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The wines of Torbreck, Barossa Valley, South Australia

Torbreck Vintners, Roennfeldt Road, Marananga, Barossa Valley, PO Box 583, Tanunda SA 5352
Phone: (08) 8562 4155 Fax: (08) 8562 4195
Website: http://www.torbreck.com  

Editor's note: see a more recent review of Torbreck's wines, based on a visit in September 2004, here

Torbreck is one of the new-style cult ‘boutique’ wineries in the Barossa. It was founded by Dave Powell in 1994, with the first wines made in 1995. Powell’s philosophy has been to secure grapes from small parcels of old-vine Barossa vineyards, and then to make hand-crafted wines in a traditional style that reflect their Barossa origins. Yields are invariably low, and the resulting wines are deeply impressive. However, prices have long since left the plane of reality, driven upwards by the collectable nature of these wines and the fact that demand has massively outstripped supply. I liked them very much, though I’m not sure they’re all good value for money. Rather perversely, I preferred the Juveniles to some of its more expensive siblings, and at about £11 a pop this one is definitely worth a try.

Juveniles 2001
I was bowled over by this
unoaked blend of Grenache (60%), Mourvèdre (20%) and Shiraz (20%). Lovely meaty savoury nose with an attractive animal-like complexity and some earthy notes. Delicious soft fruit on the palate but with an intriguing herby/earthy edge. Although this is one of Torbreck’s cheaper offerings, it’s a brilliant wine: expressive and reminiscent of a very good, ripe Crozes Hermitage. Excellent

The Steading 2000
A blend of old vine Grenache, Mourvèdre and Shiraz from some of our oldest vineyards. Single vineyard components are fermented and matured separately. Mid-coloured. Delicious spicy complexity to the nose, which is really attractive. There’s a good concentration of spicy, savoury fruit on the palate. Brilliant balance here and plenty of complexity. Very good/excellent

Defendant 2000
This is a Shiraz-based wine from a single vineyard planted with cuttings off the old RunRig vineyards (RunRig is Powell’s top wine, not tasted here). The Shiraz is crushed straight on top of the Viognier from the same vineyard, which had been lightly pressed for RunRig, and the wine is aged for 18 months in barrels that had been previously used for RunRig. Ultra-low yields of 16hl/ha; tiny quantities made. Very deep coloured. Sensational spicy, liqouricey, herby nose: very full and complex. The palate is lush but still balanced, showing a sweet herby edge and a good concentration of spicy fruit. Great concentration and good potential here. Excellent

The Factor 1999
100% Shiraz from low-yielding, unirrigated old-vine vineyards, matured in predominantly old French oak barriques for thirty months. Lots of sweet fruit evident on the nose, which has a liqouricey, spicy edge. Great concentration, but not quite as balanced as the other wines with some awkward alcohol poking through. Meant for ageing. Very good+ 

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wines tasted January 2002