Review: 2007 Torbreck Woodcutters Shiraz Barossa Valley

Studying Up

Bottom Line: Very Australian.  Massive, dense, and exciting.  While not quite complex, it is faithfully Syrah and made to be heady. $22

The Rest Of The Story: Tomorrow morning we'll sit down with Pete Kight, part owner in Torbreck and proprietor of Quivira.  The upcoming interview provided the perfect excuse to bone up on some of the wines he's had a hand in.  But this isn't the first time Torbreck has come across our radar screen...

Dave Powell, founder of Torbreck, has a reputation, you see.  In Campbell Mattison's book 'Why The French Hate Us', he says jokes about it:

     "If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone call Dave Powell a bastard, I might actually be able to afford one of his wines."

After reading that, how can you not want to see what all the fuss is about.  Scratching the surface, you'll learn that Powell has established one of the world's foremost wine estates, earning him accolades from critics the world over.  Why haven't you ever heard of him?  Well, if you're guilty of assuming all Australian wine is just like Yellow Tail, then you're missing out.  A lot.

Most of Powell's wines fetch well over $100, but the Woodcutter's Shiraz, along with his Juveniles bottling, is at the entry level.  Even so, it's a commanding wine.  Or more like wine concentrate.  Dense, solid, and exciting from the opacity in the glass through the nose and over the palate.  This is real Syrah, no question.  Aromatics are fast, heady, lofty.  Loaded with essence of the vine and drought-baked earth, it's packed with blackness, fruit, and suggestive savory spice.  The long finish has a faint sherry-like bite that ebbs with air time.  Enjoyable now, it would probably benefit from a few years in the bottle to mellow and soften a bit.

Given this intro to Torbreck, we're eager to explore their wines further.  If nothing else, this wine is a reminder of the incredible diversity and quality our Ozzy cousins churn out year after year.