2016 Torbreck The Laird Shiraz
In Scottish terminology, ‘The Laird’ refers to the Lord of the Manor. This single vineyard Shiraz comes from an old vineyard in Marananga planted in 1958, a plot which remains the focus of envy amongst many of the region's winemakers. Previously owned and operated by the legendary Malcolm Seppelt, the vineyard was purchased by Torbreck in 2014 and is perfectly sited with the dry grown, original Barossa clone vines facing south east. The berries are typically small and concentrated and usually harvested in two separate passes.
The French oak selected for the maturation of this wine is considered to be some of the finest in the world. Referred to as Dominique Laurent's 'Magic Casks', the wood is selected from the incredibly tiny and highly prized Troncais forest. The staves are hand split in the French tradition and twice as thick as machine split staves. As a result of the extra thickness the barrels are able to sustain an extended maturation process due to the tighter porosity that comes with the extra wood. Maturation took place in the new hand crafted French oak barriques for a period of 36 months. The barrels were stored in their own temperature controlled, ancient stone shed. In short, no expense has been spared.
Magnificent density of colour featuring an impenetrable inky black heart and an equally deep dark red black hue. Heady aromas of blackberry, cassis, black cherry and liquorice intermix with toasty vanillin cedar, earth, hints of boot polish, leather and spice. Rich, dark and completely saturating, the decadent palate is immersed in opulence with lush blackberry, liquorice and black cherry fruits leading the way. Stunning power and depth with firm chewy tannins largely obscured by the wines sheer enormity. Complexing the back half are elements of toasty vanillin cedar, mocha, scorched earth, dried herbs, leather, black olive and spicy pepper characters. Concludes exceptionally long, thick and deep. Wind back the toasty oak a notch or two and this wine has the potential to be mythical.
Cellar 10-15 years.
A distinctive and very concentrated, single-parcel shiraz that offers a rich plum and raisin nose with plenty of tarry notes and a swathe of baking spices. The palate is packed with rich, dark-plum and black-fruit flavors and the long, strong hold on the finish lasts for minutes. So intense, this is their finest Laird to date. Best from 2028.
From the 2ha dry-grown Gnadenfrei vineyard in Marananga. Vines are low yielding and tended by hand. Matured 36 months in new French oak barriques. Barossa shiraz on another scale, every detail exploded into larger-than-life proportions. Impenetrable black. Deeper presence of black plum, licorice and prune, more exotic old-vine spice, more smoky dark chocolate, more mineral tannin, more spirity alcohol, more coal dust, engine oil and unbridled horsepower. To achieve all this with profound persistence and consummate integrity is where The Laird leaves all other overpowered pretenders in its dust. The most spectacular monument to the sheer might of Barossa shiraz.
Tyson Stelzer - James Halliday's Wine Companion (May 2021)
Torbreck's 2016 The Laird is just being released after its extended time in barrel. I'm still unconvinced by the élevage, as the wood seems to have the upper hand, marking the nose with scents of smoke, cedar, menthol and baking spices. Yes, there's ample underlying fruit—mulberries and Italian plums—but it all takes on a slightly dessert-like cast that's only partially balanced by lingering hints of black olives, licorice and caramelized meat on the extended finish. Give this another few years in bottle so the oak-imparted notes further meld with the fruit and form a more complete, harmonious whole. Drink 2023-2040.
Joe Czerwinski - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate