The Barossa Valley

On The Grapevine, June 2010

The Barossa Valley in South Australia is best known for its Shiraz and one of the great wine styles is Barossa ‘old vine’ shiraz. Due to strict quarantine restrictions in the 1800s, the vineyards did not suffer from phylloxera or the other diseases that have wiped out many other wine regions throughout the world during the last two hundred years. The Barossa now has some of the oldest shiraz vines, on their own rootstock, in the world (not bad for a new world wine region).

A vines productivity generally declines from about 25-30 years of age and many are ripped out and replanted before 40. However vines can go on producing for well over 100 years, with their trunks becoming ever more thickly gnarled (see right), and fewer bunches as the years go on.

Many of the old settler families from Germany and the UK were proud of their vines and never considered replanting with younger ones. There are around 30 vineyards over 90 years old mostly belonging to old Barossa families going back 5 or 6 generations.

Grant Burge is a sixth generation family run wine business. The Burge Filsell vineyard with near century-old vines, is considered one of the best vineyards in the Barossa Valley, and consistently produces fruit of great intensity and concentration. Planted in the early 1920’s this vineyard also produces the fruit for Grant’s flagship Shiraz, the highly acclaimed Meshach; with Filsell known to loyal followers as the wines younger brother.

The 2008 vintage began earlier than usual and rainfall was just below average throughout the year. Nevertheless the fruit from this vintage produced a wine with exceptional varietal character, intense concentration and flavour.

Therefore, many of Australia's oldest Shiraz vines still live on in the Barossa and these low yielding dry grown bush vines produce highly concentrated, lush, complex, rich, intense, and full-bodied wines. Softened by some oak and resplendent with juicy berry fruit, dark bitter chocolate and slight minty characteristics, Barossa old vine Shiraz is renowned throughout the world as one of the best.

The Dan Murphy store price is $28.50, which is good value for such a quality wine.

Tasting notes:

The 2008 Filsell Shiraz is a little touch of magic- the wine has incredible depth of colour, almost black with purple hues. The bouquet is a symphony of aromas with ripe blackberries, ground cinnamon, vanilla, mocha tones and even a hint of freshly baked bread. A touch of new leather is present and complimented with toasted cashew nuts, dark chocolate, and subtle aniseed. A rich and abundantly complex palate, the Shiraz is one of remarkable intensity and sumptuousness. With sweet forest berry fruit flavours, dark chocolate and intense vanilla bean this lusciously rich and full bodied wine shows all the best aspects of a classic old vine Barossa shiraz. The rounded tannins are beautifully structured to carry this rich and weighty wine with an effortless grace through the mid palate to a long and elegant finish. A wine to be approached with both reverence and gusto, and well suited to be enjoyed with a sumptuous meal; the 2008 Filsell Shiraz is excellent drinking now, but will reward those with patience and careful cellaring up to 15 years.