Category Archives: Barossa Shiraz

Apr 04 2017

The seriously delicious Hentley Farm Clos Otto Shiraz

Posted on April 04, 2017 | By

In the early years of this century, Americans couldn’t seem to get enough of Australia’s top wines, especially the full-bodied and sometimes ridiculously rich shiraz from the Barossa and beyond.

But a spiralling Aussie dollar, changing tastes and some serious competition from both the New and Old Worlds led to an almost sudden collapse in fortune for the Australian wine export market.

As The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown highlights in a recent report, today the South Australian wineries which have continued to make a mark by actively selling internationally “largely fall into one of three categories: 1) those coming from well-established 30+ year-old wineries that, like their ancient vines, have the quality foundations to weather the vagaries of difficult times (think Henschke, Yalumba, Jim Barry, Elderton, etc.); 2) the 10- to 30-year-old wineries that survived the storm by being not just a cut above the rest, but several cuts above the rest (e.g. Torbreck, John Duval, Glaetzer, and Hentley Farm); and 3) a precious few newcomers that have managed to get overseas representation, because they are seriously impressive (e.g. Powell & Son and Sons of Eden).” (South Australia Part 1 – Slow Burn by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate 30 June 2016)

Certainly, no-one can deny the pedigree and staying power of The Hentley Farm Clos Otto Shiraz. Made with vines planted by previous owner Otto Kasper using a cutting from an ageing and “secret” shiraz clone, and tended to “with almost antique machinery and a well-practiced hand”, the Clos Otto vineyard (purchased by Hentley Farm in 2004) consistently yields super low quantities with ultra rich flavours. Yet its ability to combine richness and intensity with complexity and elegance has earned it a very loyal following and a serious price tag.

Here’s Perrotti-Brown’s 96+ review of the 2013 … Read the rest

Feb 02 2017

John Duval Eligo Shiraz 2013 – Named by the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown as one of her favourites for 2016

Posted on February 02, 2017 | By

I couldn’t help thinking that John Duval would have been chuffed to see his 2013 Eligo Shiraz share company with the 2012 Penfolds Grange and the 2013 Giaconda Estate Vineyard Chardonnay as the best current release Australian wines from 2016 according to the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown. (Current Releases: Best of Australia 2016)

After all, Duval started his own boutique label in 2003 after a legendary career as chief winemaker at Penfolds. He was responsible for making the Penfolds Grange and developing the highly successful RWT label. During his reign, the 1990 Penfolds Grange was named Wine of the Year by the Wine Spectator in 1995.

The Eligo Shiraz is made in a style similar to the one Duval created for the Penfolds RWT Shiraz. Matured for 20 months in new (75%) and seasoned fine-grained French hogsheads (300 litres), the French oak helps to create an elegant, opulent and fleshy style that is different to the more masculine and assertive style of Penfolds Grange, which is matured in American oak barrels.

Bottled under cork, the Eligo Shiraz is the reserve bottling of the best bunches from specially selected old vine vineyards in the Barossa and Eden Valleys.

Here’s Perrotti-Brown’s stunning review:

Very deep purple-black in color, the 2013 Eligo has an intoxicating nose of creme de cassis, blueberry tart and violets with underlying menthol, cloves, fenugreek, licorice and dark chocolate hints. The medium to full-bodied palate is youthfully restrained, with taut, muscular blackberry and exotic spice flavors supported by fine-grained, firm tannins and lively acid, finishing with excellent length. This is a very classy 2013 Shiraz! 98+ points (Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, 30 June 2016)

By Merrill Witt, Editor

The Penfolds Grange 2012 and the Giaconda Estate Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 are both currently available.

 … Read the rest

Jul 07 2016

Powell & Son – A “Seriously Impressive” new wine label

Posted on July 07, 2016 | By

In her recent report on South Australian wines, the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown singled out two newcomers, Powell & Son and Sons of Eden, as “seriously impressive.”

Anyone familiar with the Barossa’s fabled Torbreck Wines would have already guessed that the Powell in Powell & Son is none other than Torbreck founder Dave Powell. Dave teamed up with his 22 year old son Callum a couple of years ago to start a new small-scale eponymous wine label at the Riverside Vintners in Lyndoch.

Apparently Callum’s birth in 1994 coincided with the pressing of the first vintage of Dave’s own shiraz, so you could say that Callum was born with wine in his blood! Before starting a degree in oenology at Roseworthy, Callum had a stint working under Jean-Louis Chave in Hermitage. Dave is quick to acknowledge that his precocious son is already developing his own unique winemaking style.

But only someone of Dave’s experience and bravado would release an inaugural flagship shiraz with a sticker price of $750 a bottle! Yet the critics haven’t blinked an eye at either the price tag or the pedigree of the Powell & Son Steinert Flaxman’s Valley Shiraz. (Only 220 cases of the 2014 vintage were made.)

Steinert is indeed a very impressive vineyard. Located in Eden’s Flaxman’s Valley, the vines are more than 120 years old and cost the Powells $10,000 a tonne. Dave and Callum are relishing the opportunity to spend time together in this special vineyard, working it to perfection.

davepowell4Of the inaugural 2014 vintage, Perrotti-Brown remarked that “it’s a very pretty wine possessing a deep garnet-purple color and lifted nose of kirsch, crushed red currants and black raspberries with suggestions of wild thyme, lavender, black pepper and cloves. Medium to full-bodied, it has a firm backbone of grainy … Read the rest

Sep 09 2014

Yalumba The Octavius Old Vine Shiraz – The Wine You Choose to Impress your Guests!

Posted on September 09, 2014 | By

In a recent review of Yalumba’s The Octavius Old Vine Shiraz 2008, The Wine Front’s Campbell Mattinson referred to it as “one of a select group of Ultimate Business Lunch Wines. When Barossa Shiraz is all that is called for, and nothing else will do.” (The Wine Front, 29 January 2014)

This comment sparked quite a bit of discussion from readers about other popular wines people like to order at important business lunches. Favourites include Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Blend, Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier, d’Arenberg’s The Dead Arm Shiraz, Balnaves of Coonawarra The Tally Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz and Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon.

Given Huon Hooke’s recent commentary about the diminishing number of Australian wines listed on top restaurant wine lists, perhaps news that people are still ordering top Aussie wines when they want to impress their guests may cause some sommeliers to rethink! (Restaurant Wine Lists Too Trendy by Huon Hooke, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 August 2014)

The Octavius is Yalumba’s flagship shiraz. It’s sourced from very old vineyards in the Barossa and Eden Valleys, and matured  for 22 months in American and French oak ‘octaves’ of 100 litre capacity. Yalumba claims that it’s the only red wine in the world that is matured in such small barrels.

The winery is able to prevent the smaller barrels from overpowering the wine with oak by overseeing all aspects of  barrel production at its own on-site cooperage. The American oak, for example, is seasoned for up to eight years before use.

The Octavius is certainly a wine for drinkers who enjoy oak’s contribution to the flavour profile. The coffee, cedar and chocolate flavours of the dominant French oak marry well with the fresh, full flavoured … Read the rest

Jun 06 2014

2010 Penfolds RWT Barossa Shiraz: Another winning wine from the stellar 2010 vintage!

Posted on June 06, 2014 | By

Gourmet Traveler Wine recently assembled an expert wine tasting panel to judge 58 shiraz wines from the Barossa and McLaren Vale. The entrants were across vintages so the overall winner cannot be declared best of vintage. But the fact that Penfolds RWT Barossa Shiraz 2010 received the highest score of 96 points is a testament to the success Penfolds has so far achieved with the release of its icon and luxury 2010 shiraz wines. As you may recall, the Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2010 recently received stellar reviews and is flying off the shelves! (see Top Reviews for Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2010 generate excitement by Merrill Witt, Cellarit Wine Blog)

Penfolds has successfully fostered a culture of innovation and risk-tasking

The same edition of Gourmet Traveler Wine had a very interesting chronicle of Penfolds first 170 years by wine critic Tyson Stelzer. The article highlighted Penfolds success in fostering a culture that has promoted science, innovation and risk-taking often in the face of challenging corporate politics emanating from head office. (170 Years of Penfolds by Tyson Stelzer, Gourmet Traveller Wine, June/July 2014)

Schubert pioneered trial blends and the practice has been embraced by chief winemaker Peter Gago 

RWT, of course, stands for Red Wine Trial. Trial blends were a hallmark of Max Schubert’s reign in the 1950s and 60s, and the practice that has been revived and embraced by the current chief winemaker Peter Gago, who in his 12 years in the role has spearheaded the development of several new lines, including the experimental Cellar Reserve range.

Work on the development of RWT began in 1995 and its first vintage, the 1997, was released in 2000. Grapes are sourced from mature vineyards around Kalimna, Moppa, Ebenezer, Stonewell, Marananga and Seppeltsfields. Batch vinified in headed-down stainless steel fermenters, it … Read the rest

Mar 03 2014

Kaesler Old Bastard Shiraz 2009 – Stellar Reviews for this Vintage of a Top Rated Shiraz

Posted on March 03, 2014 | By

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:”

Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz Clare Valley 2010

Torbeck Run Rig Barossa Valley 2009

Kaesler Old Bastard Shiraz Barossa Valley 2009

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.

Kaesler Old VinesThe Kaesler family first planted shiraz in the Barossa Valley in 1893, but traditionally they and subsequent vineyard owners sold their grapes to Seppelts.

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 … Read the rest

Mar 03 2014

5 Top Boutique Barossa Shirazes that you must try!

Posted on March 03, 2014 | By

If you think all Barossa shiraz is full bodied, overripe and too alcoholic then now is probably no better time to take another look!

Over the past 15 years the Barossa has undergone a real transformation. An astonishing number of  high quality, boutique wineries, headed by dedicated winemakers with impeccable credentials, have emerged on the scene. Brilliant wines from these younger wineries alongside established players like Penfolds and Henschke prove that Barossa is still home to most of Australia’s very best examples of shiraz.

Indeed, if James Halliday’s 2013 Australian Wine Companion is any guide, Barossa is still leaps ahead of its rivals. Of the 109 shiraz wines that scored 96 points or above, 33 were from the Barossa. McLaren Vale came in second with 17. Vintages sampled spanned from 2008 to 2010, so any bias towards the Barossa cannot be considered the result of vintage variation.

Below are five, may be less familiar wines, that Halliday scored 96 points.

Atlas Wines Atlas 516 Barossa Valley Shiraz 2010

Adam Barton established Atlas Wines in 2008 after extensive winemaking experience at several renowned South Australian wineries and the Bonny Doon Vineyards in California.

The 516 is sourced from a single old vine vineyard from the Ebenezer district of the Atlas Wines 516 ShirazBarossa Valley. According to Halliday, it has a “lacy and open texture, travelling to spice and pepper flavours more typical of much cooler regions. Once again, it is the lightness of touch on the finish that that makes the wine.”

Head The Contrarian Single Vineyard Greenock Syrah, Barossa Valley 2010

Winemaker Alex Head, who established Head Wines in 2006, is fascinated with Northern Rhone and the Côte Rotie sub-region in particular.

Like many younger generation winemakers Head is not afraid to adopt a more natural and even risky approach to winemaking. In … Read the rest

Feb 02 2013

50 Wines to Try in 2013: No. 6 Two Hands Bella’s Garden Shiraz 2010

Posted on February 02, 2013 | By

When Two Hands Wines founders Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz started their winery in 1999 they wanted to highlight how the character of  Australian shiraz is shaped by specific regions. Over the years they have created a total of six wines in their Garden Series, each an individual expression of the the unique terroirs of their respective regions in South Australia and Victoria: Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Clare Valley, Padthaway and Heathcote.

No. 3 in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2012

In 2012 the Wine Spectator awarded the Barossa Valley Two Hands Bella’s Garden Shiraz 2010 95 points and ranked it Number 3 on its Top Wines of 2012 list. For Two Hands the recognition marked the 10th consecutive year that one of its wines had made the influential list – an achievement unequalled by any other winery.

The fruit for Bella’s Garden is sourced from 20 vineyards throughout the Barossa Valley.  Twelftree and winemaker Matt Wenk spend a a great deal of time working closely with the growers to ensure excellent quality fruit. Each parcel is handled separately at the state-of-the-art winery in the Barossa Valley, which was built in 2004 specifically to handle small-batch processing from vinification through to maturation.

The Bella’s Garden Shiraz is made to a house style to highlight the unique regional characters of Barossa shiraz. It is matured in mainly older, 300-litre French hogshead barrels to preserve the complex fruit flavours. Here’s the Wine Spectator’s review of the award-winning 2010 vintage:

Pepper, clove and plum flavors weave through dense dark cherry and roasted plum fruit, melding together smoothly on the complex and expansive finish. A big wine with depth and harmony. Best from 2013 through 2020. 4,000 cases made. (Harvey Steiman, The Wine Spectator, 31 July 2012).

Merrill WittMerrill Witt,

Read the rest
Jan 01 2013

50 Wines to Try in 2013: No. 4 -Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz 2011

Posted on January 01, 2013 | By

You may recall that when Best’s owner Vic Thomson accepted the coveted 2012 Jimmy Watson Trophy for Best’s Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz 2011, he declared the 2011 vintage the “worst ever.” Poor vintage conditions, the result of unseasonably cool weather and too much rain, affected the eastern half of Australia and South Australia.  This was especially true in the Barossa Valley – home of one of Australia’s most famous wineries, Torbreck. So bad in fact that Torbreck didn’t make its top wines including The Laird and Run Rig.

But for the less prestigious labels in the stable, an awful vintage was not all bad news. Just as Best’s used fruit normally reserved for its flagship Bin O for the award-winning Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz 2011, Torbreck’s Woodcutter’s Shiraz 2011 was the beneficiary of hand-sorted, declassified old-vine fruit normally reserved for its more illustrious labels.

The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown describes the Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz 2011  as “modestly priced gem … a testament to the winemaker integrity and the awesome value that can be had from these difficult vintages.” Perrotti-Brown also notes that wines from this unusually cool and wet vintage will challenge preconceptions about Barossa shiraz: “The wines are medium-bodied, delicate, spicy, peppery and perfumed… So I see a cloud with a silver lining in the 2011 vintage – it took South Australia producers to the elegant edge of ripeness and revealed the very exciting possibilities.” (Australia’s Wine Values 2012: Where’s The Fruit? by Lisa Perrotti-Brown,, 27 December 2012)

Perrotti-Brown scored the Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz 2011 91 points. is showing that the wine still available for around $22 bottle. Here’s Perrotti-Brown’s review of this very impressive, great value wine:

The 2011 Woodcutters Shiraz doesn’t miss a beat in this difficult vintage. Deep garnet-purple Read the rest

Aug 08 2012

Kilikanoon: Exceptional Wine and Music Making go hand-in-hand!

Posted on August 08, 2012 | By

Having previously worked in the arts, I’m always intrigued by stories of people who have made the transition from one art to another. Nathan Waks, executive director and proprietor of Kilikanoon, used to be the Principal Cellist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. But by all accounts, he is having just as much fun promoting Kilikanoon overseas, and still occasionally playing the cello to  appreciative audiences at Kilikanoon promotional dinners!

Not that he needs to put on much of a show to sell the Kilikanoon portfolio. You may have read that Kilikanoon was recently named Winery of the Year 2013 by James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion. The Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman also recently included Kilikanoon in his list of “Australian Wineries to Put on Your Radar,” noting that “this long-standing, family-owned Clare Valley winery builds remarkable elegance into its range of rich, complex and expressive shiraz bottlings from both Clare and Barossa.” (Australian Wineries to Put on Your Radar by Harvey Steiman Wine Spectator 31 July 2012)




Founder and chief winemaker Kevin Mitchell is very much a wine man. His father, Mort Mitchell, planted and still tends Kilikanoon’s Golden Hillside suite of contiguous vinyards, including Mort’s Block, which is home to Kilikanoon’s flagship wines such as the Oracle Shiraz and the Mort’s Reserve Riesling. After completing his wine studies in 1992, Kevin gained extensive wine making experience both in Australia and the United States before purchasing the Kilikanoon property in 1997.

Thirteen of Kilikanoon’s wines received 94 points or higher in James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion 2013. While the emphasis is on shiraz, Kilikanoon also makes an excellent range of cabernet sauvignon, greanche. riesling and semillon.

The focus is on making wines with strong regional and varietal definition, an approach that has won the … Read the rest