Robert O'Callaghan's Rockford Basket Press Shiraz is one of the Barossa Valley's most important wines. It entered Langton's Classification of Australian Wine in 2000 and was promoted to the highest – 'Exceptional' – category in 2005.
It is sold almost exclusively to Rockford's own mailing list customers and is rarely made available to the retail market.
Basket Press manages to combine the concentration and power of the traditional Barossa Shiraz style of the 1950s and '60s with the supple freshness of contemporary winemaking.
It has achieved its high status in a relatively short time: the first vintage was 1984.
Rockford’s squat, high–shouldered brown bottle - reminiscent of 1940s red wine packaging - is instantly recognisable.
Deep crimson. Complex wine on the cusp of age with fading raspberry/mulberry characters and intense coffee/nutty nuances. The palate is sweet fruited and complex with restrained raspberry/mulberry/mocha flavours, fine but firm tannins finishing quite grippy and surprisingly lean. In an evolutionary state. Andrew Caillard MW (2002).
I prefer the wines of 1996 to any other Barossan vintage of the 1990s. Rockford has played it truly. Big and dense and imposing, with oak and volatility splashing about in the glass. Move past that, and find liqueured blackberry, a touch of spice, raspberry and tobacco complexity. There’s no shortage of interest here, nor of fruit concentration. It hits your mouth like a perfect cover drive, it flows through the finish like Kim Hughes has just lofted one over the bowler’s head.
95 points, Campbell Mattinson, Wine Front (9/2002).
A wine of majestic strength and power, richness and harmony, this full-bodied behemoth shows velvety tannin, 45+ seconds length, and knockout aromas of blackberry liqueur intermixed with licorice, smoke, and meaty notes. The wine is viscous yet nicely supported by acidity and ripe tannin. Still extremely youthful and unevolved, this wine will benefit from another 2-3 years of cellaring and keep for 20-25 years. This is undoubtedly a great vintage of Rockford. 94 points, Wine Advocate (2/2002).
Colonel William Light, the South Australian colony’s Surveyor-General, named the Barossa in 1837 after the site of an English victory over the French in the Spanish Peninsular War. In the mid-1800’s Silesian and English immigrants settled in the area. The Barossa itself comprises two distinct sub-regions: Eden Valley and the warmer Barossa Valley floor at 270m.The Barossa Valley enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate characterised by hot dry summers and relatively low rainfall. Cool sea breezes from the Gulf of St Vincent modify the temperature, however hot northerly winds can occasionally dominate creating considerable vine stress. Many older established vineyards are dry-grown, but supplementary irrigation is also extensively used. The valley is comprised of rich brown soils and alluvial sands. A long history of uninterrupted viticulture in the area means the Barossa valley is home to Australia’s largest concentration of old-vine Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre with many over 100 years old. Although most famous for Shiraz, the Barossa can also produce fragrant and deliciously fruity Grenache blends and beautifully rich, chocolatey Cabernet Sauvignons.