Torbreck Vintners was created with the aim of building one of the finest wine estates in the world. The vision is to pay homage to the vineyards of the Barossa Valley, home to some of the oldest vines on the planet.
This single vineyard Shiraz comes from Malcolm and Joylene Seppelt's old Gnadenfrei vineyard in the sub-region of Marananga in the Barossa Valley. This vineyard is perfect in every way. It is South East facing, completely dry grown, meticulously hand tended, farmed by a grower with a lifetime's experience, on typical Western Barossa soil - brown loam over red clay over limestone - and planted with one of the original Barossa clones. However, this vineyard also has an "X factor" which gives the wine an extra something that cannot be fully explained. The resulting small, concentrated berries produced consistently on the property make it the envy of all the winemakers in the valley.
After the fuss surrounding the 2008 Penfolds Grange (tasting) launch, the July 1 release of Torbreck’s 2008 The Laird Shiraz (tasting), at an even higher recommended retail price of $900, probably won’t cause a ripple. Torbreck doesn’t go in for the showbiz launches that Penfolds and others engage in. Even so, a certain overseas wine critic has scored both wines 100/100, which in my view is ridiculous, and devalues the whole idea of rating wine. Scoring wine has become an arms-race, a kind of critics’ bidding war. Some even boast about their scores on Twitter. It’s one thing to score wines, quite another to behave like a spruiker. That said, the 2008 The Laird is clearly an outstanding wine, and the best Laird so far (there have only been three, mind you!). With just 350 dozen produced, it’s only a fraction of Grange’s make. The grapes came from Malcolm Seppelt’s vineyard at Marananga, which has also produced exceptional fruit for Rolf Binder’s The Malcolm, Grange and Chris Ringland, to idly drop a few names. I innocently asked what Torbreck boss Dave Powell pays Mr Seppelt for these grapes, not expecting to be let into the secret, and the answer was $16,000 a tonne. That’s serious money. Half that - $8,000 - would be considered a super-premium shiraz price for any other winery’s $100 Barossa flagship. Huon Hooke
Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2008 The Laird is a little restrained to begin, opening out after a few moments and much coaxing to an extraordinary array of creme de cassis and black plum-based aromas with underlying chocolate box, licorice, exotic spice, oolong tea and clove hints with a touch of earthy loam. Richly textured, dense and with a provocative meaty/earthy/savory, the palate is complex and layered revealing menthol and ripe black fruit notes interplaying with firm, velvety tannins through to a very long, opulent and harmonious finish. Drink it from 2015 to 2030+. Rating: 100 Points; Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW; Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
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