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!
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!
While the first Liebichwein sparkling wine project began as simply producing a wine for the family, it is now available as a limited release. We are over the moon with this Lovely Sparkling wine!
You may be asking, why have we made a sparkling and why has it taken us so long?
It’s no secret that Janet’s favourite wine style is fizz and our whole family enjoy sharing bubbles with friends and family.Ron has been experimenting with growing a variety of Pinot Noir clones and making the odd dry red which he’s been pretty happy with, but he was up for a new challenge. A trip to the Champagne region in 2014 was the inspiration needed for Ron to explore the realm of Traditional Method sparkling.
We knew we needed help with this project so we enlisted the support of Sean and Sue Delaney of Sinclair’s Gully and Simon Greenleaf who make fine wines in the Adelaide Hills. They all encouraged us to have a go and were willing to share their tips and provide access to their equipment. Excitedly, we embarked on the collaboration.
The Lovely Sparkling story started early in vintage 2014 when we handpicked our own Pinot Noir destined to be the sparkling base wine. This was then blended with fresher Pinot base wine from vintage 2016 to build complexity. In late 2017, we arranged a few rounds of dedicated tasting trials to get the balance of body and sweetness just right. The wine is hand-disgorged, dosaged, capped and labelled to order. We decided to use our own Ruby Fortified Grenache for dosage to add sweetness and a pink hue.
The next steps were to think of a suitable name and package. We chose the name ‘Lovely’ for a number of reasons. Our family name Liebich is very close to the German word ‘lieblich’ which means ‘lovely’, the Barossa Valley maintains strong German heritage, and of course the wine is pretty lovely to look at, sip and savour.
Taste Notes Inspired by love and heritage, this blushing beauty offers tantalising strawberry and toasted brioche aromas leading to a lively palate that finishes dry to semi-dry. Simply lovely!
Quantities and strictly limited as each bottle is disgorged and labelled by hand.
Liebich Lofty Cabernet Sauvignon is wine of great quality and character dedicated to Ron’s father, “Lofty” (Lesley Alwyn) Liebich (1916-1953) who was a man with high ideals. Produced in special vintages since 1992 when the cellar door was established.
Single vineyard wine sourced from the old 40 acre block, planted by Clarence Walter “Darkie” Liebich in 1969. 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.
Special museum stock is released as it becomes available. The last vintage 2006 (now sold out) was a very good growing season resulting in an extremely low yield of 1 tonne per acre. Traditional techniques of hand plunging, basket-pressing with no fining or filtration were employed for fuller flavour.
A typical Liebichwein Cabernet Sauvignon is a rich and enticing wine exhibiting violet and spiced blackberry fruit nuances perfectly balanced with the subtle oak after maturation for over five years in various aged French oak barrels. Super concentrated flavours and ultra silky tannins. This style of Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon will always be good drinking and will reward patience with bottle maturation for at least 15-20 years, especially under screw cap.
We hosted some very special tastings at cellar door during the 2017 Barossa Vintage Festival in April.
Over our 25 years of business, Ron has been carefully stashing away a few cases of each vintage ever produced of our premium red wine range. What a treat it was for us to taste our museum stocks to see how they were travelling. Overall, they are all aging well and the following vintages were selected based on their greater intensity and developed varietal characters.
Winemaker Ron Liebich’s Comments:
The Darkie Shiraz
A relatively cooler year produced a wine with everything you?d expect for Barossa Shiraz. This wine still show great depth of colour, fruit intensity and complexity. Developed fruitcake spice, smoky oak and lovely pepper hints carry through to smooth long palate.
A great quality season helped the wines ?make themselves? in the vineyard. A concentrated and full bodied Shiraz with magnificent mouth feel. Tight tannins still grip a little, but are nicely balanced with subtle woody notes and cherry jam sweetness. Beautiful development under cork. 2001 is holding up better than the 2000?s. Still has a few years to live.
The Lofty Cabernet Sauvignon
A superb quality season. This Cab still shows great depth of colour, fruit intensity and complexity. Palate is spot on with acidity and drying tannins contributing to a tightly structured, persistent palate. Drinking well now.
A concentrated Cabernet with super fine tannins and a lack of any aggressive oak characters. The trademark style of Liebichwein Cabernet still comes through with ripe blackberries and intense floral violet notes. Palate is still fresh and amazingly long. Still has a few years to live.