My teenage daughters are big fans of Australia’s Master Chef. They came home giddy with excitement after Neil Perry made a surprise visit to their school – autographed photographs in hand!

I think the adults of this world would equally enjoy (and learn a lot) from an Australia’s Master Winemaker series. Top of my list of real “Master Winemakers” to invite on the show would undoubtedly be Dave Powell of Torbreck. The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown hit the nail on the head with her description of what makes his Torbreck wines so unique:

…what makes these wines stand amongst some of the world’s most special wines is not their supreme plots of land, or their inclusion of fruit of 100 year+ vines or their minimal intervention winemaking.  These factors are all a minimum standard for Torbreck.  The exemplary features of the wines stem from Dave’s relentless efforts, uncompromising winemaking vision and pig-headed stubbornness not to conform. (Torbreck’s David Powell, eRobertParker.com, December 2008)

Hailed by Robert Parker as “Australia’s answer to Marcel Guigal’s Côte Rôtie La Mouline,” the inaugural 1995 vintage of the RunRig Shiraz was a revelation on many fronts. (Wine Advocate #117 June 1998)

It was one of the first of a new generation of  wines to demonstrate the sensational fruit depth and concentration that could be extracted from Australia’s dry-grown old vines. Like its top Côte Rôtie counterparts, the RunRig included some viognier (around 5%) – the fabulously aromatic white wine grape that subtly lifts and extends the aroma and flavour profile of the wine when blended with shiraz.

But Powell married the elegance of the Côte Rôtie style with the richness and power of Hermitage – another great red wine from the Rhône region. The result is a superbly structured, deeply hued, full bodied wine with dark berry aromas typically complemented by savoury smoked meats, lychee nuts, and earth and mineral undertones offset by just a hint of apricots imparted from the viognier. The complex nose extends to the intricate, smooth, multi-layered palate where the rich, concentrated yet pure fruit flavours are remarkably fresh, imparting a crisp acidity that is balanced by elegant, tautly structured silky tannins.

RunRig is definitely a wine designed for long cellaring.  At a recent tasting of the 1995 vintage, Perrotti-Brown scored the wine 98 points, and commented that it should continue to drink superbly for another seven to 10 years.(Wine Advocate # 192 Dec 2010)

Since its historic, inaugural release 16 years ago, the RunRig has never received a Wine Advocate score below 95, with 98 to 99 being closer to the average.  Tobreck’s The Laird, which was released last year to much fanfare, may held the mantle for Australia’s most expensive wine, but the RunRig represents remarkably good value for a wine with a very enviable track record.

Note: Quite a few back vintages are represented on the Cellarit Wine Market.