First planted in 1971 to dry-farmed Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, Hickinbotham Vineyard is situated on the high elevation hills of Clarendon, a subregion along the northern edge of McLaren Vale in South Australia. The vineyard historically produced fruit for many of Australia’s most iconic producers but was not bottled under its own label until 2012. Led by winemakers Christopher Carpenter and Peter Fraser – and viticulturer Michael Lane – Hickinbotham Vineyard continues its nearly 50-year legacy.
The first vines at the Hickinbotham Vineyard were planted in 1971 by Alan David Hickinbotham, son of Australia’s first wine science lecturer at the famous Roseworthy Agricultural College, Alan Robb Hickinbotham. This 186-hectare property of rolling hillsides remained under Hickinbotham family ownership for more than 40 years until it was purchased by the Jackson family in 2012. The vineyard has been farmed according to organic and biodynamic practices since 2019.
The pedigree of the Hickinbotham Vineyard has long been established but, until the change of ownership in 2012, grapes from the 85-hectares of vines were only ever sold to an esteemed list of winemakers. With wineries including Penfolds, Clarendon Hills and Hardys, grapes were credited to flagship wines like Penfolds Grange and Eileen Hardy Shiraz. It was only Clarendon Hills that released vineyard-designate wines bearing the “Hickinbotham” name.
The first four wines to bear the Hickinbotham Vineyard label were produced from the 2012 vintage: Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Cabernet Shiraz blend. These parcels were selected from the oldest terraced plantings which trace the contours of the undulating, hillside terrain and continue to provide a rich tapestry of qualities from which the wines are crafted each year.
The character of the Hickinbotham Vineyard is profound and produces famously resilient wines with highly expressive character. The breathtaking views from the top of the site down over the vines towards the Onkaparinga Gorge command ancient ground that is the key to the innate power this site produces. The cooling breezes funnel through from the hills above and the coast below and lend a desirable freshness to the wines.
Hickinbotham Brooks Road Shiraz is made from 100 percent Shiraz.
After the hand-picked Shiraz clusters were delivered from high country (210-230 meters) by Viticulturer Michael Lane, the winemaker destemmed and sorted the whole berries into open fermenters. The cold soak was four days, the skins plunged three times daily, and the minimum time on skins was eighteen days. The wine was then basket pressed; its free run and pressings kept separate. To minimize filtration at bottling, three rack-and-returns were conducted over fifteen months as the wine seasoned in a mixture of Burgundy-coopered barrels.
This Shiraz shows the characters this vineyard has displayed since the start, but perhaps in a more elegant, harmonious and balanced form. Its consistency is comforting and reassuring, buttressed by blue and black fruit notes throughout. It is readily enjoyable but has all the structure, acid and tannin to offer decades of rewards from cellaring.
Thanks in part to the relatively cool year, this is a wine that manages refinement, restraint and beautiful expression of place. The nose is a neatly woven basket of aromas: crushed flowers, red and blue fruit, pepper, mint and cigar box. The palate is full figured and highly textural. There’s a line of powdery, spicy, ultrafine tannins and a streak of high-end oak. Set up for a long and beautiful life, Drink from 2022–2045 - Wine Enthusiast 95 Points
Betz Family La Serenne Syrah is 100% Syrah
La Serenne is the most reflective of the site/vintage dynamic of our three single-site 2012 Syrahs. Lovers of this wine know that its source, the Boushey Vineyard, is the highest altitude of the three vineyards and is typically the latest harvested. This cool site was accentuated by the cooler season and the results reflect the seriousness of this vineyard and its care.
An extraordinary, nearly impenetrable black purple color leads to a concentrated, inky aromatic impression: smoky black cherry and wild blackberry dominate, but a litany of supporting aromas is already emerging: smoke, violet, mushroom, roasted meat, Chinese 5 spice and minerals. It has a full attack on entry and a big, rich mouthfeel that goes on and on.
2012 is our 13th harvest from this site and these rows. We continue to be impressed with the chameleon nature of this vineyard, in cool years and hot, in heat spikes and cool springs: it provides us with surprises and opportunities at every harvest. While the themes of deep black fruits and pliant structure always surface, the nuance of this vineyard and its care (thank you, Dick Boushey) make it some of the most satisfying fruit we work with every harvest.
"The pure, elegant and textured 2014 Syrah la Serenne offers that classic violet and floral characteristics of the cuvee, as well as medium to full-bodied richness, lots of black raspberry fruit, fine, sweet tannin and a great finish. It’s not as powerful or concentrated as the La Cote Rousse, yet it’s a joy to drink and will cruise for a decade or more on its balance and purity. - Jeb Dunnuck"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue #225, June 2016), 93 pts
Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley is made from 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot.
Aged for 20 months in 100% French, medium toast; 60% new, 40% one & two year old
The nose leads off with plum, bright blackberry, and dark bing cherries. A touch of dried blueberry rounds out the fruit proï¬le. Floral notes and cocoa, with nuances of cedar and spice, are sprinkled throughout. All of these characters follow through on the palate and, with a pleasant minerality and continuity, weave a tapestry of complexity and youthful exuberance.
"Plenty of blackcurrants and blueberries with a hit of new wood, too. Medium body, slightly firm tannins and a flavorful finish. This still needs some time to come together. Cabernet sauvignon with 1% petit verdot. Better after 2021."
- James Suckling (June 2020), 92 pts
Aromas of barrel spice, coffee, cherry, bittersweet chocolate, graphite and sautéed herb are followed by textured cherry and chocolate flavors. There's a pleasing sense of brightness to the acidity and deftness to the rich, creamy coffee and bright cherry flavors that keep the interest high. Plenty of tannic structure holds it all together. Coffee notes linger on the finish. It's far from a big bruiser and needs some time to all integrate but brings and abundance of rewards. Best after 2026 with a very long life beyond that.
-Wine Enthusiast 92 Points