Growing up in the Barossa, and being the sixth generation of a well-known family in the wine trade, it’s not at all surprising that Trent Burge would one day become a winemaker. Joining the business in 2006, he wanted to “make his mark on the world”, and around a decade later, started his own label. Given that he had lived, played and worked on this soil since childhood, the name seemed obvious: Barossa Boy.
Having enjoyed Grant Burge wines on many occasions, the brand seemed tightly linked to making some high-quality offerings. Yet I wasn’t prepared for just how good the Barossa Boy wines would be, as you’ll see from my scores. Trent Burge constantly makes references to and credits the soil on which he grew up, and it’s fair to say that he and his little patch of dirt are capable of producing some truly wonderful wines, which all punch well above their weight.
Barossa Boy 2022 ‘Risk It For the Biscuit’ Semillon
92 points – AU$30
‘The fruit is sourced from over 100-year-old vines in the Southern Barossa. A portion of this Semillon was fermented in French hogshead barrels, resulting in a balance of oak richness and fruit freshness whilst retaining its lively characters. 100% Semillon. 12% ABV.‘
Semillon is a white grape which has become synonymous with the Hunter Valley, and it’s often found in blends with Sauvignon Blanc (in dry or sweet styles). Yet the Barossa has also embraced it, creating a style that is often richer than the Hunter’s take. The Barossa Boy version is quite ripe and aromatic, with a lovely mix of fruity (lemon, grapefruit, orange blossom, peach) and savoury (shortbread – hence the name) characters. It’s zippy, minerally and silky, and a great example of Barossa Semillon.
Barossa Boy 2018 ‘Little Tacker’ Grenache Shiraz Mataro
94 points – AU$30
‘100% of the blend was matured in our 2,500-litre French oak foudres for 20 months. 58% Grenache, 32% Shiraz, 10% Mataro. 14% ABV.’
Despite no longer being a “little tacker”, Trent “enjoyed a free-range Barossa childhood”, and this wine is a reminder of his path towards becoming a winemaker on the land in which he grew up. I was mightily impressed by this wine, which has a juicy core of red and black fruits and savoury goodness providing immense complexity and lushness on the palate. Blackberry, raspberry, mulberry, rhubarb, cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, stewed black fruits, soy, and cigar box characters show how layered this wine is, which sings when paired with food and is best consumed after a little air time.
Barossa Boy 2020 ‘Double Trouble’ Shiraz Cabernet
94 points – AU$30
‘Matured in French and American oak for a total of 24 months. 55% Shiraz, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. 15.5% ABV.‘
‘Double Trouble’ references not only the classic Aussie pairing of Shiraz and Cabernet, but also Trent’s “double life” as a cricketer in England and a winemaker in the Barossa. It’s a dark and spicy drop providing a tantalising array of aromas and flavours – cassis, menthol, mulberry, nutmeg, toast, cigar box, sawdust – with a smooth and silky palate and finely integrated tannins, even at such a relatively young age. It has the strength to age gracefully for a long time to come.
Barossa Boy 2020 ‘Young Wisdom’ Mataro
94 points – AU$50
‘Fermented in small oak for 15 days prior to pressing. Wine was then returned to the same barrels for maturation over 23 months. 100% French Oak. This wine is unfined and unfiltered. 100% Mataro. 15% ABV‘
Mataro has many names (Monastrell in its home of Spain; Mourvèdre in France), and it’s a variety which loves heat and is more regularly found in GSM blends than as a straight varietal – but thankfully that’s starting to change. These wines are often robust, round and alcoholic, and Trent’s version is all those things and much more. A heady burst of fruit leaps from the bottle as soon as you open it, with blackberry and mulberry leading the charge. Savoury depth comes from tomato leaf, baking spices, earth and graphite, with a little bit of age starting to come through in the form of stewed black fruits. The palate is incredibly bright and tasty, and with spicy or meat-filled dishes; the fruit bellows while the alcohol mellows, showing great balance.
Barossa Boy 2017 ‘Lifeblood’ Shiraz
96 points – AU$80
‘Matured for 22 months in a combination of 70% French oak and 30% American oak. 30% new oak, 30% one-year-old and 40% two-to-five-year-old oak provides a robust yet silky tannin structure. 100% Shiraz. 14.5% ABV‘
If you don’t like big and bold Barossa Shiraz, then you may want to avoid this wine, yet you’ll be missing out on a wonderful experience. Pronounced aromas of cassis, cinnamon and mulberry greeted me the moment I popped the cork, and further sniffs revealed raspberry, clove, leather and dried black fruits. The tannins are powdery and chewy, clinging to your teeth and letting you know just how epic this wine is.
This is a drop that calls, nay, screams for food to tame some of its brash characters and bring out its softer, fruitier side, and I gave it an extra point to acknowledge how splendid it was with a meal. I paired it with medium-rare eye fillet, roasted vegetables, and super-crispy potatoes, and it was utterly superb, cutting through all the fat and making each mouthful a symphony of flavour. If steak isn’t your thing, any bold and spicy dish, such as a lamb casserole or roast, or even a vegetarian curry, would benefit from partnering with this sumptuous wine. This is Trent’s “love letter” to the Barossa, and it’s a mighty fine tribute.