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2010 Fireblock Old Vine Shiraz

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Winemaker's Notes

Epic, intense, powerful Shiraz abounding in generous fruit over a wide flavour spectrum.

2010 was a top vintage for reds in the Clare Valley. Our dry grown Shiraz was hand picked in small shrivelled bunches, with full flavour development and huge intensity. Made by O’Leary Walker wines.

The wine spent 30 days on skins, then fifteen months in mainly French oak, 25% of which was new.

Red to purple, nearly opaque. Intense, tarry Shiraz dominates any oak flavours – the oak only serves to amplify the fruit, and the “tarry” character is indicative of fruit from very old vines. The wide spectrum of generous Shiraz flavours, with some lovely high tones, distinguishes the higher altitude of the Clare Valley from other warm regions. Full palate and smooth, lasting finish.

This is a lovely example of old vine Shiraz from a good vintage, similar to the 2007. It will continue to soften over the next 5 – 7 years, and live for many more.

Appearance: Deep red/purple, almost opaque. Grips the glass and leaves lines as it recedes.

Taste: Full and generous, with strength, complexity and high notes. Some spiciness, and noticeable tarry old vine characters.

Food: All red meats and cheeses. Saltbush fed lamb is perfect.

Alc/vol: 15.2%

About The Winery:
Fireblock Vineyard (formerly Old Station Vineyard)

The vineyard is situated on the hillside overlooking the village of Watervale, in South Australia’s Clare Valley. It adjoins the old railway station and goods yard. In the 1980s the railway line was pulled up, and its path is now the ‘Riesling Trail’ walking track. It was part of a large grazing property. When the railway came in 1923, it was feared that sparks from steam locomotives may start bushfires, and so the land adjoining the railway line was excised from the grazing property, and sold with the condition that it be used for establishing vineyard.

The vineyard was established in 1926, to 15 acres of Crouchen, Shiraz, Grenache and Pedro Ximinez. The winter of 1926 was very wet, and the vines were planted by placing cuttings into holes rammed with a crowbar into the wet, red earth.

In the late 1960s the Crouchen was grafted to Riesling, and some Crouchen was grubbed out and replanted to Riesling. At the same time the entire vineyard, previously grown as bush vines, was placed on a single wire trellis.

In 1994 the vineyard was purchased by Bill and Noel Ireland from Bill and Dorothy Walton, who had owned and run it for over thirty years. The Pedro vines have been successfully grafted to Shiraz, by cutting the Pedro back to one arm, and budding into the new shoot. The vines are hand pruned to canes.

In 2006 a pipeline from the Murray River brought Watervale its first reticulated water supply. In 2007 the Riesling on Crouchen roots was grubbed out, as it had become unviable. The two acres were planted to Geisenheim clone Riesling, and drip irrigation using town water was installed (only on the new Riesling). The water is used to relieve vine stress during hot weather, not to increase yields.

In 2016 the small triangular dry grown Riesling block was grafted to Shiraz, extending the top Shiraz on Pedro block. The Grenache was re-trellised, enabling the entire vineyard to be harvested mechanically.

The Shiraz and Grenache remain unwatered, and the vineyard receives the majority of its 26 inch annual rainfall in the winter. Deep red loam soil ensures good moisture retention, and the ninety year old vines have developed deep roots. The vineyard is run as it has been since 1926. The only sprays used are sulphur and copper, to prevent mildew. Cultivation and weed control is by mouldboard plough and under-vine jigging, eliminating the need for under-vine spraying. In fact, no systemic sprays have ever been used on the vineyard, and so there are no chemical residues whatever in the soil.

Vintage occurs in March and April, sometimes early May. The Riesling is first off, and the Grenache last. The fruit is taken to the O’Leary Walker winery, a kilometre away. The wines are made by David O’Leary and Nick Walker.

The Shiraz bears about two tonnes per acre and is fermented in four tonne batches. It is aged in French oak. We believe the oak should always augment, rather than dominate the fruit.

Our aim is to grow the best quality fruit, and to produce wines of the highest quality.

expert reviews about

2010 Fireblock Old Vine Shiraz

Expert Reviews

James Halliday (2010 Vintage) says
Dense, inky red-purple; from vines planted in 1926, dry and organically grown; curiously, shows almost no hint of its alcohol, even less of extraction. It is still opaque and tied up in itself, but is well worth watching over this decade.
Drink by 2020

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