At the London International Wine show this year (2010) we were tasting our way through the range of arguably Australia's most successful super premium wine range (Torbreck Vintners) when something unusual happened. We were, as usual, in the hugely irreverant company of Torbreck owner and winemaker Dave Powell. In between stories of Dave's divorces and sexual exploits as a young man in Scotland (where he worked as a lumberjack and where most of the names for his wines originate) the usual favourites from his range shone as brightly as ever (The Pict, Struie, The Factor, Runrig etc.). But then from somewhere under the table Dave pulled a black Torbreck bottle and looking furtively left and right asked us if we'd like to try "something special". Feeling like teenagers offered dodgy videos under the counter from the local video store, we held out our tasting glasses in anticipation.
What Dave poured was some of the most amazingly concentrated, smoky, intense and lengthy Shiraz I had ever tasted. Unlike some of his other top Shirazs, this was open, generous and poised, seemingly fully fledged despite the year of 2005 printed on the black bottle. Having never heard mention of 'The Laird' - as this incredible liquid appeared to be called - I lined up the bottles on the counter and asked Powell where it would be priced relative to Runrig, The Factor and the others. Dave lifted the black bottle and moved it a metre down the counter towards the Guigal stand next door. Ahhh ... we understood. This wasn't just another vineyard parcel. This was going to be the vineyard parcel - one that Dave had been trying to acquire for many many years and had finally secured. In fact, what we were holding was going to be the most expensive new release of Australian wine in history.
Back in the Office a month later were had the opportunity to taste the wine again, this time in the full knowledge of its astronomical price and limited availability - a mere 6,000 bottles released from this inaugural vintage of 2005. And again Torbreck 'The Laird' 2005 lived up to its lordly billing.
Whether it does or not, only time will tell. But there is a lot less of it than Grange and Dave has a faultless track record. But either way, as the wine was packed up and moved on to its next stop on its lordly tour, we were just grateful that His Lairdship had stopped by to say hello ....