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John Duval Wines Plexus



Plexus SGM Overview and Philosophy

2016 Plexus

95 pts "A 52/30/18% blend open-fermented separately, the grenache with up to 20% whole bunches, matured for 15 months in French hogsheads (13% new). This is a very good Barossa Valley SGM, looking to the future rather than the past. While the flavours are complex, there is a lightness of touch ex the winery after careful monitoring of ripeness in the vineyards. Thus it has the best of both worlds, and by rights should please everyone with its mix of cherry, plum and blackberry couched in savoury tannins on the finish." James Halliday Halliday Wine Companion April 2018

94 pts "If you wanted to show someone the beauty of the GSM blend, you’d do well to show them this. It’s spot on. The spice, the florals, the rakes of dry tannin, the curls of anise, black cherry and woodsmoke. It’s not a big wine but it has a seriousness, a presence. The tannin in this wine; it sparks its way through from the mid palate on. Can’t fault this. It’s beautifully put together." Campbell Mattinson The Wine Front July 2018

4 1/2 stars "The subtle undergrowth complexity together with low-key oak and a whiff of grenache perfume work beautifully with the dark berry fruit. This isn't a big, alcoholic red, but the flavour length and fine tannins are very satisfying indeed." Lester Jesberg WIne Wise June 2018

2015 Plexus

94 pts " Richly robed in luscious fruits supported by gentle tannins and a dab of oak. It is well made (of course) and is strongly Barossan in temperament." James Halliday 2018 Halliday Wine Companion August 2017

93 pts "Reserved sweet-berried fruit scents, faint nougat, cedar, liquorice, undergrowth. Attractive set up. Medium weight, fruit forward, fine ribbons of tannin, bright acidity. This has such deliciousness to it. Lighter shade of Barossa in a way, fine feeling, but full flavoured, with crisp edges and a fresh finish. Indeed, it’s probably a bit light on for stalwarts of true blue Barossa red wines, but it is very good in its own way." Mike Bennie The Wine Front July 2017

92 pts "Deep red colour with a tint of purple and quite a lot of oak to sniff, together with smoke, char, toast and a subtle trace of spice. The palate is medium to full-bodied and nicely smooth-textured, notwithstanding ample tannins. The style is savoury and drying, with a clean, extended finish." Huon Hooke August 2017

2014 Plexus

#34 - Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2016

94 pts "As is appropriate, complex, but largely fruit-driven, with red cherries/berries and plums to the fore, oak and (particularly) tannins taking a back seat." James Halliday James Halliday's 2017 Wine Companion, August 2016

94 pts "Glossy, tangy, sumptuous dark berry fruits form an enticing core supported by impressively gauged dark chocolate oak, finely structured, beautifully polished tannins and well integrated acidity. It lingers long with even line. An impressive vintage for Plexus." Tyson Stelzer Barossa Living September 2016

93 pts "Rich, dark and spicy with chocolate nougat and subtle floral notes. Medium bodied, savoury, spicy, fruity and fleshy all at once, textured grainy tannin, balanced acidity, blackberry with some red fruited freshness on a long finish. Feels almost minerally. Tastes great."
Gary Walsh The Wine Front June 2016

93 pts "A sophisticated, spicy mix of date bread, cherry compote and clove flavors. Plump and velvety, with persistence and harmony on the finish. Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre. Drink now through 2026. MaryAnn Worobiec Wine Spectator Insider June 2016

92+ pts "Medium garnet-purple colored, the 2014 Plexus (a Shiraz, Grenache. Mourvèdre blend) is a little youthfully reticent, offering glimpses at black raspberry and mulberry aromas plus licorice, cracked black pepper, earth and lavender. Medium to full-bodied and still very primary in the mouth, it has a great intensity of red and black fruit flavors supported by ripe, rounded tannins and just enough freshness, finishing long and spicy." Lisa Perrotti-Brown The Wine Advocate June 2016

2013 Plexus

94 pts “In beautiful condition and shape. It tastes beautiful. Raspberry, blueberry and blackberry, no alarms or surprises, complemented by woody spice and fine, smoky oak. Everything is where it should be where you’d hope it to be.” James Halliday Wine Companion 2016

93 pts "Medium to deep garnet in color, the 2013 Plexus (a Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvèdre blend) gives slowly evolving raspberry tart, kirsch, potpourri and garrigue notes with underlying spice box and incense hints. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is velveteen textured with layers of expressive red fruits preserves and exotic spice flavors, finishing very long." Lisa Perrotti-Brown The Wine Advocate June 2016

93 pts “A blend of old vineyards across the Barossa floor, Plexus is a blend that evenly unites the black fruits of shiraz with the lively red berry fruits of Grenache, supported by the structure and savoury personality of mourvedre. The result is an appealing fruity and spicy style of well-framed, finely ground tannins.” Tyson Stelzer Barossa Living 2015

92 pts “Broad, expressive and open-textured, with a sense of restraint to the black cherry, blackberry, floral and wet earth flavors, finishing with density, harmony and persistence. Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre.” Harvey Steiman Wine Spectator 2015

91 pts “Medium to deep red colour with a trace of purple. The spicy but subtle bouquet shows some sweet and lightly herbal Grenache and Mataro pepper. The palate is likewise, with some plum and vanilla notes. It’s an elegant, medium bodied red with a measured tannin backbone which dries the finish. Very pleasant drinking already.” Huon Hooke July 2015

4.5/5 Stars “What I wrote about the first impressions of the Annexus applies here as well. A whiff of floral primary Grenache aroma shows through, but there’s a lot more – brooding blackberry and what the French call “garrigue”, which relates to herbs of Provence like rosemary and lavender. The palate confirms the nose. Again, it’s all about the savoury tannins matching the fruit intensity. A special SGM.” Lester Jesburg June 2015

2012 Plexus

Wine of the Week “John Duval was for many years the chief winemaker at Penfolds, crafting Grange, Bin 707 and other Australian wine icons.  These days he has his own label and sources fruit from old vineyards in and around the Barossa Valley.  This was the wine with which he kicked off his new enterprise a decade ago, a Rhone-style blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvèdre.  And boy is this new release a cracker.  From one of the best vintage in living memory, it has both power and elegance and is approachable now while being cellar worthy.  Fifteen months in French oak have added structure and texture to the blackberry and spice notes and the end results taste like a wine that should command at least twice the price.” Winsor Dobbin Wine of the Week – July 2014

95 pts “The former Penfolds chief winemaker hasn’t put a foot wrong since launching his own label in 2003.  His reds are his strength, reflecting his Barossa Valley base.  Plexus is usually the most charming and approachable of his reds in its youth, and 2012 is a top vintage.  The aromas are attractively spicy, clean and fresh, while the palate is intense and well-balanced, with soft tannins and spicy re-fruit flavours.  There are hints of aniseed and plum.  The texture is smooth and fleshy; it’s medium to full-bodied and deliciously drinkable despite its youth.  Enjoy now to 15 years.” Huon Hooke The Sydney Morning Herald July 2014

92 pts “Deep Ruby.  Complex aromas of red and dark berries, pipe tobacco, peppery spices and fresh flowers.  Juicy and precise on the palate, offering sweet black raspberry and cherry compote flavours that flesh out and become spicier with air.  Tightens back up on the long, incisive finish, which is firmed by dusty, fine-grained tannins,  This wine saw only 10% new French oak.” Josh Raynolds Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar August 2014

92 pts “A Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre blend, the 2012 Plexus has a medium-dense garnet color and offers kirsch, preserved plumbs, blueberry pie and dried mulberry notes with a Christmas fruit cake undercurrent. Full-bodied and packed with spicy, blackberry preserves flavors, it has velvety tannins and a refreshing lift in the long finish.” Lisa Perrotti-Brown Wine Advocate June 2015

2011 Plexus

89+ pts "A blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre, the medium to deep garnet colored 2011 Plexus offers up an alluring nose of kirsch, warm red currants and spiced black cherries with underlying nuances of rose petals, dried herbs, cinnamon and pepper.  Medium to full-bodied with just enough expressive fruit in the mouth, it has a medium level of chewy tannins, bright acidity and a finish with good length.." Lisa Perrotti-Brown Robert Parkers the Wine Advocate March 2014

91 pts “Broad and open-textured, with pure blueberry and spice flavours. Not heavy, but the flavours persist into the deftly balanced finish.  Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre.”
Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator February 2014

91 pts "Spice - and floral-accented aromas of candied red berries and bitter cherry.  Bright and refreshing, with strong finishing cut, supple tannins and a late jolt of peppery spices.  I really like this pinot-like focus and texture." Josh Raynolds The International Wine Cellar - July 2013

2010 Plexus

95 pts "Medium to deep garnet in color, the 2010 Plexus is starting to morph into a meaty, savory nose with core of kirsch and blueberry preserves, plus potpourri and a touch of cranberry sauce. The palate has great structure, still—all rounded and plush—with maturing, savory fruit leading to a very long finish." Lisa Perrotti-Brown The Wine Advocate October 2016

Double Gold Medal  - 5 Nations Wine Challenge 2012

93 pts "Another excellent Plexus ... taut and firm in the mouth, the tannins are ample and fleshy and the finish long and textured." Huon Hooke Sydney Morning Herald November 2012

95 (96) / 100 "Figgy, pruney & a little alcoholic smelling at first, but as it opens up, sweet-earthy Mourvedre characters build, plus abundant forest berries smells. There's a gentleness before it gets richer and loaded with fruit cake and dark chocolate. A seriously smart wine from a master of his craft." Tim White The Australian Financial Review

92 pts "Bright violet color. Dark berries, licorice, mocha, lavender and black pepper on the nose. Supple and smooth in texture, with fresh blueberry and blackberry fruit complicated by touches of mocha and vanilla. Offers a suave combination of depth and vivacity, finishing with clinging sweetness and subtle floral notes.' Josh Raynolds The International Wine Cellar July 2012

93/100 “The Shiraz, Grenache and mourvedre blend from Duval is a very handy wine in the 2010 vintage, showing an array of creamy summer berry fruits on the nose, some smooth, cedary oak adding spice here too: fresh and intense. The palate has supple, lively kick, toasty oak wafts through the ripe plum, pomegranate and summer berry fruit flavours, and there’s a touch of leather to the close.” Nick Stock SHM and The Age Good Wine Guide 2013

2009 Plexus

"This has lovely floral, damask quality on nose and palate to its supple, rolling layers of red and black fruits. Very Good. Sarah Ahmed The Wine Detective October 2013

Double Gold Medal - 5 Nations Wine Challenge 2011

96 pts “The Crimson-purple hue puts the often insipid colour of Barossa Valley SGM's to shame; the fragrant bouquet and vibrant black cherry and plum fruit of the palate likewise; quality French oak has been used to maximum advantage.”
James Halliday, 2012 The Wine Companion

92 pts "Bright purple. A complex and expressive nose displays spice-accented red berries and candied cherry, along with anise, vanilla and cola.  The spiciness carries onto the palate, adding bite and lift to the red fruit compote and floral flavours. Becomes sweeter on the clinging, impressively persistent finish, which leaves notes of smoke and licorice behind. Already drinking very well. Josh Raynolds Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar - New York July 2011

93 pts “Polished, round and plus, but not over the top, offering a mouthful or ripe blueberry, blackberry, cream and spice flavours that merge seamlessly and persistent through the long, refined finish. Shiraz Grenache and Mourvedre. Drink now through 2020. HS.”
Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator April 2011

Nick Stock WINE 100 – June 2011

92+pts “It’s not heavy or especially intense, but the more I tasted this wine the more impressed I become. It’s beautifully ripened. It’s exquisitely well structure. It tastes of peanuts and raspberries, blackberries and Asian spices. Cloves, cinnamon, anise. It has sweetness and savouriness. And it’s delightful from go to whoa. The Grenache (I suspect) plays a starring role here. It’s the balance and harmony of this wine that makes it impressive.” Campbell Mattinson, the Wine Front – May 2011

95 pts “Full red-purple, good colour. Young but dusty/earthy aromas dominate. Attractive savoury, nicely concentrated but not over-wrought wine. Intense, deep and layered, full of interest and has a nice core of fruit sweetness, while the finish is clean and dry – and long. Even a touch of elegance to it. Very good wine. Huon Hooke June 2011

2008 Plexus

93+pts “The 2008 Plexus Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre is a decidedly Shiraz dominant version of this classic blend. Deep garnet-purple colored, it gives an abundance of Indian spice aromas – cumin seed, fenugreek and cloves - over raspberry cordial, preserved blackberry, dusty earth, powdered cinnamon and moss covered tree bark. The full-bodied palate displays the elegance of this blend in its effortless harmony, offering a medium-high level of very fine tannins, crisp acid and ample opulent flesh with a long finish. Drink it now to 2018+.”
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate December 2010.

95 pts “Purple-red; Barossa Valley blends of Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre seldom have the poise, conviction or richness of this wine; the flavours are multi layered yet not the least jammy, the tannins particularly good, the length all one can ask for. Screwcap.”
James Halliday, The Wine Companion 2011 – July 2010

93 pts “Inky ruby. Expressive black raspberry and cherry aromas are complicated by black and white pepper and incense. A floral note comes up air and carries onto the palate, joining sweet red and dark berry preserve flavors and undertones of anise and candied rose. A hint of candied flowers lingers on a very long, sappy finish. I'd have no problem drinking this now. For a wine from a ripe vintage this is quite elegant. ”
Josh Raynolds, Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar - 16th July 2010

90 pts “Bright and jazzy, with a smoky edge to the tart blackberry and cherry flavours, picking up a licorice note on the finish. Has complexity and balance, and cellaring should bring it all together. Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre. Best from 2012 through 2018.”
Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator July 2010

Silver Medal
Decanter World Wine Awards 2011 – London

100 Best Australian Wines May 2011
Matthew Jukes, 100 Best Australian Wines

93 pts “The 2008 Plexus Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre is a decidedly Shiraz dominant version of this classic blend. Deep garnet-purple colored, it gives and abundance of Indian spice aromas – cumin seed, fenugreek and cloves – over raspberry cordial, preserved blackberry, dusty earth, powdered cinnamon and moss covered tree bark. The full-bodied palate displays the elegance of this blend in its effortless harmony, offering a medium-high level of very fine tannins, crisp acid and ample opulent flesh with long finish. Drink it now to 2018+.”
Lisa Perrotti-Brown - Robert Parkers, The Wine Advocate – December 2010

 2007 Plexus

93 pts “Fine elegant and well structured, this balanced and approachable red blend has a fresh, briary and slightly confiture-like aroma of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries and sweet chocolate/vanilla oak with licorice and clove-like undertones. Its vibrant, mouthfilling and juicy, round and generous, delivering a smooth, creamy presence on the palate delightfully stuffed with dark fruits and underpinned by fine tannins. It finishes dusty and savoury, with meaty elements balanced by sweet oak.”
Jeremy Oliver, The Australian Wine Annual 2010

93 pts “Bright, but light, colour; a fragrant bouquet of red fruits is replicated on the light-to medium- bodied palate, backed by gossamer fine, savoury tannins.”
James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion 2010

92 pts “This is one of the very best of its type, stunningly complex, balanced, seamless and full of Barossa generosity.”
Rob Geddes MW, “The Gold Book”, Australian Wine Vintages 2010

92 pts “Deep ruby-red. Fresh raspberry and cherry aromas display a striking southern Rhone-like character, with complicating notes of dried flowers, spicecake and minerals. Juicy and smooth, with sweet red berry flavors and gentle tannins. The finish is brisk, gently sweet and long. No way I'd have guessed that this came from a drought year. Ninety percent of this wine was raised in five- or six-year-old French hogsheads, the rest in new casks.”
Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar Autumn 2009

91+pts “John Duval Wines don’t take many steps wrong. This is a clean, pure, fruit-packed wine that still - despite its jammy, raspberried, blackberried flavours - manages some kind of elegance. It’s the polish, the lack of any overt alcohol heat, the undercurrent of earthy, loamy complexity. Really enjoy the juiciness here. Not sure it has quite the impact through the finish to warrant a higher rating. But the quality and enjoyment is clear here.”
Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front, October 5 2009

2006 Plexus

95 pts, “The 2006 Plexus is composed of 52% Shiraz, 30% Grenache, and 18% Mourvedre. Purple-colored, it offers up an exotic concoction of underbrush, violets, leather, black cherry, and blueberry pie. On the palate, this sexy effort is opulent, succulent, incipiently complex, and altogether hedonistic. It should perform well for a decade. In the scheme of things, it is also a terrific value."
Jay Miller, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 2009

95 pts "A beautifully balanced and utterly seamless array of red and black fruits, without a scintilla of confection character; lovely now or in 10 years. Bargain."
James Halliday 2009 Australian Wine Companion

93++pts "Lovely apt oak gives this exquisite Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre blend the air of an old Barossa barn: it seems like a long time ago. Whiffs of ancient spicebox and cedar coffee grinders add to the nostalgia; there's a piquant edge of aniseed, too. Then comes a rise of elegant fleshy fruit, very clean and modern. The palate is all silk and satin, with langorous, very fine tannins. It's superb now - especially if decanted - but will be majestic in a decade, under that screw cap. Perfect with a cassoulet of Kanmantoo smoked hock, plenty of chilli and black pepper."
Phillip White, Independent Weekly, June 4, 2008

92 pts "Pinot-like red fruits, minerals and flowers on the nose, with a gentle baking spice undertone. Sappy and fresh, with vivid raspberry, cherry and smoky mineral flavors. Gains weight and sweetness with air but maintains vivacity, finishing clean, brisk and juicy."
Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, July, 2008

100 Best Australian Wines for 2008 "John has cleverly managed to give this wine impeccable balance from the word go and that is a rare talent when you bear in mind the characteristics of the grapes in the mix. So when will it peak? I would be surprised if it doesn't make a decade in perfect nick. The Southern Rhone has never been under such pressure to respond to the challenge from Down Under."
Matthew Jukes, The Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines, 2008.

Silver - International Wine Challenge, London 2008

95 pts “Medium full red, slight purple. Floral aromas, clean and aromatic. Palate is rich and full, fruit-sweet and luscious. Quite a different style, but lovely. Has real weight, presence, depth of flavour and length. Fruit sweetness is exceptional. Lovely wine indeed…” Huon Hooke December 2008

2005 Plexus

94 pts "Medium to deep garnet-brick colored, the 2005 Plexus has an alluring earthy, meaty, gamey nose over dried mulberry, kirsch and sandalwood at its core. The palate is wonderfully ripe, rich and concentrated, with a seductively soft texture and great length." Lisa Perrotti-Brown The Wine Advocate October 2016

93 pts "I love the interplay of sweet, juicy fruit, supple tannins and understated oak. Finishes with the clarity, complexity and persistence of wines that cost three times the price. Once of the greatest values in Australian wine today."
Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, July 2007

92 pts "Opaque purple-colored, it offers up an enticing bouquet of cedar, spice box, tobacco, smoked meat and game, black cherry, and blueberry. This is followed by a full-bodied wine with lush, opulent fruit, mouth-filling flavours, and a seamless, forward style.
Jay Miller, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, October 31, 2007

Silver - International Wine Challenge, London, 2007

92 pts “Deep purple red; very good colour. Attractive aromas, spices, berries and faint berry-jam hints. Quite firm and viscous in mouth. Deep and full of flavour, weighty and solid, with lots of alcohol but in balance with rich, smooth, perfectly ripened fruit. Excellent fruit sweetness and has some style.” Huon Hooke April 2007


Gold - 2006 International Wine Challenge, London

95 Points "Far more structure and substance than the majority of Barossa Valley blends of these varieties; abundant, spicy black fruits; excellent tannins and oak."
James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion, 2007

93 Points "Rich, sumptuous bouquet of blueberries, tree bark, earth, pepper, and background floral scents."
Robert Parker Jr, The Wine Advocate, October, 2006

Wine of the Week "Barossa reds are not always to my taste...But this one I found seriously well crafted, expressing Barossa's extreme heat and slightly medicinal quality but with great gentleness and approachability."
Jancis Robinson, Jancis, August 8, 2006

91 Points "Ripe blackberry and pomegranate flavours, balanced with lively acidity."
The Wine Spectator Insider, July 12, 2006

"Here's the former Grange maker's Barossa shiraz grenache mataro blend, and a beautiful thing it is. Fine, tight, intense and perfectly focused and balanced, it shows that you can get higher alcohol without jam and fudge. It has lovely viscosity but, like the French oak, even that's overshadowed a tad by the sheer tart intensity of the fruit. Twenty years.
Philip White, The Adelaide Advertiser April, 2006

"The Plexus, predictably is softer, broader, fleshier, more floral and fruit sweet- typical of Rhone blends - but, being Shiraz-dominant, it has better backbone than many of the more grenache-led Rhone styles about the place."
Huon Hooke, Sydney Morning Herald, March 14, 2006


94 Points "From Penfolds former winemaker's debut release is the 2003 Plexus, a brilliant blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre that was aged in 30% new French oak. At present there are only 500 cases of this stunning effort, but hopefully production will increase. A dense ruby/purple colour is followed by an extraordinarily precise nose of flowers, blackberries, kirsch, licorice and a hint of Provencal herbs. A pleasant smokiness and meaty richness also emerge as the wine sits in the glass. Opulent, full bodied, stunningly pure, and dense as well as elegant and well delineated, it can be drunk now or cellared for 10 to 12 years. Kudos to John Duval."
Robert Parker Jr, The Wine Advocate, October 2005

93 Points "If you love Barossa reds, this one feels like a best friend who's always there for you."
Wine and Spirit Magazine, June 2005

Duval made Grange when he was chief winemaker for Penfolds. No surprise, then, that this Shiraz/Grenache blend, the first wine to be released under his own label is a cracker: spicy, tightly wound wild berry fruit, fine tannins and superb length. Intense but elegant now, it should also age superbly.
Max Allen, The Australian Magazine, April 23-24, 2005

An excellent red, as you'd expect from the former Penfolds chief, cast in a complex, savory style without excess of oak or alcohol. The bouquet has nutmeg and other subtle spices, together with raspberry and cranberry fruit. Serious depth: now to 2010.
Huon Hooke, Sydney Morning Herald, Good Living, April 19, 2005

"Since leaving Southcorp, where he made flagships like Penfolds Grange, eyes have been on John Duval. What next for this celebrated winemaker? We have the answer: his own range of old-vine Barossa reds. The first installment is delicious and richly concentrated, all ripe berries, spices and dates with subtle oak, mouth coating texture and ripe, friendly tannins."
Ralph Kyte-Powell, The Melbourne Age Epicure Uncorked, March 22, 2005

94 Points "Duval returns to duty with a near perfect example of the traditional Barossa blend, but with more fragrance, finesse, elegance and intensity than most modern Barossa reds. The wine has astounding length and persistence and haunts the palate long after the glass empties. It's gently spicy, complex and silky with savoury velvet tannins to make you hungry. It'll cellar for at least 15 years, but it'll be very hard to keep past 2010 by which time it will be an absolute dream."
Philip White, The Adelaide Advertiser, February 24, 2005