The Gibbo and Wiggo show

A vineyard man first and foremost, Gibson (pictured) calls himself a ‘dirt man’. (Photo: Good Food Show website)

They are two of the crusty old devils of the Barossa Valley, with probably 90 years of wine industry experience between them. Rob Gibson worked for Penfolds before starting his own wine company, Wigan for Peter Lehmann most of his life and before that, Saltram.

The main event at this tasting was the launch of the super-duper Gibson red wine.

Said Wigan: “We’ve been mates for 30 years or so, and I’ve been retired since 2015, but he lives around the corner from me so when he asked me to make his riesling I couldn’t really say no.”

Which is how Andrew Wigan came to be in attendance at a Gibson Wines trade event in Sydney a fortnight ago.

Although Barossa based, and a dyed-in-the-wool red man, Gibson has been producing riesling for many years but decided to smarten it up by getting one of Australia’s leading riesling makers on board. Wigan confesses that he doesn’t actually squash any grapes any more, let alone pick them, but he does oversee the vineyard and the winemaking process. As the man who perfected the Peter Lehmann Eden Valley riesling style, which culminated with the outstanding Wigan Reserve Riesling, helping him win Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine’s Winemaker of the Year Award in 2009, Wigan was in retirement and therefore available. He rose to the challenge.

The 2018 Gibson Riesling is a ripper in a more up-front style than the previous vintage: pungently aromatic and tremendously overt, fruity and charming. The 2017 – Wigan’s first vintage – is more in the Peter Lehmann Wigan style: refined and tight, with a steely core, from a cooler year and built for the long haul.

Wiggo’s voice also adds something: he’s used to making himself heard above the noise at raucous wine dinners all across the world. Gibbo’s is a more understated style, but when he does speak, it’s imbued with a dry wit and laconic turn of phrase.

A vineyard man first and foremost (he was senior viticulturist for Penfolds for many years), Gibson calls himself a ‘dirt man’, hence the brand-name of his mid-market Dirtman Shiraz. There’s an ancient mud-brick blacksmith’s shop on his Light Pass property, so he calls his shiraz cabernet The Smithy. He has vines in the Eden Valley and at Light Pass and buys grapes from the northern Barossa as well as other regions. Discovery Road is his label for less-known grape varieties such as fiano and nero d’avola.

The main event at this tasting was the launch of the super-duper Gibson red wine: an AUD $300, 10-year-old red named Bin 60 Cabernet Shiraz, which Gibson says was created as a 60th birthday celebration wine and always intended to be aged for a decade before sale. The grapes are 60/40 cabernet to shiraz and sourced from Eden Valley. There are 2000 numbered bottles and they come individually packed in a smart wooden box. It’s a superb red wine, and when you look at many of the much younger flagship reds now doing the rounds, it looks better value.

There will be some in the better independent shops, or you can go direct to Gibson Wines here.

One thought on “The Gibbo and Wiggo show”

  1. Peter Booth says:

    I love the Real Review. I’m an expat Australian living in NYC. I have a strong bias towards big fruit forward Australian (and Spanish) reds, and New Zealand sauv blanc. There’s something that really puzzles me about the Australian and New Zealand wine industries. According to this report, Australia exports about 3x as much wine as is consumed domestically. Living in New York City I have about 50 wine stores in walking distance, and they all carry New Zealand and Australian wines.

    But it seems that 95% of the wines reviewed on the Real Review don’t get exported to the US. Why? Is it just not economically viable for independent wineries to export? Is the messy distribution system here just too difficult to deal with? Im curious.

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