2018 Rock of Wisdom Shiraz

Sourced from the Road Block located in the Koonunga sub region. When we started making the wines for Rock of Wisdom in 2013 we were trying to work out how to make our Barossa Shiraz stand out and show the softer more elegant side of life. As fate would have it, I was still working at Torbreck then and the day our Shiraz fruit came in was the day they had picked the fruit for The Descendant (their Shiraz Viognier co-ferment) and there was left over Viognier skins. I was able to get a few buckets (5% worth) and throw it in the mix. The mix of Viognier changes according to the season, so far we used 5%, 6% & 7% with 5% being the most common.

The 2018 vintage will go down as one of the best seasons the Barossa Valley. We added 5% Viognier skins to the Shiraz ferment to build fruit lift and soften the tannins, if we’d added any more it would dominate the wine and shift it into unbalanced wine territory and no one wants that. The Shiraz fruit was destemmed but not crushed so as to maintain whole berries during ferment. Temperatures were kept cool (lower temps help to maintain more delicate & vibrant characteristics in wines) and it got two pumpovers a day. The pumpovers were very short so as to keep tannin extraction under control.

The ferment was drained and pressed around 1 Baume via a basket press, we only use basket presses due to the gentle nature that minimises grape seed cracking (grape seeds crack and bitter compounds can come and ruin the party) and prevent over extraction. We then wait till the wine is sugar dry in tank before racking it off gross lees (think Grimace – purple bloke from Maccas after being put in a blender) then into barrel. Once the wine is in barrel malolactic fermentation does it thing naturally. We encourage natural malo in oak because softens the acid out and produces a more complex wine as well as not pushing the wine into direction it doesn’t want to go.

The oak we used for this wine was all old French oak with half the barrels being lightly shaved. Shaving the inside of the barrel is when the cooper shaves the first few millimetres off the inside of the barrel to expose the ‘raw’ oak again to allow it to impart more oak characteristics. Shaved oak is less full on when compared to new oak. With the styles of wine we produce, new oak would be over powering and unbalance the wine. This wine was matured in oak for around 15 months. The barrels were topped once every 2 months, this topping program gives us the best of both worlds during barrel maturation in that we can develop the secondary notes and characteristic but also keep the freshness and elegance of the wine.

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Rock of Wisdom came about when Sofi (Wisdom) let Pete (Rock) go nuts and make 3 batches of wine in 2013. We started it all with the Core Range – Grenache, Mataro and the Shiraz Viognier. From day one we have been driven by the need to share our interpretation of our home (the beautiful and amazing Barossa Valley) with the world via the wines we make.

Our house style is focused on using the more traditional varieties that call the Barossa home, Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro. With me (Pete) having worked in both large (Penfolds) and small (Torbreck) wineries in the Barossa, Clare, Sonoma and Châteauneuf-du-Pape I was schooled in the importance of respecting the site (terroir) of each block and how to get the best from them. That understanding of the Terroir of the sites we source our fruit from is why we can craft the wines that we do.

Our style is best defined as ‘minimal intervention’. The only additions we do are small acid adjustments and small SO2 adds and we use Fermaid O (organic nutrient) during ferment, in a small one off add. We use wild yeasts and wild malo bugs. We don’t add tannin to our wines as that goes against our ethos of letting the fruit speak. We do not use copper in our wines either which is why our wine benefit from being decanted (it wakes the wine from its slumber). We do not filter or fine our wines (only exception is our Rose as the market is still not comfortable with cloudy Roses but that’s a rant for another day).

We only use French oak as American oak would blow our wines apart. We are now playing around with varying levels of shaved oak in the wines. We only lightly shave the barrels and are not re-toasting the oak as the notes obtained from re-toasted oak will unbalance our style of wine.

Our wines are all handmade, our de-stemmer goes as fast as we can shovel grapes into it, our ferments are 1 ton or less in size (allows for different techniques on the same fruit), we only use open fermenters as this gives the best airflow around the ferment and allows for the nasty volatile compounds to blow off easily, our basket presses are hand operated (the amount of time we spend pressing would give an accountant a heart attack), we gravity fill our barrels and hand fill our bottles.

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