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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 2500 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 6 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 (2004 disgorgement). Deep, complex and layered with excellent depth, almost velvety with medicinal overtones of liquer and linctus, whilst the bubbles remained gentle and unobtrusive. Became more distilled and intense over time, the liquer 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 (2005 disgorgement). Deep ruby glow. Crisp, reflecting the great acidity, with deep notes of blueberries, red and dark fruits, and the hallmark liquer 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 (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 liquered note towards the finish, robbing it of some complexity. Tasted October 2014.

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 liquered 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 liquered 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 liquered finish amidst developing complexity. Quite lovely, but will be even better in another 3-4 years. Tasted July 2017.

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-pressed 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 liquered finish, though mild at this stage. Tasted at the cellar door of Rockford winery, Barossa Valley, 10 Dec 2012.

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 liquer at the finish, slightly sweet-edged with the fizz adding a fresh dimension. Uniquely attractive. Tasted July 2016.

2 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.

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