The Rockbare winery sits in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia amidst the quaint little Germanic tourist town of Hanhdorf. The town is famous for its small hillside inns, pastry shops, fromageries, cafes, strawberry fields, craft breweries, boutique wineries, delicatessens, sweets shops and German-style pubs.

Hanhdorf is Australia’s oldest Germanic settlement and was founded in 1839 by Prussian Lutherans fleeing religious persecution. Today, Hahndorf’s picturesque colonial charm remains remarkably intact.

Rockbare winemaker Marty O’Flaherty started out his career as a qualified chef starring as sous-chef to the legendary Stefano del Pieri at Stefano’s Mildura, one of the Murray River wine areas most famous restaurants.

Working deep in the wine country had a profound effect on the young chef, and five years later Marty was completing his internship at Zilzie winery and about to embark on a career that has since seen him gain his formidable reputation. 

Marty’s winemaking philosophy is steadfast: “Wine should tell a story about the terroir in which it’s grown, needing lots of love and minimal handling, allowing the growers to do what they do best.” Vintages in Barolo, Italy also taught Marty a great deal and his wines show an individual elegance, panache and complexity. The wines from his Rockbare winery are examples of sourcing the most suited varieties from the best regions in South Australia.

I was interested to try his Barossa Babe Shiraz as a bottle of it made its way to my desk last week.

The Barossa Valley is one of the most famous of all Australian wine regions and has an extra special place in wine lover’s hearts for its old and sometimes ancient vineyards with vines classified for their age, many well over one hundred years old. The mostly red, Shiraz, Grenache, Mataro and Cabernet Sauvignon vines produce legendary wines of unparalleled concentration, balance, complexity and finesse, especially with the Shiraz variety.

Some of Australia’s most famous wines are made from Barossa fruit and a drive through the region leaves one in little doubt that they are on hallowed ground.

On presentation the wine in my glass was almost glowing, a bright, dense purple, plum and ox blood colour. The aromas showed dark, brooding berries and a perfume of raspberries, violets, plums and all spice with a hint of fruit mince, cracked pepper and subtle oak and cedar.

The texture is rich and creamy yet the wine remains elegant there is oak but it is well balanced and the tannins are persistent but fine.

Darren Gall has spent a quarter of a century involved in virtually every aspect of the wine industry and the passionate pursuit of the next great bottle continues. gall.darren@yahoo.com.