Chris Ringland Shiraz is an utterly gorgeous wine that not only bombards and challenges the senses but suggests a deep emotional connection between the winemaker and his vineyard landscape. Technical brilliance, physical resilience and a painterly eye for detail makes this wine a uniquely interesting and exciting experience. Ringland is a passionate proponent of Barossa Shiraz. He is very much a scion of Robert O'Callaghan's 'Rockford School' where "meticulous order, accumulation of experience and creativity" underpin the winemaking philosophy.
Chris Ringland Shiraz is a small vinification of around four to five hogsheads or 1500 litres. The "unusually thick skinned" Shiraz is entirely sourced from Chris Ringland's dry-grown vineyard on the edge of the Barossa Valley, but technically in Eden Valley, along Flaxman's Valley near Randall's Hill. The 1910 vines are planted in shallow skeletal granitic sandy loams over underlying clay moisture-holding podzols. On a clear day it is possible to see (by telescope!) the spire of Gnadenberg, the church that lies in front of the Hill of Grace Vineyard.
Ringland believes his century-old vines yield Shiraz of unique "lushness and tremendous concentration". In some seasons the fruit will naturally ripen up to 17° Baumé yet retain excellent acid balance and flavour! Ringland describes his wine as "a celebration of tiny parcels of true vineyard selected fruit". The wines are "painstakingly hand-made" in open fermenters and regularly pumped-over to extract colour, flavour and tannins. After draining and pressing through a traditional wooden basket press, fermentation is completed in 100% new French oak hogsheads. A period of up to 46 months oak maturation follows to achieve optimum complexity and balance between oak and fruit. During this period Chris Ringland generally leaves the barrels alone believing that a laissez-faire approach will allow the tannins and oak to harmonise into the "landscape of the wine".
Typically the wine is deep in colour with intense dark berry/ paneforte/ espresso/ roasted chestnut aromas. The palate is plush and concentrated with blackberry/ mocha/ paneforte/ spicy flavours and dense fine chocolaty tannins. Despite the opulence, flamboyance, richness and concentration, the wine has superb percussion and freshness.
The extraordinarily high release prices (higher than Penfolds Grange), limited production and reputation have made Chris Ringland Shiraz a modern legend appealing to a very small but impressively supportive market.
"The 2003 Chris Ringland Shiraz, sourced from his estate vineyard planted in 1910, was aged in new French oak for 42 months. It offers up a fragrant perfume of garrigue, violets/lavender, smoked meat, and blueberry compote. On the palate it is relatively restrained for a Ringland Shiraz and just a bit more compact than the great vintages. Nevertheless, it is a superb effort with gobs of flavor, fully integrated oak, elegance as well as power, and a long, pure finish. It merits 10-15 years of cellaring and should offer prime drinking from 2018 to 2043."
97 points, Jay S Miller (February 2009)
"The 2003 Chris Ringland Shiraz has according to Ringland, "changed dramatically in the last year, getting denser". Nevertheless, it is not as saturated in color as the two previous vintages and is more advanced in its development. It is still a brilliant wine with glorious aromatics including spice box, fruitcake, dried fruits, and blueberry preserves. Savory, ripe, and elegant on the palate despite its size, it should be cellared for another 5 years and will give pleasure through 2023."
97 points, Jay S Miller (December 2009)
Barossa ValleyColonel 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.