The first Old Block was created in 1980 by Barossa icon Robert O’Callaghan from a single vineyard planted in 1912. It soon outgrew the original block to become a representation of Old Vine Shiraz from the entire Barossa region, including the elevated Eden Valley.
With an average vine age of 88 years across its 30 vintage history, Old Block has always paid homage to the intensity, complexity and majesty of Old Vine fruit, well before it became a common marketing theme.
When Stuart took over as the Old Block custodian in the eighties, he firstly set about understanding Barossa’s most precious assets, before he looked to evolve the style of St Hallett’s flagship wine. While vintage variation is evident when comparing vintages, finesse is a hallmark of Old Block, even in the most extroverted of vintages. Stuart puts this down to a clear vision for the wine and an understanding of Barossa’s diverse vineyard offering.
“We never set out to make the biggest and boldest wine in the Barossa, or even within the St Hallett portfolio for that matter,” Stuart said. “We always thought of Old Block in the context of world wine, it needed to be balanced in every sense of the word.”
“We may not have achieved it every single time, but after tasting all 30 vintages recently, I think we got it right more often than not. A big part of that was the judicious use of oak and the right balance of Eden Valley fruit.
“The percentage of Eden Valley fruit in the blend varied from below 10% to above 30% depending on the conditions of that season. It’s not made to a formula, but rather an ideal that we are striving for.”