Founded only in 1994, Torbreck has quickly emerged as one of Australia’s most acclaimed wineries.  David Powell, a local boy by way of Adelaide, left a career in accounting in search of a new lifestyle. His journey took him to some of the great vineyards of Europe and California, as well as to Scotland, where he cut wood in a forest called Torbreck.

Judging from the name, it looks like David might be a sentimental kind of guy. No doubt that contributes to his love of the old vineyards in the Barossa Valley. Once David decided that wine was to be his future, he found work at Rockford Vineyards in the Barossa Valley and began a new journey of discovery. His work at Rockford led to the discovery of ancient, dry-farmed vineyards that time had almost forgotten.

What to expect: Australian Shiraz

Australia has certainly made Syrah its own, even bestowing it with a new name: Shiraz. In the warm, dry climate of Australia this noble grape, responsible for some of the grandest wines of France, produces an intense, unique expression that is distinctly Australian. The ripe grapes take on classic notes of black pepper and leather that add depth and complexity to the black cherry and plum fruits on the palate. Australian Shiraz has typically been aged in American oak barrels which impart a distinct note of vanilla to the wines; the time in the barrel also allows the wines time to integrate, revealing their rich, voluptuously-styled mouthfeel.With the help of their owners, David set about revitalizing these ancient vines. By sharing both the responsibility for the vineyard and its crop, David secured parcels of old vine fruit for himself from some of the oldest vineyards in the world at a very affordable cost: The cost of nurturing them back to life. These small lots -- the first in 1995 was only 3 tons -- became the heart and soul of Torbreck. With each successive farming agreement, or straight-out vineyard purchase, David is working to ensure not only his supply of these old vine treasures, but that the history of Barossa is not plowed under to be forgotten.

David’s sentimental take on life is apparent in the naming of each wine, as well. Each has a story to tell. While the majority of Torbreck’s wines are red, David was convinced that these lands were also well-suited for the production of white wines. Based on the great Shiraz, Grenache, and Mataro that thrives in the Barossa, his thoughts turned specifically to the white wines of the Rhone valley.

With that in mind, David’s original purchase of land in Marananga (now known as the Descendant Vineyard) was selected for its suitability for the white varietals Marsanne, Roussane, and Viognier. Shiraz was, of course, also included in the new plantings.  It is here, adjacent to these vines that David planted, that the brand new Torbreck Winery has been built. Open for just 2 years, this new facility extends the control that David can exercise over these old vine masterpieces.

From haggard old vineyards to state of the art bottling lines, Torbreck wines are made in a way that captures the essence of the Barossa. Torbreck is a winery building a future on tradition, heritage, and, yes, sentimentality. These wines each tell a story that can almost be related to as a chapter in the history of the Barossa valley. So without further ado, let’s let the wines do the talking.

2008 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon – Screwcap -  14%

What a great nose right off the bat, featuring rich melon, quince, and pear fruit folded up with nuanced floral tones and hints of honey and woodsmoke. From the nose you might expect this to be very bright in the mouth, and there is plenty of acid here, but the entry is rich and soft, and the wine fairly rolls across the palate. The flavors are very youthful and a bit tight with notes of wheat, apple, and meyer lemon across the mid-palate; this turns more tropical on the backend and onto the long finish, which has note of blood orange and citrus fruits before yielding to a very fine mineral finale. This is a big white wine, but in a very refreshing style; it would be dynamite with a rich white fish in a buerre blanc. 92pts

2008 Cuvee Juveniles – Screwap 14.5%

This has quite the fruity nose with jammy strawberries sprinkled with white pepper joined by some dried game notes and hints of dried grass. On entry, this is round and soft with a sweet edge to it. There is bit too much acid, but nice tannins help flesh out the mid-palate. The fruit is fresh and primary and the flavors really mirror the nose with strawberry jam, pepper, game, and a touch of wood spice. The fruit turns blacker on the backend and drops off quite a bit on the short finish, which ends on a slightly sweet, jammy note. A bit monotone and gangly but with plenty of fruit. 86pts

2006 Torbreck The Factor  14.5%

The nose on this starts out quite subtle and slowly builds with deep, powerful aromas of grilled meats, licorice, cracked black pepper, saffron, dried violet,  and camphor.  Lovely in the mouth with a gentle, balanced quality that belies the wine’s depth and richness. The tannins are super fine and can easily be missed but are lurking within the ball of slightly minty, candied black berry fruit that has hints of game, barnyard, and gum  seeping out. The backend and the finish carry these accents, and the gum and barnyard aromatics add a lot of nuance and length on the very long finish. Really elegant and well balanced for such an intense wine, this is Shiraz but it gets your attention by whispering while making crazy faces, not yelling. 93pts

2006 Torbreck The Struie – 14%

This offers up rather subtle aromatics with a spicy oak top note followed by gentle notes of plum and black raspberry edged with licorice, tar and olive brine. In the mouth this is very rich, yet very well balanced. There’s a lot of flavor here with black raspberry fruit bursting on the mid-palate and gaining notes of spice, toasty pie crust, subtle mint and even some herb tones lurking in the fruit which show up on the long finish as a nuanced tomato/barbeque sauce tone. The feel of the wine is moderately chewy and quite fresh, particularly on the long finish, which is richly fruited but lacks any sweetness. It’s got a nice spice tone on the finish and lovely suggestions of soil and talc on the finale.  If The Factor is whispering this talking trigonometry.  This is really interesting and fairly complex but paying attention to it is rewarding. 92pts

2005 Torbreck Run Rig 14.5%

At first whiff this has an unusual blend or red fruit and peach on the nose. There’s a fair amount of wood is adding complexity to the nose but in a very narrow register. This smells as much of damp soil and crushed fruit, with a hint of dandelion to it, than of the wood. It’s not giving up too much and actually closes down over time.  On entry this has a sweetness to it and there are notes of apricot and honey right up front before the tannins begin to assert themselves. There are masses of dark fruit as well, but still rather raw and unformed. The mid-palate is quite spicy with a stemmy nuance and a round, slightly viscous feel, like cherry juice. There are mint, and vaguely medicinal notes as well that lead to a short finished impeded by tannins at this stage and the finish is a bit hot. This seems less well balanced than many of the other Torbreck wines.  90pts

2006 Torbreck The Pict Mataro – 14%

Smoky and ashy on the nose with deep notes of speck, pressed flowers, wild thyme and gravel with a whiff of rubber.  Great entry, rich yet fairly lightweight with crisp tannins and lively yet integrated acidity. This is dark with spicy herb tones, a hint of vanilla, and dark fruit that has notes of black tea to it. The flavors are nicely complex with emerging notes of leather and wild berries, bilberries, always with a spicy, almost herbal top note, but the texture of this wine is great. On the back end this is remarkably light on it’s toes and gains some dried grass and gamy tones, with lots of dried chorizo on the long finish. A very impressive wine that would be great with roast goat or venison. 94pts

2006 Torbreck The Steading 60% Grenache – 20% Mataro – 20% Shiraz 14.5%

This offers up nice herb, floral and light fruit tones that recall melon rinds and gentle red berry, almost raspberry jam tones. There’s a nice toasty tone to the fruit as well.  Gentle and a bit loose feeling on entry, this is well knit offering rich red fruit tones, wild cherries and currants in an open-knit style. The mid-palate has a subtle medicinal tone and a touch of nuttiness to it but this remains primarily about the red fruit. The finish is fairly short. A nice wine if a bit simple. 87pts

2006 Torbreck Les Amis Grenache 14.5%

This has a pretty hot nose right off the bat.  The wine shows some meatiness and hints of fruit, chalk, flowers, and herb over a bit of woodiness but the heat is disturbing. Rich and soft on entry, with bright acids and meaty red fruits that fill the mouth, this certainly doesn’t lack for flavor but, again, the alcohol throws this off balance.  This almost redeems itself on the finish with its wonderfully aromatic fruits but just when I’m getting my hopes up it burns again. Promising but too much alcohol. 84pts

Great Old Vine Shiraz, and Mataro!

2006 Torbreck The Struie Shiraz
This offers up rather subtle aromatics with a spicy oak top note over a bed of plum and black raspberry edged with licorice, tar, and olive brine. In the mouth this is very rich, yet very well-balanced. There’s a lot of flavor here with black raspberry fruit bursting on the mid-palate and gaining notes of spice, toasty pie crust, subtle mint and even some herb tones which show up on the long finish.

2006 Tobreck The Steading GSM
This offers up nice herb, floral and light fruit tones on the nose that recall melon rinds and gentle red berry, almost raspberry jam.  Gentle and a bit loose feeling on entry, this is offering rich red fruit tones, wild cherries and currants in an open-knit style. The mid-palate has a subtle medicinal tone and a touch of nuttiness to it but this remains primarily about the red fruit