The Darkie Old Vine Shiraz which is a wonderful example of a classic Barossa Shiraz, and is the jewel in the crown at Liebichwein even amongst the many fabulous table wines and fortified wines on offer. The Darkie is a single vineyard flagship wine dedicated to Ron’s uncle Clarence Walter Liebich (1920-1988) who himself loved a good Barossa shiraz and regularly encouraged Ron’s winemaking abilities. He also planted the old 40 acre block of Shiraz grapes back in 1969 from which we source all the fruit for winemaking.
But why the name? A Barossa Shiraz is red – so why is it called ‘The Darkie’? Well…
Clarence Walter ‘Darkie’ Liebich was the second of three sons to Benno Liebich, who founded Rovalley Wines in 1919 at Rowland Flat. Rovalley Wines, and then Liebichwein which came after it, were known for their range of table wines and fortified wine including many port style Tawnys. In 1941, oldest son Leslie Alwyn ‘Lofty’ Liebich took over winemaking duties, and was succeeded as chief winemaker in 1953 by Clarence, his brother. Clarence Walter Liebich (or ‘Darkie’, as he was locally known due to his full head of dark black hair) was always a big fan of local Barossa Shiraz and other rich, hearty reds, and enjoyed sharing his passions in winemaking with nephew Ron. When Ron established his own boutique winery, it was only natural to create a big bold Shiraz in honour of Uncle Darkie who had inspired him along the way – and so in 1996, the Darkie Shiraz was born.
Vineyard: A lot goes in to making a high quality Barossa Shiraz. Initially the vines receive minimal attention and we allow nature to do the work. Dead arm affliction reduces yield but enhances flavour as does the use of hand-pruning and minimal irrigation. The vines grow on heavy black biscay soil at Rowland Flat on the eastern foothills of the Barossa. Vintages are very consistent in terms of quality and low yield averaging 2 tonne per acre, producing concentrated table wines and vintage fortified wine too.
Winemaking: Traditional techniques of hand plunging, basket-pressing with no fining or filtration were employed for fuller flavour. The Darkie is a unique Barossa shiraz that has been maturing for over five years in various aged American and French hogshead barrels, producing a multi-layered wine that showcases an enticingly rich nose, balanced intense flavours and subtle oak characters.
Taste Notes: The Darkie Shiraz nose typically exhibits black cherries, vanilla, chocolate with hints of sweet anise. A showcase of everything that makes Barossa shiraz so enjoyable, The Darkie Shiraz boasts amazingly complex concentrated flavours that fill the whole mouth, lingering long after the first sip. All this is perfectly balanced with the subtle oak maturation and super silky tannins. We recommend drinking at any age, but patiently cellaring for another 10-20 years will reward any wine connoisseur. Each vintage is unique and will have an initial impact that changes with each mouthful.
Vintage 2009 – a refined elegant wine with aromatic perfume, ripe plums, cherries and hints of savoury note like black olive, soft and complex
Vintage 2010 – exhibits more intense fruit characters balanced by the soft oak, dark brooding nose full of black cherries, chocolate mingled with sweet spiced vanilla
Vintage 2012 – a classic fruit-driven wine displaying ripe cherries, vanilla, chocolate and sweet spice with a seductively smooth, lingering finish
Out of all of the table wines and fortified wine on offer at Liebichwein, The Darkie Old Vine Shiraz is in a category of excellence all of its’ own. Special museum stock is currently available from vintage 2009, 2010 and 2012 but in strictly limited quantities. Like any good Barossa shiraz, it sells out very soon after it becomes available – something Uncle Darkie would be glad to hear!
Every year Liebichwein put the call out for the best home barrel blend. All amateur wine blenders around Australia are invited to submit their personal fortified wines for the chance to be crowned ‘best fortified blend’ in a competition organised by Barossa winery Liebichwein. The winner receives an engraved wooden dipstick trophy they can use to measure how much is in their barrel.
Fortified wines have a long history in the Barossa Valley and winemaker Ron Liebich certainly knows a thing or two about them. Ron has completed over 50 vintages growing and producing a range of wines with a special focus on fortifieds which have a widespread fan base across Australia.
Liebichwein cellar door offers varied fortified styles and blends made from red and white varietals including Muscat, Semillon, Frontignac and Grenache. Many customers come in to get regular refills of bulk fortifieds for aging and blending in their home barrel.
Having a home barrel to age your own fortified blend is one of life’s little luxuries. By running this competition, Liebichwein aim to reward the patience in taking on this challenge. Budding winemakers blenders are encouraged to enter one or more samples of their own blend for professional evaluation by Ron and an experienced judging panel.
During judging, an experienced panel taste all wine samples in a blind tasting. Tasting notes are written and quality scores given for overall flavour and balance. Judges look for wines that are in balance and provide a good drink no matter how old the wine is or what stage of development it is. All entrants receive feedback from the panel and blending advice from Ron which we know is greatly appreciated.
The competition was held in August-September. Entrants submitted a 200mL wine sample. A wide range of barrel-aged fortified wines was on show of all varieties and ages. There were five gold medals awarded to three different people who all received a prize of rare fortified samples over 20 years old. The winners were announced at an event for entrants at Liebichwein in mid September.
Filling fortified wine straight from the barrel at Liebichwein, Barossa Valley
Fortified wines have a long history in the Barossa Valley which is one of the most historic wine producing regions in Australia. Here at Liebichwein we certainly have a soft spot for fortified styles and love the fact that so many customers have home barrels for that extra touch of luxury at home. We pride ourselves on our extensive range of bulk fortified wines suitable for drinking now or further ageing in your own barrel. There are very few Barossa Valley wineries that offer the range we do for fortified wine lovers to taste, buy or refill containers of fortified wines.
There are six fortified wine styles sold by the litre for customers to taste and choose from. Many fortified wine lovers return with their own container and we sell reusable plastic containers (2, 5, 10, 20 litre). The wine you choose will ultimately depend on your taste preference and whether it is used to season a new keg, as a base wine or for topping up a barrel.
Ron Liebich continually makes large batches of bulk blends to keep up with demand by masterfully blending fresher vintage fortified wines with old museum stocks stored in the depths of the barrel shed. All fortified wines are produced from estate grown grapes left to fully ripen naturally in the vineyard. Ron loves the flavours of different grapes growing on the Liebich property so he makes his blends using four different varieties to produce flavour profiles ranging from aromatic, floral and sweet to spicy and nutty. Grenache, Semillon, Muscat, and Red Frontignac are all perfectly suited to fortified wine styles.
Bulk Fortified Wines
Ruby Grenache – youthful unwooded Tawny is a light fruity style that is recommended to freshen up old syrupy or over-oaked barrel blends. It’s also pretty tasty on its own, a bit like concentrated berry cordial for adults.
Ron’s Blend – smooth youthful Tawny style 2-3 years old, ideal for topping up barrels or freshening over-oaked or excessively aged barrel ports.
Barrel Blend – rich semi-aged tawny with a balance of fruit and hints of woody notes (2/3 Ron’s + 1/3 Ben’s Blend). Only available at cellar door.
Ben’s Blend – mature style aged 5 years with woody notes and spiced dried fruit. Ideal for adding to a newly seasoned barrel or adding complexity to a youthful base blend where more developed characters are preferred.
Semillon – luscious white fortified with raisin and toffee flavours. Light youthful style for drinking now or adding to a barrel blend for sweetness and depth.
Muscat – luscious white fortified with floral and citrus flavours. Light youthful style for drinking now or adding to a barrel blend for sweetness and depth (Muscat Gordo grapes)
Frontignac– luscious fruity wine with aromatic, tropical and musk flavours to add sweetness and depth to a barrel (Red Frontignac grapes).
We invite you to visit cellar door to taste these wines in addition to a wide range of premium bottled fortified wines ranging in age from one to thirty years old. You can sit down and enjoy a fortified tasting experience to compare flavours, impact of barrel ageing and even taste rare museum fortifieds straight from the barrel. These unctuous, syrupy wines are certainly memorable and a sweet treat indeed!
Ron Liebich is celebrating 52 years involved with Barossa vintages either as a vigneron, winemaker, cellar hand, champion grape treader and simply being a Barossa wine legend!
It was 1968 when he graduated from Roseworthy Agricultural College with his Oenology degree. Soon after he had the opportunity to take over from his Uncle “Darkie” Liebich in the winemaking duties and lab analyses at Rovalley Wines which was operated by the wider Liebich family. Since then he’s never looked back. Anyone who’s ever met Ron will know how passionate he is about wine and the local region.
Traditional German Streuselkuchen is a family favourite! This cake has a sweet yeast dough base and is topped with fresh or preserved fruit and a crunchy sweet crumble. It brings back so many good memories of Barossa afternoon teas and family gatherings. In summer we use mulberries, plums or apricots while in autumn we use pears, apples or grapes.
Prep 2 hours Bake 20 mins Makes one large cake 45 x 30cm
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup milk warmed
1 teaspoon plain flour
700g (1 lb) plain flour
70g (2 oz) butter
85g (3 oz) sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup sultanas or currants
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Milk for glazing
3 cups of thinly sliced fresh fruit or whole berries (optional)
2 cups plain flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
Sprinkle ground cinnamon
Place yeast in a small bowl, add sugar and warm milk, plain flour, mix cover and stand in a warm place until the mixture turns frothy (takes around 15 minutes).
Start making cake dough by sifting flour into a bowl, add pinch of salt. Rub butter and sugar into flour (flavourings may be added here).
Add beaten egg to yeast mixture. Mix in the flour a cup at a time. Once the dough is too thick to mix, use hands to mix it and knead gently for a minute to a soft dough.
Spread dough approx. 2cm thick onto a large oven tray. Brush cake top with milk to help streusel stick.
Place seasonal sliced fruit or whole berries on top.
To make streusel, rub sugar and softened butter into flour and cinnamon. Press with your fingers to make crumb consistency.
Sprinkle streusel over the whole cake. Cover and keep in a warm place. Let the cake rise for an hour or until double in thickness.
Bake at 200C for 15-20 minutes or until edges of cake are golden brown.