I always like to write my own notes based on what I see, smell and taste before I read the wine-makers notes or listen to someone else waxing poetic about what they smell and taste. We are so easily influenced that, at tastings, one tries to keep one’s opinions to oneself until everyone has had a chance to form their own impressions of each wine. Then it’s always fun to compare notes and then revisit the wines to see if we can smell or taste what some other wine geek has suggested.

Last week my work brought me to Solstice on 124 Street for a wonderful wine lunch arranged by Spike in support of his stellar Barossa supplier Torbreck. Founded in 1994 by David Powell when he began to clean up a few sections of dry-grown old vines, it is now home to some of the oldest vines in the world and produces some of the most interesting. character filled wines that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. 60% of their vines are dry grown and they have vineyards over 100 years old and some over 150 years old.

Torbreck are dedicated to these old vines and to bringing the best of the Barossa to the rest of the wine world… and we appreciate that!

As usual, I wrote my notes as I smelled and tasted my way through the line-up but today I thought it would be fun to play “I say – They say” with the notes just to see how we line up.

We tasted:

Woodcutters Semillon 2013 from vines up to 70 years old

I say: Salty nose of pineapple, beeswax and lemon thyme. Lush deep attack of tropical yet peachy, savory fruit. Perfect acidity and a long lemon pithy finish.

They say: Delicate scents of citrus fruits, limestone, candle wax ad toasted brioche with notes of almond kernels, soft pineapple, roasted cashew and white peach.

Torbreck 2012 Old vines GSM from vines over 100 years old

I say: Leathery dark nose of plush spiced plummy fruit with hints of blackberry and Hesperus. Big splashy attack of dense black fruits. Lovely lean tannin and a chocolate cherry finish

They say:High toned aromas of black cherries, five spice, creme de cassis and lavender are supported by a rich core of roasted earth, licorice, saddle leather and spice… silken texture  with subtle notes of dark cherries, plum and spice .

Torbreck Woodcutter Shiraz 2014

I say: Velvet dark ruby hue. Blackberry dark plum nose of rose blossom, mocha and cedar. Muscular attack of lean black fruit with highlights of leather and tart blackberry fruit. Wonderfully well structured.

They say: Dense rich and opulent, this wine combines great fruit purity with texture, complexity and finesse.

The Struie 2012

I say: Gorgeous dark purple ruby. Meaty black pepper nose of roast black and red plum fruit. Deep dark dense black forest fruit. Stinging acidity that reveals floral notes of peony (on the palate!)  and a plummy, licorice core that does not quit. Heavy duty. Earthy and dense.

They say: Dense colour is accompanied by a fragrant bouquet comprising blackberry, pepper and licorice aromas with a rich silky mouth feel. Initial aromas of  black raspberries, creme de cacao and star anise yield to a fragrant core of slow roasted meats, scorched earth and olive tapenade.

Factor 2012 – an homage to the great old Shiraz vines of the Barossa Valley and the growers who painstakingly tend and nurture them each year.

I say: Velvet dark ruby hue. Black earth nose of fresh blackberry fruit, black currant and Nonna’s espresso. Super mineral attack of leathery plum fruit and an almost “Cornas” expression of black olive. (OMG with the beef cheeks!)

They say: Delicate scents of wild blackberry, pipe smoke and pepper are supported by a dark core of espresso roast, black currants and coal. The palate offers immense texture and combines the subtle notes of olive tapenade, saddle leather and minerals.

The Descendant 2012 (directly descended from The Run Rig)

I say: Plush purple ruby hue. Purple nose of lavender, blackberry and summer road work in Toronto. Great with the Beef Cheeks. Super concentrated with silken tannin and bang-on balance.

They say:

From some of the oldest genetic material in the world. Pure wild powerful nose of blackberry and tar is complemented by a gentle floral lift of lavender and violets. Full bodied with great concentration and silky tannins.

Run Rig 2012 Shiraz Viognier

I say: Perfect dark ruby. Fresh nose of carrot greens, black currant and wet cement with caramelized orange peel and a warm blanket on a cold night with hints of hot scotch and tequila. Insanely deep yet fresh attack that sinks in and then opens wide. Respectfully, it’s the rough sex of wine…hot, sweet and unforgettable.

They say: Full bodied with great intensity, amazing freshness and extraordinary concentration. The multi-layered palate displays the fruit purity. Hints of homemade marmalade, scorched earth and slow roasted meats later emerge with time in the glass.

The Bothie Muscat a Petits Grains (Frontignac)

I say: Fresh cut pine and peach nose. Huge, nectarine and stone fruit attack that first caresses the palate and then digs its nails in. So like a Beaumes de Venise but also its’ own thing as well. All the rose scented fruit with a keen lemony acidity to hold it up. Love this truly.

They say: Aromas of fresh pine/lime, melon and lychee accompanied by extraordinary floral notes. The subtle, clean flavours of lemon sorbet, lemon tart and orange rind balance perfectly.

Torbreck wines in Alberta run the gamut of prices and are available at good wine stores throughout the province. Whether you are drinking the very well priced Old Vines GSM or are able to enjoy the higher priced gems, Torbreck wines will not fail to deliver. If you are drinking these wines you are in the company of the Gods.


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