When you start learning about wine in Australia, particularly Victorian wine, one of the first names you learn about is Tahbilk. There are a number of reasons why this is the case. The first is that it is one of the oldest in the country, and boasts some of the oldest shiraz vines to boot, not easy to do in the phylloxera-affected state of Victoria compared to South Australia. The second is that they make an iconic (and hugely under-appreciated) white wine ideal for ageing, in their Marsanne, particularly the 1927 vine wine. Thus Tahbilk has a soft spot for many wine industry professionals like myself.
So it was with great pleasure that I got invited as a “new-media” guest to the release of the 2010 vintage of the 1860 Vines Shiraz, celebrating its 150th birthday this year, with a number of very special people to taste through almost every vintage since its first release. It was thanks in part to former guest on The Vincast podcast Kathy Lane that I managed to get an invite, as her business Fireworks PR did an amazing job helping Tahbilk put it together at Vue de Monde.
Finding original-rooted pre-20th Century vines in Victoria is not easy, which adds to the lustre of this iconic wine. What helps these vines is the very sandy soils they are planted on, which the phylloxera aphid can’t live in. When current owner and CEO Alister Purbrick took over the business from his father, it was his decision to bottle a wine exclusively from these old vines. At the time Australia was only just coming out of its fortified wine-dominant production, as markets started to discover the quality of Australian dry red wine, particularly made from shiraz.
Below you will find my impressions of each of the vintages that were on offer. I strongly urge people to get their hands on some of the 2010 vintage as it is a belter, and as seen in this tasting the wines have immense ageing potential. I also urge people to subscribe to The Vincast podcast, as after the tasting I recorded an episode with Alister which was an amazing insight into how far the wine industry has come in the past 40+ years.
Still holding some colour but bricking out. Very savoury meaty leather notes, dried raspberries. Bottle not in the best condition perhaps, drying out a bit but quite supple, tannins really settled into a nice spot, fruit disappeared on the palate, crunchy meaty note.
A bit darker in colour. Much more lifted aromatics, more toasty charred notes, smoked meats. Quite fresh for its age, sweeter oak tannin hanging in there, a bit of creamy texture, pretty lovely, more sweet breads.
Wonderful mint notes, dried herbs, a bit dusty, some rosemary lamb. Intense but thins out on the back, tannin a bit drying, so fresh and vibrant for it’s age, blueberries in there.
Holding colour well. A bit more subdued on the nose, quite a bit of sediment, quite stripped, not the best bottle, smoky?
Lighter in colour and consistency. Very shy savoury salty meat notes. Tight lithe, an atypical expression for Australian Shiraz, great focus and depth, supple yet tight tannins, pretty yum.
Quite brooding in colour. Quite brooding in aroma too, smoky and charry again, herbal too. Very bold and expressive, lots going on in this one, powerful dark fruit, intense tannins, sutble oak, balanced alcohol. Outstanding condition.
A touch more subdued, a bit dirtier, cured meat notes. Quite dry but still fresh, broader in structure.
More wood and herb notes rather than meat, a touch leathery smoky. Tight focused good acids, nicely structured.
Sweeter mintier notes, a hint of tobacco note. Picking up an amaro note, quite delicious in fact.
Sweeter dried mint and coriander, dusty red rusty notes. Lithe fresh crunchy ripe red fruit, nice supple leathery tannins.
Bright ruby almost candied nose, cranberries and cream. Light fresh but a bit hollow, getting tired on the back.
Darker more brooding, very ripe black fruits but shy and reserved. Bold and lifted, good freshness, nice acids, subtle fruit, lacking in ripeness on the palate?
Wonderful nose, inviting soulful dark perfumed, leathery ripe red fruits, a hint of pickle too. Wonderfully complete, fruit composed and integrated, tannin and alcohol too, very complex, nice supple savoury note.
Shy, leathery tarry. Broad and drying, seen better days.
Soft supple elegant, nice maturity and composure of fruit and oak, hints of mint. Well composed and structured, still very fresh, balanced and bright. Excellent, just not very interesting.
Very serious and wise, dusty sweet oak notes, a bit of tightness which I like. Pow, big oak, big alcohol, not my style but plenty of people would like this.
A bit squeaky, nice subtle dark fruits. Alcohol wham again, all together now, fruit and oak fading away.
Pretty, a bit porty, dark fruits, dark wood. Yep, what he said.
Soft supple sweet fruit dark fruit toasty caramel oak. Light bright and tight, warm on the front but fades nicely, solid.
More perfumed dried floral notes, a bit more savoury too. Powerful pronounced pretty youthful lots more life to it, a bit flat on the finish though.
Darker colour. Sweet cassis amaro notes, a bit rum-like. Tight focus softness light in the mid palate, kind of rummy on the finish too.
Dark Earthy charry grainy smoky. Soft mellow broad, pretty good acids considering the vintage, not bad.
Very tight, very focused, nice lines and still grippy tannin, lots more to go with this one.
Quite subtle, stalky and a bit green, dark fruits though. Very solid, very classic, ticks all the boxes and sitting in a great place. Again, nothing wrong with it, just not that interesting or different.
Darker softer sweeter fruit profile, dense and concentrated. Power and pleasure, full opulent yet focused tannins, lifted acidity and fruit. Solid.
Sweet full fruits and floral, inviting as hell, again an almost fortified note. Consistent on palate, nice though.
Nice crunchy red fruit note, salted raspberry. Wow, heaps going on, tighter and fresher but amazing acids, lithe living dancing.
Soft rich dark inviting sweet fruit notes. Jubey juicy broad powerful but simple.
Excellent if a little obvious on the oak at the moment. Benchmark for the variety in Australia.