Dig into Ron’s cellar of museum wines. Discover vintage finds from his last 25 years of winemaking. There are all kinds of red styles to suit different tastes and budgets. Who remembers Liebich Tempt Tempranillo blend or Thumb-press Cab Merlot (labelled Crackerjack for the first few vintages)? Are there any Potter’s Merlot out there? These are medium-bodied reds that are now super smooth. We’ve dusted off Liebichwein flagship reds The Darkie Shiraz and The Lofty Cabernet if you prefer rich, fuller-bodied reds.
Special museum stock of back vintage bottles are currently available, but in strictly limited quantities. There are select vintages in 750mL and 1.5L magnum sizes. Some vintages were bottled under both cork and screwcap closures since vintage 2002 as that season was such good quality, Ron wanted to preserve the concentrated fruit intensity for decades to come. Various back vintages under cork and screwcap have been opened in recent months and they are all still drinking well.
Do you need a unique gift for a special birthday? For a 30th we can offer 1993 vintage Shiraz or Rare Tawny 30 years old. For a 21st birthday, we have Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz from vintage 2002 which was an excellent season. We have magnums and bottles to suit anniversaries, end-of-year get togethers and Christmas celebrations.
Winemaking: All Liebich red are made using traditional techniques of hand plunging, basket-pressing with no fining or filtration for fuller flavour. Since vintage 2002, Ron decided to start using a mix of cork and screwcap closures on Liebichwein reds to preserve their concentrated flavour intensity and fruitiness even longer. There are some vintages where we offer a 2-bottle pack for you to do your own sensory comparison of cork vs screwcap. To learn more about how red wine develops as it ages, read our blog post.
Vintage comments, wine style and some history:
1998 – Cooler season, yet drier than normal year. Complex wines with good fruit weight and tannin structure to last the distance. Adelaide Crows win second AFL Premiership, The Wiggles first TV series
1999 – Cooler season after a hot, dry summer. Complex reds with good fruit weight and tannin structure to last the distance. Y2K hysteria, Euro is first introduced, Referendum for an Australian Republic is voted down
2000 – Wet spring with hotter and drier season. Concentrated reds from lower yields, medium-bodied wines. Sydney Summer Olympics, GST introduced, Mobile phone growth worldwide
2001 – High winter rainfall, cool and even ripening in autumn. Exceptional vintage! Rich and complex reds, fuller bodied with magnificent mouthfeel. Apple releases iTunes, Sir Donald Bradman died, Movies – Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings
2002 – High winter rainfall, cool and evening ripening in autumn. Another exceptional vintage! Rich and complex reds, fuller bodied with magnificent mouthfeel. Huge drought, Water restrictions, Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre opens
2003 – Warm season, crops are lower than average. Wines with rich and ripe fruits, fuller bodied with firm tannins. Australia hosts Rugby World Cup, Brisbane Lions win third consecutive AFL Premiership
2004 – Perfect slow and even ripening conditions. Best vintage this decade! Deliciously complex reds, excellent fruit weight, velvety tannins to age well. Facebook is founded, The Ghan’s first train trip from Adelaide to Darwin, Jetstar launches
2005 – Mild, dry vintage with a hot spell in late summer causing compressed harvesting. Wines with rich and ripe fruits, fuller bodied with powerful tannins at bottling. ABC2 Digital channel launched, Australia loses The Ashes
2006 – Mild summer with cool autumn, even ripening. Elegant wines, great fruit weight and powerful tannins. Smoking banned in enclosed public places, TV in Australia turns 50
2007 – No reds bottled. Kevin Rudd defeated John Howard to become Prime Minister after Howard’s 11 year stint
2008 – Dry mild summer with a late autumn hot spell. Wines with rich and ripe fruits, fuller bodied with powerful tannins at bottling. Barack Obama became President of USA, Global Financial Crisis, iPhone 3G launch
2009 – Cooler season after a hot, dry summer causing low yields. Elegant wines, more red fruits, savoury notes and medium-bodied than typical vintages. Black Saturday fires Victoria, Queensland floods, First MasterChef, Michael Jackson died
2010 – Best Barossa rainfall in 5 years, moderate season. An outstanding vintage! Complex wines, excellent fruit weight and acidity with tight tannins to last the distance. Julia Gillard becomes Prime Minister, AFL Grand Final draw, iPad launch
2011 – Cooler and wetter year, particularly in other wine regions. Elegant wines, more red fruits and savoury notes and medium-bodied than typical vintages. England wins The Ashes, Cadel Evans wins Tour De France
2012 – Cool start to season, even ripening great for flavour development. Excellent vintage! Complex wines, excellent fruit weight and acidity with tight tannins to last the distance. William & Kate’s first newborn, Gangnam Style released by Psy
2013 – No reds bottled. Tony Abbott became Prime Minister
2014 – Challenging vintage, good spring rains, wet and cool February delayed harvest. Elegant wines, more red fruits and medium-bodied than typical vintages. Australia wins The Ashes, Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ released
Tasting notes from selected wines opened in Oct/Nov 2023:
Leveret Vintage 2002 (cork) – Cool start to season, even ripening great for flavour development. Excellent vintage! Complex wines, excellent fruit weight and acidity with tight tannins to last the distance.
Potter’s Merlot 2002 (screwcap) – Ripe dark cherries, tobacco, cedar, licorice, refreshing acidity with firm tannins still present
Potter’s Merlot 2003 (cork) – Stewed cherries and plums, silky
The Lofty Cabernet 1999 (cork) – Complex, ripe blackberries, cranberry, herbal, rich and fruity, soft acid and tannins, drinks younger than it is
The Lofty Cabernet 2001 (cork) – Complex nose, stewed rhubarb, dark cherries, sweet spice, silky with a really clean finish
The Lofty Cabernet 2004 (cork) – Complex nose, blackcurrant, perfume, licorice, tobacco, soft acid and tannins, still so much fruit
The Darkie 2003 (screwcap) – Complex, dark cherries, lifted spices, anise, balanced acidity, some firm tannins still present
The Darkie 2004 (screwcap) – Complex, concentrated dark fruits, sweet spice, integrated oak, tannins and fruit, still plenty of life left
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 into 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 of back vintage bottles are currently available, but in strictly limited quantities. There are select vintages in 750mL and 1.5L magnum sizes. Some vintages were bottled under both cork and screwcap closures since vintage 2002 as that season was such good quality, Ron wanted to preserve the concentrated fruit intensity for decades to come.
Like any good Barossa shiraz, it sells out very soon after it becomes available – something Uncle Darkie would be glad to hear!
What happens as red wine ages in the bottle? The ageing of red wine in bottle can be affected by many factors including the type of seal used. At Liebichwein we have chosen to use both screwcap and cork for our reds and often do comparative tastings with fascinating outcomes.
Here are a few ways in which cork and screwcaps differ for wine:
Oxygen exposure – The key difference between screwcaps and corks is the amount of oxygen exposure that the wine receives during ageing. Cork seals allow a little bit of oxygen into the bottle over time, while screwcaps are a much more airtight seal. So wines under cork with slightly more oxygen ingress will tend to age faster. Tannins become softer, acidity mellows, and flavour complexity develops faster for reds under cork.
Consistency – It’s true that screwcaps are so popular now as they are more consistent than cork, which can vary in quality and consistency. Wines with screwcap are less likely to be affected by issues such as cork taint or oxidation, which can affect the wine’s flavour and aroma.
Ageability – The long-term ageability of wine with screwcap vs cork seals is still widely debated among wine experts. While some believe that screwcap-sealed wines may not age as well as cork-sealed wines, others argue that screwcaps can provide a more consistent ageing environment, which can lead to more predictable aging patterns.
Flavour preservation – Screwcap seals are perfect for preserving fresh fruit flavours of young red wines and wines to be consumed in their youth. Research has shown that cork seals may allow more rapid development of tertiary aromas and flavours such as dried/cooked fruits, leather and earthy notes.
In a nutshell, the development of bottled red wine will depend on a range of factors, including the wine style, grape variety, storage conditions, cellaring time, and personal preference. While screwcap seals are commonplace in recent years due to their consistency and effectiveness at preserving fruit flavours, many wine enthusiasts (and winemakers like Ron Liebich) still prefer the traditional cork seal for its perceived ability to enhance ageing potential and develop complex flavour profiles.
From time to time, we offer museum tastings where we can compare the same vintage sealed with cork and screwcap. Get in touch if you’d like to try this for yourself and we’ll dig out some bottles from the Liebichwein cellar.
This quick and versatile sauce is more like a savoury compote. Excellent condiment for using figs, especially when you have had enough of sweet fig-based desserts. Serve as a sauce with roast lamb, baked fish, on pizza bases or like a relish. It’s just as good made with a full-bodied red wine or Port style wine.
Prep 10 mins Cook 25 mins
2 tbsp olive oil
500g brown onions, sliced thinly
1 cup fresh figs or 1 cup dried figs
1/4 cup wine (Liebichwein red wine or Tawny Port)
1 cup stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 tbsp Liebichwein Muscat Vinegar (balsamic vinegar can be substituted)
1 tbsp chopped rosemary or thyme (fresh or dried)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Prepare sliced onions and cut figs into quarters if using fresh figs.
Heat olive oil in large frying pan. Add onions and sprinkle some salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden, about 20 minutes.
Stir in figs, wine, stock, vinegar and herbs. Increase heat to high and simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
Add salt and pepper taste.
Store in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. Alternatively, freeze in small portions until ready to use.
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
Vintage 1999 – 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.
Vintage 2001 – 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
Vintage 1998 – 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.
Vintage 2001 – 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.