Publisher: The Wine Advocate
Author: Joe Czerwinski
Date: November 27, 2019
Tait’s Ballbuster has been a perennial favorite in the Wine Advocate since Robert Parker first rated the 2002 92 points back in 2003. I caught up with proprietor Bruno Tait during a September visit to the United States, which provided an opportunity to look at a selection of back vintages and current releases. Although the family name is Scottish in derivation, Tait’s parents emigrated from Italy in the 1950s. His father was a cooper and found work in the Barossa at Gramps and later Seppeltsfield, until the early 1990s. In 1995, the family purchased land in Lyndoch to build a winery; the first commercial vintage was 1996. While the family initially didn’t purchase any vineyards, it now owns 40 acres, sufficient for about 30% of the winery’s needs). Tait describes the winemaking as traditional, with open fermenters, pneumatic plungers and basket presses. These are big, flavorsome wines, with The Ballbuster being about 75% to 80% Shiraz and the rest a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Even better is the Basket Pressed Shiraz, a single-vineyard wine sourced from the Rowland Flat subregion. Looking back at the older vintages, it appears these wines are capable of aging up to 20 years. “The Giovanni” Shiraz is a new offering, first made in 2013 and not yet released. It’s meant to compete in the ultra-luxury space. With its flashy new oak and plenty of concentrated fruit flavors, it will be interesting to see how it is priced.
2016 Tait • The Ball Buster Proprietary Red
Drink Date: 2019 – 2030
The current release of the Ball Buster is the 2016 The Ball Buster Proprietary Red. Like previous vintages, it’s a full-bodied, plushly textured red, dominated by Shiraz (80%), with smaller amounts of Merlot (12%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (8%). Hints of dark chocolate accent black cherry and plum fruit, while the velvety tannins linger on the finish.
2014 Tait • Shiraz Basket Pressed
Drink Date: 2019 – 2035
The 2014 Shiraz Basket Pressed comes from a different Rowland Flat vineyard from the one that went into this bottling through 2010, with younger vines planted on unirrigated sandy soils. The style remains the same, with big, bold fruit backed by soft oak shadings and ample richness. It’s full-bodied and velvety on the palate, with a long, fruit-driven finish.
2014 Tait • “The Giovanni” Barossa Valley Shiraz
Drink Date: 2020 – 2035
Slightly more refined than the rambunctious 2013, the 2014 “The Giovanni” Barossa Valley Shiraz is more drinkable at this stage. It’s still full-bodied and rich but also more open, lush and inviting. Cherries, cedar and vanilla meet baking spices on the nose and palate. This is velvety and plush on the finish but less concentrated than the 2013.
2013 Tait • “The Giovanni” Barossa Valley Shiraz
Drink Date: 2020 – 2035
From the same sandy Rowland Flat site that’s used in the Basket Pressed Shiraz, Tait’s 2013 “The Giovanni” Barossa Valley Shiraz is the family’s first entry into the ultra-luxury market (although pricing hasn’t yet been determined). Aged three years in 50% new French oak (the rest aged in a mix of third-fill barrels), this Shiraz fits the winery style of being big and bold, but the new oak gives it more structure and length on the palate. Black cherries and licorice join with vanilla and baking spices in this full-bodied, full-flavored wine.
2010 Tait • Shiraz Basket Pressed
Drink Date: 2014 – 2035
Bright cherries join dark chocolate
notes in the 2010 Shiraz Basket Pressed, which approaches 16% alcohol yet doesn’t come across as overly warm or spirity. Yes, it’s a big, full-bodied, fruit-forward mouthful of wine, but it shows a fair degree of elegance on the silky-textured finish.
2010 Tait • The Ball Buster Proprietary Red
Drink Date: 2012 – 2025
The middle-aged 2010 The Ball Buster
Proprietary Red offers up sexy aromas of cigar box and dark plum and black cherry fruit. Full-bodied, round and generous in the mouth, it offers a rich mouthful of hedonistic fruit. The blend this year is 77% Shiraz, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Merlot.
2008 Tait • Shiraz Basket Pressed
Drink Date: 2012 – 2030
The 2008 Shiraz Basket Pressed was picked before the heat wave, and it shows in the wine’s fresh, almost minty aromas and black cherry fruit. It’s still ripe and full-bodied, but fresh in style, with faint vanilla overtones and a creamy, plush texture.
2008 Tait • The Ball Buster Proprietary Red
Drink Date: 2010 – 2022
From a vintage that was dominated by a heat wave, Tait’s 2008 The Ball Buster Proprietary Red is 77% Shiraz, 12% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s full-bodied and plush, with cedary overtones (despite no new oak) and attractive dark, plummy fruit. Round and warm, it picks up notes of dark chocolate and licorice on the finish.
2006 Tait • Shiraz Basket Pressed
Drink Date: 2010 – 2030
From vines that were about 50 years old in a single plot in the Rowland Flat subregion, the 2006 Shiraz Basket Pressed features youthfully floral oak aromas, blackberries and black cherries. It’s full-bodied, creamy and lush, with subtle notes suggestive of American oak, hugely hedonistic flavors and texture, and it has a long finish.
2004 Tait • The Ball Buster Proprietary Red
Drink Date: 2006 – 2020
The 2004 The Ball Buster Proprietary Red is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot. It’s meaty and savory in profile, with rich, dried-fruit character on the nose. Black cherries, tobacco, vanilla, spice and a bit of warmth are on the palate, which is full-bodied, supple and creamy. The first vintage of this wine was the 2001.