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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Torbreck Vintners Runrig now at Aroma Thyme Bistro

We have brought this beauty in after several customers have asked for it. It is listed for $295.
Aroma Thyme Bistro

... cuttings from one of the old RunRig vineyards. The Shiraz is crushed on ... lightly pressed for blending with the RunRig. The blend of fruit is then ... that had been previously used for RunRig. The color is completely black/purple ... this wine is directly descended from RunRig' DAVID POWELL, Chief Winemaker , Wine, Syrah ... POWELL, Chief Winemaker, Wine, Grenache, Mourvedre. RunRig, This wine represents the finest qualities ... blend just prior to bottling. 'The RunRig is a structured, muscular effort with ... PARKER 'The Highland clans used a “runrig” system to distribute land amongst ...

Vineyard History:
Torbreck Vintners was founded by David Powell in 1994. The roots go back to 1992 when Dave, who was then working at Rockford, began to discover and clean up a few sections of dry-grown old vines. Near lifeless, he nurtured them back to health and was rewarded with small parcels of fruit that he made into wine. Dave was able to secure a contract for the supply of grapes from a run-down but ancient Shiraz vineyard. He managed to raise enough money to share-farm the vineyard, a practice which involves paying the owner a percentage of the market rate for his grapes in return for totally managing the vineyard. This share-farming principle has enabled Torbreck to use fruit from the very best vineyards in the Barossa Valley, which is home to some of the most precious old vines in the world.

In 1995 Dave crushed three tonnes of grapes and fermented them into wine in a shed on his 12-hectare Marananga property. He named his wine 'Torbreck' after a forest in Scotland where he worked as a lumberjack.

The Torbreck endeavour is based around the classic Barossa Valley varietals of Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro, and a love for the wines of France's Rhone Valley. Dave loves the intense, rich, Rhone-like flavours that come from old-vines and the fact that Shiraz and Grenache are the mainstay red grapes of the Northern and Southern Rhone often draws comparison. Torbreck doesn't only make red wines though, we have Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne planted on our winery block which we have blended to make a white wine for the last 2 years.

In July 2002 the historic Hillside property was acquired by Torbreck. Situated in Lyndoch, it is one of the original Barossa properties. Vast and picturesque it contains some magnificent old and ancient vineyards that will further our source of premium quality fruit. The Hillside property contains a wonderful native ecosystem that supports a myriad of flora and fauna. Dave hopes to turn it into a nature reserve in the future that will be open to visits.

In June 2003 at the finish of vintage, we opened our cellar-door for sales. An original settlers hut, it has been lovingly restored and provides a personal touch and some Barossa warmth whilst you taste our wines. It is open daily and we welcome any visits.

Barossa Valley: The third wave
Robert Walters, The Australian Review of Wines

The Barossa Valley has always been fertile ground, not only for vines but also for innovative, driven winemakers who felt compelled to mark the Australian landscape in their passing. If there was an Australian Wine Industry Hall of Fame names like Max Schubert, Peter Lehmann, Wolf Blass, Grant Burge and, more recently, Robert O'Callaghan and Charlie Melton - among many other Barossans - would stand tall within it.

In terms of wine quality, there have been three main waves of inspired Evolution in the Barossa over the last 60 years. First, there were those winemakers who grasped the fact that the Barossa could make wine to match the quality of any region in the world. This story begins most famously with Max Schubert and The development of Penfolds Grange in 1951. It includes Colin Gramp, who introduced German pressure tank methods to Orlando, and John Vickery, a pioneer of skin cooling techniques at Leo Buring, whose work revolutionized sparkling and white wine making.

The second wave was formed by those men who, during the very difficult 70's and 80's, stood tall against the fashions of today (white wine, cooler climates and no fortified wine, thank you very much) as well as against the homogenizing, economic rationalism of this era (which saw many of the Barossa's major wine companies sold to multi-nationals). Peter Lehmann , then O'Callaghan, Melton, Burge, Bob McLean and Stuart Blackwell of St Hallet, were the heroes here. These men not only loved the Barossa for its rich culture and history, but also recognized the remarkable resource represented by the Barossa's old vine Shiraz and Grenache vineyards, some over 100 years of age.

It is always sobering to recall that it was only in the early 1980's that the South Australian government initiated the now famous 'vine-pull' scheme that encouraged growers to pull out ancient Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro vineyards because - at the time - they were uneconomical. Many great vineyards were lost in this process. (Maggie Beer, of course, is the culinary equivalent to these winemakers, with her ongoing work to save and enrich the Barossa's wonderful food culture) Against the trend of the day the second wave believed in the Barossa as a great wine region and loudly proclaimed their faith at dinner tables across the country - both in person and through their intensely flavoured wines. These wines were made from old vine fruit and were marked by an almost syrupy richness in the mouth, with high levels of extract and alcohol, and the sweet vanillin and chocolate nuances from contact with American oak barrels. Wines like St Hallets's Old Block, Rockford's Basket Press and Melton's Nine Popes became cult wines and, with them and others like them, the Barossa became a household name in Australia.

And so to the third wave. Today, the old guard are still there, doing what they do best, but we have a new gang of innovative wine makers - in my mind, as equally inspired as those that came before them - who are changing the face of the Barossa with their wines. The last five or so years have seen the rise and rise of a handful of tiny producers/growers making often minute quantities of deeply coloured and flavoured red wines that are marked both by their depth of flavour and class - and, it has to be said, in some cases, mind-blowingly high alcohol. These winemakers include David Powell (TORBRECK) Rolf Binder (VERITAS, MAGPIE ESTATE) Chris Ringland (THREE RIVERS) Michael Waugh (GREENOCK CREEK) and Rick Burge, cousin of Grant and the man behind Burge Family Winemakers.

While some of these winemakers have been around since the 1970's, their international prominence is a more recent phenomenon. They share a focus on quality at all costs, as well as a penchant for old, low-yielding vineyards, complexity and - typically speaking - a preference for spicy French oak rather than the sweet, relatively simple choc/vanilla/caramel of American oak. When they do use American oak, they seem to make its influence as subtle as possible. This is diametrically opposed to the (sometimes cynical) Barossan tradition of using oak to make the wines seem sweeter and hence more attractive to a mass audience. These wines are savoury, more complex, and more international.

The use of quality French oak has clearly taken the Barossa to another level of quality and introduced many international palates and critics to a standard of wine they did not know was achievable in Australia (with the exception of great vintages of Grange)... But it would be simplistic to sum up the third wave simply in terms of their oak choice. Choosing premium French oak is part of pulling out all stops in the search for quality, but it is also about trying to make wines that are interesting and refined, rather than focusing solely on richness and power. Part of this shift may have to do with may have to do with the number of young Barossans who have been influenced by time spent travelling and working away from the Barossa and the recent influx of people from outside the region.

The plain fact is there has never been a better time to be a super-premium, quality winemaker than today. The premium end of the market is booming, and demand is far outstripping supply and sending prices soaring. Third wave Barossans are very much in the right place at the right time.

Of course, just as winemakers such as Lehmann, Blass, and O'Callaghan etc came out from Schubert's overcoat, so to speak, so the third wave is a product of what came before. It would be neglectful on my part not to mention the considerable debt owed to Robert O'Callaghan by Dave Powell, Chris Ringland and Michael Waugh, all of whom learnt their skills at Rockford (indeed, Ringland is still a winemaker there). It would also be careless not to acknowledge the hard work done by second wavers like O'Callaghan, Burge, McLean, Melton and their ilk to build the reputation of the Barossa as a premium red wine region and the role this has played in clearing a path for the third wave.

This progressive reality has led to some animosity between some of the older winemakers and the third wave... It is true that much of the Barossa's strength has come from the remarkable ability of local winemakers to learn from each other and work together for the good of the region as a whole. The region was one of the first in Australia to come up with a cohesive marketing strategy and stick with it. It has worked. Some of those who joined that 'region first' push now feel somewhat bitter about the number of new 'upstart' producers who, I their eyes' are cashing in on the good name they created without giving anything back by helping to contribute to regional promotional activities.

While this resentment is understandable, I think it may also be short-sighted. The most successful marketing strategy has always been to put great wine in a bottle and, as long as these new players have the production of the finest wine possible as their primary objective, then they can only do the Barossa good.

sourced from Torbreck's website.

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