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Rusden, the story

In 1979 Christine and Dennis Canute purchased 40 acres of run-down vineyard in Vine Vale; white sand over red clay country in the heart of the Barossa. Grapes were not a precious commodity at the time, but the idea of a “hobby farm,” with room for the kids to run, seemed adventurous and was to become a serious labour of love.

Dennis continued his profession as a teacher to provide the funds for Chris(tine), a 5th generation Barossa grape grower, to slowly rejuvenate the old vineyard. As with many ventures, a few mistakes were made along the way including ripping out some very old Grenache, Mataro and Semillon bush vines (most of which were half buried in drift sand). Thankfully the old Shiraz and some old Grenache survived the tragic ‘vine pull’ of the early 80’s. The Canute grapes were sold to local wineries. The 70’s and 80’s were tough times. The large companies used the Barossa as a blending ground for fruit from all over South Australia. Grape prices were laughable unless you were crying!

Always believing in the quality of the fruit grown (and not being able to afford a decent bottle of red) Dennis, with friend Russell, decided to make a barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon for personal consumption and enjoyment. It was good enough to put a label on so the name RUSDEN (the shortened forms of Russell and Dennis) was born. That was 1992. In 1994 the home-made Shiraz was consumed with relish and the decision was made to carry out some serious ‘research and development.’
The attitude of the larger wineries to Barossa fruit (which was “We’ll grow the quality, you grow the quantity!") stiffened the resolve to prove that fruit grown on the Vine Vale sand could produce wine that had the capability of standing alone; not only as Barossa Valley wine, but as a single vineyard product.

So in 1997, 5 second-hand barriques were purchased and experimentations with the varieties Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon began. The pressings and free run from the Cabernet and Shiraz were kept separate to note the different maturation processes of each wine in different styles of oak. Chris and Dennis' son, Christian, who was working at Rockford wines at the time, became an essential part of the team during this vintage. 

While working at Torbreck in 1998, Christian encountered Dan Phillips of 'The Grateful Palate'. Dan was a wine writer in the U.S. and a soon to be legendary importer of Australian wine to the States. Barrel samples of the 1996 Cabernet and 1997 Grenache, sent to the U.S., led to the sale of 11 cases and a review by Robert Parker Jr., which started the phones ringing

This brought about the inspiration to get stuck into the vineyard; at that time fully mechanized. The tedious but incredibly rewarding process of bringing back vines from their 'machine-deathbed' began, starting with the 40 year old Shiraz Slowly the old vines were pruned back, block by block. Gradually the quantity of wine produced increased, but more importantly, the improvement in the vineyard led to the improving quality of the wine itself.

In 1998, 7.5 tonnes were crushed and a white wine was made for the first time out of lowly Chenin Blanc, picked ripe and barrel aged. This was released in mid ‘99 and named ‘Christian’ as it was his “baby.” 1999 saw a crush of 10 tonnes, including Zinfandel (from 40 year old grafted vines) and Mouvedre (good old Barossa Mataro).

Though two thirds of the Canute vineyard crop is still sold to a local winery, we intend to steadily increase the amount of fruit used for the RUSDEN label. The current crush is around 40 tonnes a year for the RUSDEN label. All fruit is sourced from our own vineyard and all wine made on-site. RUSDEN is a family owned and operated vineyard and winery, determined to grow slowly and to produce only top quality hand-made wines.

Rusden, the vintage

The 2002 vintage in Australia will long be remembered the outstanding quality of the grapes harvested.  The red varieties show an intensity of flavor coupled with an lovely elegance and fine-grained tannins. Shiraz is characterized by ripe dark berry fruit and spicy black pepper flavors with fine-grained tannins and excellent length. Cabernet Sauvignon has thrived in the cool conditions, producing a crop with a wealth of blackcurrant, bramble and cassis flavors, a refined structure and clear varietal definition. Considered one of the best vintages in recent memory, the wine are approachable now, but will age magnificently.  As high quality as the 2001 Rusden wines were, the new 2002’s will certainly be seen as their best efforts yet. 


Rusden, the wines

Black Guts Shiraz

100 % Shiraz.  The fruit for the Shiraz comes off 40 year old vines which crop between 1 and 2 tons per acre. The wine spends 30 months in both new and old French and American barriques to provide up-front dense fruit with fine, soft tannins and a long, slippery finish.


 "The estate’s prodigious flagship offering is the 2001 Shiraz Black boasts a blue/black color as well as a fabulous bouquet of smoke, creosote, Asian spices, white flowers, and blackberry liqueur. Dense, full-bodied, and voluptuous, with fabulous precision, good acidity, magnificent concentration, and a fabulous finish, this is the kind of wine that only a handful of South Australia vineyards can consistently achieve. There is virtually nothing like it produced anywhere else in the world. It should drink well for 15+ years."  97 points, The Wine Advocate.

"Boundaries" Cabernet Sauvignon

100 % Cabernet Sauvignon.   The block that makes up the Cabernet is on our western boundary, with yields around 2.5 tonnes per acre. 30 months in new and old American and French oak provide the softness and balance for a full-bodied, Barossa Cabernet. This is a real mouthful that displays the richness of the Barossa Cabernet while providing true varietal Cabernet characters. One of the Barossa Valley's most understated varieties.


"Rusden’s 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Boundaries is a breathtaking 100% Cabernet Sauvignon cuvee from 15-year-old vines that ranks with some of the finest ever made in Australia. Chris Ringland told me that the clonal material planted in the early eighties is revealing tremendous potential, and that’s certainly evidenced in this offering. While not a huge Cabernet at 14% alcohol, it reveals the classic minty, tobacco leaf, cedar, and black currant scents of a high-class Bordeaux in addition to a dense ruby/purple color, and a delineated, structured, full-bodied style with a finish that lasts a full minute. This stunning effort can be drunk now or cellared for 10-15 years."  95 points, The Wine Advocate


"Ripper Creek" Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz

This is a classic Barossa blend, 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Shiraz, that has been almost all but forgotten in the past decade or so. The focus of this wine is the upfront fruit, complex nose and softness on the palate. Barrel aged in old casks for 18 months, this sort of softness is hard to find in Cabernet or Cabernet-dominated blends.


"The 2002 Ripper Creek...from 15-year-old vines, spent time in old French and American oak. A surprising effort of considerable individuality, it exhibits notions of scorched earth, blueberries, black currants, and licorice. With tremendous intensity, full-bodied power, and beautifully integrated acidity and tannin, and no evidence of wood, it is a gorgeously textured red (a characteristic of all the Rusden offerings) that can be drunk young or cellared for a decade or more."  94 points, The Wine Advocate.



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