Alert

The maximum quantity permitted for this item is , if you wish to purchase more please call 1300 303 307
Wine

Dream Vertical With Tahbilk

Most can appreciate that survival in the wine game is no walk in the park. Exposure to the vagaries of weather, economics, politics and trends are all factors that can sink a wine business quicker than you can grow a vine. Despite that, Australia’s wine industry is filled with impressive stories of families going into business, surviving decades, flourishing and producing beautiful liquid all the way.

The story of the Purbrick family is one and the 150+years they celebrate goes beyond impressive and lands somewhere in the inspirational ball-park. Tahbilk is an Australian success story that is not talked about enough and whilst they were anointed ‘winery of the year’ by Halliday recently, the family’s contribution to the Australian Wine landscape is sadly underrated.

It could be the ebb and flow of wine fashion, but rarely do you read or hear that the Purbrick family are the custodians of the oldest and largest holdings of Marsanne on the planet. The family could have quite easily shifted their focus to Sauv Blanc during the 1990s and chased profit, but they stayed the course, realising the importance of the long game, heritage and just how glorious Marsanne can be.

From their entry level wines to the complexity of the 1927 Vines, the Tahbilk Marsanne is world beating and they have been making it for well over a century. As part of the celebrations of the 150th release of their 1860 Vines Shiraz, Wine Selectors Tasting Panellist Adam Walls and myself travelled to Tahbilk and joined 4th Generation CEO and Chief Winemaker Alister Purbrick for a tasting to explore and revel in this Australian wine treasure.

A special place

Tahbilk is located along the Goulburn River within a mosaic of billabongs, creeks, waterholes and wetlands that in turn create a special meso-climate that is cooler and milder than that of the surrounding area.

The sandy loam soil contains a high concentration of ferric-oxide that imparts unique characters in the wines and manifest themselves in different ways across their impressive range, particularly Marsanne and Shiraz.

The vertical begins

We started the tasting with 1927 Vines Marsanne and the bracket, dating back to 1998, reinforced how delicious these wines are. Picked young with relatively low acidity, the fruit is allowed to oxidise and then is pressed. The free-run is simply fermented, producing a fairly neutral wine that, like Riesling, develops its characters in the bottle.

The younger wines have aromas of beeswax, lanolin and spiced lemon curd, whilst on the palate they are soft and elegant with citrus cream, minerals and apples. As these wine age, all the flavours and aromas remain, but they deepen and as each year passes, they develop layers of beguiling flavours. Standouts were the 2005, the 2000 and the 1999, but all were unique and special.

Next came Shiraz, one of the first varieties planted at Tahbilk in 1860. Half a hectare of those gnarled, resilient old vines have survived and become some of the oldest pre-phelloxera Shiraz in the world. Accordingly, this glorious plot is recognised as one the 25 great vineyards of the world. When the vintage conditions are perfect, the fruit from these vines becomes the Purbrick family flagship ‘1860 vines’ Shiraz.

This four-wine bracket was a true celebration of history and it was hard to fathom that as these vines were just sprouting, the foundations were being laid for what still remains today as the operating winery and cellar.

Critics greater than I have rated the Tahbilk 1860 Vines Shiraz amongst the world’s great reds and I have to agree. Earthy, old-school aromas billow out of the glass and manifest as complex and bright red and black fruits laced with spices and herbs. In the mouth, the experience is almost overpowering - intense but elegantly balanced fruit lines driven by cherry and blackberry.

The 1860 Shiraz, just like the vines that they come from, are made to last and reflect winemaking that has changed little since Alister’s grandfather Eric Stevens was at the helm.

A Tribute

Eric’s 45-year influence on Tahbilk and the wider industry is commemorated by the family renaming the Reserve and Special Bin wines after him in 2002. Alister took us through a bracket of Eric Stevens Shiraz and Cabernet dating back to 1994. These wines reflect the traditional red winemaking method upheld by Alister and his team, despite the multitudes of modern winemaking techniques now available.

Oxidative, open fermentation in 100+ year-old vats, maturation in French oak and bottle ageing in the cellar before eventual release allows the wines to express the age of their source material and the vineyard without complication.

Overall, the resulting Shiraz is succulent and distinctive with rustic blue and red fruits flanked with an elegant weight and mouthfeel. Also made to last, these wines showed greater width of style across vintages and locking down favourites was tough. Adam was wowed by the 2002 for its balance, stage of life and attractive power to finesse ratio. Alister would not be drawn on his preference, but I loved the 2006 for its elegance, savoury earthy characters and superfine tannins.

After a small tour through the historical winery and cellar, we tasted the Cabernet bracket and the wines were as distinctive and interesting as the previous Shiraz line up. Mid-weighted and soft, these Cabernets have true varietal shape with glorious and often regal flavours ranging from blackcurrant and cassis to game, spice and chocolate. The fruit comes from 35+ year-old vines and the wines are extremely age worthy. The 1994, for example, was still fresh and juicy with the aged characters rounding out into a stately and appealing wine. Favourites were the 2005 for its earthy brew of sour cherries, plum and herbs, the 2002 for its youthful juiciness and the 2008 because of its attractive mix of sour fruit, cherry and cinnamon.

The Tahbilk Legacy

As Alister reflected on this special tasting, it became clear that the weight of history and the burden that comes with a legacy such as Tahbilk’s is very real. Winemakers are passionate people and like Alister, will always be driven by the need to improve and grow on what has come before. Alister’s impact on improving the finesse and quality of Tahbilk’s wines is demonstratively obvious.

What is less obvious, but just as important, is the respect he shows for the roadwork his father, grandfather and great grandfather laid out.

It would appear that this love for Tahbilk’s legacy is set to continue, with Alister’s daughter Hayley now driving her contribution to the business. Hayley’s focus is sustainability and since starting to work for Tahbilk in 2009, she has championed and developed a certified Carbon Neutral program that stretches across the whole business: the vineyard, production, bottling, admin, wine club and the management of the wetlands that shape the Tahbilk biosphere.

Hayley, like the Purbricks before her, clearly understands how valuable the Tahbilk contribution is to the Australian wine story.

On paper it provides depth and breadth to a relatively young industry with few long term players.

But, with wine, it’s what is in the glass that counts and Tahbilk’s wines easily rate amongst the best Australia can produce.

You might also like

Wine
Discover the distinction of the Henschke family
The Wine Selectors Wine of the Month for June is the Henschke Henry’s Seven Shiraz Blend 2013. The Henschkes, one of Australia’s most successful wine dynasties, are six generations strong with fifth generation winemaker Stephen and his viticulturist wife Prue at the helm and the sixth generation – Johann (winemaker), Justine (marketing and public relations manager) and Andreas (Henschke ambassador) – all involved. Henry’s Seven The Tasting Panel chose the Henry’s Seven to match with nonya style chicken thanks to its savoury nuances of rosemary, sage, pepper and anise, which match perfectly to the spicy, fragrant characters of the dish. To this Stephen adds, “Our deep garnet coloured Shiraz blend from the Barossa is a perfect winter warmer in June with its plush texture and fine, velvety tannins.” A few of Justine’s favourite things As you can imagine, the Henschkes live and breathe wine, but, of course, there’s more to the family than grapes and ferments. So to help you get to know one of the faces behind the name, we quizzed Justine Henschke on eight of her favourite things. Of course, if you want to find out why Justine thinks her family’s region is so perfect for grape-growing, check out the video chat we had with her. 1. Book Coco Chanel by Justine Picardie. I love to read biographies, and read this a number of times to prepare for an internship with the company. 2. Movie Erin Brockovich – a dramatization of a true story. Julia Roberts plays a sassy American legal clerk and environmental activist. I enjoy all of her films. 3. TV show Game of Thrones . It’s just…so…shocking that it’s addictive. The creators really know how to construct a cliff-hanger. 4. Restaurant Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan’s Chiswick in Woollahra, Sydney. I lived across the road for a little while. It was dangerous! 5. Breakfast That Little Place, Stockwell, Barossa – it has only recently opened and does great coffee and nourishing food. 6. Lunch Artisans of the Barossa Harvest Kitchen – the ‘Feed Me Menu’ is the way to go. 7. Dinner FermentAsian – for Tuoi’s Vietnamese and Thai cooking using local produce and Grant’s extensive wine list. They’ve created a warm atmosphere and offer something a little different, which the Barossa has certainly embraced. 8. Time of day/night Sunset. Who doesn’t enjoy that time of the day when you can finally wind down with a glass of wine? And even better when you can find yourself a great view. Watch our exclusive video interview with Justine Henschke talking about the magic of the Eden Valley.
Wine
Celebrating 150 years of Best’s Great Western
Iconic Victorian, family owned winery, Best’s Great Western is in celebration mode this year with 2016 marking their 150th anniversary. Here at Wine Selectors we’ve proudly been working with Best’s Great Western for over 20 years and we’re excited to be a part of their amazing history. Established by the Best family in 1866, and owned by the Thomson family since founder Henry Best’s death in 1920, the estate is home to some of Australia’s oldest and most significant vineyards. “His determination, flare, and pioneering spirit are been huge qualities that I admire greatly. I'm extremely fortunate to work with my father Dominique and share his same vision for quality.” Patriarch and fourth generation winemaker Eric (Viv) Thomson is currently overseeing his 55th consecutive vintage and Best’s is now managed by his son Ben who is also the vineyard manager and Best’s talented winemaker, Justin Purser. “I’ve been working with Viv since the 1990s and what is truly impressive about Best’s Great Western is they consistently deliver exceptional wine at great value year after year – that’s why we love their wines,” says Trent Mannell, Wine Selectors Panel Member and senior buyer. “I love visiting their winery in the Grampians, it’s full of original equipment and the barrel stores and cellars are just amazing. When you walk in there you can smell the history.” “ While we’re celebrating 150 years of winemaking, our philosophy at Best’s remains the same as in the beginning – great wines are made in the vineyard,” says Best’s Great Western’s winemaker Justin Purser. “Even while practicing a minimalist approach, attention to detail is key. At Best’s, we avoid the overpowering use of oak or additional treatments. Instead, we prefer to let the fantastic fruit from Great Western tell the story.” Victoria’s historical home of Shiraz, Best’s Great Western produces superb cool climate, aromatic Shiraz including their Bin 1 Shiraz that’s made in a style that is floral, spicy and peppery yet retains generous fruit characteristics and intensity. In 2013 their 2011 Bin 1 Shiraz won the highly-esteemed Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show and also received the Fine Wine Partners Trophy for Australia’s Wine of the Year. The 2013 vintage has already been awarded a Trophy and a Gold medal. We have Best’s Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz 2013 on tasting at our Cellar Doors at Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth domestic airport terminals during March, so if you’re travelling please join us to experience a little taste of Best’s ongoing dedication to excellence. For more Best’s Great Western wines click here
Wine
Rutherglen Legends Campbells Wines
What makes Rutherglen so special? Rutherglen has a very unique climate. Our heat degree days are about in line with the Clare Valley , but we have more sunshine hours than any other wine region in Australia. This means our grapes get more exposure to sunlight so we can make our table wines earlier in the season. Also, we normally have nice dry autumns that enable us to get much riper fruit for Muscats and Topaques. Rutherglen is also a very unique region because we work very closely together as a group – we call it ‘coopetition’. We cooperate and work together when we’re out in the bigger scene and at joint promotions and when we’re at home, we’re competing with our neighbours. What are some of the winemaking challenges Rutherglen presents? Just this year we had not overly hot temperatures, but up in the mid-30s for 10 days in a row and that brought all the grapes on very, very quickly. We’re in some interesting times because as a winemaker you can’t foresee these things, you’ve got to deal with them when they happen. But I find it difficult to believe that the dramatic changes in vintages have been caused by climate change, because it’s too sudden. While I’ve got no doubt that our climate will change and it is, climate change is going to be a slow, developing thing that will happen over time. What have been some of Campbells’ proudest achievements in recent years? We’ve done a lot to promote our fortified wines, our Muscats and Topaques, including developing the classification system and repositioning them as icon wines. Our Muscats are highly regarded all around the world and in 2010 renowned wine critic Harvey Steinman gave our Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat 100 points in Wine Spectator magazine. This was the first time in the magazine’s history that an Australian wine was awarded a perfect score. So if we hadn’t repositioned the Muscats and Topaques they would have probably become a bit of a curio. Instead, we’ve been able to turn that around to something that has been a growing quality market. Having said that, however, it can be a challenge getting people to try these wines because they just associate them with Christmas lunch. So we’re in the process of revamping our fortified range with the help of a mixologist to show people that you can drink these styles any time. The other thing that’s been very rewarding is our movement with Durif. We’ve had Durif in the area for over 100 years, and because we had phylloxera, no cuttings can be taken out of the area, so we’re really proud to have the original clone. However, nothing was ever really done with it until Mick Morris made a table wine out of it about 30 years ago. Then we made our Barkley Durif in 1992 and having recognised that it was a pretty special wine, we worked on it to develop a style that was more drinkable as a younger wine, but still with longevity. Now, every Rutherglen producer has Durif and I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that it’s their most expensive wine and that’s been a real coup. Your world class fortifieds are obviously an incredible asset, but do you think the message is getting out there that you do fantastic table wines too? No, that’s something that’s developing all the time. We’ve been trying new varieties, we’ve got a lot of Rhône varieties grown here now and that’s only happened in the last 10-15 years and also we’re trying varieties from Portugal, Spain and even into Italy to prepare ourselves for what we would say is climate change. The Wine Selectors Wine of the Month for July is your Limited Release Cabernets 2012, which features Ruby Cabernet. This isn’t a variety that we hear much of, can you describe its appeal? Ruby Cabernet is interesting because the first wines were made down around the Riverland , etc., and they weren’t very smart, they were overcropped and Ruby Cabernet ended up with a bad name. But John Brown and ourselves planted it here and we found that at the normal crop level it makes a totally different wine. It’s just a lovely wine that holds its fruit very well and ages well We’ve matched it in our 2016 calendar with slow roasted lamb shoulder with Middle Eastern spices and cumin yoghurt sauce. What are your favourite food matches with this wine? I’m pretty basic with my food – just a nice steak would probably suit me very well.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
1 case has been added to your cart.
Cart total: xxx
1 case, 12 bottles, 3 accessories