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Rockford Basket Press 1999-2006

March 15, 2012

Rockford of Barossa Valley enjoys a solid and loyal following, with Andrew and myself having assembled a vertical of the Basket Press Shiraz year after year since our sabbatical in Adelaide, South Australia. Hence, when Andrew decided to host a vertical at his place on 22 January 2012, I contributed a bottle of the 2006 and made sure I showed up. All the wines had been carefully decanted, but as I arrived late, I found the wines had been aired for well over 3 hours, and basking at room temperature that was far too warm for any kind of wine tasting, which I’m sure adversely affected the perception of these wines.

2006: Deep red, slight bricking at the rim. Loaded with vanillas, dark and red berries with aromas of enamel and glycerin from this outstanding vintage. Plenty of power, but very well-managed, with some hint of forest floor emerging over time. Supremely integrated with velvety tannins, but still tight.

2005: Deep red. Aromas of preserved fruit and sweet vanilla, noticeably less intense on the palate than anticipated from the bouquet. More open with a deeper vein of medicinal and herbal characters, austere and rather short at the finish. Awkward at this stage. I’m not sure how this will develop over time. Needs to be re-visited.

2004: One of the most outstanding vintages of all time. However, you wouldn’t have been able to tell based on this bottle. Deep red with a vermillion core. Rather shut at this stage. Sullen, undifferentiated, dominated by distinct greeness and ferrous minerality, linear and  straightforward with fruit that doesn’t seem to be holding up well. Needs to be re-visited.

2003: Deep red. More fruit forward and assertive with notes of bitter chocolate and medicinal characters, no doubt well-integrated but still unable to hide the scars of a terribly hot growing season, the traces of burnt clearly evident. Short.

2001: More evolved in color than any of the above. Still remarkably tight and tense, rather plummy in character but the fruit is just at the right level of ripeness, displaying good delineation with a trace of liquer at the finish, although when I came back to it again, the fruit seemed to be rather elusive, the alcohol seemingly having taken over. Hmmmm….

1999: In contrast, this wine still seemed remarkably youthful in color, giving off a lovely plummy glow although there is a dominance of medicinal aromas. Intense and concentrated, almost jammy. I’m not sure if it will open up.

As one may surmise, the results were rather unflattering, no doubt in part due to the suboptimal tasting conditions. I’m in the midst of arranging a ten-year vertical of the Basket Press (save for the 2000 which I’m missing)…so watch this space.

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