Calabria Family Wines The Iconic Grand Reserve Barossa Valley Shiraz 2016: Review

This is the fifth vintage of Calabria’s flagship single vineyard Barossa Valley wine, The Iconic, produced from Centenarian Vines planted in 1914.

Calabria spent two years rehabilitating the historic Barossa vineyard it acquired in 2010, signalling a new era for the stalwart Riverina winemaker.

I recall Bill Calabria detailing that ordeal at the launch of the debut 2012 vintage, six years ago:

“The vineyard was a disgrace – the vines were half dead. Everyone said to me, pull them out and start again, but there was no way in the world… I didn’t want to pull them out.

“I would get up at 6am every morning and I would go to the vines and start cutting all the dead wood off them… I’d get home when it was dark and I’d think, ‘what the hell am I doing here at my age’?

“It took me two years to get this vineyard to where it is today.”

BiLL CALABRIA, AM, 2015

The new 2016 release is the first I’ve tasted of The Iconic since the 2012. Both are superb wines from excellent Barossa vintages, but the ’16 is a step up from how I remember the debutante.

Hand-harvested, plunged and gravity fed to barrel, it was subsequently matured in a mix of 85 per cent French and 15 per cent American oak, 40 per cent of it new.

Calabria Family Wines The Iconic Barossa Valley Shiraz 2016

“When the quality of the fruit is so high winemaking input is minimal – it is more a case of guiding the fruit gently through the winemaking process,” Calabria says.

The gentle touches have resulted in an elegant, opulent Barossa shiraz, genuinely medium-bodied with impeccable balance between fruit and tannin.

Fresh, vibrant and juicy on the palate, it’s a joy to drink already, but the ultra-long finish courtesy super-fine tannins suggest it would age gracefully for a couple of decades.

Five years in, The Iconic still has to live up to the grandiose title. But in quality terms, it is already in the premier league of single vineyard Barossa Valley shiraz.

RRP: $175
ABV: 14.5%
Source: Sample supplied.

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Author: James Atkinson

Journalist specialising in the food, drink, travel and hospitality arenas. Australian International Beer Awards 2017 Media Award Winner and Certified Cicerone®.

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