Sarah Ahmed takes a look at the wines produced by this exciting collaboration, founded in 2006 in the Barossa Valley...
In 2006, New Zealander Chris Ringland founded North Barossa Vintners with fifth-generation grape grower Adrian Hoffmann and Nathan Burley, operations manager. The wines were labelled under Ringland’s eponymous brand, as his wines already enjoyed a hallowed reputation – with prices to match.
He had known about the Hoffmann family’s 120ha vineyard holdings in Ebenezer since 1992, when he was making wine at Rockford. Situated on red-brown earth over limestone at the northern end of the Barossa Valley, the low yielding 30-130-year-old Shiraz vines produce fruit that plays into both Ringland and Hoffmann’s preferred style: ‘very concentrated but balanced, layered and textured’, according to Hoffmann.
Scroll down to see Sarah’s tasting notes & scores
Taking full advantage of the Barossa Valley’s warm, dry climate and high sunshine hours, Hoffmann (who makes all viticultural decisions) picks late for maximum flavour accumulation and palate weight. On paper, the resulting high alcohol levels of 15-18% look unwieldy but, whilst arguably passé, my top scoring wine from this tasting was the 18% 2009 Hoffmann Vineyard Shiraz, underscoring North Barossa Vintners’ trump card – balance.
Their stated aim is to make a Shiraz like no-one else in the world can, and they certainly seem to have achieved that goal here: as big-boned as they are densely concentrated, the ripe but powerful acid and tannin structure of these potent wines brings energy, definition and persistence. Save for the 2008 Hoffmann Vineyard Shiraz, there was little evidence of raisining or viscosity.