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Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard, The Peake Cabernet / Shiraz Hickinbotham 2015
56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Shiraz
The Peake is the top cuvee of the Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard. It's often said that Australians invented the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, using Shiraz to replace the Merlot used in the blends of Bordeaux; but this is not so. In the early 1800's when Australian colonists were buying their first cuttings in France, it was common for the great Bordeaux chateaux to add some Shiraz (Syrah) from Hermitage to their Cabernets. Having taken cuttings from both regions, Australia kept an ancient pre-phylloxera, pre-appellation tradition alive. A gastronomic luxury of rare style and intensity, this beautiful wine is fine, supple and utterly satisfying; evoking notes of blackberry, ripe fig, and Arabic coffee. It retains an unlikely softness given its serious long-term potential; its silky elegance is deceptive: there's enough form in this bottle to carry it for decades.
Winemakers Charlie Seppelt and Chris Carpenter worked closely with Viticulturer Michael Lane to craft The Peake. The grapes were hand-harvested from vines planted in 1971 set in high country (220-230 metres). With the varieties fermented separately, the clusters were destemmed and the berries were sorted straight into open fermenters. The cold soak lasted four days; the skins on the Shiraz were plunged three times daily and the Cabernet was pumped over daily. Both were left on skins for a minimum eighteen days. After basket pressing, the light pressings of the Cabernet were included in the free run while the heavier pressings were kept separate. Three rack-and-returns were conducted over fifteen months as the wine seasoned in a mixture of fine-grained Bordeaux and Burgundy-coopered barrels.
Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard is the Australian jewel in the crown of California’s Jackson Family Wines. Purchased in 2012, the winemaking is a coordinated effort between Chris Carpenter (of Napa Cab fame) and distinguished Australian winemaker Charlie Seppelt. The Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard covers a steep cut of country from the ridgetops above the village of Clarendon to the Onkaparinga River in the gorge below.Vines were first planted in this part of Australia back in 1858. Clarendon lies to the extreme north of McLaren Vale, on the edge of the Adelaide foothills, at an altitude much higher than the rest of the region (almost 300 metres), providing cooler nights to help refresh the vines.The Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard was established in 1971 by Alan Hickinbotham. It is 80 hectares in size and was originally planted with dry-grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, although it is now also planted with Merlot. It quickly became highly regarded and has been the source for many of Australia’s finest wines such as Penfolds Grange. The Brooks Road is a 100% Shiraz cuvée that also spends 18 months in barrel but in barrels coopered in Burgundy rather than Bordeaux. The top cuvée is called the Peake, after Sir Edward John Peake, the founder of Clarendon. It’s an even blend of Cabernet and Shiraz from forty year old vines and spends eighteen months in barrel.
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