If there is one defining characteristic of Tahbilk it would be history in a glass. Tahbilk, formerly known as Chateau Tahbilk, was established as part of a new and burgeoning wine industry in Australia.
In the 1840s only a few settlers making their way to Australia had the required expertise to set up winemaking in Port Philip. So although the thirst for knowledge of wine and wine growing was abundant, the industry was off to a slow start. Nevertheless small holdings of land started to plant vineyards and the soon to be original holders of Tahbilk, the Bear family, were starting to dabble in the fledgling industry.
In 1856 in partnership the Bear brothers devised a workable business proposition and Tahbilk Vineyard Proprietary Limited was formed, the directors of Tahbilk Vineyard Proprietary Limited taking possession of the Tahbilk Run on 1 August 1860. Ensuing was the clearing of the land and the first 600,000 vine cuttings were sourced and planted.
By the end of 1860 150 acres had been cleared and 65 acres of vines planted. All that remains is 1.235 acres of the 1860 Vines Shiraz as you know it. Surviving the phylloxera blight, these vines are un-grafted and amongst the oldest Shiraz in the world.
These wines are released from vines that are now 157 years old and indeed liquid history.
After careful handpicking, fermentation takes place in century old oak vats followed by maturation in French oak for 18 months prior to bottling and then a further 4 years “bottle-aging” before release. Appropriately an original Tahbilk label dating back to the 1870’s has been tailored for this rare and unique wine.
Since its inaugural release in 1979 this piece of liquid history has become one of the most sought after and collectable wines throughout the world.
Tahbilk ‘1860 Vines’ Shiraz are listed as “Outstanding” in Australian wine auctioneers – Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine V – the noted reference to Australia’s secondary (auction) wine market – being a “high performing wine of exquisite quality”.
In 2002 U.S. Wine & Spirits Magazine nominated the Tahbilk 1860 Vines plantings as one of the 25 Great Vineyards of the World along with the likes of Hermitage La Chapelle, Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Chateau Yquem, Vega Sicilia and Krug. The vineyards selected were those where the terroir ‘is most clearly perceptible in the wine’.
The same publication also listed the 1860 Vines Shiraz as one of the ‘Best Wines of the Year’ in its 2005 Annual International Buying Guide.
Best summed up by Andrew Calliard MW in 2013 who eloquently described the 1860 Vines Shiraz, as well as our notable Eric Stevens Purbrick range, in a Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine issue
“Encapsulating the idea that fine wine is living history, built on the efforts of previous generations. Such wines go beyond the ephemeral experience and the single vintage. Beauty is fleeting yet greatness is tangible and lasting. You can taste a character of place and feel the voices of the past. These impressive and beautifully crafted wines are wonderful expressions of Australian terroir.”
A truly exceptional wine – 175 years in the making.