The first production of the Ball Buster in 2002 was 600 cases. It entered the market at a time when Aussie wines were on fire, but high scoring ones were expensive. Bruno Tait committed himself to making an awesome Shiraz based Barossa red, and having it retail for under $20. This vintage marks Tait’s 16th year of this iconic blend, named as a “tongue-in-cheek” tribute from Bruno to his wife, Michelle. This is the only wine in the world to ever receive 10 or more consecutive 90 point reviews or higher, in The Wine Advocate, at the $20 mark. In fact, the 2016 vintage marked 15 straight vintages since its inception, of 90 point or higher reviews – a feat that is unlikely to ever be repeated by any other wine. Not much has changed over the years. It is still made with high quality fruit and hand crafted winemaking. Even as production volumes grew, Bruno has been committed to maintaining quality and avoiding shortcuts and price gouging. For those consumers that enjoy the opulence f wines like The Prisoner, but would like some elegance as well – this one’s for you.
90 pts The Wine Advocate Feb 2021
Made in the same full-on style that proprietor Bruno Tait has been pursuing since its first vintage in 2001, Tait’s 2017 The Ball Buster Proprietary Red is a blend of 77% Shiraz, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Merlot. Mint and baking spices lead the way, backed by a big mouthful of blackberries and black cherries. Full-bodied yet supple, it’s spicy and rich, with lingering notes of mixed berries and spice on the finish. Despite weighing in at 15.9% alcohol on the label, it doesn’t seem hot or overripe—an achievement in itself, but past vertical tastings suggest that this wine can develop nicely for a decade or more.
Fruit for the 2017 Ball Buster was sourced from 7 different sites in the Barossa Valley. Vine age varies between 10-30 years. The grapes are de-stemmed and tipped into large open fermenters, pH is adjusted and fermentation takes place over 7-10 days at a temperature of approximately 74 degrees F. Plunging and pumping over takes place 3 times a day during this period. The wine is then gently pressed using traditional basket presses. Juice is drained from there to barrel, where it spends 18 months in a combination of used French and American oak. The oak that is used is there to impart some subtle flavors but more importantly, to create softness in the wine. Blending of the different components wine takes place to ensure a wine which is dark in color, rich and juicy on the palate and full bodied, but with good balance and length. Ball Buster is always bottled unfined & unfiltered.