Wine Advocate 99 points - Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2006 Astralis has stunning nose redolent of warm blackberries, meat, toast and charcoal, infused with notes of smoked duck, anise and a slight bit of peat. Though still very youthful, this big, rich, and powerful full-bodied wine has firm yet velvety tannins, a vibrant acid line and is very long on the finish. Drink it now to 2026+. (Feb 2014)
Wine Advocate 99 points - The flagship of Clarendon Hills is the 2006 Syrah Astralis Vineyard. It is holding more in reserve but when it has fully blossomed in another 10-15 years my score may appear conservative. (Feb 2009)
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This is Clarendon Hills’ flagship wine. It is a member of Clarendon Hills’ ‘ 1er Grand Cru’ classification.
Every year, the Astralis vineyard produces the most beautiful wine in our cellar. Despite its non-differentiated treatment in the cellar, it always reveals the most rounded, sublime and seamless expression of syrah which ages like a rock.
The vast wealth of this wine’s varietal depth extends beyond the parameters of syrah - beckoning superlatives. Amazingly svelte in its balance of varietal depth with restrained power and super finely integrated extract, it is light on its feet and majestic once in focus. Overriding harmony meets an anarchical expression of Australian classic syrah. Lifted florals dance with rich meats, coffee, cola, chocolate, pan forte, turkish delight, graphite, bitumen, cigar tobacco, black cardamom, good quality soy sauce and crushed rocks. It is dense, yet creamy smooth.
This is a wine that is always the most beautiful in our cellar. We recommend it is always decanted. Only the patient will recoup the full dividend of cellaring this masterpiece.
Despite being treated and managed in the same manner as all of Clarendon Hills’ vineyards, this one attracts global attention. This is due to its incredible expression, classic demeanour and timeless elegance. This vineyard was planted in 1920 on a 45º degree, ascending slope. It faces due-east and has a top soil layer of pebble-ridden clay and subsoil layer of pure ironstone. The site was once trellised, but now these stately vines are farmed as they grow, without trellising.
Clarendon Hills is a small family run winery based in Clarendon, South Australia. The company, founded by biochemist Roman Bratasiuk in 1990 is still owned and sustained by the self-taught winemaking proprietor. Considered somewhat of a maverick within the Australian industry, Roman has irrevocably changed the landscape of Australian fine wine. Roman is a man obsessed by the great wines of the world. This passion propelled him toward winemaking as he sought to make wines for himself in the style he enjoyed most, in many ways influenced by his favourite producers and varieties. Captivated by the impact an appellation forges, Roman never deviated from his path in conveying varietal expression. Ancient, low yielding single vineyards based the formula for conveying sense of place and varietal expression; Clarendon and its surrounding districts offered both choice of sizeable old vine 80-90year old parcels but geologically and geographically varied terrain. This was an angle that was absolutely unique within Australia at the time.
The emerging of one particular wine grabbed the world’s attention. 1994 was year Astralis was born. Although, the wine had remained unchanged from the 1990, 91, 92 and 93 Clarendon Hills Shiraz – Roman saw more in this wine than everyone. As a result it was re-branded it to Astralis (Oxford Dictionary: pertaining to the stars) reflecting he and wife Sue’s opinion that it was ‘out of this world’. The wine was an instant success. Most recently the 1994 and the 1996 vintages have been included in the Greatest 1000 wines of all time 1727-2006. It remains Clarendon Hills’ most highly demanded cuvee and least available.
The style of wine Roman made was much more widely received within international markets, whose level of wine education and consumption maturity naturally appreciated his style. To Roman’s frustration, international demand saw close to 100% of the product being exported; his wines were almost unknown in Australia for many years. Clarendon Hills received glowing accolades and awards, invitations to events that showcased only the world’s leading wines, presenting/sitting next to winemakers that perpetuated Roman toward making wine, being mentioned in the same sentence as DRC; these are all aspects of the stratospheric rise of Clarendon Hills in 1990’s.
Yet, returning back home from the most part of the year away, hand selling his hand made wines- Roman would walk in to a bottle shop and not only go unrecognized but offered cask wines and other drive-through specials. You can imagine where he insinuated the casks may be repositioned. Reality. The style of wine Roman makes was not realized by the general Australian public.. yet.
Modern times have seen a quantum leap in Clarendon’s ability. The vines and wines are much more closely attended, added investment facilitated further reach within the quality control department as today the wines are extremely closely monitored where previously the smaller team was stretched. The redesign of our labels in 2003 is intended to represent this new-age. Roman adopted a ‘Burgundian’ labeling philosophy where only the core information is depicted on the label. The Australia government requires a few key items labeled to guide the customer; Roman sought to exemplify this notion whereby he communicated this in a black and white fashion. The net result renders the bottles all looking virtually the same.. this is the core of his strategy whereby any further information you, the consumer requires, need to open the bottle to discover it for yourself – the way Roman discovered wine all those years ago. The intention of this website is to purely in-flex the bottle’s philosophy, where previously ’black on white’ you discovered wine; now white on black.. this is the negative.. you are now inside the bottle with all the background information, looking back out to the world.
Furthermore, with 19 single vineyard wines available: Roman has traced an internal hierarchy reflected in a paradigm seen in the old-world. Village wine, Premier-Cru and Grand-Cru classifications aid identification of an aspect of vineyard quality level and also inherent consumption occasions that each level may dictate. These tiered classes are represented throughout Clarendon’s wines and are implemented to aid and direct your approach to our wines.
Quintessentially, Roman never made wines for anyone other than himself, he maintains it ensures that he dictates the direction of his future path, and not market trends. His winemaking style was clearly ahead of its time and the decisions made in the early 90’s ring true as the general direction of the industry follows suit, 20 years later.
Please take the information available herein as a reference towards understanding our backward approach in bringing you classic examples of variety that spans the elegance of the old-world and the depth new-world Australia has to offer.