2007 Torbreck, Runrig, Barossa Valley, Australia
Lisa Perrotti-Brown - 23/12/2010
About this WINE
Torbreck was established in 1994 and is located at Marananga on the western ridge of the Barossa Valley. It is named after a forest situated just south of Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland. Founded by David Powell, a former lumberjack who worked in various vineyards to hone his oenological skills, Torbreck’s first releases in 1997 of a 1995 Runrig (Shiraz/Viognier) and 1996 The Steading (Grenache/Mataro/Shiraz) were greeted with rapturous applause by critics and connoisseurs alike. The winery is overseen by Senior Winemaker Craig Isbel and his team.
The overwhelming majority of his vines are dry-grown, nearly all are 100 - 165 years old and are tended and harvested by hand. The wines have an extraordinary combination of power, intensity, complexity and great finesse.
Barossa Valley is the South Australia's wine industry's birthplace. Currently into its fifth generation, it dates back to 1839 when George Fife Angas’ South Australian Company purchased 28,000 acres at a £1 per acre and sold them onto landed gentry, mostly German Lutherans. The first vines were planted in 1843 in Bethany, and by the 1870s – with Europe ravaged by war and Phylloxera - Gladstone’s British government complemented its colonies with preferential duties.
Fortified wines, strong enough to survive the 20,000km journey, flooded the British market. Churchill followed, between the Wars, re-affirming Australia’s position as a leading supplier of ‘Empire wines’. After the Second World War, mass European immigration saw a move to lighter wines, as confirmed by Grange Hermitage’s creation during the 1950s. Stainless-steel vats and refrigeration improved the quality of the dry table wines on offer, with table wine consumption exceeding fortified for the first time in 1970.
Averaging 200 to 400 metres’ altitude, the region covers 6,500 hectares of mainly terra rossa loam over limestone, as well as some warmer, sandier sites – the Cambrian limestone being far more visible along the eastern boundary (the Barossa Ranges) with Eden Valley. Following a diagonal shape, Lyndoch at the southern end nearest Gulf St Vincent is the region’s coolest spot, benefiting from sea fogs, while Nuriootpa (further north) is warmer; hot northerlies can be offset by sea breezes. The region is also home to the country’s largest concentration of 100-year-old-vine Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre.
Barossa Valley Shiraz is one of the country’s most identifiable and famous red wine styles, produced to a high quality by the likes of Rockford, Elderton, Torbreck and Dean Hewitson. Grenache and Mourvèdre are two of the region’s hidden gems, often blended with Shiraz, yet occasionally released as single vineyard styles such as Hewitson’s ‘Old Garden’, whose vines date back to 1853. Cabernet Sauvignon is a less highly-regarded cultivar.
Wines are traditionally vinified in open concrete fermenters before being cleaned up and finished in American and French oak barrels or ‘puncheons’ of approximately 600 litres. Barossa Shiraz should be rich, spicy and suave, with hints of leather and pepper.
Add to wishlist
Co-fermented with a splash of Viognier, the 2007 Run Rig gives a very deep garnet-purple color and a perfumed nose of warm cassis, crushed blackberries and blueberries over anise, cassia, cloves, tea leaves, rose hips plus earthy hints of black truffles and tilled loam. The full-bodied palate offers rich, ripe but not over-ripe fruit with a taut structure of firm grainy tannins and crisp acid, finishing very long with a gamey / savory character coming through with some cedar and baking spices.
Not a man known for his modesty, David Powell was notably less humble than usual during my recent visit. That overly confident smirk that he wears when he’s about to reveal a winning hand has no doubt incited more than a few barroom riots. It was only human nature that I was subconsciously willing his current releases to be even a little underwhelming. And I almost wish I could tell you they were. If his demeanor can at times be enough to set bloods boiling, before I get to the tasting notes I’ll inject a few words about what does impress me about Powell.
He is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about what happens in his vineyards, perhaps more so than in the winery. He has close relationships with his growers and calls the shots when it comes to vineyard management, recently telling me he had to end the contract with a grower of a fabulous vineyard of ancient vines this year because the grower simply refused to follow his instructions. The structures of his red wines particularly stand out to me.
Through developing an individual approach to tannin management and extracting a quality and texture of tannins that comes purely from grape skins that are carefully reared and harvested within a tight window of ripening, he creates some truly iconic reds…though even at the more modestly priced wines can age very gracefully. Finally Powell does not release wines that aren’t up to his high standards and as smug as he can be about
wine at a glance
Delivery and quality guarantee