Delicate and Easy-Going Australian Semillon

Today’s Story: Torbreck Vintners

Torbreck Vintners was established in 1994 by David Powell in Marananga of the Barossa Valley in South Australia. Torbreck began by sharecropping fruit from an abandoned dry-grown and old vine vineyard, though overtime they did purchase estate vineyards but continue to source from growers to fill out the portfolio of wines. Torbreck specializes in Shiraz, however they produce wines with other Rhône varieties including Grenache, Mourvèdre, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne. Many of Torbreck’s source vineyards are generations old, with some of the vines producing fruit for their RunRig bottling 120-160 years old. Yields are painfully low, resulting in wines that are very complex and representative of their terroir. Winemaking is characterized by minimal intervention, and the Torbreck team views themselves as custodians rather than heavy-handers in the cellar. The wines age in barrel for as long as they deem fit to allow for the wine’s best expression, and all bottling is accomplished unfined and unfiltered. Each vintage, roughly 70,000 cases are produced.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Woodcutter’s Semillon

100% Semillon; 13% ABV

The 2019 Woodcutter’s Semillon is medium straw in color and fully transparent. The aromas are of medium intensity, with the very delicate nose showcasing notes of white peach, lemon peel, white lily, lemongrass, beeswax, dried tomato leaf, and marine mineral. The flavors are also of medium intensity, while the palate displays notes of white peach, ripe pear, honeydew melon, chamomile, beeswax, and saline. This dry white is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium length finish. This is one of those great summer wines that is simple, straightforward, and delicious.

Price: $20. I’d say this is somewhere in the fairly-priced to good value range. While it’s not the most “exciting” wine, it is very well-made and does offer a fair amount of complexity and great balance for the price.

The Proof Is in the Berry

Describing Jayson Woodbridge requires a thesaurus. Passionate is a good word, along with driven, charismatic and hedonistic. You could add exacting, arrogant and volatile. Woodbridge is happy to paint a target on his chest and dare you to shoot if he’s trying to make a point. And he’s always trying to make a point.

Tim Fish, Wine Spectator

Today’s Story: Hundred Acre

Hundred Acre was established with an inaugural 2000 vintage by owner and winemaker Jayson Woodbridge who endeavored (and to this day endeavors) to create a pinnacle Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. A former investment banker characterized by some as flamboyant, visionary, genius, arrogant, volatile, and contrarian (source – one of many), Woodbridge named his winery for the Kayli Morgan Vineyard’s resemblance to the Hundred Acre Wood from Winnie the Pooh. Childhood cartoons aside, Woodbridge demands utmost precision in farming the vineyards and making his wines where nearly everything is accomplished by hand. The vines are pruned by hand and grapes sorted INDIVIDUALLY by hand under a rockstar team of Philippe Melka (consultant) and Jim Barbour (vineyard manager – think Checkerboard and Blankiet) but ultimately the buck stops with Woodbridge. To gain more insight into this producer of more than one dozen 100-point wines, you’ll simply need to sign up on the waiting list (which reportedly spans longer than 5 years) here.

Today’s Wine: 2005 Ancient Way Vineyard Summer’s Blocks Shiraz

100% Shiraz; 15.5% ABV

The 2005 Ancient Way Summer’s Blocks is opaque deep garnet in color with deep ruby/purple hues. I decanted this for 1.5 hours and drank it over the following 2 hours. The remarkably youthful nose showcases aromas of juicy black plum, black raspberry, baked wild strawberry, fig, coconut, black licorice, cigar box, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. I am surprised there isn’t any heat on the nose given the high ABV. Once in the mouth, this elegant wine displays notes of blackcurrant, jammy blackberry, black plum, bing cherry, anise, sweet tobacco, gingerbread, chocolate, black olive, and savory herbs. This is medium- to full-bodied and incredibly well-balanced with medium (+) acidity, velvety medium (-) tannins, and a long finish. What is truly impressive here is the utter silkiness of the mouthfeel; I don’t think any wine I’ve had compares.

Price: $150. Considering the Hundred Acre Cabs go for $500+ per bottle I was excited to try their Shiraz for this price and it is absolutely worth it. On paper, this doesn’t seem like my style of wine but I couldn’t help but nearly gulp this down. Pair this with balsamic glazed duck breast, roasted leg of lamb, or mature hard cheese.