High Sands is our grail. It captures the essence of our prized old vines. For us, High Sands means intense, brilliant, taut yet harmonious, serene, wholesome and complex.
High Sands is grown on the highest point of our white/grey, ancient sandy dunes, on the very top of our estate. The gnarly old bush vines were planted by Frederick Arthur Smart and his sons in 1946. His eldest son, Bernard Smart still lives adjacent to our property and to this day farms Grenache at Clarendon.
We have six blocks of old Grenache, and block 31 (1.7 Ha) at the top of the ridge has the deepest sand, the lowest vigour and yield. These old vines are dry grown, bush or vase-shaped and thinned to ten inches from the ground to create individual microclimates and better air flow and light within the canopy.
The vineyard is certified biodynamic (certification # 11587) with Australian Certified Organic. We have quite a practical approach, with our philosophy focused around healthy and alive soil, which involves no use of synthetic herbicides or fungicides, use of compost and biodynamic preparations, use of sheep in winter to graze under vine, and minimal mechanical soil disruption.
REGION: Kangarilla, McLaren Vale
VINE AGE: 68 years
ELEVATION: 210m above sea level
SOIL TYPE: Weathered sands
The fruit was hand-picked and mechanically berry-sorted, with only 50% of that crushed. 5-day cold soak at approximately 10 degrees. Open fermenters used, wild yeast ferment. Plunging only took place during fermentation. No pressings used. The wine was kept on yeast lees in 100% older French oak for the 11 months of maturation. Each year we select individual barrels that showcase the pedigree of the deep sand, with intense fragrance juxtaposed with intense fruit expression and gritty long tannin structure. Not Fined. Certified organic/biodynamic.
TA: 7.4 g/L
PRODUCTION: 3,120 bottles
95 points Huon Hooke - "Deep red/purple colour. The bouquet holds smoky, charry, savoury aromas with some dry spice notes, and has depth and gravity which mirrors the deep colour and is more profound than usual in pure grenache wines. Clove, pepper, mixed-spice aromas, full body and powerful flavour. The tannins are fine and soft and nicely balanced, providing impressive structure to the wine. An outstanding grenache. Drink 2020 - 2040" (The Real Review, June 2018)
94+ points Campbell Mattinson - "Bush vine grenache, planted 1946. Handpicked, wild fermented, 50% whole berries, cold soaked, open fermenters, matured in French oak but none of it was new. Certified organic/biodynamic. Released May 2018. Keen fruit, pure tannin, a keen line of acidity and stunning length. If there’s oak here it’s so hand-in-glove that you’re hard pressed to detect it. Kirsch, redcurrant, fennel and generous flings of dry spice. It needs a little time but it’s a ripper wine. Drink 2019 - 2025" (The Wine Front, June 2018)
97 points Halliday Wine Companion: "Fruit off Block 31 from the highest section - 210m and the deepest sand for the '46 planted bush vines. 50% whole berries, wild yeast and on lees in used French oak for 1 year. No need for winemaking accoutrements - a pure expression of that discrete spot. Perfectly modulated, the tannins enmeshed with the fruit from whence they came, excellent fruit yet the most savoury and earthy toned and deepest of the three Grenaches. Drink by 2034." (Haliiday Wine Companion 2018)
96+ points Gary Walsh: "Beautiful fragrance here – fresh field roses, raspberry, aniseed and dried mint, almost a chocolate thing going on too. Medium bodied, gentle sweep of sweet fine grained tannin, plump red berries lend succulence, but it’s not confected or gooey in any sense. Dusty and spicy, great length of flavour, with earthy tannin grounding it and pushing it long. Incredibly good wine. Hard to choose between the 2013 and 2014. The former with maybe more length and impact, the latter all grace and charm. 96+ points, though could even twist my arm to 97. Drink 2020-2037." (The Wine Front, June 17)
95 points Lisa Perrotti-Brown: "The 2014 Grenache High Sands has a medium garnet-purple color and opens with the most incredible perfume of violets, black forest cake and mulberries with hints of star anise, underbrush, tapenade and cloves plus a waft of Sichuan pepper. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is densely packed with berry, earth and mspice layers, supported by grainy tannins and seamless freshness, finishing with epic length." (The Wine Advocate, South Australia Report, August 2017)
95 points Huon Hooke: "Deep red colour with a good purple tint; the bouquet is sweetly ripe and berry-like, with some seaspray-like notes. The palate is rich and deep, opulent and flavoursome, with charm and character. It's very intense, powerful, concentrated and long on the finish. The tannins are ample and firm, and oak is beautifully handled and under-played. A superb, luxurious wine. (Biodynamic. Grown on sand. Hand-picked, destemmed, berry-sorted, 50% crushed, wild fermented, aged on lees in 1 and 2 YO French oak. Unfined. 3336 bottles)." (The Real Review, July 2017)
95 points Toni Patterson: 'Winemaker Peter Fraser has crafted a serious, structured, aromatically captivating grenache, of a style rarely seen in Australia, with intense red and black fruits and a complex tannin profile. It is made from old vines grown in white/grey sand and undergoes meticulous berry sorting before a wild fermentation; the result being a wine with great purity and clarity. Alluring, charming florals are gradually unveiled as the wine sits in the glass, and the progression of flavour is simply outstanding. Sweet-fruited, tight, concentrated and bright. Needs some time, but the patient will be amply rewarded.' (The Real Review, June 2017)
93 points James Suckling: 'Serious Grenache with strawberry, mineral and citrus character. Medium to full body, firm and silky tannins and a chewy finish. Needs time to soften. Drink in 2020. Screw cap.' (jamessuckling.com, July 2017)
97+ points Lisa Perrotti-Brown: "The 2013 Grenache High Sands has a medium/deep ruby-purple color and simply stunning nose of crushed raspberries, Bing cherries and potpourri with hints of lavender, star anise, vanilla, cinnamon stick and pepper. The concentrated, full-bodied palate juxtaposes remarkable freshness and a firm, finely grained backbone with voluptuous fruit spanning extraordinary depth. Heady, multilayered and yet with a solid backbone that suggests great ageing potential, Yangarra hits a whole other level with this vintage of High Sands! It's delicious now, but should greatly reward another 3-5 years of patience and drink a further 20+ years. Wow." (The Wine Advocate)
97 points James Halliday: “This is in another league altogether. There is a total fusion between the fruit and tannins first up, oak likewise subsumed by the fruit. There is a bright display of a blaze of red fruits, so vivid that the structural components are relegated to the back of the stage, where they will remain for the life of the wine. Screwcap. 14.8% alc. Rating 97 To 2033.” (Halliday Wine Companion 2017)
96 points Gary Walsh: "271 cases. 210 meters above sea level. 1946 planting. Only old oak. 50% whole bunch. The 2012 was very easy to judge in the glass, while this 2013 took a while to get my head around. As an aside, a Nebbiolo/Burgundy glass ended up being the best vessel for delivery of this wine. Needs a decant or plenty of air, if you open one now.
Very earthy, peppery and spicy, boot polish, Old Jamaica chocolate, dried roses, raspberry, cherries, dried mint – so much going on! Medium bodied, deeply fruited, tannic, but in a very silky way (likely that will make sense should you taste it). Plush raspberry flavour, meat and spices, fresh acidity, distinct ‘mineral’ feel. Long and almost blackcurranty in the aftertaste, with a trail of fine silty tannin. A vin de garde; feels unevolved and painfully young at present. Challenging. I thought about it. And thought some more. Drank some. Then drank some more. And in the end? A conclusion and a score." (The Wine Front, March 2016)
97 points James Halliday: " From the highest section (210m) of the ’46 bush-vine Grenache, hand-picked, mechanically sorted, cold soak, open fermented, hand-plunged, wild yeast- fermented, on lees in used French oak for 12 months. Deep, bright colour; the complex dark fruits of the bouquet lead into a palate of exceptional depth and dimension, not least the firm tannins more often encountered in Cabernet than Shiraz, and almost never in Grenache. Amazing. 160 dozen made. Screwcap. 14% alc. Rating: 97 To: 2042 $125." (2016 Australian Wine Companion).