Having done that fantastic tasting with La Rioja Alta, it's time to head back down under to the southern hemisphere, and review an old vintage from Rusden Vineyards that had been given to me by a friend.
In 1979 Christine and Dennis Canute bought 40 acres of run down vineyards right in the heart of the Barossa, initially as a hobby farm with plenty of room the kids to run free around. Believing in the quality of the fruit they were growing Dennis and his friend Russell decided to make a barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon, that was not just good enough for personnel consumption, but good enough to put a label on it. This was 1992 and Rusden (the amalgamation of Russell and Dennis) was born.
In 1997 they bought 5 second hand barriques and started to experiment with Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon keeping the pressings and free run juice separate to see the different maturation of each wine in different styles of oak. 1998 saw them make them make their first commercial wine from Chenin Blanc crushing 7.5 tonnes of grapes grown on their estate, 1999 saw them crush 10 tonnes of fruit including from red varieties such as Shiraz, Zinfandel and Mataro. Today the estate is still family owned and crush between 80 - 100 tonnes of fruit to produce wines from fuit that is all grown on the estate.
The bottle I was given was a 2005 Chookshed Zinfandel, I've not seen any Zinfandel produced in Australia before, you tend to see it mainly from America or Italy where it goes under it's other name Primitivo, but where ever it comes from it is a grape I adore. After having a quick read of the back label, the first thing I noticed was the 16.5% vol, now this got me a little worried and a little intrigued as to how this would work.
In the glass it had an opaque red/purple colour with wonderfully pronounced aromas of sweet/jammy fruit and spice, on the palate you got lashings of juicy, jammy dark fruit that was inter laced with sweet spice of Liquorice, Clove and Cinnamon. The tannins were soft and juicy, not that their was left, and you got just a touch of acidity that all combined perfectly, you also didn't notice that it was 16.5% which amazed me, I was expecting to really feel it on the back of my throat.
Unfortunately you can't get hold of this vintage any more, unless some merchant has a case or two squirrelled away at the back of cellar, but if you spot another vintage I'd definitely grab a bottle and give it a go.