Joseph or Black Shiraz? My mind shudders at the thought of picking a favourite sparkling red. I love the Joseph for its ability to deliver an elegantly styled, complex combination of maturity and freshness upon release practically every year (although my first bottle of the Langton's assisted 2011 disgorgement left me decidedly underwhelmed - fingers crossed for the second bottle), but at its very best, especially with a few years under its belt, I feel Rockford's ultra-rare beast reigns supreme.
Rockford's 2010 disgorgement is an essential sparkling shiraz, depicting true harmony of its schizophrenic nature. Finding the aromatic middle ground between sweet, fruity and savoury, as well as fresh and complex, it boasts an alluring depth of menthol tinged plums, blackberries and blueberries, risen by savoury whiffs of tobacco and smoky mocha/chocolate oak, while smelling so quintessentially Rockford all the way. Its palate bares the smooth balance and beautifully controlled, richly ripened fruit of a top-flight Barossa shiraz, as it oozes a wonderfully seamless and concentrated composition of savoury edged plum and dark berry flavours, which become more complex and appealling towards its fine, fleshy finish of cherry cola and sour-edged meaty notes. A dry, powdery backbone of ultra-fine tannins holds everything in place firmly, effectively ticking the last box for sparkling red perfection. I'd ideally give it another 3-5 years, if that's even possible...
ü+ Pure hedonistic joy. A signal to the world flaunting the showmanship of old-school Australian pride. My sparkling red pendulum has definitively swung full tilt back to the Barossa. The king is back baby! The king is back!!! Drink to 2017.