High Sands is our grail. It captures the essence of our prized old vines. The High Sands block has a restrained authoritative power that is an antithesis to its purity, fragrance and beauty.
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 and therefore the lowest vigour and yield. These old vines are dry grown, bush or vase-shaped and thinned to 10 inches from the ground to create individual micro climates 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.
Block 31: 1.7 hectares
Vine Age: 70 years old
Elevation: 210 m above sea level
Aspect: North East (very gentle slope)
Geology: North Maslin Sands Formation (54 million years old)
Soil: 1m deep White Sands (silica – not marine) overlying red/orange Clay
Vines: Vase shaped bush vine, dry grown (not irrigated)
Variety: 100% Grenache Noir
Picking date: 5th March 2016 (Fruit day in the Biodynamic calendar)
Viticulturalist: Michael Lane
Winemaker: Peter Fraser
Certified: Organic & Biodynamic Certification (ACO # 11587)
Hand-picked and mechanically sorted. 100% Destemmed, with 50% whole berries. Cold soak. Open fermenters. Plunged. Wild yeast ferment. No pressings are used in this wine. Kept on lees in 100% older French oak for 11 months. We have selected individual barrels that showcase the pedigree of the deep sand, with lifted fragrance, intense fruit expression and fine, gritty long tannin structure. Un-fined. Bottled February 2017.
TA: 6.3 g/L
99 Points - WINE OF THE YEAR 2020 Halliday WIne Companion 2020: This is the king of Australian Grenache and not to be undertaken lightly. Deep, although clear, in colour, it has a rainbow of flavours, its deep roots probing the soil nearby for sustenance that will provide tannins and all things needed for the grapes to reveal the magic evolution of the red flowers and spices of this wine.
96 points Campbell Mattinson The Wine Front: Bush vine grenache, planted 1946. Hand picked, wild fermented, 50% whole berries, cold soaked, open fermenters, matured in French oak but none of it was new. Certified organic/biodynamic. A remarkable wine. Sheer fruit power, lakes of tannin, character in spades. Game, black cherry, saltbush, gum leaves and pure fresh plum. Tight through the finish, almost too much so, but as it ages it will unfurl and expand. Serious grenache. Imposing.
95 Points Toni Paterson The Real Review: A highly rich and concentrated wine with gorgeous aromatic appeal. Alluring dried cherry fruit enhanced by some fine sweet-oak. Although the palate is concentrated, there is appealing background savouriness. The tannins are intricate, fine and plentiful, and the finish is long and delicious
98 points Halliday Wine Companion 2019: From Block 31, the highest section of the vineyard at 210m planted '46, 50% whole berries, 50% destemmed, wild yeast open-fermented, matured for 10 months in used French oak. For many devotees of McLaren Vale grenache, Yangarra Estate High Sands is the king. It's not for idle dalliance as is young grenache that is focused on freshness and purity of red fruit flavours, this has power and depth, the oak simply softening an edge or two here and there, most assuredly not about imparting oak flavour. Red and black fruits both contribute without cutting across the power of the other. Drink to 2045.
96 points Christina Pickard Wine Enthusiast: From Yangarra’s highest blocks of 1946 bush vines, planted on soils so sandy they resemble a beach, this biodynamic Grenache is remarkably complex and ageworthy. Driven by minerals, the hot stone and iodine aromas weave seamlessly into softer ones like drying violets, crunchy red fruits, ground pepper and a basket of freshly picked herbs from the garden. The palate has focus, structure and finesse, the signature of a sensitive and highly experienced winemaker (Pete Fraser). Tannins are chalky and fine, pinning in the crunchy high-toned fruit, corset-like, and allowing more terroirs-driven elements to shine through. A berry and wild herb finish lingers on the close. Drink now–2029. Editors’ Choice. —C.P.
95 points Huon Hooke The Real Review: 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