We’ve just pressed off our last ferment for the vintage, and as the we sit back and reflect on John’s 48th Barossa vintage it is one that will be remembered fondly.
When asked to sum up the vintage, John reflected that:
“it is a rarity to get healthy yields like we have in 2021, and at the same time, impressive depth of colour and intensity of flavour. While not as cool as 2012 or 2017, the mild conditions around harvest made for perfect ripening. Pleasingly the wines show a vibrance and elegance expressed in the best cooler years, but not without trademark Barossa generosity. “
This week sees us heading into the final stages of vintage here in the Barossa with just one Mataro vineyard on the valley floor left to pick. With warm sunny days and cooler nights over the last few weeks resulting in ideal ripening conditions, the region is buzzing with happy winemakers and grape growers alike.
This last fortnight has seen the arrival in the winery of our much-prized Centenarian Vine Mataro from Lights Pass, the great news is that yields are higher than last year and the wine is looking fantastic. As ever, Eden Valley plays an important part in the DNA of our wines, we finished picking in Eden Valley just before Easter and the Shiraz from Mt McKenzie and Grenache from Stonegarden in Springton is looking fantastic.
Vintners Bar & Grill has been a local institution for 20+ years with Head Chef Pete Clarke at the helm since its opening. The menu is packed with an ever-changing array of dishes using fantastic local produce. However, there is one dish that has held steady over the years and the secret behind its success is in its simplicity and an exceptional quality cut of meat. Perfectly paired with the 2006 Plexus SGM that the team at Vintners are currently offering.
Scotch Fillet with Shoyu Dressing.
The best quality Scotch fillet that you can purchase, cooked to your liking (medium rare recommended) and well-rested.
Slice the Scotch across the grain and dress with the Shoyu dressing (at room temperature) and top with finely chopped chives, serve with french fries and a glass of Plexus SGM.
½ cup mirin (sweet cooking wine)
¼ cup sake (rice wine)
¼ cup shoyu (soy sauce)
2 tablespoons sugar
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 akatogarashi (Japanese dried red chilli peppers)
Pour the mirin and sake into a small saucepan, set it over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Add the shoyu, sugar, garlic, and red chilli pepper and cook, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Turn the heat to low and cook for 8 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool. Store the sauce in a clean jar with a lid. The next day, remove the garlic (but leave the red chilli pepper). The sauce keeps several months in the refrigerator.
In the last fortnight, vintage has really kicked into gear here in the Barossa. After starting our first pick with Shiraz in Krondorf just south of Tanunda, we have worked our way through most of our Barossa Valley Shiraz vineyards, with this week seeing very old vine Ebenezer shiraz filling the winery with amazing aroma and vibrant colour. We also have the main components of our Plexus white blend happily fermenting at the winery. Part of the Marsanne component of the blend has just gone to some new oak to finish off and help build texture.
Eden Valley vineyards are coming along nicely with ripening somewhat slowed by cooler overnight temperatures that we have experienced this last week. The mild but sunny conditions have been perfect, allowing flavour to build slowly but surely. With good conditions forecast next week we’ll look to make a start on the first of our Barossa Valley Grenache with Mataro still a few weeks away but already shaping up as a one to watch for V21.
8 large spencer gulf king prawns, shell removed with tail tip and head left on
100g plain flour
1 egg white
sea salt flakes
oil for frying
1 ripe avocado
3 desert or sunrise limes
1 tsp glucose
1 tsp olive oil
pinch of salt
3 breakfast radishes
1 bunch coriander
trout roe or salmon roe
Mix together the plain flour and the cornflour, add the egg white, then add just enough soda whilst mixing gently with a fork until it looks like thick lumpy paint. Don’t worry about the lumps you don’t have to get them all out. Place batter in the fridge until ready to use.
In the meantime, remove the skin and seed from the avocado and remove the flesh from limes. To do this cut limes in half lengthways and scrape out the flesh with a teaspoon, you may at this point need to remove some seeds. Then blend or whisk avocado, lime, glucose, olive oil and salt until smooth.
Next, slice radishes with a sharp knife or a mandolin into rounds, place them in ice water to make them extra crisp. Pick and wash some coriander leaves.
Heat oil to around 165C, if you don’t have a thermometer, add a few drops of batter and see if it bubbles and floats straight away. Dip your prawn’s tails first into the batter but only up to the shell, then place gently into the fryer and cook for around 5 minutes until the batter looks crisp and the heads look cooked. Remove and dry on pa per towel, season with sea salt.
Let cool for just one minute then top with avocado puree (suggest using a piping bag), radish slices, coriander leaves and roe. Serve as 2 for an entree with a chilled glass of the Plexus MRV.
Vintage 2021 is just around the corner here in the Barossa. The region received good Winter and Spring rainfalls last year so there is cause for some excitement within the regions winemakers and grape growers.
While it is still very early days we are seeing veraison begin within some of our Shiraz vineyards on the Barossa Valley floor. This is a great time to be out and about in the vineyards as the little green berries start to swell and change colour.
It is heartening to see some great fruit set on our centenarian vine Mataro after lower yields for the last few vintages. This vineyard is entirely dry grown on sandy soils, so is reliant upon good spring rain to ensure a good crop each year. We can’t wait to see what it looks like in a few months time when it makes its way to the winery.
In the higher Eden Valley the grapes are tracking along a few weeks behind the warmer Barossa Valley. Again we are hoping for some better yields this year after several vintages of lower volumes as Shiraz from the cooler vineyards of the region are an important element in our style.
A new wine to our portfolio, the purpose of creating Integro is to craft a benchmark Cabernet Shiraz blend that celebrates exceptional Barossa vineyards. But to achieve this has commanded much patience – to first identify and source fruit from the best vineyards, then to wait for precisely the right vintage conditions whilst also adhering to the rigorous classification processes that we apply to every John Duval wine from vineyard to bottle. We are now very proud to present the first release of Integro from the 2017 vintage.
The conceptual origins of this special wine can be traced to John’s near 30 year winemaking career at Penfolds, where he made and enjoyed many wines sourced from great South Australian vineyards. Amongst the many Penfolds Special Bin wines, perhaps the most memorable wines for him were the Barossa Cabernet Sauvignons made from the famous Block 42 vineyard at Kalimna.
Since establishing John Duval Wines in 2003, John has always had in mind the idea to produce a Cabernet Shiraz blend as our family’s contribution to the proud and distinctly Australian tradition of blending these two varieties. An age worthy wine that would reward extended cellaring, allowing its journey of evolution to be enjoyed over many years. A wine from special Barossa vineyards, and produced only when the right vintage conditions prevailed.
In 2013 we were offered some old vine Grenache from the historic Stonegarden Vineyard, located to the east of Springton. First planted in 1858, this vineyard is home to some of the oldest surviving vines in the world and in recent years has produced a string of award winning wines – including our own Annexus Grenache. The site also had old plantings of Cabernet with the earliest established in the late 1880’s, and we were very fortunate to secure the small amount of fruit that it yielded.Dry grown and at around 400m altitude, this very special site produces low yields of small berries of intense Cabernet flavour. Patience was rewarded, and in 2017 we were presented with a stunning parcel of fruit displaying excellent balance, elegance and classic Cabernet characters which was to become the core of our first Integro release.
The Cabernet was matured in French oak hogsheads for 18 months before blending with a small parcel of exceptional 2017 Barossa Valley Shiraz (10%) to balance the palate and produce a complete wine; hence the name Integro – meaning to make whole – was assigned to this special wine.
Whilst true to the John Duval style of elegance and structure, and approachable as a young wine, Integro is designed to reward extended bottle maturation. We sense the wine will enter its peak drinking window around 15 years from vintage, but like all great Cabernet Sauvignon the opportunity for ageing is considerably longer.
The single bottle price is $220, with 3 bottles available in a special wooden shipper for $660. $10 shipping per order applied for all deliveries to Australian addresses. As you’d expect for a special wine from a small, low yielding vineyard, quantities are extremely limited.
Head over to our Wines + Shop page to purchase and for more information.
At last night’s Halliday Wine Companion Awards held at the National Gallery in Melbourne, our 2017 ‘Entity’ Shiraz received the award for ‘Shiraz of the Year’. The 99 point rating placed the wine in elite company, and being named Best Shiraz propelled it to the pinnacle of wines made from Australia’s signature grape variety Shiraz. The award marks another highpoint for our family business, and positions John Duval Wines amongst the great names in Australian wine. It’s an achievement we are exceptionally proud of, especially so considering Entity was just one of over several thousand of Australia’s best wines featured in the 2020 James Halliday Wine Companion guide.
Since the 99 point rating made news earlier this year, demand for the wine has been overwhelming and we and our many retail partners have sold out. (However, there’s no denying a determined search may yield a few rare bottles here and there.) As news of this new award spreads, we no doubt will once again be inundated with requests to purchase 2017 Entity Shiraz, stocks of which are now limited to our museum reserves.
Entity is always a limited production wine, and unfortunately the amount we typically hold in reserve will be in no way sufficient to meet every request. We have therefore decided the most equitable way of allocating some of this wine destined for our museum is through a new feature of our JD Wine Club.
We are pleased to confirm that John Duval Wines has again been selected by Huon Hooke and the team at The Real Review as one of the Top Wineries of Australia for 2019. On the back of some fantastic recent reviews we came in at #56 (up 100 places from 156 in the 2018 edition).
The Real Review Certificate of Excellence is awarded to a select group of wineries that consistently produce excellent wine. Certificate recipients are determined by The Real Review’s proprietary algorithm, which takes into account the rating and recency of reviews by The Real Review team over the assessment period.
The full list makes for interesting reading and can be viewed here.