By Dave Brookes, August 2023
The Laird 2018
An epically proportioned shiraz from the 1958-planted Gnadenfrei vineyard in Marananga; matured for 36 months in new French oak 'Magic Casks' from Dominique Laurent. Phewee, there's a lot packed into this wine. For a start, the fruit depth, concentration and purity are at levels that would make Spinal Tap proud. Head-spinning cassis, kirsch and macerated plum fruits with hints of cedar, vanilla bean, tobacco, dark chocolate, licorice, garrigue, bay leaf, sarsaparilla, cola, turned earth, graphite and pressed flowers. It's the vinous alchemy of condensing everything down to its essence and retaining a sense of elegance and place with restrained power. It's a muscular, prodigiously structured wine with a minerally edge and deep Barossan soul. Will live on for decades with careful cellaring.
Torbreck's shiraz/viognier blend is a Barossa icon wine for its plushness of fruit and sense of latent power. The 2020 version is in fine form with intense blackberry, plum and cherry fruits framed by deep, dark spice, cedar, vanillin oak, star anise, dark chocolate, roasting meats, crÃ¨me de cassis and earth. Long, ripe granitic tannins cascade through the opulent black fruits and the wine's architecture suggests that it will have long and distinguished cellaring potential. Super stuff.
Les Amis 2020
Grenache sourced from gnarled old vines over on the western range. Despite the fact that I had a close call with a fired-up brown snake in this vineyard, I'm a big fan of this wine. It's got a cruisey, loose-knit and expressive savoury vibe: all detailed raspberry, mulberry and red plum shades and a gorgeous array of gingery spice, red licorice, star anise, sarsparilla, cola, Chinese barbecue shop and earth. This openness of expression is juxtaposed by a cascade of chalky tannin and a mineral-rich focus with an exotically spiced plume of red fruits on the exit.
The Factor 2020
Shiraz from the parishes of Gomersal, Krondorf, Marananga and Ebenezer matured in French oak (40% new) for 24 months. This year's Factor sports an inky, graphite-led intensity of fruit and a sense of purity. Compression, too, with deep satsuma plum, blackberry and black cherry fruits initially feeling compact and tight before exploding onto the palate with substantial tannin heft and layers of dark spice, cedar, licorice and dark chocolate. While you could happily tuck into this tonight, it will cellar like a champion.
Hillside Vineyard Grenache 2020
A lot of Torbreck's fruit focuses on the west and north of the Barossa, but the Hillside vineyard is down the south end of the valley near the township of Lyndoch. There is a bit more space to this southern grenache, a sense of light and perhaps the volume on the floral top notes has been turned up a notch. The tannin profile is different, too, and sports a fine, sandy, kinetic feel on the palate finishing with oodles of spice and gentle red plum and raspberry fruits with a real sense of savoury intrigue as the wine fades slowly away.
The Pict 2020
Torbreck does mataro well ... real well. It seems to squeeze out every last bit of the exotic spice and meaty, earthy goodness that the variety has to offer. Textured, supple yet structured with cascading dark plum and berry fruits, clove, pressed flowers, star anise, cardamon, barbecued meats, hoisin, licorice, charcuterie and turned earth. Super-fine chalky tannins capture the attention and then retreat into the fruit. It's savoury and meaty and really, really delicious. Plus, it makes me super happy to see the grape variety standing proudly by itself, bold and distinctive.
A co-ferment of 91/9% shiraz/viognier from a single site in Marananga; matured 20 months in old Run Rig barrels. Super deep, magenta-splashed hue with aromas of macerated satsuma plums, mulberry and blueberry pie with a blast of Asian five-spice, violets, earth, stone fruit, tobacco and licorice. Pillowy tannins bloom from the pure fruit and for all the wine's latent horsepower, there is a sense of brightness, despite the plushness and fruit depth.
Kyloe Mataro 2021
Mataro sourced from Gomersal and Ebenezer; matured for 18 months in large format French oak. Deep magenta in colour with some reduction, which is not unusual for the variety, that dissipates with time in the glass. Meaty, exotically-spiced dark plum and blackberry fruits are cut with hints of smoked, cured meats, olive tapenade, purple flowers, struck flint and earth. A sense of compression and tension on the palate with velvety fruit, tight acidity and compact, powdery tannins. Finishes long with the characteristic wild mataro spice.
The Gask 2021
The team at Torbreck heads to the hills to source the shiraz for The Gask, which sees 18 months' maturation in second-use French oak. Deep, magenta-splashed crimson with aromas of creme de cassis, blueberry and mulberry fruits cut with hints of baking spices, sage, graphite, licorice and lighter tones of choc-mint and garrigue. Eden Valley elegance and slatey tannin grip are on display but with a fruit depth and power that could only come from Torbreck. Finishes long and deeply fruited with an intense tide of cassis and dark spice.
The Steading 2021
A meld of 51/28/21% grenache/shiraz/mataro from 40 to 150-year-old vines; 20 months maturation in large 4500L French oak foudre. Perfumed and fragrant with lifted blueberry, dark plum and punchy cranberry fruit characters with hints of frangipani, teacake, gingerbread, cherry clafoutis, Chinese barbecue shop, earth and blueberry pie. Bright with vivid acidity and powdery tannin, it cuts a super-spicy savoury line across the palate and represents the Torbreck style with much aplomb.
The Struie 2021
Shiraz from the Barossa and Eden valleys (57/43%), aged in French oak (20% new) for 18 months. There's a graphite edge to the wine's aromatic profile and some classic Eden Valley sage and bay leaf notes that flitter above the deep blackberry and black cherry fruit tones. Hints of creme de cassis, spice box, licorice, chocolate and earth make their presence felt along with tight, granitic tannins and some serious inky fruit depth. It's a concentrated style yet retains some nice elegance and mineral drive, despite all the fruit power on display.
Cuvee Juveniles 2021
A famous Barossan blend named after the epic Juveniles wine bar in Paris. This year it's a blend of 47/32/10/9/2% grenache/mataro/carignan/counoise/shiraz from vines up to 150 years of age across five Barossa parishes. It's always a wildly aromatic wine, here with ripe raspberry, wild strawberry, red plum and red apple skin notes with hints of dried meats, five-spice, Chinese barbecue shop and earth. Medium bodied and savoury with the gentle tug of chalky tannin and a fine acid line. It makes for great drinking, preferably young and with great gusto.
Hillside Shiraz Roussanne 2021
A blend of 95/5% shiraz/roussanne from the Hillside vineyard in the southern parish of Lyndoch; matured for 14 months in a seasoned 4500L French oak foudre. The wee addition of roussanne and the southern bloodline gives the aromatic profile an uplift, with purple floral tones hovering over super-pure blackberry, satsuma plum and boysenberry fruits. Some ferrous notes on the palate with a bed of deep spice along with a chalky, chocolatey tannin grip and a macerated berry fruit finish.
Woodcutter's Shiraz 2021
A shiraz sourced from a number of Barossa parishes of Marananga, Greenock, Seppeltsfield, Gomersal, Moppa, Lyndoch and Ebenezer & aged 12 months in seasoned French oak. The milder, extended 2021 growing season shines through in this wine, which shows excellent flavour intensity and fruit weight at this price. Plush dark plum and blueberry fruits with some raspberry coulis high tones, plenty of spice, silky tannin and an effortless sense of drinkability.
Cuvee Juveniles Blanc 2022
Here's another one of those wines where the whole is more than the sum of its parts: 47/25/19/7/2% roussanne/marsanne/clairette/grenache blanc/viognier from Lyndoch, Marananga, Ebenezer and Greenock. Pale straw with notes of citrus, green papaya, makrut lime, lemongrass, white flowers, lanolin, dried honey and crushed stone. Crisp, bright and detailed with a swift, mineral-laden acid cadence providing plenty of drive and a saline flick to its tail, finishing dry and sizzlingly crisp.
Woodcutter's Rose 2022
Rose produced from mataro sourced in Lyndoch and Vine Vale; three months in 70/30% stainless steel tank/seasoned French oak. Pale salmon pink with a vague hint of copper and aromas of redcurrant, peach, red apple and ruby red grapefruit with hints of crushed stone, white and red flowers, soft spice and dried herbs and lighter tones of watermelon and nougat. The aromas transpose nicely to the palate, which shows a gentle slink of texture, tight cleansing acid drive and gently spiced red and citrus fruit as it fades.
Woodcutter's Semillon 2022
Madeira clone semillon from Rowland Flat and Ebenezer; three months in 60/40% stainless steel/old French oak barriques. Crisp and nervy with taut lemon, lime and grapefruit characters with hints of crushed stone, citrus blossom, lemongrass and freshly cut fennel bulb. There is a sizzling mineral cadence to the wine, tangy and crunchy with bright, pristine citrus fruits on the finish.