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Jackson Family’s Chris Carpenter works on his first Australian wine

Jackson Family Wines winemaker Chris Carpenter is preparing to blend the first wine from the company’s latest McLaren Vale acquisition.

‘Brand spanking new’…Chris Carpenter

The California producer bought the renowned Clarendon Estate Vineyards – supplier of grapes to Penfolds Grange and Eileen Hardy Shiraz – in February 2012.

The 186ha estate was owned by the Hickinbotham family, and is held in high regard for its Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon, but also produces Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.

The new wine, a Cabernet-Shiraz blend, will be ‘like the Bin 60A’, Carpenter told Decanter.com, referring to the legendary Penfolds Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon/Barossa Shiraz blend, of which only two vintages have ever been released, the 1962 and the 2004.

‘We’ll be blending in a month, the wine will be bottled in December and released in June or July 2014,’ Carpenter said.

This is his first Australian wine. Jackson Family owns another McLaren Vale estate, Yangarra, which is overseen by Peter Fraser and which produces only Rhone varietals.

Fraser will be taking charge of the Shiraz for the new wine, while Carpenter will concentrate on the Cabernet. They will then collaborate on the blending.

‘It’s brand spanking new to me,’ he said, adding that he would put ‘a Carpenter slant’ on the Cabernet, which would have more in common with the cool-climate reds of Western Australia than with South Australian wines.

‘I’ll see if the way I make wine will be accepted. My style is more like Margaret River – it’s not so prevalent in South Australia.’

Carpenter makes numerous wines for Jackson Family, almost always with mountain fruit – ‘it’s my area of expertise’ – including the US$350 Lokoya range from Diamond Mountain, Howell Mountain and Mount Veeder, and the US$250 Cardinale range from Oakville.

There are also three new wines called Mt Brave, from the northern end of the Mount Veeder AVA, a Bordeaux blend (Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc), a Merlot and a Malbec that have just arrived in the UK, priced at around £65. The wine – in restaurants and high-end retailers such as Harrods – has already sold out, Kendall-Jackson UK sales manager James Tookey said, ‘although the allocation was only about 100 cases’.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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