Ruggabellus: remarkable wines from the Barossa


Ruggabellus: remarkable wines from the Barossa


I have a soft spot for the Barossa. It was the first wine region I ever visited. I’ve been there a few times now, and know it a bit. But I have struggled with some of its wines, which have expressed a bit too much ripeness, a little too much added tartaric, and a generous dollop of oak. So it’s always a joy to find wines which express the place in a way that seems more authentic. And these wines from Abel Gibson at Ruggabellus are just lovely.

They’re picked relatively early, fermented with some stems using indigenous yeasts, and no new oak is used. Interestingly, they are bottled in very modest, light bottles with screwcap seals. If you like the ripe, easier style of Barossa red, you might find these a bit challenging. But they are built for the long haul, and I followed each over a period of three days, which allowed them to wake up from their taut, reductive, closed states to show a bit of what they are capable of. Only bottle age will show how good they really are, though – in this respect, they remind me a bit of the Wendouree wines from the Clare Valley.

Ruggabellus Archaeus 2013 Barossa, Australia
77% Syrah, 11% Grenache, 8% Mataro, 4% Cinsault, 14% alcohol. Wonderfully focused with sweet raspberry and cherry fruit with a taut, fine personality and a bit of spice. The palate is fresh and taut; primary and grippy. Tight and tannic with good acidity. Great concentration, lovely precision and some peppery detail. 94/100

Ruggabellus Efferus 2013 Barossa, Australia
73% Mataro, 12% Syrah, 11% Grenache, 4% Cinsault, 14.2% alcohol. Beautifully fresh and vivid with floral black cherry and plum fruit, with some meaty, peppery notes. There’s a lovely freshness and wildness to this wine with has some cracked black pepper and juicy black cherry fruit, but also a nicely poised sappy elegance. Some dark spicy notes in the background. 93/100

Ruggabellus Timaeus 2013 Barossa, Australia
82% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 2% Syrah, 1% Mataro, 13.4% alcohol. Fresh, vivid, spicy, bright and peppery. Lovely focused red cherry and berry fruit with a strongly savoury edge. Distinctive stuff that really needs a day or two open to begin to wake up. Potentially long lived. 91/100

Ruggabellus Fluus 2013 Barossa, Australia
The entry level wine in the range, with 54% Grenache, 31% Mataro, 10% Cinsault and 5% Syrah, 13.6% alcohol. Savoury, spicy, grippy and earthy with some peppery notes and appealing cherry and plum fruit. There’s a real freshness here, as well as the savoury notes. On say 2 it has really hit its stride, showing pure, sweet, sappy red fruits with a bit of raspberry freshness. 92/100

UK agent is Indigo Wine.

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