Shiraz grapes grow bountifully in the Land Down Under, where the climate is warm and the sunlight shines bright—particularly in the McLaren Vale wine region. This appellation is celebrated for consistently producing world-class Australian Shiraz—though Roman Bratasuik, owner of the Clarendon Hills winery, prefers to use this grape’s Old World name, Syrah, for his top-rated wines.
Clarendon Hills wines are some of the most collectible and manifestly delectable on the market. They reflect a dedication to quality winemaking and terroir, with many expressing notes associated with only the best Shiraz wines—black fruits, brambles, spice, and licorice. Serious connoisseurs do well to reserve a place in their cellars—and at their tables—for the very best vintages from Clarendon Hills.
A Few of the Best Vintages from Clarendon Hills
First established in 1990, Clarendon Hills quickly made a name for itself throughout Australia—and the rest of the world—as a top producer of quality wines. The winery’s flagship Astralis Syrah wines, in particular, are known for their expressive flavors and aromas as well as their longevity, making the best vintages from Clarendon Hills ideal for both drinking and laying down long-term.
Clarendon Hills was around before the big Shiraz boom of the early 2000s, and their wines are among the lucky few to have remained in high demand long after the bubble burst—though luck, of course, has had little to do with it.
Below is a list of the Clarendon Hills Astralis vintages that have received the highest praise over the years, tasting notes summarized from Wine Advocate and Jancis Robinson.
|Vintage Year||Drinking Window||Notes|
|2016||N/A||Not yet available.|
|2015||2026-2037||Dense, supple, and precise, with a ripe palate and notes of anise, pepper, mint, and blueberries on the nose.|
|2012||2024-2035||Rich, complicated, layered—this wine introduces itself with aromas of meat and earth and follows this first impression up beautifully with a core of dark berries and fruits, spices, and potpourri.|
|2010||2018-2034||Medium- to full-bodied, with enticing complexity. Black and blue fruits mixed with savory spices and a hint of violet on the nose; more black fruit and spices, along with mocha and toast, on the palate.|
|2008||2016-2026||Creamy and sensual with a long finish. Aromas of pepper, fresh herbs, blueberries, and lavender; meaty flavors combined with hints of olive and espresso.|
|2006||2014-2027||A dark, savory wine with oak, spice, and charred notes on the palate; surprisingly fresh.|
|2005||2012-2029||Seductively subtle and elegant, with smoky notes of cooked meat, graphite, leather, dark berries, and truffles.|
|2003||2011-2027||Intensely rich and pure, with exquisite balance and a deep complexity. White flowers and dark chocolates and espresso on the nose; dark fruits and ripe tannins on the palate.|
|2002||2012-2031||Compelling, concentrated, with an unctuous texture, this wine offers a bouquet of floral aromas mixed with creme de cassis, cooked meat, and soil, and ripe, pure fruitiness on the palate.|
|2001||2011-2035||Smoke and florals combine to provide notes of acacia flowers, graphite, and espresso, while delivering sensationally sweet tannins and strong concentration from the first drop.|
Clarendon Hills makes other Syrah wines beside Astralis, along with wines from a few other varieties, including Grenache, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Below are particularly excellent vintages from a few of these labels:
- 2016 Romas Vineyard Grenache
- 2015 Romas Vineyard Grenache
- 2006 Romas Grenache
- 2015 Clarendon Hills Kangarilla Vineyard Grenache
- 2014 Clarendon Hills Kangarilla Vineyard Grenache
- 2015 Clarendon Hills Sandown Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2014 Clarendon Hills Sandown Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2005 Hickinbotham Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2016 Blewitt Springs Vineyard Grenache
- 2015 Blewitt Springs Vineyard Grenache
Each of the wines above is a single varietal, single vineyard wine, intended to display the characteristics of each grape variety as shaped by the vineyard’s terroir.
Perfect Pairings for Clarendon Hills Syrah Wines
Enjoying Syrah wine is an exercise in delayed gratification, with many wines requiring a wait of up to ten years before coming into their own. Once you do finally open up a bottle of one of the best vintages from Clarendon Hills, however, the reward typically proves to be well worth the wait.
For those planning to enjoy an older vintage now, or a newer vintage later, here are a few food pairing suggestions to consider:
- Barbecued or braised meats, particularly beef or gamey meats—brisket, roast leg of lamb, and venison all pair exquisitely, especially with a peppery rub or sauce.
- Grilled vegetables, such as mushrooms, mirror the smoky side of these Syrahs.
- Big, beefy stews or chilis also nicely complement the smoky, spicy notes of these wines.
- Tuna is the best choice if you plan to pair this wine with a seafood dish.
- Hard, aged cheeses are ideal for pairing with Clarendon Hills Syrah.
When serving, keep in mind that the ideal serving temperature for full-bodied red wines like Clarendon Hills Astralis is around 16 to 18 degrees Celsius, or about 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. When opening younger bottles, it may be necessary to decant them for several hours, while more mature vintages will typically need no more than an hour or two to rest.
Investing in Top-Quality Syrah Wines from Clarendon Hills
Like many of Australia’s most collectible wines, the best vintages from Clarendon Hills tend to significantly appreciate in value over time, sometimes rather rapidly—some of the most sought-after bottles sell for upwards of $5,000. And, like many of the highest-quality Syrah wines, they boast an impressive aging potential of up to 20 years or more. In other words, if you’re collecting wine with the intention of reselling it, you could hardly do worse than a top-rated bottle of Astralis. As with any wine, buying directly from the winery is the best way to ensure that the wine you receive is authentic and has been properly stored and handled.
To protect this precious investment, be sure to have your wines stored professionally to prevent potential mishaps and damage. A lot can happen in a decade or two; it pays to know your investment will be kept safe and in perfect condition until the day comes when you are ready to reap the reward for your patience.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.