Torbreck claims most expensive Australian table wine title

Torbreck has released what it believes is the most expensive current-release Australian table wine: 2005 Torbreck The Laird, a Barossa shiraz expected to sell at about $700 to $730.

It was made from grapes grown at Malcolm Seppelt's vineyard at Marananga, planted in the 1950s near Seppeltsfield - very concentrated fruit that in the past went into Rolf Binder's The Malcolm and Chris Ringland's early vintages of Three Rivers.

POLL: The price of the Laird exceeds that of the current Penfolds Grange vintage. Is $700 too much to spend on a table wine?

The wine spent three years in Dominique Laurent barrels and two years in bottle before release. It's a big, powerful, concentrated wine, with 14.8 per cent alcohol. It shows typical Torbreck massive flavour and character, tremendous fruit sweetness, power throughout the palate, lashings of tannin and an almost chewy thickness. It could hardly be termed elegant, but shows remarkable balance for such a big wine.

The back label boasts: "The laird of the estate in Scotland is master of all he surveys. This vineyard is second to none in the [Barossa] valley, perhaps even the world."

In other words, this is Torbreck owner/winemaker Dave Powell making a statement. Torbreck's marketing man, James Young, says 38 dozen have already been sold in Australia. In Hong Kong, the first order is for 40 dozen. "Export is the big deal," said Young. "Britain has ordered strongly, too." A total of about 200 dozen have been produced, plus about 50 dozen large-format bottles.

Sydney retailers include Wine Culture in Roseville Chase, Victoria Cellars in Gladesville, Australian Wine Centre and Wine Odyssey Australia in The Rocks, and of course Torbreck cellar door. Vintage Cellars Double Bay will order it on request.

In Melbourne, retailers include Burwood Cellars in Burwood and Wine Box Warehouse in Camberwell.

Wine Ark did a promo and sold 74 bottles direct to customers' cellars. In restaurants last week, Icebergs had the best price at $1070; the new Wine Library was $1200 and others went up to $1300. Aria, Prime, Stuyvesant House and Catalina also stock it. In Melbourne, it can be found at The Press Club and Rockpool Bar and Grill.

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