This week we will sample six wines from Australia. There will be two whites and four reds that come from various regions of Southern Australia including the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, and one that’s made from fruit sourced and blended from McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek and Clare Valley. These wines are all quality-driven and offer excellent “bang for your buck.”
Torbreck Winery is probably one of our all-time favorites from Australia; the wines have been “unavailable” for a while, as they have been between distributors, so we are very pleased to have them back in stock! David Powell, winemaker and owner of Torbreck makes his wines in a Rhone-style; these are not “critter wines” but serious, varietally correct, well-made products. From Torbreck we will sample their Woodcutters Red (Shiraz) and Woodcutters White as well as a Southern Rhone inspired red blend called Juveniles. In addition, we will try the Stump Jump Red and White made by d’Arenberg and Shoofly Shiraz. All of the wines received great reviews from the Wine Spectator and/or the Wine Advocate (three of them 90 points or more).
We hope you will join us for this excellent line-up that will be paired with delicious appetizers provided by Peter Schmidt (Food & Beverage Director) and the Hotel Capstone.
“Torbreck Vintners was founded by David Powell in 1994. The roots go back to 1992 when Dave, who was then working at Rockford, began to discover and clean up a few sections of dry-grown old vines.
It can be said that the Torbreck portfolio offers the best of both worlds, old and new. David Powell is a passionate believer in the Barossa Valley and its viticultural heritage. His approach to grapegrowing and winemaking melds the region’s terroir with its traditional winemaking practises. In so doing he has achieved a style that fuses his love for the Barossa with his admiration for the Northern and Southern Rhône valleys.”
Robert Parker says of Torbreck and winemaker/owner David Powell: “Not a man known for his modesty, David Powell was notably less humble than usual during my recent visit. That overly confident smirk that he wears when he’s about to reveal a winning hand has no doubt incited more than a few barroom riots. It was only human nature that I was subconsciously willing his current releases to be even a little underwhelming. And I almost wish I could tell you they were. If his demeanor can at times be enough to set bloods boiling, before I get to the tasting notes I’ll inject a few words about what does impress me about Powell. He is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about what happens in his vineyards, perhaps more so than in the winery. He has close relationships with his growers and calls the shots when it comes to vineyard management, recently telling me he had to end the contract with a grower of a fabulous vineyard of ancient vines this year because the grower simply refused to follow his instructions. Powell didn’t attend Roseworthy College or any other wine related institution. In many ways this has been to his credit because he rationalizes everything that he does and he makes wines with a difference. The structures of his red wines particularly stand out to me. Through developing an individual approach to tannin management and extracting a quality and texture of tannins that comes purely from grape skins that are carefully reared and harvested within a tight window of ripening, he creates some truly iconic reds…though even at the more modestly priced wines can age very gracefully. Finally Powell does not release wines that aren’t up to his high standards and as smug as he can be about his successes, he’s also the first to raise his hand to his mistakes. 2008 was a very difficult vintage at Torbreck. 2008 Run Rig and Les Amis were not made. 2007 Les Amis was not released either, Powell admitting to me, “2007 Les Amis was the biggest ****-up I ever made.” In 2009 Torbeck was back on form. “2009 was a fantastic vintage, best year I’ve seen in 27 years in the valley. Especially for Grenache. Shiraz was good too. 2008 was like being in a war by comparison.””
Torbreck Woodcutters White 2010– Barossa Valley, Australia. 100% Semillon (Madeira clone) from two vineyards; Kalimna and Rowland Flat. “Fruit from both vineyards (split into four separate parcels) was handpicked and gently ‘whole bunch’ pressed to individual vats where they were left to settle. After 24 hours the younger blocks were racked to tank whilst the older more robust parcels were transferred to 6 year old French barriques where they underwent a long cool fermentation. The various components were later ‘assembled’ prior to bottling in November 2011. Fashioned with the savoury, food friendly dry whites of Southern France in mind, the Woodcutter’s Semillon is the ideal tonic after a long day in the vineyard. Medium bodied with a pristine lemon hue this youthful Semillon offers delicate scents of calamansi [citrus fruit], limestone, candle wax, and toasted brioche. The copper-pink skins of this robust, age-old ‘Madeira Clone’ flesh out the palate, lending notes of almond kernels, soft pineapple, roasted cashew and white peach. Underlying notes of citrus oil and minerals maintain the wines freshness whilst a crisp spine of razor-like acidity neatly lace together the finish. Although beautifully enjoyable in its youth with sashimi and fresh shellfish this wine will continue to increase in complexity with time and should provide compelling drinking over the coming years.” 88 Points Wine Advocate– “The 2010 Woodcutter’s Semillon gives a good intensity of lemon peel and lime leaf aromas with some notes of orange blossom and fresh straw coming through with air. The medium bodied palate has a pleasant citrusy character and great freshness. Drink it now to 2013.” Tasting $14.99
Torbreck Woodcutters Shiraz 2010– Barossa Valley, Australia. 100% Shiraz. “Like all wines in the Torbreck stable, the fruit is sourced from hand harvested and hand tended plots throughout the Northwestern Barossa Valley. It is fermented in our cement, wooden and stainless steel vats for 6-7 days and then basket pressed to well seasoned hogsheads and French oak foudres for 12 months. It is bottled without the use of either fining or filtration.The name Woodcutter’s stems from David Powell’s several years spent working the Scottish Highlands as a lumberjack in the Torbreck forest. This wine reflects the up & coming Shiraz vineyards of the Barossa, rather than the battle hardened old vines which make up the core of our other cuvées. Dense, rich and opulent, this wine combines great fruit purity with texture, complexity and finesse. It is elegant, structured and powerful and is a fantastic introduction to the Torbreck range. Whilst offering immense pleasure in its youth the 2010 Woodcutter’s Shiraz will no doubt develop into an impressive wine with a few years in the cellar.” 90 Points Wine Spectator– “Ripe and generous, glowing with blueberry and plum fruit that plays against savory black olive and charred meat notes. Lingers easily on the polished finish. Drink now through 2017. 30,000 cases made.” 91 Points Wine Advocate– “Very deep purple-black colored, the 2010 Woodcutters Shiraz is a little reduced to begin, giving way to youthful aromas of black fruits, blueberry and blackberry preserves with underlying cassis, chocolate, nut and licorice hints. Full and rich, this mouth-filling wine is well supported by medium to firm velvety tannins and lively acid, lending texture and freshness through the long finish. Drinking nicely now, it should keep to 2016.” Tasting $19.99
Torbreck Juveniles 2009– Barossa Valley, Australia. A blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Shiraz and 20% Mataro (a.k.a. Mourvedre). “Fermented in single vineyard batches, assembled in tank and allowed to complete a natural malo-lactic fermentation before being bottled without filtration or fining in December 2009. Bold and seductive, this youthful, unoaked blend encapsulates all that is great in natural, pure, unseasoned wine. Its fragrance, intensity and energy are all reminiscent of freshly fermenting must, with ripe juicy flavours of blackberry, spiced cherries, minerals and Asian spices wrapped around a skeleton of fresh acidity and fine mineral laden tannins. Soft and sensuous, this wine is frightfully drinkable already, but as with its predecessors will greatly recompense those who choose to give it a few years in the cellar.” 91 Points Wine Advocate– “A blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Shiraz and 20% Mataro, the 2009 Cuvee Juveniles came from vines averaging 90 years old and yielding around 22 hl/ha. Deep garnet-purple, it has a profoundly fruity nose, giving fragrant notes of warm raspberries, strawberries, some funk and earth plus a little tar and black pepper. Full-bodied, it offers a medium level of silky tannins, crisp acid to balance the concentrated fruit and a long finish. Delicious now, it should remain fresh and vibrant through 2015+.” Tasting $19.99
“d’Arenberg is one of the most significant wineries in McLaren Vale. In 1912 Joseph Osborn, a teetotaller and director of Thomas Hardy and Sons, purchased the well established Milton Vineyards of 25 hectares in the hills just north of the townships of Gloucester and Bellevue, now known as McLaren Vale… Enter the fourth generation; from a very early age Chester was focused on continuing his family’s winemaking tradition. While growing up on the family property he helped his father d’Arry in both the vineyards and the cellar floor during school semester breaks and Christmas holidays. After graduating from Roseworthy College and touring other Australian and European wine regions, Chester took over the reins as Chief Winemaker in 1984. He immediately set about returning the family’s vineyards to their traditional grape growing practices of minimal inputs and no fertilisation, cultivation and irrigation wherever possible, therefore achieving natural soil flavours with very low yields. The winemaking processes of the past have been maintained, capturing the unique small-batch character of the wines and the true flavour of the McLaren Vale region. All grapes, red and white, are basket-pressed. The reds are still traditionally fermented with the grape skins (caps) submerged in open wax-lined concrete fermenters utilising the age-old technique of foot-treading.
The name ‘Stump Jump’ pays homage to a significant South Australian invention – the Stump Jump plough. As well as clearing the land around McLaren Vale, it was adopted worldwide in the late 19th century because of its ability to ride over stumps and gnarled roots, saving valuable time and energy.”
d’Arenberg Stump Jump White 2010– McLaren Vale, Australia. A blend of Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne. “The nose is aromatic, fresh and lively with abundance of fruit including pineapple, lemon, melon and green mango. Citrus blossom and a touch of pistachio nut from the Marsanne shine through. The palate is equally complex with gooseberry joining the fruit spectrum. It’s a unique blend but it works with Marsanne adding good weight to the palate and the Sauvignon Blanc providing a touch of elegance. It’s all framed nicely around the linear acidity and freshness of the Riesling . In summary, it’s a cracker.” 86 Points Wine Spectator– “Fresh and inviting, this light, supple, appealing dry wine offers lime blossom and peach flavors. Drink now. 5,000 cases made.” Tasting $10.99
d’Arenberg Stump Jump Red 2010– McLaren Vale, Australia. A blend of 47% Shiraz, 29% Mourvedre, and 24% Grenache. “The nose features plum and bright red fruits with a hint of roasted meats, earth, pepper and exotic spices. The palate has some wonderful delicate fruit with blackberry joining the party. A touch of dried herbs adds a savoury edge with fine, lifted tannins providing a long finish. It’s cracking wine with sophistication—but don’t worry it’s still a lot of fun.” 87 Points Wine Advocate– “Medium-deep garnet in color, it offers aromas of spice cake, warm raspberries and kirsch with a hint of white pepper. Medium-full bodied in the mouth, it has soft tannins, medium-high acid and a medium-long finish. Drinking now, it should remain fresh to 2014.” 87 Points Wine Spectator– “A refreshing style, with an open texture and dark berry flavors, finishing with refined tannins. Drink now through 2013. 10,000 cases imported.” Tasting $10.99
“The winemaking team [for Shoofly] is led by one of Australia ‘s best – Ben Riggs. He’s a native of McLaren Vale and has been crafting some of the region’s finest for two decades. Ben knows his stuff and where to get it – his roster of grape growers is one of the most sought after contact lists in the country. Premium regions produce the best fruit and the grapes come from a “who’s who” of Australian growers and viticultural neighborhoods – Barossa Valley , McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Langhorne Creek, Adelaide Hills and Heathcote. Shoofly wines combine the best characters of each area.”
Shoofly Shiraz 2010– McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, and Clare Valley, Australia. Shiraz that aged for 10 months in new and seasoned American and French oak barrels. Winemaker Ben Riggs is a native of South Australia who sources fruit from some of the most sought-after contacts in the country. “On the nose, the 2010 Shiraz shows earthy gravel, spicy licorice and dense dark mulberries, while the sweet upfront berry fruit presented on tasting gives way to complex cedar, earth and spice notes, wrapping up with ample structure and grip. The vibrant, juicy fruit runs the length of the palate and lingers with a “have another glass” finish.” 90 Points, Best Values Wine Spectator– “Polished and supple, this is brimming with red berry, black cherry and delicate spice flavors, all coursing through the expressive finish. Drink now through 2020. 5,000 cases imported.” Tasting $14.99