In short, for consumers seeking bold, flavorful wines that reflect their origins, Torbreck is among Australia's top producers.
Joe Czerwinski, 1 July 2021
99 pointsTorbreck's 2018 RunRig needs a bit of air right now, as the nose and palate truly open up and expand after a while in the glass. Unlike some vintages, it's rather tight and cedary upon first pour, then relaxes to reveal hints of stone fruit, blueberries, cherries, pastry crust and baking spices. In the mouth, it's full-bodied and concentrated, richly textured and marked by ripe tannins, which leave behind a velvety, mouth-coating finish tinged with licorice and dark berries. While approachable now—and even damn enjoyable—it deserves another several years in the cellar. Drink the 2018 Descendant while waiting.
2016 The Laird
Torbreck's 2016 The Laird is just being released after its extended time in barrel. I'm still unconvinced by the élevage, as the wood seems to have the upper hand, marking the nose with scents of smoke, cedar, menthol and baking spices. Yes, there's ample underlying fruit—mulberries and Italian plums—but it all takes on a slightly dessert-like cast that's only partially balanced by lingering hints of black olives, licorice and caramelized meat on the extended finish. Give this another few years in bottle so the oak-imparted notes further meld with the fruit and form a more complete, harmonious whole.
What a lush, charming, wonderfully drinkable wine. The 2018 Descendant, made by fermenting Shiraz on Viognier skins, is a terrific effort, starting from its intriguing spicy, peppery aromas. Those notes are seamlessly intertwined with impressively ripe fruit scents evocative of blueberries and cherries, while the full-bodied palate is plush, creamy and supple without being unstructured or overblown. Softly dusty tannins ground the finish, lending a sense of savory balance to this beauty. Descendent is one of my favorite Torbreck bottlings year after year, and this may be the best one yet.
2018 Les Amis
Showing enormous intensity and length, the 2018 Les Amis Grenache is a tremendous success. Yes, the oak slightly overshadows the fruit on the nose, where cedary notes ride easily over ripe cherries, but it recedes into the background in the mouth, allowing waves of black cherries, red raspberries and exotic spice notes to come forward and expand on the full-bodied palate. Plush and creamy-textured, it's nevertheless refined and elegant on the finish, which turns silky and spicy, with lingering notes of red berries, licorice and cola.
2018 The Factor
Aged in about 50% new French oak and built for cellaring, the 2018 The Factor is a concentrated, structured Shiraz that should age well for up to two decades. Scents of cedar shavings and vanilla mark the nose, while the full-bodied palate folds in notes of ripe blackberries and mulberries, plus hints of baking spices. Complex, firm and age-worthy, with a long, focused finish, it should be at its best after about five more years.
Torbreck's rich, hickory smoke-infused 2018 The Pict Mataro spent two years in new oak. In conjunction with notes of dark plum and black olive, the result is a savory, meaty wine. Medium to full-bodied, intensely concentrated, velvety in texture and long on the licorice-tinged finish, it sets an exciting standard for this underappreciated variety. This rivals the success of the cooler-vintage 2017.
2019 The Struie
Always a blend of fruit from the Barossa and Eden Valleys, Torbreck's 2019 The Struie is almost entirely Barossa Valley, with only 8% coming from the Eden Valley. Aged in 20% new French oak for 20 months, it's very dark in the glass, with aromas of pencil shavings, blueberries and baking spices. Full-bodied and even more intense than the impressive 2018, it remains supple and smooth from start to finish, where hints of licorice and warmth emphasize the wine's ripeness.
2019 The Steading
The newest release, the 2019 The Steading, offers restrained aromatics of mixed berries and cherries interlaced with hints of savory herbs. If it lacks the ripeness and richness of the 2018, it's more elegant and perhaps more complex, with those herbal striations adding silky textural elements to the medium to full-bodied palate. Gentle tannins linger on the finish.
2018 The Steading
Ripe, round and supple, Torbreck's 2018 The Steading is foudre aged, so the oak signature is minimal. Mixed cherries and berries abound, mixing in hints of caramel, plus more savory notes of dried herbs, espresso and black olives. Medium to full-bodied, it's soft and easy to drink, but it has enough concentration to drink well for several more years.
2019 Hillside Shiraz and Roussanne
The 2019 Hillside Vineyard Shiraz and Roussanne manages to be an inky purple in hue while remaining remarkably vibrant. It's a co-ferment of 93% Shiraz and 7% Roussanne, with the Roussanne component consisting of skins left over after being pressed for white wines. Blackberries and plums lead the way on the nose, although by the finish, more savory notes of black olives take hold. Medium to full-bodied, this is a richly tannic and concentrated wine—but the tannins are ripe, coating the palate with a gentle dusting of dryness on the licorice-tinged finish.
2019 The Steading Blanc
A blend of 41% Marsanne, 39% Viognier and 20% Roussanne, Torbreck's 2019 The Steading Blanc comes entirely from the company's Descendent Vineyard on Roennfeldt Road, planted in 1994. The Marsanne and Viognier are barrel fermented and matured in a mix of new and used oak, while the Roussanne is made and aged in stainless steel. The result is a bit of a mashup, with scents of scorched citrus zest joining notes of apricots and pineapple. Medium to full-bodied, it boasts an attractive, silky texture in the mouth, with no sense of oiliness or over-extracted phenolics, just a lively, harmonious finish.
2019 Woodcutter's Shiraz
Effusive aromas of dark plums, cola, blueberries and raspberries can all be found on the nose of the 2019 Woodcutter's Shiraz. Predominantly raised in older hogsheads, there are hints of vanilla as well. Medium to full-bodied, reasonably lush and soft, with a lingering, softly dusty and gently savory finish, this is another outstanding vintage for this wine.
2020 Woodcutter's Rose
The 2020 Woodcutter's Rose is a saignée of Mataro that's barrel fermented and aged three months in used French oak hogsheads. Pale flamingo and slightly coppery in hue, it boasts ample watermelon-like fruit, notes of strawberries and peaches and hints of asphalt and green onion on the nose. Give it a quick splash in a decanter to ameliorate those slightly reductive notes. In the mouth, it's medium to full-bodied, ripe and round—and certainly not shy on flavor, positively bursting with fruit. Drink it over the next year or so.
2019 Cuvee Juveniles
A tank-aged blend of 72% Grenache, 23% Mourvèdre and 5% Shiraz, the 2019 Cuvee Juveniles features notes of red raspberries and cherries lightly dusted with hints of cinnamon, clove and allspice. Medium to full-bodied, it's a smooth and supple, easy-to-drink—almost chuggable—wine for near-term enjoyment.
2020 Woodcutter's Semillon
With 60% matured in stainless steel and 40% matured in oak hogsheads, the 2020 Woodcutter's Semillon deftly melds crisp freshness with custardy-lees richness. Lemon curd and slivered almonds are joined by hints of pineapple and lime in this medium-bodied offering, which finishes zesty and refreshing.