Readers of the Wine Advocate may recall that in 2013 Lisa Perrotti-Brown gave perfect 100 scores to two Australian wines: Penfolds Grange 2008 and Torbreck The Laird 2008. But in her year-end report, Guide to the Best of 2013: Current Release Wines, she drew attention to three of her favourite “near perfects:”
The 2009 Kaesler Old Bastard received a rating of 98 points and, of course, a very impressive review:
Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2009 Shiraz Old Bastard displays a very pretty aromatic melange of red and black fruit, kirsch and mulberries accented with anise, Chinese five spice and black pepper. Medium to full-bodied, it has lovely harmony in the mouth between medium-firm, silky tannins and the natural acid line. It finishes long with layered flavors. Drink it from 2014 to 2025+ (Wine Advocate #205, February 2013)
The Kaesler Old Bastard Shiraz is in fact a relatively young wine made from very old vines of shiraz.
In 1997, Reid Bosward, a young winemaker at Cellarmaster, recognised the power and intensity of the fruit from the old Kaesler shiraz vines. He made a special batch from the 1998 vintage for the Kaesler label, which he called the “Old Bastard” – an irreverent reference to tough, gnarled 1893 vines.
In Bosward’s opinion, the 1998 Old Bastard “was up there in the Grange and Hill of Grace class, but with its own distinctions, its own secrets.”
Fortunately for Bosward, this exceptional vineyard soon came up for sale and with backing from a group of American and European families, he was able to buy up all of the Kaesler holdings.
Under Bosward’s guidance, steps have been taken to restrict output and further improve the quality of the fruit. The yield on the red grapes across the property, for example, was cut by nearly 40 percent to improve the intensity of the exquisite flavours. All of the old shiraz vines are dry grown.
The phenomenal success of the 2009 vintage is due in part to a courageous decision to pick a little earlier than normal in order to avoid the risk of exposing the grapes to a late bout of bad weather. While fruit from older vineyards has a tendency to ripen and mature earlier, the risky call required a bit of tweaking in the winemaking process, including the use of warmer ferments and tighter oak selection.
The result is a very restrained style of Old Bastard, and one that according to Bosward will take its time to unfold, evolving with bottle age over at least the next 30 years!
The Kaesler Old Bastard Shiraz is currently available in the Cellarit Wine Market for $239.90 a bottle