Palaeozoic or Cambrian in age, whereas our soils are dated in the older Proterozoic era. The Blewitt Springs regional size is approximately 8 square kilometres and sits inland within McLaren Vale, in the northeastern hillsides of the greater region. The region is provided significant definition and distinction via its elevation with cool nights and also maritime proximity with Saint Vincent Gulf. The product of the above essentially makes grapes with thicker skins with greater varietal intensity and the free-draining sandy soils that are speckled with ironstone and quartz and produce distinct mineral facets to the wines forged from these vines. It’s my belief the wines from Blewitt Springs also possess a certain femininity and softness in terms of texture and the complexity and range of varietal expression is in the realm of the exotic.

We have been making Sandown Cabernet Sauvignon since 1998 and over the course of the last 25 years the vines have both matured and refined in their expression substantially. The nearly 100-year-old vines are planted in sands with a high ratio of heavily decomposed shale, schist, quartz and ironstone and yield a lifted and highly complex refined expression. The site is freely draining and the roots shoot their network extremely deeply to reflect their ancient terroir with a lifted aristocratic perfume. The fruit is also handled with utmost respect at the winery via hand picking and 100% de-stemming and a wild yeast fermentation that takes approximately 28 days to complete. We then mature in extremely special barrels from Bordeaux for 18 months before bottling on-site to forge a truly world-class expression. The Sandown Cabernet Sauvignon tasting notes consistently feature leather, roast hazelnut, lead pencils, early grey tea, cassis, sage and black olive tapenade – which is a greater regional note I see in all Blewitt Springs Syrah and Grenache. There’s softness and layering and eventually, it starts to smell like mahogany furniture.

Our Domaine Clarendon BDX is a play on the great wines and Cabernet and Merlot combinations, Bordeaux is famous for. Alas, unlike Bordeaux, where the Chateau is ruled to make the same style every year, as per their appellation system, we can change the bias of Cabernet or Merlot depending on the style of the year and we favour the variety that has performed best. Most years it is a Cabernet bias but some years offer a Merlot bias and a different style. The 2021 vintage offered a dream-like, very long ripening season and the thicker skins reflect this slow gradual flavour development. Ned Goodwin MW liked the 2021 BDX so much he proffered the following commentary ” This is a vastly superior wine than many a claret, even higher-tier efforts. A superlative medium-bodied wine for the money. and also “ So good. If only Bordeaux at this price was anywhere near as good.”

Below are the latest reviews from Gary Walsh at Wine Front and also Ned Goodwin MW at James

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2021 Sandown Cabernet Sauvignon

96/100 The Wine Front

Vineyard planted in the 1930s, Blewitt Springs. Reynella clone.

GW: Blackcurrant, blackberry, pencils, black olive, a little mint, paprika, maybe? Full-bodied, deep, intense and savoury, a saline edge too it, all the dark fruits, including blueberry here too, and black olive, thick graphite tannin, balanced acidity, with a very long finish. This is throaty Cabernet in full flight. Superb. 96 points.”

96/100 James

NG: “A plush cabernet that is nevertheless detailed, refined and taut, driven by a salty, iodine-clad fortress of tannic compression. Savory over anything sweet. Dried sage, black olives, graphite, anise and currants run long across a detailed structure, palate-whetting and gorgeous. Drinkable now, but best from 2030.”

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2021 Domaine Clarendon BDX

94/100 James Suckling

NG: “This is a vastly superior wine than many a claret, even higher-tier efforts. A superlative medium-bodied wine for the money. Clay loam, tomato leaves, stewed plums, dried kelp and graphite. Subdued, savory and taut in the very best sense, with no restraint on the flow of fruit. So good. If only Bordeaux at this price was anywhere near as good. Drink or hold. Screw cap.”

94/100 Wine Front

GW: “45% Merlot and 55% Cabernet Sauvignon

Blackberry, plum, pencils, violets, spice, slightly earthy too. Medium-bodied, blue and black fruit, plum in particular, some black olive and tomato tapenade umami things, gravelly tannin, with a pencilly finish of  length. Such a pleasing and distinctive wine. You’re getting a lot of value for money here too. 94 points.

Some amazing commentary there from two of Australia’s hardest critics. As many of you will know, both dont score above 97/100. So a score of 96 is like a 99/100 from other critics, in effect. These wines are supremely special indeed.

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