Let me make one thing clear: there is plenty of wine in the world. There is not a day that goes by where we are not approached by a winery looking for new distribution. Wine Warehouse is fortunate that through our volume of sales we tend to be a magnate for new producers coming into the market. A former distributor of mine is in charge of giving Australian wineries without US distribution leads into the market. Charlie called me up and asked if I could meet with a winery that I was unfamiliar with. It turns out that the Rocland winery has an amazing although somewhat stealth track record with wine production.
Rocland is best known as a custom crush facility. A custom crush winery has all of the tools necessary to produce wine and will fine tune the process to the needs of their customers. A few of the custom crush wines that Rocland has produced recently are the highly reviewed ‘Layer Cake’ and ‘Boarding Pass.’ Rocland is located in the heart of winemaking country in the prestigious Barossa Valley. This location sets up nicely for taking in and producing wines from premium South Australian grapes.
Franc Rocca is the man in charge and the brains behind the launch in the US. Franc originally came from the cut flowers business but is busy making a name for himself with his wines. Franc’s Reserve wines are marketed under the Rocland label whereas his branded wine will be using a ‘Kilroy was here’ label. The Kilroy name refers to the US military habit of scrawling "Kilroy was here" graffiti wherever they travelled and, according to Franc, is ‘all about making your mark in the world.’ The pictures used on the label are old pictures showing Franc’s family and a sizeable amount of money was spent to come up with concept. The Kilroy label was designed by the same lady who designed the ten million case ‘Yellow Tail’ brand. She now commands quite a premium for her label designs.
Peter Gajewski, nicknamed ‘Juicy’ is Rocland’s new Chief Winemaker. Peter has nearly 30 years experience in the wine industry and is happy to be able to return to the Barossa Valley where his career originally started. Peter had previously spent 24 years with Penfolds and is now looking forward to ‘making a whole heap of iconic Barossa wines’. “I am looking forward to working with other people’s product and help make the best wine for small to medium wineries.” It will be a new chapter for Peter when it comes to working with other people’s fruit, yet he is looking forward to the customer focus. “Obviously the Barossa is well known for consistent, quality fruit that is very user friendly. “They are so versatile and well renowned.”
On to the Kilroy wines…………………they will be available in the shops next week
The Kilroy wines are produced from grapes harvested from selected premium vineyards of the North-Western Barossa Valley. This premium region has consistently low yields which result in full and rich grapes that are beautifully balanced. Extreme care is taken to ensure the fruit is harvested once it has reached its full flavor potential.
The Cabernet grapes were gently crushed in open fermenters, where it was drained from the skins daily and returned, to extract the full, rich generous flavors. Care is taken ensuring strict temperature regimes were met resulting in the maintenance of the fruits structure. Slow even pressing occurs after 7 to 10 days allowing a lovely, silky tannin structure that supports a balanced oak profile.
Maturation for 22 months in temperature controlled cellars allowed the wine to be bottled once reaching its full flavor and will develop well into the future. Whereas Australia may be known for its Shiraz, this Cabernet Sauvignon will make a believer out of you.
This Cabernet displays dark crimson, vibrant red and purple hues. Blackcurrant aromas with subtle minty notes that are typical of Cabernet Sauvignon. Nice weight on the entry, this Cab bursts with Cassis and deep blue fruits on the palate. The oak is nicely integrated which leads to a smooth and silky finish.
Kilroy was here ‘Barossa’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Retail $23.99 Warehouse $18.99
Kilroy Shiraz was also harvested from selected high-quality vineyards in the North-Western Barossa Valley. The Shiraz grapes were gently crushed in open fermenters, where they were drained from the skins daily and returned, extracting the full, rich generous flavors now present. Temperature contol was employed; slow and even pressing occurred after 7 to 10 days allowing a lovely, silky tannin structure to support a balanced oak profile. 22 months of barrel maturation was utilized for a complex and ready to enjoy offering.
This Shiraz is better balanced than the Boarding Pass and has received a 5* rating in Winestate from Australia. This is the best possible rating from the Aussie’s best wine magazine.
‘Inviting and enticing. It needs an old armchair, a fire and a good book,’ suggested one judge. Lovely spicy blackberry fruit and excellent vanillin oak, with some complexity developing. ***** Winestate Magazine
‘Kilroy Was here, is an early drinking but still flavor-packed, robust red.’ 92points Huon Hooke, Sydney Morning Herald
Kilroy was here ‘Barossa’ Shiraz 2006, Retail $23.99 Warehouse $18.99
Kilroy Sparkling Shiraz was harvested from selected high-quality vineyards in the North-Western Barossa Valley. This region produces consistently low yielding vines resulting in intense and complex fruit that is full of flavor.
The Shiraz base wine for the sparkling is softened by yeast lees stirring for six months in French and American hogsheads resulting in a rich creamy mid palate. The residual sugar is lifted to enhance the fine tannin and oak balance. The wine is drinking wonderfully now, but will continue to gain complexity well into the future.
The color shines a bright cardinal cherry red. The aroma seems to display rich chocolate strawberries with a hint of vanilla from the oaking. The palate has a creamy entry and a chocolaty-fraises du bois character. This is by far the best sparkling Shiraz that I have ever had and one of a few that I have understood. Tasty! Fantastic as an aperitif and great with a chocolate dessert. Fun stuff!
Kilroy was Here ‘Barossa’ Sparkling Shiraz 2006, Retail $26.99 Warehouse $21.99
The Lot 147 vineyard is located on Rocland’s estate, situated on the Sturt Highway in the famous Barossa Valley. This rugged vineyard site just slightly northwest on the Barossa Valley floor displays all the hallmarks of fine traditional Barossa Valley Shiraz.
The Lot 147 Shiraz was crushed into open fermenters. Fermentation lasted for 10 days, during this time the juice was roughly racked off skins and returned. Careful attention was taken to the monitoring of the wine during this process. The wine was then gently pressed and racked into barrel to complete malolactic fermentation. Further rackings were conducted to ensure full integration of oak and tannin.
The wine was matured in barrels for 22 months in temperature controlled cellars allowing the wine to integrate to the beautiful beast that it is.
"Subdued, brooding, inky nose with a rich, ripe, licorice/plum palate. Great flavor concentration and length. Smart oak. Will open up in time and should age very gracefully. ****1/2 Winestate Magazine
The '06 Rocland Estate Lot 147 Shiraz is a statuesque red in big, bold but well-made modern Barossa style: very good. 94 points Huon Hooke, Sydney Morning Herald
Rocland ‘Barossa’ Lot 147 Shiraz 2006, Retail $29.99 Warehouse $24.99