Alister Purbrick, almost on a whim, became the first qualified winemaker at Tahbilk, graduating from Roseworthy College. At 24 he took over at the family winery, not only as winemaker but also as CEO, working closely with his grandfather. He completely revitalised systems in the vineyards and the cellars, and whilst improving the white wine production, retained the iconic style of red wine production. He joined me on this episode of The Vincast after a back-vintage tasting of the 1860 Vines Shiraz, starting with the first one released in 1979, one of his greatest legacies (read my tasting notes here).
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Alister Purbrick from Tahbilk Winery
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.
(Chateau) Tahbilk 1860 Vines Shiraz