Skip to content

Rockford Black Shiraz

Only the land from Down Under has this penchant for producing sparkling reds and, of all these, only the Rockford Black Shiraz reigns supreme, the rest being either too sweet, too bland or too simple. What exactly is this Black Shiraz?? It is actually disgorged annually from a solera that is derived from the renowned Rockford Basket Press shiraz. Every year, some 30% of the current vintage of Basket Press is added to the solera which, of course, contains back vintages of Basket Press that had been added in previous years. Part of that is disgorged and matured in seasoned oak for three years before being bottle fermented and left on lees for another year. Only some 2,500 cases of the Black Shiraz is disgorged and sold only at the cellar door at Krondorf Road in the Barossa every December (loyal fans on its mailing list – known as the “Stonewallers” – get the first cut in October), the whole lot being completely sold out before Christmas. Each customer is only allowed a measly carton of 3 bottles, max. Priced originally at AUD56, it is usually sold for well over AUD100 by the time you see it in retailers and restaurants.

Adelaide & Melbourne 2012 120
Ric with his precious six bottles, December 2012.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2003 disgorgement). Broad with transparent textures, a case where the bubbles enhance the expanse on the palate rather than distract attention. The complexity normally associated with this highly-sought after wine wasn’t forthcoming initially, but by the third pour when it’d hit the right level of temperature and aeration, it suddenly fleshed out with intense complexity, the liquored layering that’s the hallmark of the Black Shiraz finally making its appearance, the sweetness subdued throughout, leading to a sophisticated finish. Quite superb. Tasted July 2010.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2003 disgorgement). Excellent depth of dark currants, ripe blackberries, medicinal herbal tones and licorice on the nose and palate. Subtly structured with smooth gentle bubbles and sweet undertones that lent a sense of understated intensity, displaying good complexity though less of its famous liqueured finish. Still holding well after 15 years, the oldest Black Shiraz that I’ve ever had. Tasted November 2018.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2004 disgorgement). Deep, complex and layered with excellent depth, almost velvety with medicinal overtones of liqueur and linctus, whilst the bubbles remained gentle and unobtrusive. Became more distilled and intense over time, the liqueur component gaining in prominence. Excellent. Tasted January 2012.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2004 disgorgement). At nine years, this is one of the oldest examples of this sparkling shiraz I’ve ever had, and it was just as well that I chose to pop it today, for the wine appeared distinctly matured as evidenced by the relative lack of fizz, whilst some faint bricking was already present with dominant medicinal and herbal characteristics at its core, replete with the usual licorice, steeped plums and prunes of a Barossa shiraz. It loosened up over time, lightening up in texture and filling up at the sides, striking up a good balance between the depth of fruit and the fizz, becoming more like the famous Black Shiraz that I knew and loved. Very good, but do start drinking up. Tasted June 2013.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2004 disgorgement). The fizz has faded substantially, allowing more of the Basket Press characters of black cherries, dark currants, licorice and dark plums to emerge with very good presence within a thin sheen of fine bubbles, laced with a dash of sweetness and just a hint of its fabled liquered depth. No longer what Black Shiraz can truly offer but still enjoyable. Tasted February 2021.

Rockford Black shiraz (2005 disgorgement). Deep ruby glow. Crisp, reflecting the great acidity, with deep notes of blueberries, red and dark fruits, and the hallmark liqueur in the mid-body. Expands on the palate, becoming more open with time, developing some sweetness (but never threatening) and notes of raisins and redcurrants within the shiraz complex, showing great balance, delineation and focus, finishing with a persistent menthol note, finally becoming the distilled essence of Basket Press Shiraz when the fizz had dissipated. This is probably one of the very best experiences I’ve had with the Black Shiraz. Tasted June 2010.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2005 disgorgement). Surprisingly unyielding on the nose, though the palate is classic Basket Press Shiraz through and through, layered with very good density of warm ripe Barossa fruit amid overtones of licorice, iron fillings and herbal elements. Very well-integrated and balanced, laced with very fine subdued bubbles and understated acidity, finishing with a hint of that classic liqueured note though, surprisingly on the whole, there isn’t much complexity on show here. Tasted March 2020.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2006 disgorgement). This famous sparkling shiraz is loaded with ripe black fruits and redcurrants with other notes of red plums, wild berries and raisins reminiscent of the estate’s Basket Press shiraz, its gentle bubbles imparting a smooth texture and a feminine feel, displaying very good depth and layering although this bottle didn’t quite possess the liqueured note towards the finish, robbing it of some complexity. Tasted October 2014.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2006 disgorgement). Showing a deep garnet red, this wine seemed rather subdued at first, proffering dark plums, wild berries, raisins and black cherries that imparted a bit of stern earthiness while its bubbles appeared to have fizzled out. It then underwent quite a dramatic transformation after an hour, firming up with greater breadth, depth and layering as it developed a greater bubbly presence, traversing the palate with blazing intensity of ripe dark fruits amid undertones of dry mushrooms and herbs. Consistent with a previous tasting note of October 2014, it doesn’t quite possess the most complex of finishes that I’d experienced but it can still lay claim as Australia’s finest sparkling shiraz. Drink now. Tasted September 2019.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2008 disgorgement). Popped and poured. Exuding effusive tones of rich dark plums and black cherries layered with strong overtones of mocha and licorice, this is a beautiful example of Black Shiraz at its best, displaying excellent concentration of ripe dark Barossa shiraz with great linearity and definition underscored by a deep liqueured presence, thoroughly open and engaging with some emerging complexity, finishing with seductive sweetness and intoxicating sophistication. Outstanding. Tasted May 2018.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2008 disgorgement). Popped and poured. Gentle but deep herbal and medicinal bouquet that precedes a full rounded palate of warm ripe Barossa shiraz with characteristics of earth and dark wild berries, excellent in concentration and presence with smooth tannins that exude subdued intensity, though the fizz is already beginning to dry out and there isn’t much of the expected complexity. Rather disappointing on this occasion. So vastly different from a previous bottle tasted just recently in May 2018. Tasted October 2018.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2008 disgorgement). Effusive nose of classic Barossa shiraz amid overtones of smoke, incense and characters of medicinal powder. Layered with excellent concentration of rich dark plummy fruit and currants, displaying lovely depth and freshness with that classic liquored trail that oozed with sweet undertones. Not too dry. Drinking beautifully. Tasted October 2020.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2008 disgorgement). Deep crimson. Classic glow of warm Barossa shiraz at just the right level of ripeness, appropriately plummy with a dash of licorice that developed darker shades over time as the wine took on greater weight. Open with subtle tannins and acidity within a sheen of soft gentle bubbles, superbly balanced, imparting a certain deft agility underscored by that fabulous liqueured depth. Still very fresh. May not have peaked but drinking beautifully. Excellent. Tasted October 2021.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2008 disgorgement). Australia’s top sparkling shiraz proffers deep dark plummy tones from its layered depth with a signature warm ripe Barossa character. Weighty with refined balance, exuding overtones of cordite, licorice and ferrous elements as it glided to a fabulous liqueured finish. At its best. Tasted December 2021.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2009 disgorgement). Bright purple, offering a bouquet of raspberries and brandied cherries. Medium-bodied. Slightly thin initially, but it rapidly gained weight with notes of redcurrants, strawberries and a hint of licorice underscored with liqueured herbs. This is not the most complex nor layered of Black Shiraz that I’ve had, of course, for these things need time and another 5-8 years of careful cellaring can be extremely rewarding. Tasted January 2010.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2009 disgorgement). Tiny bubbles, soft and gentle, imparting a medium-bodied wine with an excellent concentration of dark fruits and red currants coupled with notes of earth, forest floor and plum, yet to develop significant complexity, leading to its signature (mild) liquored finish. Quite excellent, and I look forward to further complexity with age. Tasted October 2012.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2009 disgorgement). This is on par with what I have come to expect of this wine: saturated notes of black fruits, redcurrants, dark plums and brandied cherries, not promising much on the nose but fabulous on the palate where the depth of fruit, layering and the unique liqueured finish added up to significant complexity, with the smooth gentle bubbles an additional touch of sophistication. Excellent. Tasted May 2014.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2009 disgorgement). Lifted tone of rich dark chocolate with mint, licorice, black fruits dark currants and dark cherries, rich in detail and layering, delightfully smooth with its fine bubbles adding a bit of welcome frisson, building up towards a lifted intensity with a characteristic liqueured finish amidst developing complexity. Quite lovely, but will be even better in another 3-4 years. Tasted July 2017.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2009 disgorgement). Deep purple with lifted aromas of bold ripe Barossa fruit, layered with excellent presence and depth, displaying that characteristic liquored after-note that makes this sparkling shiraz so appealing. Excellent. Tasted August 2017.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2009 disgorgement). Unmistakable warm ripe velvety Barossa shiraz tinged with licorice on the nose and palate, rounded with lovely fullness, depth and measured intensity. Lively with very well-integrated acidity, developing a broader sweet velvety expanse coated with very fine bubbles as it finished on a subtle liqueured note with good complexity without any pretension. Tasted June 2020.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2009 disgorgement). Very fine presence of racy warm ripe Barossa shiraz with subtle nuances of licorice, cedar and dark currants adding a further savoury dash. Very smoothly contoured with refined tiny bubbles, displaying good length with an enticing liqueured depth. Very enjoyable. A classic Black Shiraz. Tasted January 2021.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2009 disgorgement). Deep purple. At eleven years, this wine is still imbued with vibrant ripe Barossa shiraz, layering the palate with lovely shades of raspberries, black currants, licorice and ferrous elements tinged with a trace of liquered sweetness towards the finish, subtly structured with very fine gentle intensity within its luxurious sheen of soft bubbles. Absolutely delightful. At its best. Tasted June 2021.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2009 disgorgement). Red currants with deep plummy tones on the nose tinged with licorice, unmistakably Barossa in character. Medium-full. The fizz has largely dissipated, leaving behind a wine imbued with lithe subtle minerality within a refined tannin structure, developing greater layering over time with gentle notes of liqueur amid a herbal medicinal lift. Tasted November 2022.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2010 disgorgement). An abundance of black fruits, redcurrants, sweet brandied cherries, dark plums and licorice wrapped with fine gentle bubbles provide the backbone for the layering of Australia’s top sparkling shiraz, on this occasion possessing very good weight and concentration though yet to develop real complexity, revealing the essence of Rockford’s Basket Press Shiraz when the fizz has subsided. Good stuff. Keep for a few more years. Tasted May 2014.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2010 disgorgement). Rather woody on the nose, replete with dark plums, black fruits and a medicinal herbal tint. Quite full, oozing sweet black currants with reasonable depth but missing the characteristic streak of liqueur and complexity. Ultimately, somewhat nondescript. Disappointing, for it is so different from the promise of another bottle from the same batch tasted in May 2014 (above). Bottle variation? Tasted April 2017.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2012 disgorgement). Simply gorgeous, the layers of complexity from the mix of various vintages of the estate’s fabulous Basket Press Shiraz already readily apparent, finishing with its signature liqueured finish, though mild at this stage. Tasted at the cellar door of Rockford winery, Barossa Valley, 10 December 2012.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2012 disgorgement). Australia’s top sparkling shiraz shines again with beautifully ripe luxuriant Barossa fruit that recalls sweet dark berries and currants tinged with ferrous earthy elements and mild medicinal tones amid faint overtones of cordite, highly harmonious and elegant even as it grew in gentle intensity and complexity over time towards the character of Rockford’s Basket Press Shiraz upon which it is based. Excellent. Tasted July 2020.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2012 disgorgement). Deep purple. The fizz is there but I’m afraid this has just passed its prime, missing entirely its fabled liqueured finish though the raspberries and dark cherries are present with a dash of savouriness but the complexity isn’t quite there, coming across as a tad too simple and straightforward. From a freshly opened carton carried all the way from Rockford’s cellar door in 2012. Tasted May 2023.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2013 disgorgement). Forward balance of dark cherries and raspberries but not in-your-face, well crafted and layered, the bubbles adding a further dimension to the sweet tannins. Will benefit from a few years of cellaring. Tasted September 2015.

Rockford Black Shiraz (2013 disgorgement). Elements of Rockford Basket Press shiraz, from which this famous sparkling shiraz is derived, are readily discernible: the raisiny tone of warm ripe shiraz, licorice, herbal overtones, cinnamon and raspberries with traces of liqueur at the finish, slightly sweet-edged with the fizz adding a fresh dimension. Uniquely attractive. Tasted July 2016.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. lynette ponniah permalink
    October 1, 2017 10:59

    Do you know where in Sing can we buy the Rockford Black Shiraz?

    • Ric permalink*
      October 1, 2017 19:59

      Hello Lynette, I’m afraid it’s not available anywhere locally. I get all of mine directly from the cellar door in person. Ric.

    • Stephanie Yeo permalink
      July 20, 2020 22:04

      hi Lynette, yes you can buy 4 btls in one set for only $340nett at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in SG. 1. Black Shiraz Sparkling, the Basket Press Shiraz 2014, Cabernet Saugivnon 2016, Alicante Bouchet 2019. These are all the recent vintages.

  2. Julian Park permalink
    April 3, 2019 07:01

    Such a unique wine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: