On my flying trip to the Barossa, I stopped into visit the folks at Artisans of Barossa on my first afternoon.
Artisans of Barossa is a collection of 7 Barossa wine makers who have banded together to showcase their different wine styles as well as the diversity of the terroir of the region. The 7 producers are: John Duval Wines, Hobbs of Barossa, Massena, Schwarz Wine Co. , Sons of Eden, Spinifex, and Teusner. They have a tasting room set amidst the vines which is set on a small hill and boasts lovely views of the area. Chef Mark McNamara has created a tempting selection of wine friendly food to have after you’ve finished tasting.
Every weekend, one or two of the winemakers are on hand to pour their wines and chat with visitors. The day I visited, John Duval had taken some time out away from the harvest to man the tasting room. John was formerly the chief winemaker of Penfold’s for almost 30 years before finally setting up his own winery. He only makes 4 wines because he wants to put all his energy into making the best wine possible.
John poured his 2012 Plexus white, a blend of marsanne, roussane, and viognier, first. John deliberately added only 10% viognier because he wanted the viognier to be evident on the palate but not on the nose and it is a rather subtle wine with delicate aromas emanating from the glass. The viognier does contribute a textured but not oily feel to the wine with honeysuckle, white fruits and a clean citrus finish on the palate.
The Barossa has some of, if not the oldest vines in the world in the form of shiraz and the next wine, the 2011 Plexus comes from vines that were planted in the 1850’s. It’s a blend of shiraz, grenache and mataro. Smooth and rounded tannins, spicy and savoury but still showing bright red fruits on the palate. An elegant wine with minerality and balanced acidity, delicious but at the same time, a serious wine.
The 2011 Entity is 100% shiraz, perfumed nose, a pretty wine with savoury lifted fruit on the palate and a peppery note before finishing with ripe red fruits. Balanced and structured, it was a vibrant wine and was calling for some food to go with it.
The last wine John makes is his super premium shiraz,2009 Eligo. Eligo means, “to pick out, select, choose the best” in Latin and that’s what John has done. He picks only the best grapes from selected blocks in the Barossa and Eden Valleys. For him, this wine should be about texture and length. 2009 had heat early on but the rest of the vintage was fine and his wine from that year has a perfumed nose of fruit and spice, loads of blackberry and blueberry, the fruit rolling around the palate with integrated oak to round it out.
2013 has been a funny vintage, with all the fruit ripening at the same time. I asked John his opinion which I captured on Vine. Click on the link to see what he thinks of 2013.