Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Barossa Tastings, Day 1, Part 2

A new star: Torbreck

Visiting the Torbreck tasting room is always exciting, because the Torbreck policy is to open pretty much all wines, other than the Laird - a cheap way to taste very expensive wines.

My favorite of the small list of white wines is the Roussanne/Marsanne/Viognier with its toasty flavours. the 09 is attractive, but possibly a bit leaner than in previous years. It has a firm and satisfying finish (90 points).

But now onto the reds. The wines are all based on Rhone varieties and can be grouped into Shiraz based and other. I started with 'other'. The 2008 Steading is a classic GSM. The Mataro is prominent in this year, delivering vibrant fruit, a firm tannic structure, and a lifted finish (92 points). The 2007 Pict is the 100% Mataro from an old single-vineyard in Moppa. I liked this wine a lot. The redcurrant is not fruit forward, but quite savoury, as only old vines can deliver. At the same it is quite elegant and generous - a very well made wine (94 points). I have reviewed the 2009 Les Amis before. This is a very special Grenache, the best I have tasted. The raspberry fruit delivers a sweet core, but goes on and on. The silky tannins lead to a big and lasting finish (96 points).

The first of the Shirazes was the cheapest and probably the best. The 2010 Struie has quite a dark colour. The blackberry flavours are elegantly structured. The wine is spicy and a shining example of a well made Barossa Shiraz. Only 16% of its fruit is from Eden Valley this year (probably because the milder vintage delivered enough grape freshness and elegance in the Barossa Valley). The wine has good length and a silky finish (95 points).

The 2009 Celt is from a small block near the winery. The high price is more driven by its rarity than quality, I suggest. The wine is dark and big, and a bit unbalanced. It tastes as if this is not quite a finished product (92 points).

The 2008 Descendent is another outstanding wine. The Viognier component has softened the big Shiraz flavours. The grapes are well integrated. And although this wine is quite sweet, it is elegant with a silky finish (95 points).

The 2007 RunRig is disappointing. It is quite earthy and bitter (dead fruit?). The wine has good length and is obviously a substantial wine, but I wonder if it should have been made in 2007 (91 points).

Overall, the wines were impressive, as always. They tend to be big and ripe (although maybe less than 5 years ago) and not to everyone's taste, but one cannot deny that Torbreck uses excellent fruit and produces very special wines from it, which only the Barossa can deliver.

A forgotten winery: Sieber

This family winery is located at the Southern end of Seppeltsfield. I have never had these wines before and it is pretty clear that I did not miss much. It is actually surprising how bad these wines are, given the grapes grow on terra rossa soil over limestone.

I tried a couple of blends, GSM and Shiraz/Mataro from the 07 and 08 vintages. These wines were quite earthy and harsh. The very dry vintages sure did not help. I would score these wines 86/87 points. The 08 Ernest Shiraz is their standard Shiraz. It was earthy and minty, the fruit not very concentrated (82 points). The 2008 Special Release Shiraz was a bit more concentrated, but still harsh (85 points).

Should Sieber look for a different winemaker? But maybe it is just a hobby for this mixed farm.

Overall, a great day - not surprising if Henschke and Torbreck is on the program.

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