2010 CLARENDON HILLS SYRAH – Brookman Vineyard, Clarendon, Austrailia
Here is a wine meant to cost quite a bit more than what we’re asking. For industry reasons with which we’ll not bore you, we are bringing you one of our favorite Australian producers at a very nice price.
Clarendon Hills is a cut above and a style apart from most of the higher-end Shiraz from Down Under, suggested even by the producer’s preference for the name “Syrah”. Roman Bratasiuk – and now his sons – render dark and sumptuous red wine expressions, but ending the Clarendon Hills definition there is to miss a key point: Roman’s winemaking premise is European. Certainly, the warmth of this Australian region will produce alcoholic power, but a great awareness of and fondness for Burgundy and the Rhone wines invokes intrigue and durability. These Clarendon wines say more and last longer.
Over the years Robert Parker himself would taste the Clarendon line-ups. As a group, they were among his most highly-rated wines. I submit that per his palate this wine would receive a 94 point rating or higher. However, someone else does the Aussie reviewing for Wine Advocate these days. Her very good rating of 91 for this beauty is too stingy by my read, but her description is thoughtful:
“Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2010 Brookman Vineyard Syrah displays notes of licorice, peppered salami and mocha over black plums and blackberry compote. Full-bodied, fruit forward and concentrated in the mouth, it has medium to firm levels of silky tannins and balanced acid to hold through the long finish. Drink it now to 2019.”
Parker would have given this more years of drinkability, and so would I. Right now we have some 2006 Clarendon on our shelves that’s drinking beautifully. If you uncork this sooner than later, please give it the benefit of air and a Pinot Noir-style glass. Note how it tastes upon opening, then an hour later, the next day, and so on. It will grow in smoothness and complexity, and provide voluptuosity the whole time!
Southern Italy’s Most Significant Red Grape?
2012 Re MANFREDI - Aglianico del Vulture, Basilicata, Italy
Many a wine writer has proclaimed Aglianico as the equal of Piemonte’s Nebbiolo and Tuscany’s Sangiovese in terms of its complexity and potential for aging. The wine you have before you justifies the notion, so long as users are judicious. Bold foods, decanting, and / or cellaring will be necessary for a proper view of Re Manfredi . . . along with an Old World wine-appreciative perspective.
Some wines deliver brainless appeasement; soft on the tongue and big with recognizable ripe fruit. Others, like this Aglianico from a volcano's leavings in Basilicata, Italy, deliver the challenge of thoughtful intrigue. I first saw this label a few years ago when someone renting one of our temperature-controlled lockers gave me a 15-year-old example from his personal stash. It indignantly bellowed with grumpy, curmudgeonly angst. It upset me - in a good way. It demanded my respect with unembarrassed Old-World-ness. It made me want to eat a leg - or an arm or a wing. We're providing this younger version of Re Manfredi to our World Class club and bought a little extra for the thoughtful wine world at large. I dare you to confront it – properly!