Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Chris had a passion for wine from a very young age, cultivating neighbour's vines to make his first wines. After a few years working as a cellar hand locally, Chris travelled to South Australia where he studied oenology at the famed Roseworthy campus. On completion of his studies, Chris returned to New Zealand where he finished his citation on wine phenolics and protein fining agents.
After periods of working in California and Europe, Chris found his way back to South Australia and in the late eighties took a position with Robert O'Callaghan at Rockford wines in the Barossa. It was here Chris developed his unique style and produced his now world famous Shiraz, under his own name (formerly Three Rivers Shiraz). After 15 years at Rockford, Chris travelled back to Europe and developed a number of projects with local producers in Spain and Italy. More recently, Chris has developed Nebbiolo and Carignan projects ‘Solita’ and since 2006 has developed a Northern Barossa Shiraz project with renowned Ebenezer vigneron Adrian Hoffmann.
The mist, the solitude, the forbidden allure: I almost felt like a spy. I was there to taste some of Australia’s most astonishing red wines, yet I hardly dared tell anyone I was going. When I owned up later, and shyly admitted how much I liked them, I was met with near-incredulity. At least once, I was asked to confirm what I’d just said. These are the great wines you aren’t, in right-thinking circles, meant to like: too rich, too much alcohol, too many “Parker points”. They swim like bandit trout against Australia’s current tide of early-picking righteousness and buttoned-down restraint. But, sorry folks, great they are.
Andrew Jefford. Decanter Magazine on-line November 26th 2012
Overall, Shiraz yields for the Barossa were lower in 2009, compared with 2008. Dry conditions in 2008 resulted in smaller berries and loose clusters. Fortunately, a period of extreme summer heat in January 2009 was early enough to have minimal impact on fruit development, especially in the high elevation vineyards of the Barossa Ranges. Subsequent vintage conditions were very favourable. The wines have excellent tannin structure, together with gentle natural acidity.
Appearance: Opaque red-black with a crimson-brick red rim.
Aroma: The first impression from a freshly decanted bottle is of sweet Dutch liquorice, together with a top note of citrus vanillin from the French oak. The aroma then opens up to reveal dark chocolate and an amalgam of fresh red berries.
Palate: The overall impact is fat and very rich in structure. Oak vanillin still lurks beneath the hallmark vineyard signature of liquorice, aniseed and a hint of black pepper.
The palate is characteristically long and very complex, as you would expect from such ripe grapes, matured in wood for 4 years and in bottle, upon release, for 3 years.
This vintage is still very young. Don't even think about drinking this until after 2025. If you simply have to, then at least 2 days in decanter will be mandatory.
Matured in new French oak for 46 months. 178 bottles, 140 magnums, 18 double magnums and 3 imperials were filled. The alcohol level measured at bottling was 16.0%.
An unusually dry winter was redeemed by some good late spring rainfall. Excellent conditions for flowering and canopy development ensued, resulting in a well balanced crop with a normal yield. The summer unfolded with mild and predictable weather. Evenly spaced rainfall events on January 13, February 10 and March 29 kept the vines refreshed and accelerated fruit ripening. A major rainfall event over April 6-7 938mm) almost pushed things too far. Harvest took place on April 9, two weeks earlier than usual. For the Randall’s Hill sector of the Stone Chimney Creek Shiraz vineyard the baume was a relatively modest 15 degrees.
Appearance: Opaque red-black. Crimson rim
Aroma: Initial notes of black cherry conserve, with hints of smoke and aniseed. The oak maturation contributes elements of graphite and cedar.
Palate: Dominated by flavours resembling stewed black plum, with minerals and sweet toasty vanillin. Medium to full bodied, bright acidity, mouth filling tannins and a persistent finish.
2010 has emerged as a classic Barossa vintage. Mild, even weather conditions (and relatively cool nights) throughout the growing season have resulted in impeccable natural acids. The long ripening has resulted in rich, plush tannins at a relatively modest alcohol level. This vintage will age gracefully for at least the next 10-15 years.
The drier winter of 2007 was helped by above average autumn rainfall. Spring rains continued up until January, when the season became quite dry and hot. The heat events in January, February and early March brought forward picking times, leading to a vintage of very concentrated wines. Adrian Hoffmann harvested the various parcels between the 7th and 19th of March. The wines were matured in new French oak for an astonishing 62 months, prior to bottling in June, 2013. 180 cases were produced.
Appearance: Opaque red-black. Crimson rim.
Aroma: Carbon and oak sawdust give way to spicy notes of aniseed, liquorice and molasses. Only then do the black Shiraz fruit aromas emerge.
Palate: Sweet, nutty black chocolate. Creamy vanilla. A massive, intense, rich fruit panorama carries through the palate. The theme is concluded with powerful, soft tannins and subtle acid.
The concentration of the 2008 vintage delivered a wine with extraordinary power and concentration, contrasted with an unexpected perfume and delicacy. This wine will easily attain maturity over the next 15 to 20 years aging gracefully into the future. In the meantime, at least a few hours in the decanter can be considered mandatory to maximise the full potential.
Shiraz yields for the North Western Barossa were lower in 2009, compared with the year before. Fortunately a period of extreme Summer heat in January had no impact on fruit development. Subsequent vintage conditions were very favourable. The wines have excellent tannin structure, together with gentle natural acidity. Perhaps a little more traditional than the lavish, opulent 2008’s. Harvesting began on March 31 with the last parcel being delivered on April 7. Shiraz grown on heavier soils performed better in this vintage. Barrel selections of Hoffmann vineyard Shiraz for the Dimchurch label comprised 100% new French oak. The wines were matured for 48 months before blending and bottling in April 2013. 500 cases were produced.
Appearance: Opaque crimson red-black.
Aroma: Initially, top notes of nectarine and ripe apricot give way to maraschino cherry and molasses. As the wine begins to open up dark red berry fruit emerges, supported by a solid whiff of cedar oak vanillin.
Palate: Primary flavours of rich, dark fruitcake dominate. The mouthfeel is textured, soft and unctuous on the mid-palate. This overall fruit impression is balanced by a distinctive mineral, slightly bituminous edge. These flavours are supported by solid acidity which provides focus for the long finish.
Ripe, rich 2009 Barossa Shiraz is wine for the long haul. Big, soft tannins and firm, natural acidity will see to that. It may take 20 years or more for the wines to reach full maturity. In the short term, Dimchurch 2009 will greatly benefit from a few hours in the decanter after opening.