A Taste of
The Vinorium

Issue: 71 / Sunday 26 May, 2019

 
 
 

We take time out to speak with

Greg Hobbs
of Hobbs Vintners

Another Vinorium Exclusivity

 

The historic vineyard located in the idyllic, rugged surroundings of the Barossa Ranges was planted at the beginning of the last century and is home to some of Barossa’s oldest vines. Now owned by Greg and Alison who, in 1995 left their life in the city to move their family Sean, Bridget and Jessica to start a new life among the vines.

With a strong belief in organic and biodynamic practices, Greg and Alison have managed to bring renewed vitality to these ancient vines by carefully and painstakingly hand pruning and removing dead wood from the vines to re-establish their original shape, helping the vines to continue to prosper. The unique soil and cooler climate in the Barossa Ranges allow the vines to be ‘dry-grown’, only watering in extreme conditions to maintain the health of the plant. The soil is coarse, yellow, podzolic soil on top of clay subsoil, mixed with decomposing rock which has ideal water retention allowing for this practice. This results in extremely low yields of highly concentrated grapes, the cooler climate helping to preserve essential acidity, a combination that produces wines of great power and intensity.

Greg and Alison collaborate with their neighbour, winemaker Chris Ringland to produce their 1905 Shiraz, produced from the vineyards original vines planted over a century ago. For their Gregor Shiraz, an Amarone style wine produced from hand-picked, semi dried grapes and their Tin Lids, a Shiraz-Cabernet blend, Greg and Alison have worked for the past 10 years alongside Pete Schell of Spinifex. These flagship wines are made from extremely low yielding vines in miniscule quantities of just 130 to 300 cases.

 

What motivated you to leave your city life and begin your new life as winemakers? Has life changed for the better?

As a family with 3 young children (8,6,4) Allison and I wanted to give our children the chance of growing up in the country. We had no intention of making wine, we were only going to grow great quality fruit. At first, we started to sell our grapes to Rockford. After meeting our neighbour Chris Ringland, it took him 2 years to talk us into making a wine. We were not going to sell this wine, it was just for family and friends to drink. That was in 1998. We have made wine ever since. In our first vintage we made 30 dozen wines, now we make about 1800 dozen. Yes, life is better.

Tell us about the Barossa Valley, what makes the region so special? What drew you here in the first place? 

We moved to the Barossa for a lifestyle. But, it is one of the 10 great wine regions of the world, and Australia’s premier wine region. Climate, soil and location make it special. It is only 60 minutes to Adelaide. The wine community as a whole is very supportive and helpful. 

Do you meet with other Barossa producers and winemakers and exchange views/experiences? Do you swap wines? 

Yes, we regularly meet with Chris Ringland and others. Especially the other members of the Artisans of Barossa. In talking with others, you always exchange ideas, views and experiences. We swap and buy wines from many producers.

The soils of the area are known to be unique. Can you tell us about the soils at your vineyard and how they influence the wines? 

The soil in our region of the Barossa Ranges is yellow podzolic. It is a very lean soil containing quartz with a clay layer below. We do not have mains water, but, we do have a small dam. From this we try to give the vines a very small drink if we can. On years like 2019, we had no dam water so the vines had a very hard year.

Is there a particular block that you feel stands out above the rest? If so, what makes it superior? 

There is not one part of our vineyard that is any better than the rest. We were just very lucky to buy one of Australia’s great vineyards.

 

"When you are regularly in touch with and speak to people/winemakers of the calibre of Pete Schell and Chris Ringland, you would have to be a fool not to be influenced."

 

How have Pete Schell and Chris Ringland influenced you? Does Chris still consult on your winemaking? 

Yes Chris still does some consulting for us. When you are regularly in touch with and speak to people/winemakers of the calibre of these two you would have to be a fool not to be influenced. They have so much passion and are both gifted but also technically astute winemakers. You learn that balance is the key, it creates silkiness. Wines should have no jagged edges, they should be able to be consumed young but should also be able to be aged.

You have an ability to craft a real powerful style of Shiraz. Was this the style you always loved (passion for Italian Amarone perhaps?) or is it a product of the old vines and the terroir? 

90% of a wine is made in the vineyard. We endeavour to work with our fruit and make wines with minimal intervention.

The idea of making an Amarone style wine initially came from discussions around our vineyard. Due to our location we have a longer and slower ripening period than the Barossa Valley floor. This is simply due to the cooling effect of our elevation. This allows us to let our fruit hang on the vine longer. If you want, a natural drying style. From this discussion/idea we came up with the idea of picking the fruit a little earlier and rack drying them to achieve a more Amarone type characteristic. This was in 2002, we have been doing it ever since.

Your Gregor Shiraz is incredibly powerful and loved by many of our customers. What prompted the decision to create an Amarone style Shiraz? Did you experiment a lot? 

No experimentation... Just a love and passion to make great wine.

As well as the many positives relating to the quality of the old vine fruit, are there any challenges to working with such ancient vines? 

 No. Working with old vines is a bit like working with your grandfather. If you work them too hard (over crop them) they will produce rubbish fruit and probably die. Let them produce as much fruit as they like and you will reap the rewards.

We have read a report of Phylloxera being found in the Yarra Valley and wrote about it in our weekly magazine. Is this a concern? 

Phylloxera is a primary concern of all in the wine industry. Our wonderful country Australia with its vast distances between vineyard areas gives us the ability to contain the spread. This will only be effective if we are diligent in educating and making people aware of their responsibilities to stop the spread of phylloxera. It will spread, it will spread because big wineries cut costs. They move machinery all around Australia, an accident will happen as some stage, but it will not have an effect in our area in my lifetime. Hopefully by then we will have ways to contain it or destroy it.

We know that it’s a very busy time for you at the moment. How is the harvest going? Anything of particular note from the current vintage? 

28/3/19. We will most likely pick our shiraz next week. It has been a dry winter and a very dry spring and summer. Quality is sensational, yields will be anything from 40% to 60% down.

Do you have a personal favourite out of your wines? If so, what makes it a favourite? 

No. It is a bit like asking if we have a favourite child. Yes, the one I am drinking now!!

Tell us about life as a family run winery, the joys and the difficulties (if any!) 

There are joys and difficulties in any family run business. The great joy of life here when our children were home was always being around when they were here. The other great joy is that I spend every day with my wonderful wife.

Would you like to pass any message to our world-wide customers? 

Buy more Hobbs wines (of course!!). We will always make the best wine we can, if we do not think it is good enough to put our name on the bottle, it won’t happen. Last point - keep an eye on the 2018 wines. At the point of production and up until now they are the best wines we have made. They still have at least 12 months in barrel to go, but look stunning.

Current Releases

The quality of the 2015 release was confirmed when Joe Czerwinski awarded them some of the highest scores Hobbs had received with the incredible 98 points scored for the1905, just a single point behind Joe’s score for the monumental Standish 2016s. For the wine to literally make Joe's "hair stand on end" is quite a statement!

 

Hobbs 1905 Shiraz 2015

98 Points - Joe Czerwinski (RobertParker.com) "Produced from vines planted in 1905 overlooking Flaxman Valley, Hobbs's 2015 1905 Shiraz was made with the assistance of neighbor Chris Ringland. Despite being aged in 100% new French oak puncheons, raspberry and chocolate aromas mark the nose, while the palate is full-bodied and creamy-textured. The wine is dense yet fresh, vibrant and actually made my hair stand on end when I tasted it—it's that exhilarating to taste such a magical amalgam of richness and drinkability. At around 150 cases produced, it may not be easy to find, but for true Shiraz lovers it should be a required quest."

£59.95 per bottle

 

Hobbs Gregor Shiraz 2015

98 Points - Joe Czerwinski (RobertParker.com) "Owner Greg Hobbs jokes that the 2015 Gregor Shiraz is their "big-production wine," because he bottles 500-600 cases annually. The grapes are picked a bit earlier than those for the 1905 Shiraz and then air-dried on racks before being crushed and fermented. Scents of smoke and black pepper emerge on the nose of this fantastically concentrated elixir. It's full-bodied and unabashedly rich, with notes of cracked pepper, chocolate and dark fruit supported by silky tannins and a long finish. It should drink well for a decade or more.

£59.95 per bottle

 

Hobbs Tin Lids Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

96 Points - Joe Czerwinski (RobertParker.com) "This wine was made together with Sean, Bridget and Jessica Hobbs, their 'kids', or Tin Lids as they were often called. Their youthful influence on this traditional Aussie blend has resulted in a vibrant wine with the fresh herbal flavours of Cabernet merging seamlessly with the rich dark red and blackberry flavours of Shiraz.  On the nose, you’ll find liquorice and blackberry essence, spicy notes of pepper and sage with a hint of freshly picked mint, meaty and savoury aromas and subtle notes of cedar. The palate is full-bodied with dark red and blackberry flavours and the lovely herbaceous characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon The wine has a fresh acidity, very fine grain tannins and a long perfumed finish."

 

£26.95 per bottle

 

(Greg with Pete Schell)

 

A Special Offer from our
Mature Collection

Hobbs Gregor Shiraz 2004

95 Points - Jay Miller (erobertparker.com)

"The 2004 Shiraz “Gregor” was sourced from a younger vineyard and includes some partially dried fruit in the style of Amarone. The wine spent 2 years in new French oak hogsheads. It is more deeply colored than its sibling and has a liqueur/port-like character to its aromas and flavors. Powerful, rich, and layered."

Was £188.00 per case of 6 IB

NOW £155.00 per case of 6 IB

 

Nearest Competitor
Corkr Fine Wines @ ​£413.00

Hobbs Gregor Shiraz 2005

96 Points - Jay Miller (erobertparker.com)

"The 2005 Gregor Shiraz was made from grapes dried on racks prior to crushing and fermentation in the style of Amarone. More deeply colored than its siblings, it has a liqueur, port-like character to its aromas and flavors. Large in scale and richly fruity, it conceals enough ripe tannin to evolve for 6-8 years. Drink this singular effort from 2015 to 2035."

Was £195.00 per case of 6 IB

NOW £170.00 per case of 6 IB

 

Nearest Competitor
Cru @ ​£236.00

 
 

Hobbs Gregor Shiraz 2006

Jay Miller (erobertparker.com) 

"The 2006 Gregor Shiraz is made from fruit dried on trays in the style of Amarone. More deeply colored than the above two wines, it has a liqueur, Port-like character to its aromas and flavors although it is dry. Notes of licorice and chocolate as well as assorted black fruits make an appearance on the palate. Layered, balanced, and long, this unique effort will continue to blossom with several more years of cellaring and offer a drinking window extending from 2013 to 2026. "

£144.00 per case of 6 IB

NOW £134.50 per case of 6 IB

 

Nearest Competitor
Cru @ ​£182.00

Hobbs Shiraz Viognier 2006

Handpicked from the Hobbs Estate vineyard at optimal sugar, tannin and acid ripeness. The grapes were co-fermented in small batches, hand plunged and monitored closely to ensure perfect balance and integration. Once fermentation was finished, the wine was pressed off the skins into new French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and maturation. 

Wine Spectator "Polished, generous and distinctly peppery, especially up front and on the long, expressive finish. In between, the cherry and guava flavors come to the fore, playing against fine tannins. This has style and ageability."

£128.95 per case of 6 IB

NOW £99.95 per case of 6 IB

 

Nearest Competitor
Cru @ ​£155.00

 

Hobbs Shiraz Viognier 2006 Magnum

Handpicked from the Hobbs Estate vineyard at optimal sugar, tannin and acid ripeness. The grapes were co-fermented in small batches, hand plunged and monitored closely to ensure perfect balance and integration. Once fermentation was finished, the wine was pressed off the skins into new French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and maturation. 

Wine Spectator "Polished, generous and distinctly peppery, especially up front and on the long, expressive finish. In between, the cherry and guava flavors come to the fore, playing against fine tannins. This has style and ageability."

£36.70 per magnum

NOW £32.50 per magnum

 

Nearest Competitor
Fine + Rare @ ​£88.00

 
 

How the Profit Share Plan Works:

•  You invest a minimum of £5,000 to a maximum of £250,000.

•  The Investment Return: We offer 10% against your original capital outlay.

•  Investment Period: Eighteen Months. You will automatically receive
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•  There are no management, storage or any other charges
levied against your investment  

 
 

Provence Rosé from
Château Miraval.

 

We are Australian specialists with a modest amount of Rosé, primarily from Margaret River, and despite offering the incredible 96 point single vineyard Nebbiolo Rosé from Nocturne or the Estate and Harmony Rosés from Deep Woods, between them scooping up 5 top medals, we have been repeatedly asked to increase our range of Provence Rosé. Not content with just the cult wine, Made In Provence by Domaine St Lucie or (MIP) which we must say, after a recent tasting on one of the first days that almost resembled spring, was drinking fantastically. It is a typical trait of us Brits that as soon as we glimpse our shadow cast on the ground from a fleetingly brief ray of sunshine, we get the shorts on, open the parasol and crack open the pink whilst browning like sausages! And why not? We must enjoy it while it’s here as it probably won’t be around for long, so on one of the recent gloriously spring like days, we opened a bottle of MIP and and sat down to enjoy. There is no denying the quality of Rosé that comes from Provence but in the past,  we have found that many have a tendency towards being overtly neutral, that if tasted blind, would be almost indistinguishable from a fairly neutral white wine with very little fruit. The MIP however is most definitely a rosé, with floral characters of rose petal and blossom with delicate red berry fruits. So, as the summer approaches, we have decided to answer the calls and increase our selection from Provence rosé with the addition of Château Miraval, which has been specifically requested on a dozen or so occasions.

The Miraval estate is set in an amphitheatre surrounded by ancient woodlands, vineyards and 26 acres of olive groves from which the family also produce L’Huile d’Olive extra virgin, organic olive oil. It is probably not common knowledge that we have stocked for some time, two single vintage olive oils from Capezzana and Fontodi. These have been shipped to customers all over Europe, even one to Australia. We have also had almost 300 visitors a month to the website, just from the mention of Capezanna Olive Oil on a food bloggers website. In the last 6 months, we have sold almost twice as much Olive Oil as we have Riesling which is incredible if not rather sad for the great, grape that is Riesling. We are huge fans of Riesling which is interesting as it supports the point that many Brits still misunderstand this grape variety but are clearly refining their palates when it comes to Olive Oil! It is great to see that people are taking olive oil seriously as, like wine, it is a product that can show great complexity in flavour, regional and varietal diversity, be single vintage, single variety, blended and can be matched to and accompany a variety of dishes. Joining  Capezzana and Fontodi to our range of premium olive oils will be the ”L’Huile d’Olive, described by the family as suave, with notes of almond, hazelnut and artichoke barigoule.” The taste is pungent and spicy, the mouth is peppery and has aromas of freshly cut grass. The finish is long, sweet and spicyThe estate’s olive oil is bottled in black ceramic and until recently had only been sold in specialist French shops and through the Perrin’s website.

 

Going hand in hand with warm, sunny evenings, alfresco dining, enjoying salads, charcuterie or whatever suits the occasion are these two fantastic additions to our portfolio.

Our small Rosé parcel has been shipped directly from Château Miraval, and without appearing too harsh – This is our only shipment of 2019.

 

Château Miraval Cotes du Provence Rosé 2018

A blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 10% Syrah and 10% Rolle, it boasts floral and melon aromas, while on the palate, it's medium-bodied, plump and fleshy, with a zesty, tangerine-tinged finish.

£17.50 per bottle

Miraval Olive Oil 2018

In a village in Provence, Château Miraval is surrounded by ancient woods, olive trees and vineyards.The olive groves sit high above old stone walled terraces dating back to Roman times. Organic farming and cultivation practices result in well-aerated, porous soil with a deep root system to exploit the uniqueness of the terroir. The sweet, peppery oil has notes of almond, hazelnut, and artichoke, with aromas of freshly cut
grass and a spicy finish.

£19.00 per 50cl bottle

The Château is tucked away in its own private valley in the ancient village of Correns – the first organic village in France covering 1,235 acres of land in the heart of Provence. It has a long and colourful history, first documented in the 14th century and seeing numerous owners over the years including jazz pianist and composer Jacques Loussier, who during the 1970s turned it into a recording studio and saw such names as Pink Floyd record there. Most recently, the Château was bought in 2012 by actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who joined the list of celebrities pretending their role is more than merely financial and that they actually have an active hand in the winemaking. Thankfully though, in reality the winemaking is left under the control of Rhône wine veterans, the Perrin family of Château Beaucastel whose own wines are world renowned and up there with the very best to come out of Rhône selling for hundreds of pounds. At Miraval they have crafted a quintessential Provence Rosé from the estate’s very best parcels of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Rolle and despite its unfortunate, celebrity association, Miraval Rosé has received high critical acclaim, at one point being named as the world’s number one rosé by wine spectator.

The Perrin’s family owned estate is Chateau Beaucastel in the Rhône Valley which has been in the family since the mid-16th century. Their wines are considered to be amongst the great wines of the Rhône and are sold and traded for hundreds of pounds a bottle. Now in their 5th generation, the family were pioneers of organic farming as early as 1950 and have practiced biodynamic viticulture since 1974.  Many of the vines are extremely old, traditionally trained bush vines that allow the ancient glacial pebbles to radiate heat whilst the mistral blows through the vineyards keeping the vines free from disease. Their Roussanne vines are over 100 years old and yield tiny quantities of highly concentrated grapes that go into their show stoppingly powerful Roussanne Vieilles Vignes.

Château de Beaucastel
Châteauneuf du Pape VV Blanc 2017

 

97-99 Points - Wine Advocate  "The 500-case production of this wine comes from a three-hectare parcel of Roussanne planted in 1909. The Châteauneuf du Pape Roussanne Vieilles Vignes takes the quality of Beaucastel's traditional white and raises it another level. Caramelized pineapple sounds sweet and cloying, but it isn't when it's backed by amazing texture, citrus zest and a briny sensation on the never-ending finish. As this was the last wine of my visit to the estate, I found it especially hard to spit out."

96-99 Points - Jeb Dunnuck  "Last of the whites, huge notes of buttered citrus, exotic flowers, pineapple, honeysuckle, and almond notes all emerge from the 2017 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Roussanne VieillesVignes, a rich, yet fresh, elegant, vibrant barrel sample that does everything right. You can’t find a wine like this anywhere else in the world, and it’s consistently one of the world’s great white wines."

£120.50 per bottle