Thursday, September 18, 2008

Torbreck Tasting

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a special tasting event for retailers and restaurateurs in Washington DC. We were tasting wines from Torbreck, one of the most highly regarded wineries in Australia. David Powell, the owner and winemaker, led the event. He came across as a very likable guy who clearly has a passion for wine. His wines aren't cheap (the least expensive is about $22 and it goes way up from there), but man are they good. Part of David's success comes from the fact that he secured contracts to source grapes from some of the oldest vineyards in the world. The oldest is 149! Just to put that in perspective, 30 years old is considered a pretty mature vineyard (age of the vines is important because as vines grow older they produce fewer grapes but the grapes they do produce are of a higher quality). It's also the second oldest vineyard in the world (the oldest is also in Australia). Here were some of the highlights:

Marsanne/Roussanne - Two grapes found in the Rhone region of France. Some are grown in California and Australia and a little bit elsewhere. This was the best Marsanne/Roussanne blend I've ever had that wasn't French. Deep and rich with ripe melon, pear, and citrus flavors. Very well balanced. I remember tasting it and thinking, "oh, Rebecca will love this."

Struie Shiraz - Probably the best wine for the money (retail about $55-$60) out of all the wines. David likes to make powerful but structured Shiraz, rather than the over-extracted, viscous style that's more common in Australia.

The Pict Mataro - Mataro is what they call Mouvedre in Australia. Apparently this one is twice as expensive (about $160) as the next most expensive Mouvedre. Mouvedre is more often used as a blending grape, but this one was worth the money all on its own.

Run Rig Shiraz - This one was the star of the show. A shiraz blended from the grapes of 8 different vineyards, including that 149 year old one. Wow! This was one powerful wine. Aromas and flavors of blackberries, blueberries, licorice, some herbal/earthy notes, and lots of other stuff. David said it would peak in about 12 years but I thought it was pretty drinkable now too. We have a couple of bottles of this in stock right now.

All in all it was a great experience - it's not too often that you get to taste several wines of this quality. Look for some of these wines to appear in the future. Possibly a gift for a shiraz lover when the Holidays come around?

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