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The Story

Robert O’Callaghan’s Rockford Basket Press Shiraz encapsulates traditional and contemporary winemaking philosophies and embraces the inherent qualities of old vine Shiraz: the physicality of winemaking where muscle and personal touch transform process into an artform; the traditional tools of trade (a 1910 petrol-driven old Bagshaw destemmer, basket press, open fermenters) and the complementary nuances of American and French oak maturation.

Robert O’Callaghan is one of the most important figures in contemporary Australian winemaking. He was early to recognise the future of regional definition, the importance of heritage and the conservation of both physical and viticultural resources. Chris Ringland, who worked at Rockford for around 18 years, said “working with Robert was to present an extraordinary opportunity in gaining an understanding of the traditional Australian wine trade. Just as he had learned the winemaking elements of previous generations, so we were to use the distillation of this experience in establishing winemaking philosophy at Rockford. The techniques were simple, the principles sound.”

O’Callaghan’s commitment to labour-intensive techniques for the sake of going the extra mile in quality makes Rockford Basket Press the quintessential hand-made wine. The fruit, from 60-140 year-old vines, is sourced from local growers in the Barossa including around Kalimna, Ebenezer, Moppa Springs, the Eden Valley and Central Barossa giving fruit of tremendous colour, power and richness.

Rockford Basket Press Shiraz is made in the classic mould with strong, ripe, blackberry and fine chocolate fruit characters, underscored by well-seasoned American and French oak and ripe tannins. The wines are beautifully balanced and have a reputation for freshness and aging. They develop paneforte/ dark chocolate aromas and further richness and complexity on the palate.

Rockford Basket Press is very traditional and stands very much apart from the compressed and monumentally rich Barossa Shirazes favoured and championed by elements of the cult wine scene. It has an understated power, balance and minerality that evoke the character of the fruit and the vintage. The oak is never at the fore. Rockford Basket Press is a maturation style reminiscent of Barossa wines made during the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s. The overall freshness, buoyancy and suppleness reflect contemporary winemaking philosophy.

Rockford Basket Press Shiraz has been produced every vintage since its inaugural release in 1984. More than any other wine Basket Press Shiraz represents what Rockford is all about.

It has much in common with other handcrafted quality produce in that it draws heavily on the wisdom and shared knowledge of previous generations of Australian winemakers and recognises that at the heart of every great wine is a great vineyard.

Full-bodied Australian Shiraz has now taken its rightful place amongst the great wines of the world and Basket Press Shiraz is considered one of the benchmark styles of Barossa Shiraz.






Vintage 1999

Australia Vintage Report:1999 also had a dry winter in Australia, with average temperatures for all months. However, there were a considerable amount of drizzly days at harvest time, causing some headaches with varieties susceptible to Botrytis cluster rot, ie. Grenache. It cleared up and the wines produced were all closed and slightly below average intensity. They look better and better.


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Written Notes

Deep colour. Fresh and compelling dark berry, graphite, caramel, roasted walnut, dusty vellum aromas with aniseed notes. Well-concentrated inky textured wine with dark berry, graphite, lead pencil flavours, sous bois, black olive notes, fresh chocolaty textures and bitter sinewy finish. Traditional 19th Century style with freshness, complexity and tannin presence. Now-2025+ Very interesting conversation wine. 93 points
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Barossa Valley, South Australia

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