Wine review — Seppeltsfield, Oliver’s Taranga, Turkey Flat, Rockford and Wicks Estate

The colours of age, Seppeltsfield Winery, 25 July 2013. Photo Chris Shanahan.

Seppeltsfield Para 100 year old vintage tawny 1913 $330 100ml, $999 375ml
Seppeltsfield vineyard, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Seppeltsfield released its first 100-year-old Para tawny in 1978 – drawn from a barrel set aside by Benno Seppelt in 1878. He instructed the family to bottle it in 100 years. Amazingly, Seppelt’s successors, including corporate and then private owners, continued the practice without interruption. And today, for $40, cellar door visitors can taste the current release (plus the $150 Seppeltsfield Uber Shiraz 2010). For most, tasting a wine freshly bottled after maturing 100 years in barrel, will be a once in a lifetime experience. The 1913 vintage, tasted at cellar door in July, poured slickly into the glass. The tawny and orange colours spoke of autumn leaf and old age; the aroma spelled the comfort of ancient leather furniture, shellac, cedar, soy and burnt sugar; the viscous but ethereal palate reflected the aroma – a luscious, precious glory of a thing, made before the World War I, venerable but still fresh, in its own aged and stately way. (Available at

Seppeltsfield Grenache Shiraz Touriga 2010 $31.50–$35
Seppeltsfield vineyard, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Approached from the west, the firsts view of Seppeltsfield is of the gently curving contours of grenache vines, pruned as individual bushes – the largest such plantings in Australia, claim the owners. These vines, along with estate-grown shiraz and touriga, provide the fruit for this delicious, trophy-winning blend. It’s generous, round and soft, in the Barossa mould, with fruit flavours reminiscent of red currant. Grenache and touriga contribute attractive floral highlights to the aroma and lift to the palate.

Oliver’s Taranga Tempranillo 2011 $32
Oliver’s Taranga vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Overall McLaren Vale seems to have weathered the cold, wet 2011 vintage better than the Barossa Valley. Winemaker Corrina Wright called it an “interesting” season, noting that 1974 was wetter. I tasted this wine with Wright on a visit to the winery in July. Wright said this was a very small production of a wine she’s made since 2006. Tempranillo seems well suited to McLaren Vale and, indeed, to a great diversity of Australian regions. This one’s medium bodied, with blueberry-like fruit flavours under more savoury characters and the variety’s distinctively firm but fine tannins.

Turkey Flat Butcher’s Block Marsanne Roussanne Viognier 2012 $19.95–$22
Barossa Valley, South Australia
This white style seems well suited to the warm, dry Barossa Valley. Made from three Rhone Valley varieties, marsanne, roussanne and viognier, Butcher’s Block offers texture and savouriness rather than the aromatics and fruitiness cooler regions do better. Christie Schulz polished the style over the years, treating each of the components separately, including skin contact for the viognier, early picking for the marsanne and later picking and whole bunch pressing for the roussanne – with 50 per cent of the blend matured in oak. It’s a full-bodied, richly textured dry white with subtle, underlying nectarine and apricot-like flavours. Tasted at the winery 27 July.

Rockford Frugal Farmer Red 2011 $20.50
Barossa Valley, South Australia
Like the frugal farmer who wastes nothing, Barossa winemaker Rocky O’Callaghan, ferments grenache and mataro on the skins left over from his rose production – made from the obscure variety, alicante bouchet. The result is a light (for the Barossa), crimson-rimmed, joyous red, brimming with lively, fruity flavours to enjoy right now. Available at cellar door, see

Wicks Estate Pinot Noir 2012 $18–$22
Wicks Estate vineyard, Woodend, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
In 1999, property developers Tim and Simon Wicks bought a 54-hectare property at Woodside, Adelaide Hills. They planted a 40-hectare vineyard and, in 2004, built a winery large enough for their three winemakers – Tim Knappstein, Leigh Ratzmer and Chris Parsons – to process the vineyard’s considerable grape output, much of it released under the Wicks Estate label. Their first pinot noir, from the excellent 2012 vintage, won a gold medal and trophy at the Cowra show, just as stock moved to retail outlets. Simon Wicks says it sold out instantly at wholesale level. The wine, tasted at the winery, bears a familial resemblance to the excellent shiraz – with a focus on bright, well-defined varietal flavour, medium body and soft, juicy tannins. This is very good pinot noir to enjoy now.

Copyright Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 14 August 2013 in the Canberra Times and