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Tatiarra produces four styles of Shiraz and any wine that is not suitable for inclusion into the main blends is labelled as ‘Culled Barrel Shiraz’. An accountant would argue that growing a single grape variety is not exactly a prudent business practice, for if the demand for the variety wanes, Tatiarra has no other wine to offer. This may well be the argued case in larger, more diverse wine producing companies, however Tatiarra is a specialist niche producer. The company’s obsession is not to be the biggest, but rather one of the best Shiraz producers in the world.


- Tim Dunlop of Cellarbuild -
"The Mariner" June 2002
,
in reference to the
2002 Tatiarra Shiraz.


The Shiraz wines at Tatiarra are made to be cellared with excellent balance between fruit and tannin levels, which, whilst firmish, are perfectly balanced. These wines are capable of being cellared for 15-20 years, at temperatures of 15 degrees and 75% humidity. Tatiarra uses very long very expensive high-grade corks to ensure that the full potential of the wine can be realised.

The Heathcote district has a rare ability to produce Shiraz wines of relatively high alcohol that remain perfectly balanced and absent of any hot sensation on the back palate. The grapes are not picked by ‘numbers’ alone as might be the temptation to start vintage when the grapes reach a beaume of around 14 degrees potential Alc/Vol. Surprisingly at this level the grapes are still not physiologically ripe and the flavour profile remains incomplete. Tasting berries and examining grape pips has some parallels to reading tea leaves in the bottom of teacups - in both instances one is endeavouring to predict the future. The full flavour profile at the Tatiarra Heathcote vineyard seems to develop when the grapes reach a potential alcohol level of around 15.5% Alc/Vol. The big surprise is that the numbers remain text book perfect with pH at 3.4 and T.A. (Total Acidity) around 7.2.
A remarkable achievement!


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TATIARRA CAMBRIAN SHIRAZ
The Cambrian Shiraz represents a wonderful expression of the Tatiarra Vineyard’s terroir and is a classic, big Heathcote Shiraz. The grapes for this wine were cropped at 1.6 tonnes per acre, producing a wine of immense power and concentration.

TATIARRA CARAVAN OF DREAMS SHIRAZ PRESSINGS
The Caravan of Dreams takes its name from the aspirations of the vineyard’s founder, Bill Hepburn, who in the early 1990’s planted the original Tatiarra block consisting of ten acres of Shiraz vines. The early years of preparing the soil and planting the vineyard were difficult, with the only accommodation on the site being a caravan and a 'thunderbox' (An Australian outdoor toilet.) However, when the cold winters in the caravan proved to be a strain on his health Bill Hepburn passed the dream onto Tatiarra. The result is this extraordinary wine. The wine is ‘totally over the top’ according to winemaker Ben Riggs. The low yielding vines (1.6 tonnes per acre) resulted in black opaque concentrate of Shiraz and only the first pressings were used. The wine was matured in new American oak.

TATIARRA TRADEMARK SHIRAZ
Within Australia, three districts stand out as consistently producing exceptional Shiraz fruit: Heathcote, McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley. Winemaker, Ben Riggs has his own dream about Heathcote and Shiraz. Riggs is based in McLaren Vale and has access to the districts finest vineyards. His obsession with producing extraordinary Shiraz is well known, however, with Tatiarra he was driven to produce a wine that would rank amongst the giants of the Shiraz world. Riggs flies across to supervise the operation at Tatiarra using the state of the art winemaking facilities at Pettavel Winery in Geelong, Victoria. During the bench blending trials for this wine, Riggs apparently was expecting to make the final blend with a McLaren Vale slant, anticipating for at least a 51% South Australian component. One can understand Ben’s home-grown loyalties, however the final blend is a diplomatic 50/50 result – and what an extraordinary blend it is! On tasting the wine one wine lover exclaimed that the wine ‘brought tears to his eyes’. That was not a negative remark, but one that expressed a sense of awe at the quality of the wine.

TATIARRA CULLED BARREL SHIRAZ
On 5th May 2003, the Tatiarra winemaker Ben Riggs together with the Tatiarra selection panel tasted each barrel from the 2002 vintage. The objective was to create four distinct blends of Shiraz that would be representative of the direction and style of the future wines from the Tatiarra Vineyard. During the morning's barrel assessment two barrels were culled as not having the necessary structure to make a contribution to the Tatiarra style. They were barrel 1598 and 1571. these two culled barrels were set aside and would be sold off as such. We have to say, that on retasting the barrels a month later, we had serious doubts about the wisdom of culling two barrels of wine that all of a sudden began to blossom, however, the philosophical stance was taken that we could not repeat the selection process and the two barrels would remain outside the body of the Tatiarra wine. Let us say , this is one of the wine bargains of all time, and echos the exceptional quality of the final selection.

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Prior to the official release, a masked tasting of Tatiarra wines was conducted at Pettavel Winery together with a number of benchmark Australian Shiraz wines. Tatiarra Shiraz certainly stood up exceptionally well and offered excellent value for money on a comparative price point basis.
The tasting panel included Tatiarra Winemaker Ben Riggs, Pettavel Winemaker Peter Flewellyn, freelance food & wine journalist Gail Thomas and Tatiarra shareholders Nick Wirabov, Bill Spring and Nick Chlebnikowski.
The results of the tasting speak for themselves...
Vintage Wine Region Price Rating
2002
   Tatiarra Cambrian Shiraz

Heathcote, VIC

AU $40
18
2002
   Journeys End The Beginning Shiraz

McLaren Vale, SA

AU $20
18
2002
   Tatiarra Caravan of Dreams Shiraz

Heathcote, VIC

AU $50
18
2001
   Summerfield Reserve Shiraz

Pyrenees, VIC

AU $45
18
1998
   Penfolds Grange Shiraz

South Australia

AU $600
17.8
2002
   Mt Burrumboot Estate Shiraz

Heathcote, VIC

AU $30
17.8
2001
   Kaesler Old Vines Shiraz

Barossa Valley, SA

AU $60
17.6
2001
   Jasper Hill Georgias Paddock Shiraz

Heathcote, VIC

AU $60
17.6
2001
   Buckshot Shiraz

Heathcote, VIC

AU $30
17.4
2001
   Gibsons Old Vine Collection Shiraz

Barossa Valley, SA

AU $70
17.4
2001
   Journeys End The Beginning Shiraz

McLaren Vale, SA

AU $20
17.4
2002
   Tatiarra Culled Barrel Shiraz

Heathcote, VIC

AU $25
17.4
2002
   Tatiarra Trademark Shiraz

Heathcote & McLaren Vale

AU $60
17
2001
   Mr Riggs Shiraz

McLaren Vale, SA

AU $40
17
2000
   Tyrrells Rufus Stone Shiraz

Heathcote, VIC

AU $25
16.6
2000
   Hanging Rock Shiraz

Heathcote, VIC

AU $50
16.6
2001
   Red Edge Shiraz

Heathcote, VIC

AU $40
16
2000
   Wild Duck Creek Springflat Shiraz

Heathcote, VIC

AU $60
16
2002
   Sanguine Estate Shiraz

Heathcote, VIC

AU $60
16
2002
   Tatachilla Partners Shiraz Cabernet

McLaren Vale, SA

AU $11
16
2001
   Galli Estate Shiraz

Rockbank, VIC

AU $20
15.6
2001
   Shadowfax Pink Cliffs Shiraz

Heathcote, VIC

AU $60
15.6
1998
   Tyrrells Rufus Stone Shiraz

Heathcote, VIC

AU $25
15.4
2000
   Barnadown Run Shiraz

Heathcote, VIC

AU $35
15.2
NOTES ON THE SCORING METHODOLOGY: The scores recorded during this tasting were averaged from the scores obtained from four of the judges who participated in the tasting on the day. The judging methodology was derived from the Australian Show Judging System whereby a total potential of 3 points are awarded for sight, 7 points for aroma and 10 points for palate producing a final score out of twenty.
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