Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Torbreck, Cuvee Juveniles

Torbreck, Barossa Valley, Cuvee Juveniles, 2008.

This was a sample that was sent to me some time ago, my lack of blogging (this MW stuff takes up A LOT if time people, that and the full time job and the winemaking and the sommeliering) means it may or may not still be available, but I assume it is. We wanted to review this on DrinkThisTV, but we kinda ran out of money for taping and so I just blind tasted on my own last week over Thanksgiving.

This is ripe, rich with stewed strawberry fruit which immediately led me to the New World. High alcohol, low acid to warm climate. Assuming it was a grenache / syrah blend (primary strawberry fruit, moderate tannins, smoky undertones) at a mid-market price point (moderate persistence on the finish, lack of oak) I considered Chile, California and Australia. It didn't have the herbal qualities of Chile and the "tanky" lack of oak use is far more prevalent in Australia than CA for this blend, and that there isn't a lot of blended Grenache at this quality level in Ca anyway, led me to Australia. I was in SE Australia, not specifically Barossa because of the primary fruit quality. I might have expected Barossa to have some new French or American oak and this wine absolutely did not have oak.

One thing that I really liked about it is that it didn't ahve that high alcohol, high acid thing that seems to be totally unnatural and that I find in so many inexpensive Australian wines. High acid and high alcohol means super ripe fruit from a warm climate that's been acidified. High acid and high alcohol are really only prevalent in Italian varieties, like Nebbiolo from Barolo. Because I didn't sense acidulation I rated this wine of higher quality, it just felt more honest to me, for whatever that means!!!


dfredman said...

Good blind call on the SE Oz location - all the fruit in Cuvée Juveniles is sourced from vineyards around the Barossa Valley. The cépage is 60% Grenache, 20% Shiraz, and 20% Mataro.

Extra marks for your comments regarding the wine's lack of oak - Juveniles sees NO oak during elevage, thereby maintaining the integrity of the old-vine fruit profile.

2008 was a drought vintage in the Barossawith a lot of heat (think 2003 in Europe-hot!) but the old vines Torbreck uses are deeply rooted and weathered (so to speak) the difficulties well. Torbreck uses a tremendous amount of fruit from ancient vineyards; some of the Grenache material in this wine is sourced from vines planted in the Barossa around 1850, with a couple of the Mataro vineyards having been estimated to be around 130-150 years old as well.

The wine was bottled unfiltered, unfined, and under Stelvin in an effort to retain as much of the Barossa character as possible. Torbrecks "Steading" bottling uses the same fruit but it's aged in very neutral French cooperage and released a vintage behind the Cuvée Juveniles. The two wines tasted side-by-side offer an intriguing example of how oak (even neutral) influences the final taste of a particular wine.


Amy said...

Thanks Dan, that is GREAT info!!!