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Short notes from Barossa

August 25, 2016

We left Coonawarra for the Barossa Valley on 05 Aug 2016, dropping by the charming German village of Hahndorf along the way for some superb German lager, followed by an excellent lunch at Bridgewater Mill restaurant. I didn’t realise this is no longer the cellar door of Petaluma, having changed management several months ago. Nevertheless, the restaurant has been beautifully expanded, the menu and the extensive wine list are most reasonably priced and the food is still excellent – highly recommended. From Bridgewater, it’s just a 90-minute drive through the Adelaide Hills to the Barossa via its south entrance (ie. Lyndoch), where we wasted no time stopping at the cellar doors of Rockford, St Hallett and Torbreck, followed by dinner at the well-known 1918 restaurant in Tanunda. While this time of the year offers lovely cool weather without any annoying flies, it isn’t the best time to visit Rockford, for its fabled Black Shiraz and Basket Press Shiraz are completely unavailable.

2013 Petaluma Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon. A bottle at AUD55 over lunch from the list of Bridgewater Mill in the Adelaide Hills, 05 Aug 2016. Deep dark purple, this wine exudes generous aromas of dark currants, blueberries, violets and dark plums, well-replicated on the palate with open transparency, excellent linearity and definition, ending on a minerally note. Excellent.

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2013 Rockford Eden Valley Riesling, tasted at the Rockford cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. Very classic bouquet, rich in white citrus and white roses with a petroleum quality. Fullish with some fat on the palate to match the crisp acidity, not too dry, supported by understated minerality with a good finish. Eden Valley, situated 500m above sea-level at the highest point of the Barossa, is famous for its cool-climate riesling and this is an excellent example.

2015 Rockford White Frontignac, tasted at the Rockford cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. A suggestion of nectarine on the nose, medium-bodied with subdued sweetness with overtones of white flowers, attractive but lacking in complexity.

2013 Rockford Rod & Spur, tasted at the Rockford cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. A cabernet-shiraz blend, this full-bodied wine is stern and austere in demeanour, displaying earthy tones with herbal and forest floor characters, peppery with a powerful spicy finish.

Adelaide & Melbourne 2012 5292013 Rockford Rifle Range, tasted at the Rockford cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. Rockford’s cabernet displays quite a lovely glow of ripe dark plums, dark currants and mocha with overtones of ash, quite full on the palate with excellent tannin structure and detail.

2007 Rockford Shiraz VP (vintage port), tasted at the Rockford cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. An abundance of ripe fruit with a warm raisiny quality; rich, powerful and smooth with controlled sweetness, displaying good depth and acidity though without much complexity, ending in a minty finish.

2013 St Hallett Dawkins Shiraz, tasted at the St Hallett cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. A single vineyard shiraz, this wine displays dominant earthy tones with forest floor characters pegged to warm ripe fruit with spicy peppery notes, full-bodied with crisp acidity, ending on a medicinal note.

2013 St Hallett Scholz, tasted at the St Hallett cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. Also a single vineyard shiraz, this wine is weighty and dense with full-bodied ripe shiraz of good concentration, still tight with predominant characters of forest floor and earth, yet to open up. Needs time.

2014 St Hallett Blackwell, tasted at the St Hallett cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. This stalwart of St Hallett carries an abundance of dark currants and black fruits with some graphite elements, herbal tones and notes of dried mushroom, still very tight and a bit hard on the palate at this stage where it has just been newly bottled.

2010 St Hallett Blackwell, tasted at the St Hallett cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. With the benefit of bottle age, this wine is much more developed with early secondary nuances of mocha and cinnamon amidst licorice and earthy tones, full-bodied with great acidity and excellent tannin structure with a trace of sweetness, opening up with real sophistication. Excellent.

2013 St Hallett Old Block, tasted at the St Hallett cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. In spite of its youth, this flagship of St Hallett offers a bouquet of unexpected complexity and verve, rich in dark currants and black fruits with some tangerine at its core, surprisingly deft and open, very poised and well-defined with a ferrous finish, not at all heavy. Excellent.

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2015 Torbreck Viognier, tasted at the Torbreck cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. Full-bodied with unusual aromas of glue and agar, crisp on the palate with accentuated notes of green citrus, a tad sharp towards the finish.

2011 Torbreck Kyloe Mataro, tasted at the Torbreck cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016 Full-bodied with typical characters of bush, undergrowth and wood, dense and undifferentiated with firm sharp tannins.

2013 Torbreck Factor, tasted at the Torbreck cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. 100% shiraz from old vines, aged in older casks. A big wine with an abundance of warm lush fruit, densely layered with overtones of varnish, herbal elements and black pepper, displaying good balance.

2013 Torbreck Descendant, tasted at the Torbreck cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. A single vineyard shiraz planted in 1994 with cuttings from old RunRig vines, added with 8% viognier in the style of Northern Rhone and aged in casks previously used for RunRig. Oozing with licorice, dark chocolate, medicinal spice and black pepper, densely saturated with discernible traces of lemongrass contributed by the viognier that has not quite gelled with the shiraz yet, warm and earthy, finishing with firm tannins.

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2013 Torbreck RunRig, tasted at the Torbreck cellar door, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. Surprisingly, for such a young wine, this flagship of Torbreck is absolutely poised and elegant, displaying muted aromas, medium-full on the palate with very good integration between the ripe fruit, acidity and oak, displaying fine balance and definition, beautifully structured with sophisticated tannins. Undoubtedly large in proportion but doesn’t call attention to itself. Very similar in expression to Northern Rhone syrah. Highly successful.

2015 Skillogalee Riesling, from the restuarnt list of 1918, Tanunda, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. Aromatic with dense fumes of varnish and white flowers, full-bodied, endowed with stern minerality and crisp acidity with a hint of barley. Will benefit from another 3-4 years of cellaring.

1994 Henschke Mount Edelstone, AUD260 off the list of 1918 restaurant and decanted on-site, Tanunda, Barossa Valley, 05 Aug 2016. With the benefit of prolonged cellaring, this top shiraz of Henschke (ranked just below its Hill of Grace) displays a stunning complex bouquet of mocha, white chocolate and sweet incense, medium-full with notes of dark cherries and bitter peat that eventually gave way to a deep spicy medicinal glow only possible from aged wines, still maintaining lovely structure and tensile acidity with sweet port-like overtones. Excellent.

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Barossa from the air

2014 Saltram Metala Shiraz Cabernet, tasted at the cellar door of Saltram, Barossa Valley, 06 Aug 2016. Dense core of dark red fruits with overtones of sugar burnt. Full, austere and slightly angular with a spicy finish.

2014 Saltram Shiraz, tasted at the cellar door of Saltram, Barossa Valley, 06 Aug 2016. Full-bodied with an abundance of black fruits and dark currants with some bright spots, displaying good overall balance and linearity but lacking in complexity.

2012 Saltram Mamre Brook Shiraz, tasted at the cellar door of Saltram, Barossa Valley, 06 Aug 2016. Classic nose of mocha, licorice and dark chocolate on the nose. Harmonious and balanced but lacking complexity.

2012 Saltram Single Vineyard Marble Road Shiraz, tasted at the cellar door of Saltram, Barossa Valley, 06 Aug 2016. This wine displays an excellent depth of gorgeous black fruits with firm tannin structure, quite well integrated at this stage but with a slightly prominent alcoholic trace at the finish.

2012 Saltram Mamre Brook Cabernet Sauvignon, tasted at the cellar door of Saltram, Barossa Valley, 06 Aug 2016. From a bottle that had evidently been opened and aired for some time, this wine was very open and approachable, displaying distinct and attractive cabernet characters of chocolate, bramble, violets, dark fruits and traces of cinnamon, detailed on the palate with elegant tannins. However, a new bottle that was popped over lunch at Salter’s Kitchen (the estate’s restaurant), was shut and tightly coiled, loaded with soy and graphite characters that proved too overwhelming. This wine has excellent potential but it needs plenty of time to blossom.

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2012 Saltram Winemaker Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, tasted at the cellar door of Saltram, Barossa Valley, 06 Aug 2016. From the same vintage as the Mamre Brook above but supposedly higher in the pecking order, this special selection possesses an appreciably deeper bouquet of blackcurrants and violets, but it seems somewhat awkward at the moment with flavours that are rather narrow in spectrum, lacking in distinct cabernet character. Probably needs another few years of cellaring to unfurl its full potential.

2013 Saltram McLaren Vale Pepperjack Shiraz, tasted at the cellar door of Saltram, Barossa Valley, 06 Aug 2016. Peppery and spicy with overtones of white chocolate from grapes that are very ripe and grainy, befitting the rustic character of most McLaren Vale shiraz.

2013 Saltram No.1, tasted at the cellar door of Saltram, Barossa Valley, 06 Aug 2016. What used to be Saltram’s flagship, the No.1 stamps its class with a fine display of decadent chocolate, red fruits, bright cherries and dark plums, open and layered on the palate with fine detail and great succulence, finishing with a long peppery trace. Excellent.

2009 Saltram The Journal 100 Year Old Vine Shiraz, tasted at the cellar door of Saltram, Barossa Valley, 06 Aug 2016. This current flagship of Saltram boasts a complex nose of cassis, licorice, plums and white pepper, medium-full, developing fine tension from the supple tannins and smooth acidity, displaying excellent linearity to its long finish. Excellent, but the smart money should be on No.1.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Hiok permalink
    August 27, 2016 12:32

    Waiting for the HOG visit

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