Owner: Pete Kight and David Powell
Average annual production: 840,000 bottles p/a
Colour: 90% red, 10% white
In the 17 years since its inception, Torbreck has become one of Australia’s most iconic premium wine producers – and a clear favourite of Robert Parker. The Barossa winery was founded by Adelaide-born David Powell, who named it after a forest in Scotland where he worked as a lumberjack for ten years. Powell gradually built up a supply of quality fruit by share-farming, restoring vineyards and purchasing parcels of old vines. After a promising start, however, disaster struck in 2003 when his marriage to Torbreck co-owner Christine Powell collapsed and the winery went into receivership. Powell convinced business tycoon Jack Cowell to purchase the company, though he retained a minority stake as well as his position as managing director. In 2008, he partnered with Pete Kight of California’s Dry Creek and bought back the business.
The winery currently produces 17 wines from classic Rhone varieties – including its most recent addition, “The Laird”. Among its most famous exports is Run Rig Shiraz, which was one of six wines to be promoted to the top-tier “Exceptional” category in the 2010 release of Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine V. The wine was the listing’s most ambitious climber, having moved up two tiers in a single sitting.
The 2007 vintage
2007 was a good but unprofound vintage for Torbreck. Les Amis was not released and both The Factor and Descendent received relatively weak scores in comparison with previous years. Nonetheless, the winery’s flagship Run Rig Shiraz failed to disappoint and achieved 98 points from Lisa Perrotti-Brown of the Wine Advocate – “rich, ripe but not over-ripe fruit with a taut structure of firm grainy tannins and crisp acid, finishing very long with a gamey / savory character”.
Though Torbreck’s exclusive The Laird 2005 is claimed to be Australia’s most expensive new release (£2,400 per six pack), the majority of the winery’s production offers relatively strong value for money. Even Run Rig seems strikingly cheap next to Penfolds Grange – another Exceptional Australian red.
If we compare the prices of the last five vintages of Grange with the corresponding vintages of Run Rig, the latter is an average of 37 per cent cheaper, despite an average score of 99 points from the Wine Advocate, as opposed to 97 for Grange. Those on the lookout for value may be interested in Run Rig 2005, which is available at £620 per 6x75cl case (WA 98+). The chart below tracks the current prices and WA scores of Penfolds Grange and Torbreck Run Rig for vintages 2001 to 2005.
Whilst £1,000 and more (per six pack) has become the benchmark price for recent vintages of Grange, many high-scoring Torbreck wines are trading at under £100 per bottle. A closer look at the wines reveals that The Factor and Descendent deliver the best value on a price-per-points basis. The 2005 vintage of The Factor and the 2004 vintage of Descendent can both be picked up for around £350 per 6x75cl case (each) and boast Wine Advocate scores of 97 and 98 points respectively. Trading members of Liv-ex can view live markets here.