Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard
Hickinbotham (Clarendon Vineyard) is a new ultra-premium, small batch range produced by Jackson Family Wines (who also own Yangarra). The historic Clarendon vineyard was planted by Alan Hickinbotham in 1971, and quickly established itself as truly unique site, going on to become the source of premium fruit for many illustrious brands over the years, including Clarendon Australis (ongoing), Penfolds Grange and Eileen Hardy.
After walking the Merlot blocks of Hickinbotham, Winemaker Chris Carpenter and Viticulturer Michael Lane delivered hand-picked grapes from high country (245 metres). The Merlot vines were planted in 1976. Destemmed and sorted straight into open fermenters, the berries underwent a four day cold soak. The wine was pumped over daily, and the minimum time on skins was eighteen days. After basket-pressing the lighter pressings were included in the free run; the heavier pressings kept separate.
Three rack-and-returns were conducted over fifteen months as the wine seasoned in a mixture of Bordeaux-coopered barrels.
This is tight, lithe and elegant: a composed and dignified Merlot with only the faintest initial glimpse of anything resembling mellow. It smells comforting at first, but as the drinker delves, the bouquet unveils mossy, damp forest earth, and then fresher, leafy greens emerge with their tannins.