Fast Facts:
Country: Australia
Region: Barossa Valley, South Australia
Winemaker: Robert O’Callaghan, Chris Ringland
Variety: 100% Alicante Bouschet
Closure: PVC “Cork”
Oak: None
RRP: $16.00 AU

Yet again Wine Blogging Wednesday is upon us. The theme this time is “Obscure Red Grapes”. Apologies to Andrew over at Spitoon for the late submission with his interesting theme.

Another red based Wine Blogging Wednesday, just you Northern hemisphere guys wait until it’s your summer and I make my theme something like “16.5% alcohol aged Shiraz from the Barossa Valley on a 100 degree day”!

Still, I was fortunate to find in the cellar a Rosé styled wine that I acquired on a trip to the Barossa last year. To the best of my knowledge Rockford is the only maker of a varietal Alicante Bouschet wine in all of Australia, and even then, it’s only available at the Rockford Cellar Door. So for mine, that makes it rare enough for inclusion.

Read on, for more about the grape variety, about the winery, and of course about the wine itself.

The name: The eagle-eyed among you will notice that the name of the wine doesn’t match the name of the grape variety. Let me allow Robert O’Callaghan use his own words to explain.

“This variety is rare in Australia and when I started at Seppelt’s Rutherglen the small patches in that district were all that existed. When I asked about the peculiar red-juiced variety I was told that this was Alicante Bouchet (spelt thus) … Fifteen years later when I was at Angle Vale there was a small patch (again spelt Bouchet) so naturally when I started to bottle the wine this is how I spelt it. Ten years later, when it was pointed out to me that I’d misspelt Bouschet it was too late because by then it had become a brand in its own right. Anyway, if I put an “s” in the name it won’t make it taste any better”.

A little bit about the grape:

Between 1865 and 1885, Henri Bouschet created Alicante Bouschet by crossing Grenache with Petit Bouschet (Petit Bouschet itself being a cross that his father had developed between Aramon and Teinturier du Cher).

Alicante Bouschet is part of a rare category of grapes which the French refer to as “teinturier”. These are grapes which have red coloured flesh as well as skin.

A little bit about the winery:

Rockford is noted for being an outstanding producer of old style red wines, using traditional methods and antique machinery, with their “Basket Press” Shiraz being a cult-wine that attracts some rather high prices on the auction market. Most wine is sold via mailing list, cellar door or export to UK, Switzerland and New Zealand with little to no retail distribution available in the Eastern Australian states.

Rockford doesn’t own any vineyards, instead relying on their long-standing contracts with local growers who own and maintain some of the best mature vineyards in the Barossa Valley. A mutually beneficial arrangement and one that by all reports is a fair deal for all involved.

The cellar door is in an old stone walled cottage and is surrounded by the antique traditional wine making equipment that is actually used in production of the wine. During harvest time, you can actually watch the grapes being brought in and processed. There is no multi-million dollar vistior complex here or massive advertising budget, and yet you have to get here right as it opens to avoid a huge crowd that mostly heard about Rockford through word of mouth.

On the back of the label, Robert O’Callaghan states that he had a dilemma in that he wanted to produce a fresh, lively summer drinking wine, but he had to keep his honour intact by staying true to his red wine following. He says that Alicante Bouchet saved him in that it was the only red grape that had red flesh, and allowed him make a Rosé wine with this variety, with no skin contact involved.


Tasting Note: Chilled slightly before serving, this was delightfully fresh and crisp. The wine possessed wonderful aromas of fresh strawberries and cherries and a hint of citrus. On the palate, there was no hint of oak or tannins to spoil the wonderful vivacity of the wine. The finish was refreshingly clean and crisp and uninterrupted by any residual sugar or acid.

Drinking Window: Moulded in an early-drinking style, it is, perhaps not surprisingly, best drunk sooner rather than later.

Score: It’s not going to change your life, but it’s a perfect chilled summer drink to relax with. Rated at 89 points, with a value rating of Good.

See “How to interpret my scores” for an explanation of how the above scores were reached.

Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. Glad you could join us (eventually!) Forgiven for the lateness though by a superb choice of wine – I have seen a couple of Alicante Bouschets from France in my time so even more points for submitting an Australian version.

  2. “It’s only available at the Rockford Cellar Door” isn’t quite right. It is actually available through their mail order facility as well. I don’t want to be a nit-picker but I thought I’d clear that up.

    My wife tasted this at a BYO dinner recently with a bunch of her playgroup mums. She normally only drinks white wines (and the occasional Pinot Noir) but was wrapped with this and has asked me to get some from the next mailer. I’ll be sure to pass on you tasting note to her.


  3. Hi Michael,

    Thankyou for your comments.

    You are correct in that it is available via mail order and this was not a distribution channel I was thinking of at the time, I was only considering Cellar Door sales vs Retail sales.

    I’ll try and be more careful in future!

    Cam Wheeler

  4. […] This is actually the second Wine Blogging Wednesday in a row that I’ve reviewed a Rosé wine – for WBW #7, I reviwed the Rockford “Alicante Bouchet” 2004. […]

  5. Hi

    There is actaully another winery prodicing of Alicante Boushet in Australia – Vinden Estate in the Hunter Valley. Interestingly they also make a Basket Press shiraz similar to the Rockford.

    The Vinden Alicante has the same berry and citurs characteristics but is slightly drier. If I can’t get Rockford the Vinden is the next best thing ( and is available at the cellar door and from the Vinden website)


  6. Hi can you advise if the alicante bouchet i available in the uk, as it is the best rose i have tasted.

    Manyt thanks

    Steve Hyatt

  7. Hi Cam, I have around 30 Alicante bouchet vines,at this point, doing well here in Yea Vic. I am not all that sure about what would be the best way to go about producing something decent from them. Would you be generous enough to help with a suggestion or two please.

  8. This particular wine can be purchased from most bottle o’s in South Australia as long as it is connected to a hotel that sells it by the glass/bottle inside. I to have been on the search and now have no problem finding it.
    Barossa Valley…. producing the goods

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