2008 was the hottest vintage we have had on record at Rusden. However, we managed to pick the fruit from the Sandscrub block before the two week heat wave really set in. A below average yield meant the grapes ripened before the heat, and the result is an exceptional Shiraz from a difficult vintage.
2007 is a vintage that I really enjoyed. It was hot and dry in January and February which brought sugar levels up very quickly. Then two inches of rain fell in the first week of March which dropped sugar levels right back. A vast majority of Barossa Shiraz that year was picked before the rain as many winemakers feared sky rocketing sugar levels. A few days before the rain front came through I made a decision to let our Shiraz hang, hoping the rain would drop the sugar levels back and allow the flavour to catch up. Well, I love it when a plan comes together! The 2007 is an “A-Team” Shiraz and I’m super happy with it, considering the difficult vintage. All thanks to a watchful eye in the vineyard (thanks mum) and the guts to take a risk which paid off big time.
2006 was a long time ago. From a cooler year, it produced wines that were very tight, almost crisp, but brooding classics. From Barossa Shiraz I thought ours was very restrained, but with huge aging potential. The 2006 Sandscrub is a baby. The power is there, but restraint is evident in its unlikely elegance. I think it’s a wine for the ages. It’s got the balance of the 2002, with the seductive beauty of the 2003, and it’s poised to go another mile or two yet. If you can’t wait, and have to open one straight away, I’d recommend you open it in the morning and drink it that night.
A much warmer year than 2004, this release is a big, brooding monster of a Shiraz with perfectly integrated fruit, oak, tannin and acid. Still a baby at 8 years of age, the palate weight of the 2005 is something to behold. As well balanced as the 2004 with more muscle and an incredible mouth feel, it’s like a steak in a glass.
2004 was a classic Barossa vintage. It fell right in the middle of a drought so yields were below average in the Sandscrub vineyard providing great intensity and excellent tannin structure. The fruit was well balanced with the acidity holding well right up to it’s slightly later than usual harvest on the 18th March. The 2004 has taken the full four years in bottle to come together and the complexity is something I am very pleased with. I expect it to age gracefully for at least another twenty years.
This May sees the release of the 03 Sandscrub. I’m slowly working my way through a bottle right now. (Hey, it’s raining and we just packed the basket press away for the last time this year.) It started out pretty dark and brooding at first but as the day has worn on the full spectrum of spice and richness is slowly evolving. This is an olfactory steam-train, the nose is ethereal. The palate is long and silky smooth with super fine tannins. It’s a big nod to the smaller winemakers in the tough vintages…..that ability to dodge a bullet when everything in the season is against making quality wine. 2003 was one of those tough vintages. Heavy rain in February caused dramatic losses in yield and most people panicked and harvested way too early. You had to have the guts to leave the fruit hang and dry out again to get any sort of decent complexity in the Shiraz. Being in control of our own vineyard we had the ability to take that risk and this wine is the reward. To make a wine like this in a bloody tricky vintage is as satisfying as it gets.
The 02 Sandscrub is as close to perfection as I reckon we can get. A wine of this pedigree, from a great vintage, really fortifies the fact that from Vine Vale fruit, a completely individual style of Shiraz unlike anything else in the world, can, and has been born. Slow, even ripening conditions provided one of the best vintages ever seen in the Barossa Valley. Deep in colour and incredibly concentrated this Shiraz is huge, and will drink well for twenty or thirty years plus. The acid balance is amazing considering how ripe the grapes were picked. 2002 was a super vintage, more elegant than other years however I think the balance between elegance and power is impeccable.