Karrawirra Red 1973 – Old and Remarkable Barossa

In 2013 a neighbour of Glug customer Alan Ramsey gifted him an old Karrawirra red The Karrawirra Barossa Valley Claret 1973 had lain in the neighbour’s Canberra cellar since purchase well over 20 years before.

The delights of drinking a 1973 Karrawirra Claret
The day the 1973 Karrawirra met its end – (from the left) David Farmer, Alan Ramsey and Paul Jonson

Now drinking old bottles is pretty much a gamble. The wine can please but often the years of cellaring disappoint. But having added the Karrawirra label to the Glug stable in 2004 I was delighted to join in the ceremonial opening. It is not often I have the opportunity of trying a Barossa Valley wine with nearly 50 years of age.

The level of this Karrawirra Claret was good, so our hopes were high. The cork crumbled easily. It took a delicate touch to extract the pieces bit by bit. This is what we experienced:

Pale red-tawny colour; fragile sweet bouquet, warm climate nuances with faint leather and old wood; unexpected liveliness on the palate with the last rays of sweet fruit giving enjoyment. The wine held together quite well for several hours. A remarkable experience.’

By the 1970s profound technical, even revolutionary changes in how red wines should be made in the warm Barossa climate were in practise at Penfolds and Orlando. Even so change takes time to disseminate across to small wineries. The tasting of this 1973 suggests the new ways had not worked down to the small Keelyn winery in Lyndoch where the Kies family made Karrawirra from the late 1960’s.

The current Karrawirra wines

The current range of Karrawirra Barossa Valley red varieties provide customers with deeper, fuller bodied reds that those of the 1970s. Currently on offer are four wines from the 2018 vintage and the first of the 2019 releases.

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