Other key qualities of the Hickinbotham site are its contours and steep slopes which provide Chris Carpenter with vines at a multiplicity of elevations and differing vine aspects relative to the sun. This provides significant diversity in flavours. Some of the steeper slopes, closest to the river are a bit colder and bring quite a lot of spice and more angular fruit, these are quite Rhone like. The more contoured blocks which were planted in 1971 and often used to go into Grange, offer more structural and tannic fruit. The westerly facing slopes offer plumper juicier fruit. These three different parts of the vineyard form the backbone of the superb Brooks Road Shiraz, which just picked up 98 points from James Halliday.
That 98 point score, and the brilliant accolades for their other wines would not have come without the Jacksons investing three years and significant capital into rehabilitating and improving the vineyard which wasn’t in great shape in 2012. The vine disease Eutypa dieback needed to be eradicated and a number of unsuited varieties like Semillon and Sauv Blanc replaced with selections more appropriate to the location and soils, like Cab Franc. Those replacement vines are just five years old but are already producing world class wines. The Cab Franc for instance, is weighty, rich, red fruit and black tea flavoured. 96 points from both James Halliday and Nick Stock. It is certainly in the top few Cab Francs produced in Australia. Ditto, their Merlot which is much deeper and richer than expected. Their Cabernet is magnificent, worthy of the 97 it picked up from Halliday. The Shiraz picked up 98 points from James and their flagship, The Peake, a blend of Cabernet and Shiraz picked up 99, with Halliday offering ‘From vines planted in '71… The best shiraz and cabernet are selected to showcase this long-time Australian blend. If there's a better one, I haven't seen it.’ We concur.