Today we are pleased to offer the most recent release of the Australian power house, Torbreck. Torbreck boasts some of the highest scoring wines from the Wine Advocate for Australia and indeed the world and has cemented itself firmly in the pantheon of the new world greats. Torbreck was established in 1994 by David Powell, who is a legendary winemaker and ‘bad boy’ of Barossa. He founded it after leaving Rockford Estate, with the vision of utilising Barossa’s extremely old vines and working tirelessly to produce a world beating wine. This was achieved, his wine received several perfect scores and is now considered on par with Penfolds Grange.
Powell used French winemaking techniques and applied them to Barossa, without trying to make a French style wine, just maximising the potential of the land. The wines are dry-grown, coming from vines that are between 100 and 165 years old. They have always been tended and harvested by hand. They emulate the great wines of the Rhone Valley and RunRig, which saw its first vintage in 1995, released in 1997, is a blend of Shiraz and Viognier, very much in the style of Cote Rotie. It was received with incredible applause by critics, combining power, intensity and finesse, masterfully overseen by Senior Winemaker Craig Isbel. RunRig has seen an unprecedented string of exceptional scores from the Wine Advocate, never scoring less than 95 points since 1995, with seven 99-point scores and one perfect score, the 2010.
Today we release the 2015 vintage of Runrig, which has been awarded a superb 98 points from Joe Czerwinski of the Wine Advocate who says ‘Who would’ve thought that in the context of Barossa Shiraz, the 2015 RunRig would seem like a relative bargain? It’s certainly much less expensive than Grange or Hill of Grace will be when they’re released…. It’s also more approachable in its youth, with enormously appealing aromas of grilled fruit, savory complexities and rich, velvety tannins. Of course, it’s full-bodied and concentrated, with the stuffing to age for up to a couple of decades, and it has a long, licorice-tinged finish.’ With only 400 cases made, it is hard to source both on release and with age; we are pleased to offer it today at £790 per case of six. We can also offer The Laird, however, with 97 points and the price of £1,225 per case of three, it is overshadowed by Runrig!
We do not often release The Struie, with Runrig and Laird taking centre stage. However, in 2016 it is a must buy wine, awarded 94 points from the Wine Advocate. Of it Czerwinski says ‘It’s full-bodied and firmly structured, wonderfully aromatic and intoxicatingly complex, and it represents a terrific value in the Torbreck line-up.’ We agree, in 2016 it is priced on release at £175 per case and therefore has a Price Over Points Ratio (POP) of 25 making it brilliant value. It has been made since 2001, deriving from the Eden Valley, where the average age of its vines are 40 years and the Barossa Valley, where its vines have an average age of 60 years. This makes for a superb balance of fruit; the Eden Valley fruit is grown 200 metres higher than Barossa and the cooler temperatures brings a lengthier growing season and flavour enhancement. Once again, the blend means that The Struie benefits from varying soil types, found in the Eden Valley and Barossa, helping balance the PH, acidity and tannin levels and adding greater complexity. The Struie undergoes 18 months ageing in a combination of old and new French oak barriques. It derives its name from a craggy hilltop which overlooks Dornoch Firth in the Scottish Highlands. As can be seen from the table below the 2016 vintage is its finest ever, outstripping all others, at a much lower price. It therefore has a very low POP ratio compared to its other vintages and considered against the rest of the range and leading Shiraz wines, it is both vertically and horizontally undervalued on release.
Torbreck today is revered, producing brilliant wines. However, when he started Powell lacked sufficient funds to buy grapes outright, when he was first inspired to create his own label; his solution ended up defining Torbreck. He began to share-farm a vineyard, which involves working without pay until grapes are sold, when the owner is paid a percentage of the market rate for grapes, while the share-famer keeps a percentage of grapes for their own use. The share-farming principle led Powell to source the best fruits form the finest vineyards in the Barossa Valley, while giving him the experience necessary to maximise the potential of very old vines. In 1995, Powell crushed three tonnes of grapes and fermented them in a shed on his 12 hectare Marananga property, where the winery persists today. Powell sold the company in polemical fashion to Quivira Vineyards, owned by Billionaire Pete Kights and left the Estate completely in 2013. Pete Kights, who founded and sold Checkfree, is now focused on driving investment and Torbreck forward after the acrimonious split. Powell originally named the Estate after a forest situated south of Inverness in the highlands of Scotland.
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