Leasingham ‘Classic Clare’ Sparkling Shiraz 2004

03 Dec

2004 Leasingham Classic Clare Sparkling Shiraz

Winery: Leasingham Wines

Region: Clare Valley

Vintage: 2004

Alcohol: 14%


This is interesting. There’s broad agreement that the Classic Clare is one of the best examples of the style, and I recommend reading the summary on WineStar as a case in point. It was also made by Ed Carr, the “Australian fizz master” who also put the sparkles into the Houghton Museum Release, which makes it very promising. I’m not quite as enthusiastic as many other reviewers, and I’m not entirely sure why. I’ll hypothesise at the end of this review; but for now, let’s sing it’s virtues, of which there are many!

Classic Clare pours as a brilliantly full-bodied dark mulberry-purple, with a red mousse from an almost-perfect effervescence that clings to the glass-rim for longer than many-a-sparkling shiraz. The nose is fruity and has a pinch of aniseed and spice. The mouthfeel is dense and drier than I had expected, a notch below the dryness of the Ulithorne. I really didn’t find nearly as much sweetness out of this as some other reviews have alluded to (am I desensitised?). The focus for mine was slightly sour berries and a bit of tartness, port, licorice and spice.

My hypothesis for my marginally-diminished enthusiasm was that maybe I was expecting a smidge more sweetness in it’s balance. In some sense, I think that may well be a problem with some of the releases at the ‘serious’ end of the style; the seriousness nudges the frivolity to the side, as if it were trying a bit too much to prove itself to be a serious wine to sparkling shiraz doubters. (This reads much harsher than intended, I might add).

Alas, my focus on this one particular aspect overwhelms the immense positivism to be had from this release. I’m going to grab a couple more too: partly because I want to revisit this in a few years time, but also – sadly – Constellation (now Accolade) shut down and sold off much of the Leasingham vineyards (but retained the brand-name). It’s not all sad – Tim Adams and Pam Goldsack have taken on the winery as a going concern – but these pre-2007 releases will become very scarce and the style may never be repeated in the same fashion.

It’s a splendid wine, and well-worthy of 4/5 (if not a fraction more).

Bought from Vintage Cellars for about $59 | Cheaper at Nick’s and Dan Murphy’s

Leasingham Wines | WineStar | Chris Plummer on the 2002

Constellation sell to Tim Adams and Pam Goldsack


The Dark Knight (2008)

There’s broad agreement that The Dark Knight is an excellent vision of Batman, and as far as film versions go, it’s my personal equal favourite with Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992). One of the best things about Batman is that he can be envisioned in many ways; replicated in camp fashion (i.e. the 60’s TV version) at one extreme, to Frank Miller’s nihilism at the other.

The Dark Knight, a bit like the Leasingham ‘Classic Clare’, appears to be trying that wee bit too hard to espouse it’s Seriousness credentials at the expense of the comic. The uncompromising bleakness, unbroken by any humour or warmth, is mostly justified; after all, it is The Joker (a chilling and brilliant portrayal by the late Health Ledger), whom revels in decay and orchestrates chaos, who is the primary driver of film’s narrative and theme.

Aside from the (ultimately minor) criticism that The Dark Knight and the Classic Clare are too serious for their own good, there’s another parallel; that of haunting tragedy. The Classic Clare, as discussed above, will never be made again, and likewise, The Dark Knight is overshadowed by the death of Ledger. A certain foreboding and dearth of humour is concurrent is each that presses on their brilliance; however, Classic Clare and The Dark Knight are paired mellifluously.


Not in the mood? Something a little out of left field: Brewdog’s There is No Santa Spiced Christmas Beer (Stout). Cinnamon and ginger abounds! Not brilliant, but it does get the balance between seriousness and frivolity pretty much spot on. Christmas cake in a bottle!

RateBeer | BrewDog


Posted by on December 3, 2011 in Review


3 responses to “Leasingham ‘Classic Clare’ Sparkling Shiraz 2004

  1. Chris Plummer

    December 7, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    Nice note Teddy and well versed out. 🙂

    I’ve always loved the Classic Clare, but feel its vintage-dated style is definitively suited to longer bottle age. It was interesting to see how the wines were released younger, as Leasingham seemingly slipped. I recall being at a release tasting of the 1997 in 2007 I think (hosted by the great man himself), drinking the 1998 in 2008 (absolutely brilliant!), then the 2002 in 2009 (released much younger) and then obviously the 2004 after that, now released around 6/7 years of age. I wonder what age Mr Carr would like to see the Classic Clare released at?

    Chris P

  2. Teddy Hernandez

    December 8, 2011 at 7:22 AM

    Cheers, Chris!

    I’d be keen to ask Mr Carr the same question. It’s disappointing to see that Leasingham were releasing earlier and earlier. I have my eye out for any pre-2002 Classic Clare’s too, precisely for the reasons you mentioned. Winehouse has 2 x 1994’s for $75 each, which I’m thinking about… but I have others higher on my priority list 😦


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