Artisans of Barossa – John Duval Wines snapshot

Mar 02, 13 Artisans of Barossa – John Duval Wines snapshot

Posted by in Australia, Travel

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...

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Saturday snapshot – Yalumba Viognier Y series 2012

Feb 09, 13 Saturday snapshot – Yalumba Viognier Y series 2012

Posted by in Australia, Saturday Snapshot

The Queen of Australian Viognier, Louisa Rose was in town recently** to show off her wines and I was happy to be invited to a luncheon and tasting showcasing what she has been able to produce in the Australian  vineyards. Louisa has been working as Chief Winemaker for Yalumba winery, based in the Barossa, since 2006 but she first joined Yalumba in 1993 as, what we fondly refer to in the trade, a “cellar rat“. She has been with Yalumba ever since and has worked her way up through the ranks, learning from the legendary winemakers of Yalumba. Early on in the 1970s, Yalumba was captivated by the Viognier grape  (which originally hails from the Rhone region of France) and they planted what began as an experiment. Over the years they discovered that they vines did very well in  the cool climate Eden Valley region of the Barossa and it is from these vines that the majority of their Viognier is cultivated. They also source fruit from a number of additional sites in South Australia. The Viognier that Louisa and Yalumba are producing is made to be drunk with food. A big difference that I found with Yalumba’s Viogniers were the fact that although aromatic, they were not as aromatic as some Rhone wines. This is a good thing in my book as French Viogniers can sometimes knock you over with their powerful aromatics. Another quality that I admired very much in their Viogniers was the freshness and the minerality that ran through the wine. The most consumer-friendly wine that Yalumba produces is the Y Series Viognier. We tasted the 2012 before lunch and it was a cracker of a wine. Fresh and attractive nose with hints of citrus, melon and papaya it had a medium body with good weight but none of the oiliness that is often found in Rhone Viogniers. It was what I would call a sprite of a wine, a friendly wine to start one on a discovery of the Viognier grape. Although it carried alcohol levels...

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Chatting with Edgardo del Popolo of Dona Paula Estates, Argentina

Sep 24, 12 Chatting with Edgardo del Popolo of Dona Paula Estates, Argentina

Posted by in Argentina

“Blends are definitely the next step for Argentine malbec.” That opinion was voiced to me by Dona Paula winemaker Edgardo del Popolo while we were tasting a few of his wines the other day. Edgardo (or Edy as he prefers to be called) and I were at The Only Running Footman in Mayfair for a small tasting and we were chatting about not only Dona Paula’s wines but also meandered into the future of Argentine wine. Edy was referring specifically to malbec/cabernet franc blends. He thinks that consumers today are looking for not just everyday wines from Argentina but also for premium, high quality wines. And that is where blends come into play. Dona Paula have found some great vineyard spots in the Uco Valley of Mendoza and it is here that he’s planted not only cabernet franc but also chardonnay and malbec. Edy thinks that the cabernet franc lifts malbec, giving it the structure that it needs. He compares it to Bordeaux blends, merlot and cabernet sauvignon are fine on their own but put them together and it’s a whole different dimension. So what about these great vineyards that Edy was talking about? He was referring to the Altamira and Gualtallary vineyards of the Uco Valley. Dona Paula has such confidence in Edy that about 15 years ago he was tasked with finding the best region both in climate and soil for Dona Paula’s wines. Edy found both areas by flying over them and once identified, they had to ride in on horseback to inspect the soil as they were in a completely isolated region. Dona Paula then bought 160 hectares, each hectare going through extensive analysis to decide what would grow best there. Edy liked the region because the soils were particularly poor but full of calcium carbonate which he believes gives his wines the minerality he prizes. One of the grapes he thinks do well in the Gualtallary is chardonnay. Edy wants to make a chardonnay that is not the usual...

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