One of the first Australian regions to become symonymous with a particular grape variety, Barossa and Shiraz fit together like hand and glove. Sitting north and east of the city of Adelaide, it is also one of the oldest quality vine growing regions in Australia, with many ancient vineyards. Some pre-date Phyloxerra, which never made it into this valley. The wine business began with German settlers who had followed their Lutheran pastor to this new land, many establishing fruit farms, including vineyards. By the 1890s, dozens of wineries had been established including such well-known names as Seppelts, Orlando, Yalumba, and Henschke Wines.
The Schild family arrived in Australia in 1866, settling in the Barossa in 1952 when they established the Schild Estate. That makes Schild Australia’s oldest family-owned firm of grape growers, though it was not until 1998 that the family switched from farming grapes, to bottling their own premium wine under the Schild Estate label.
Today they farm over 130 hectares, including parcels of ancient vines, the most remarkable of which is the Moorooroo vineyard, which was planted in 1847 and is today one of the oldest producing Shiraz vineyards in the world. Schild’s production of Moorooroo Shiraz, from these ancient vines, is of course tiny, selling for $200 per bottle. The most recent 2016 vintage scored 99/100 from James Halliday.
The Schild wines are currently establishing UK distribution, but I was lucky enough to be sent three samples to try for myself. The Shiraz and GMS are set to retail at under £20, the Reserve Shiraz at under £30.
(2020) Schild's GMS southern Rhône blend marches to quite a different beat from the two Shiraz wines tasted, given only very light oak treatment, and all about juiciness and prettiness of fruit. Significantly lighter in colour too, the aromas are buoyant with cherry, red plum, even a hint of strawberry. A little spice adds to the bouquet. In the mouth the sweet fruit is allowed free expression, smooth but relatively gentle tannins, a creamy acidity and just a polish of oak add to the long, very drinkable character of the wine.
(2020) Matured for 18 months in a combination of French and American oak hogsheads, fruit comes from selected parcels of Schild's Barossa vineyards. Deep crimson in colour, plum and cherry aromas also suggest something mineral and meaty in the background. The palate has a nicely savoury, steely edge thanks to the tannins and bright, juicy acidity, so the fully ripe and sweet fruit stays fresh, a spicy tobacco touch adding another dimension to the finish.
(2020) Ben Schild started his family farm in the Barossa Valley in 1952, and the current generation in charge of this family estate dedicate this wine to his memory. Coming from one dedicated parcel of the Angus Brae single vineyard, it spends 18 months in a blend of American, French and Hungarian oak barrels, and Schild estimate a 10-year drinking window for the wine. It's a big-scaled, unapolagetically Barossa style, packed with fruit and spice, the nose, a deep pool of mulberry and blackcurant, touched by coffee and woodsmoke. Great fruit sweetness as it strikes the palate, a luscious, full-flavoured wine, a little balsamic note and meat-stock richness, but then the spice and the freshness of the acidity kicks in, very creamy and fine tannins, and a long, tapering finish.