In the second of a two part feature, Peter Dean lunches Barossa ‘bad boy’ Dave Powell to find out what life is like after leaving Torbreck, the winery he founded 20 years ago. In this piece we taste Powell’s new wines from new venture Powell & Son. And very good they are too.
Tasting the top-rated wines of Powell & Son including a £425 bottle of single vineyard Shiraz. For a full interview with Dave Powell click here
The first wine from Powell & Son that we kick off with at an eventful tasting lunch is an Eden Valley Riesling 2015 that is pure lime peel and minerality. It’s a delicious aperitif, that makes your mouth water. There’s a terrific depth of flavour and a dry, lean finish. Powell says that the vines the fruit are from are very low-yielding and he likes to keep it that way “I don’t piss about trying to stretch yields.” In 2015 he is only producing 300 odd cases.
The first red is Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2014 (70%, 25%, 5%) with some of the vines 60-100 years old. The wine spends 15 months in a 24hl French foudre which adds structure. Wow! the nose is sensational – chocolate, eucalyptus and deep red fruit. The colour is almost Burgundian red, it doesn’t look its age. This is fine wine, great balance, lots of fruit, good integration of the wood and a nice length.
Powell expresses a love for Grenache-based wines (his son has just come back from an internship with Jean-Louis Chave) and says that he’s purposely kept the percentage of Shiraz down as the Western Barossa produces Grenache that’s “as good as it gets”. He is producing just 450 cases. He recommends drinking this in 5-8 years when there is an interplay between primary and secondary characteristics with a little tertiary kicking in.
The first single red varietal is the Barossa Valley Shiraz 2014, which has just a bit of Eden Valley fruit in the blend to give the aromatics a lift, the rest of the fruit is from Barossa vines that are 20-30 years old. The wine spends a year in oak and then in tank. There is a purple edge to the wine and the nose is rich, inky with a hint of mint. On the palate there is a terrific depth of flavour – intense black fruit with a good balance of acidity on both sides of the mouth. It is simply delicious. Powell describes it as “The best $60 wine you can get for $30, it will sell like crazy.”
As its name suggests the Barossa & Eden Valleys Shiraz 2014 is a blend of fruit 50/50 from the two valleys. The influence of Eden Valley is immediately obvious with lifted aromatics and a cleaner and fresher nose and taste. There is a leanness to the blend that is elegant and appealing, and a purity that comes from the different flavour profile of the Eden Valley fruit. It is probably his most ‘complete’ wine drinking now and has a great length. He has produced 500 cases.
Powell says that his vision is to create the DRC of the Barossa “with some drinking wines attached.” and this is how best to approach his two top single varietals Loechel Eden Valley Shiraz 2014 and particularly the Steinert Shiraz 2014 which has a trade price of £425 a bottle. Although there is not much difference in the vineyards, the gap between these two wines and the others in the range is immediately apparent in all areas of tasting – purity, freshness, acidity, balance and depth of fruit – very much blackcurrant and blackberry.
The Loechel was drinking very well at lunch, served with pork, the Steinert was in a somewhat closed state, although the depth of flavour was very powerful.
The Loechel had more lifted aromatics and was better now or, as Powell described it, “It’s got its tits out – it’s saying come and get me.”
“But put the Loechel in the cellar for a few years and you will get something very sexy,” Powell says. He adds that although the Steinert is seven times the price of the Loechel and the price differential is not immediately apparent between the two wines “It is in a different league, believe me.”
The vines are 120 years old and the grapes the size of blackcurrants. There is 360 cases produced.
“It’s important to have a wine like this. It helps the winery from a prestige point of view but it also subsidises a lot of the other wines. At the end of the day you have to ask yourself ‘do I want to buy a Ferrari?’ ”
“The Loechel is better value for sure but it’s like do you want a Filipino or an Eastern European hooker – they’re both expensive.”
And with that I bid a hasty retreat before I get sucked into a lunch that ends somewhere the middle of the next day which it very possibly could have.
I am very much buying some of Powell’s new wines. I have gone for the Grenache Shiraz Mataro, and the two shiraz – Barossa and Barossa & Eden Valley. They are available from Zonin UK.