Rockford SVS- Basket Press

Rockford’s Special Vineyard Selection are a one bottle allocation with a mandatory visit to Krondorf Rd to pick them up. Grower allocations are 3 bottles only. It’s often rare to see a tasting note, so I though I’d run this thread as I have a look at a number of the SVS wines ( and the odd regular Basket Press ) over the next few months.

One of the philosophies of the SVS wines, was to show how the individual vineyards, from different Barossa sub-regions, can come together to make a greater wine- the Rockford Basket Press. A previous dinner and SVS vertical I hosted, clearly showed some of these individual SVS wines eclipse the “blended” Basket Press.

Take a look at the cork in the foreground, Rockford’s corks are always a disappointment. These wines have been stored professionally since release, and comparing them to other and much older wines, the seepage is a worry and could explain some of the variation you see in Basket Press.

Flaxman Valley comes from two vineyards from memory, in the Eden Valley high above the Barossa Valley floor. One of the growers I know, and his vines are gnarly old centenarians that keep company with dairy cows. I’m always drawn to this wine, in the hope it reflect the best attributes of the Eden Valley, which for me, has only been found in Henschke.

Rockford SVS Flaxman Valley 1998- The wine has a lot of oak and it takes a few hours to pry the fruit out with aeration. On reflection, all day in the decanter would not have hurt! As the fruit emerges, the oak settles to the background in a blocky and savory fashion. There’s a lovely contrast of red fruits and malty blackfruits on the nose, the cool mint and peppery Eden Valley overtones are nice too. Medium to full, the fruit on the palate is still layered and un-evolved and gives the illusion of austerity. The savory oak is prominent on the finish and the wine completes with a nice warmth.

Leave this wine for 5 years if you have a bottle.


Rockford SVS Flaxman Valley 1999- As with many 99’s in the Barossa/Eden Valleys, I prefer this to the hyped up 98’s. Again, there’s a lot of oak, cedary and malty, and the fruit needs time to emerge. When it does, wow, its plush and ripe, with spicy black fruits and a chunk of unyielding darker fruit notes. Throughout the wine there is a complexity from Eden Valley “sous bois”- the pine/bracken/forest floor notes you can pick up in Henschke’s Mt Edelstone.Fresh and full on the palate. The wine fills out in the mouth where it’s seamless in texture, and is guided along the palate with the focus of the vintage, toward a long finish with persisting spicy oak and blackstrap-licorice like fruit flavors.

Leave for 5+

94pts +

Looking forward to it< Jamie. Haven’t had an SVS for years, but still working my way through my remaining stash of Basket Press (hasn’t been imported into the US for several years).

Hi David,

I can understand some Aussie wines being out of fashion in the States, but it is a real shame that Rockford don’t import there anymore. Basket Press is a wonderful expression of the Barossa Valley and drinks well past 10-15 years in most vintages.

I live in Hong Kong and am paid in USD and have access to all the great wines of the world tax free. I still buy Rockfords domestically in Australia, despite the high Australian dollar and ridiculous taxation. It is still a no-brainer for me at $50 and offers value alongside the access I have to very good wines from all over the world. Actually, it is one of only two Australian wines I now buy every year.

I had the 2005 and 2003;

Hoffmann Rockford SVS 2005
dark purple red
first ;many oak,vanilla.
Concentrated blackcurrants,blackberries and one hidden little sweet raspberry
Spicy,little pepper.
long aftertaste characterized by tannins.
so young,great and packed(?).

2003 Rockford Hoffmann SVS,dark red with purple heart, many cedarwood,oak,blackberries,full-flavoured,licorice(black),oiliness? texture.
long tannins aftertaste.Many to young.


Agreed. I used to have a 6 pack shipped direct by a friend who lived in Melbourne every year and then get what I could on the open market here. RBP was the only Oz Shiraz that I bought every year. Alas, my friend moved back Stateside and Rockford got tired of dealing with their importer, so I’m high and dry. Into my 1996s and '98s now. I like breaking them out for my friends who don’t like Shiraz

The '96’s (along with the regular '96 BP) if well stored are outrageously good wines with a very long future ahead…

World class in every respect.


Based on what I have had recently, I’d drink the '98’s first (from right now and on), and leave the '96’s for 5-10 more years at least if you can…

thanks Dave, we do not often seen Rockford TN’s here. I love the Rockford wines and was a mailing list member for about 10 years and also a “Stonewaller” as well. I only have the regular BP from 1995 to 2005. They are all sleeping in Melbourne in storage while we live in USA. Happy to hear both your and Paul’s comments on ageability. I bought them with this expectation in mind but still great to get confirmation.



I agree with this, Paul. I’m deepest on the '96s, so I’ve been opening a few.

Notes from a dinner I hosted two years ago some of you may be interested in. Glassware was poor and Rockford bottle variation a problem- considering I’ve had many of these wines on multiple occasions.

I was fortunate to host this dinner last week for the Hong Kong Wine Society. It was held atop of one of the famous banks with unobstructed views of the so called Fragrant Harbor.

The wines were from my personal collection. Straight from Cellar Door and into professional storage. I have had Basket Press very well received with HKWS membership prior. I was just hoping tonight for a couple of open minds amongst the sterner of Old World bigots…

Anyway. It’s a wine I have always loved sentimentally as it captures a pioneering Australian spirit. And it is an easy going, food friendly Barossan.

So here goes-

Basket Press 1996-(14.5%) Was good but certainly not the best 96 I have had. Bottle variation in Basket Press problematic. Came with the raspberry red fruits and new leather. All class and with exceptional length.


SVS Flaxman Valley 1996- (14.5%) Oh this is good. I love good Eden Valley shiraz and it has generally been an exclusive Henschke forte. There is a cool restraint to the wine. Licorice, dark fruits, fine tannins and goes on for a country mile.

The Steinert family who own the vines ( other vineyard Chris Ringland ) are dairy farmers through and through. They told me they once considered getting rid of their vines to make room for more cows. Thanfully the red wine boom came along…


SVS Moorooroo 1996- ( 13.5% )I’ve read on the forums that this has been disappointing. It was quite impressive tonight. Bitumen, blackberry, malty oak. Layered with licorice strap like fruit flavors, nuances of menthol and dried herbs. The wine has well and truly peaked so is very soft finishing and easy drinking. Earth and spicy, red fruits linger.


SVS Hoffmanns 1996- ( 14.5% ) This wine leapt from the decanter. It has some of the most concentrated blackberry notes of any shiraz according to the Rockford notes. It sure does! It’s an immense wine and behind the voluptuous, rich and ripe blackberry flavors is a second layer of pruney, dark fruits. Vintage port like in a positive sense. Loved it. A medicinal cloud drifted over as I was on my second, marking pass and I scored it down


Basket Press 1998- (14%) A bit light weight in regards to previous bottles. It had 30 minutes aeration, double decanted, time in the glass etc- but still seemed all wound up. Cherry-water, smokey, with match stick and flint notes. Seemed much lighter than the WMR below. Atypical experience for this vintage!


Basket Press Winemakers Stock Release 1998- ( 14% ) Everybody felt this a different wine despite what a personally signed letter from Robert O’Callaghan said stating the contrary! Riper, in a kirsch-chocolate spectrum. Full bodied wine, more muscular and bulked up in comparison to the above.

Someone suggested the difference could be cellaring provenance- mine being cooler than Rockfords?


SVS Flaxman Valley 1998- ( 13.5% ) A step up in firepower compared to the 96. Blackberry buzz on blackstrap like dark fruits. Choc-licorice and some nuances of spice, menthol and bracken which I note in Mt Edelstone.


Pressings 1998- ( 13.5% ) This is another monumental wine. Its balance is staggering considering it leads with rich, ripe powerful fruit notes of licorice all sorts, dark chocolate with a nice, supporting run of vanilla and anise. Pure, black shiraz! Striking stuff.


Basket Press 1999- ( 14.5% )When I decanted this wine during the afternoon, I had a sense of dread. The nose was muted and the cork smelt like it was tainted. It was fine according to one Old World bigot.

Anyway, sadly, considering the nature of the tasting I have no doubt ( as with many others in the group ) that the wine was scalped with cork taint. A rich and powerful wine absorbing a lot of it: leaving a few thinking it wasn’t.


**SVS Flaxman Valley 1999-**Big, black and spicy. But with a feminine touch. Beautiful wine I didn’t get to concentrate on due proceedings.


SVS Helbig 1999- ( 15.4% ) The biggest wine of the evening but it didn’t come in overblown. The intensity got me and others in the group. Super concentrated shiraz fruit with whisps of cocoa and espresso. Gobsmackingly full of flavor but balanced at the other end with an even finish.

What a bugger to share this wine. I think I have more.


Pressings 1999- ( 14.3% ) Bit of an odd ball. Sweet blackfruits, menthol and Island spice. Long, long wine filled with intriguing herbal-spicy flavors.


Dinner wines-

Vine Vale Riesling “1886 Vines” 2009- Excitingly received by the group. Super nose, warm and tropical. Let down on the palate where the hedonism of nose not matched. Reminds me of some modern Italian dry whites coming into vogue.


Basket Press 1995 Magnum Format - This hasn’t changed in a decade. Top notch result for the vintage. Sweet, licorice, X-Mas cake like fruit with interwoven cedar-spice.


Basket Press 1997 Magnum Format- Was a good wine a few years ago so I thought the magnum would hold the wine in good stead. It’s layered on both the nose and palate. Blackfruits and undertones of prune-berries. Ready to go! Don’t hold out. Structurally I don’t think much is holding the wine up.


Someone did their homework and stated that the superb wine that is Basket Press is better as a blend than as individual sub-region wines. I don’t know. I like the BP style. But some of those SVS wines were outstanding in their own right.

Considering the fact that my Rockford’s wines are hand caried carefully from CD to professional storage, that seepage/saturation of cork a modest result in these magnums!

Wines were decanted and aerated for around 30 minutes prior to rebottling into cleanesed bottles- lost of crust needed cleaning!

Crap glassware- nice paper work from Rockford.

1 Queens Rd Central, Hong Kong Island. With views toward Kowloon side.

Still have two or three 97 Hofmann SVS, not planning to open any time soon, but it’s anyway good to be reminded that I have them!