Jackson Family Wines is a big but high quality organisation based in the States but with various fingers in various pies around the world. Their latest exciting venture is in Australia, South Australia to be precise. They have bought one of the region’s most revered vineyards in the Clarendon area of McLaren Vale. 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 Jackson family have put two highly regarded winemakers in place to run the project, Charlie Seppelt and Christopher Carpenter. Four wines are made under this new label. The Trueman is a blend of 95% Cabernet and 5% Merlot, aged for eighteen months in barriques. 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 Revivalist is a blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and also spends eighteen months in barrel. 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. Quantities of all these wines are very small (a lot of fruit is still being sold off) with only 1800 cases in total made across the four wines.
Gentle, moody, and enticing ... The Revivalist flickers from its polished sheen of soft prunes and dark berries to its peppery dust and black tea-leaf edge. Between those appetising extremes you’ll find licorice, dark chocolate, and aniseed with a tinge of the soft flesh of enoki mushrooms. It’s an agile and elegant wine, finishing with dusty velvet tannins that provoke the palate – vivifying the category of Australian Merlot.
Trueman represents Cabernet in Clarendon at its best. Its purity, its elegant style, its supple, polished nature ... it’s a wine of its own. Distinct in character, this is not like Cabernet from the Vales below or the hills to the east. From its pretty, delicate florals and musk, through to its silky blackcurrant and kalamata juice and down to its dark carbon soul - Trueman is a modern Cabernet that encapsulates all the toil and antiquity of Clarendon. Echoing the unearthed prose of wine writer Ebenezer Ward from 1886 on the Cabernet sown from this very land – Trueman is `an excelled wine, of very marked flavor and bouquet``.