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2017 Entity Halliday’s Shiraz of the Year

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.

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Top Wineries of Australia 2019

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.


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2017 Entity – 99 pts James Halliday

We have been fortunate to recently receive a fantastic review of our 2017 Entity Shiraz. James Halliday scored it 99 points in his review in the Weekend Australia ‘Winter Warmers’ feature, commenting “From old vines in five districts, fermented with submerged cap, matured in French oak (32% new) for 15 months. Complex and rich from first whiff, it doesn’t waste a single berry of this great vintage. So much power, such elegance.” 

This is fantastic recognition for John’s 46 vintages of Shiraz winemaking in the Barossa.


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Winter 2018

2018 Vintage: Our 15th Anniversary

The 2018 vintage is well and truly done and dusted, with all our latest wines safely tucked away in barrel and tank to mature. Exceptional colours, vibrant yet concentrated fruit with plenty of structure on the palate, 2018 is already shaping up as a cracking year.

This year John celebrated his 45th Barossa vintage, and the 15th anniversary since leaving Penfolds to start our own family winery. Certainly 30 odd years with Penfolds wasn’t a bad apprenticeship when starting your own wine brand! There have been a whole host of highlights over the last 15 years. John recalls the lead up to release of the first vintage of Plexus as being one of the most stressful and nerve racking moments in his life (even more so than finalising the Grange blend for 16 years). Certainly his wife Pat can attest to this, but the wines have been well received, and on the whole, the move to making small quantities of wines from special vineyards in the Barossa has been a great ‘second chapter.’ And there is plenty more to come…

The early 80’s Penfolds wine making crew, including Max Schubert, Don Ditter and a young John (sporting a very healthy Mo).


February 2005, front page of the Adelaide Advertiser and a great review to boot for the inaugural 2003 Plexus Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre

Our very first 100% varietal Mataro. Old vines. Tiny production.

Last Chance…. 2016 Annexus

Since we released the inaugural Annexus Mataro in February, it has just about all been snapped up. A 97 point review from James Halliday certainly doesn’t go astray, but we’d like to think that it’s what’s in the glass that counts, and those 115 year old Mataro vines are certainly singing at the moment. We’d like to offer our loyal mailing list customers the last opportunity to purchase our remaining twenty six-packs. Similarly we are down to the the last twenty six-packs of the 2016 Annexus Grenache, so if you haven’t tried the latest release 2016 we encourage you to take a look.

Here’s what James Halliday had to say about the 2016 Annexus Mataro:

97 Pts “The inaugural release, open-fermented and matured in French hogsheads (25% new) for 12 months. It’s a fool’s errand to nominate a drink-to date for this wine! Mataro is a notable age-worthy variety, and one made from low yielding 100+yo vines by a red wine master maker who held responsibility for making Grange for many years. The colour is beautiful, a deep, vibrant crimson, the bouquet complex and rich, the palate with layer upon layer of mainly black fruits that keep their feet on the throat of any tannins trying to make centre stage.” James Halliday Wine Companion February 2018

….and Lester Jesberg of Wine Wise in respect of the 2016 Annexus Grenache:

5 Stars “This is definitely not the typical Turkish delight Barossa grenache. The dark berry/raspberry fruit carries very pleasing complex notes that the French sometimes refer to as garrigue (herbs of Provence). The tannins are super-fine on the palate that is sumptuous but not heavy. A very special grenache.” Lester Jesberg Wine Wise June 2018


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Annexus Mataro

Mataro’s Time to Shine

After 44 Barossa vintages (the 45th about to begin), John (with a little pushing from Tim) has finally decided to release a 100% Mataro. Think about that for a minute… that’s a lot of experience tasting amazing old vine Mataro, assessing quality and style before taking the plunge with a straight release.

What changed? Well, in 2016 we were very fortunate to receive some perfectly timed rains in late January / early February. These rains helped to break up quite a hot start to 2016, slow down ripening and allow for more flavour development.

The rains were a godsend for the amazing 115 year old, dry grown Mataro bush vines we have the privilege of utilising. The vines were in fantastic condition leading up to harvest and fortunately yielded enough fruit with great concentration and structure to bottle the inaugural Annexus Mataro.

Our very first 100% varietal Mataro. Old vines. Tiny production.

A Special Place

The vineyard in question is a single site located in the Barossa Valley parish of Light Pass. This is an area in the Northern end of the Valley, a few kilometres out of Nuriootpa. The old, gnarly bush vines do it tough, growing on very sandy soils without any irrigation.

The vineyard is steeped in history, with John first dealing with the original owners, the Scholz family, in his Penfolds years. Undoubtedly the site contributed to some pretty special fortified wines over the years, and it is with a sense of pride that we are now able to finally recognise the history and pedigree of the site with its own bottling.

Grower Mike Scholz delivering hand picked Mataro to a happy winemaker, John.

Pre-Release – 2016 Annexus Mataro

Before we officially release the Mataro to our distributors, we’d like to offer our loyal mailing list customers the first opportunity to snap some up! Similarly to our Annexus Grenache, quantities are very limited – we’ve only made a total of 250 cases all up – fruit of this calibre from 115 year old vineyards is hard to come by….

2016 was an excellent year for Mataro. It is an richly layered, spicy, complex expression of old vines. Vibrant, bright purple in colour it has amazing concentration of flavour without being overtly heavy. The 2016 is quite seductive on release with its array of rich dark fruit and lifted spices. It has all the right ingredients, in particular wave after wave of mouth coating tannins, to age gracefully for many years to come.

New Release – 2015 Eligo Shiraz

We’ve also extended member pricing to our other wines during this time, including the brand new release of our flagship Shiraz, Eligo. The 2014 Eligo sold out in quick time after receiving some lovely reviews (including 97pts from James Halliday). The 2015 Eligo is a very worthy follow on, destined to become a classic. It is perhaps more seriously structured than the 2014, and has amazing layers of silky dark fruits and a long generous palate.

Amazing colour in the old vine Mataro ferment, mid pump-over


As this update goes to press we have just kicked off the 2018 vintage with some Marsanne from Stonewell (a little area just out of Tanunda before Marananga). This Marsanne is destined to become a component of the 2018 Plexus White.

The next few weeks will be a critical stage of ripening for most of our Barossa Valley Shiraz. We’ll be spending a lot of time out walking vineyard rows, tasting berries and chewing skins in order to try and catch the grapes at optimum sugar and flavour ripeness.

Looking west from Les Fenson’s Marananga Shiraz vineyard, likely to be our first Shiraz pick. Here’s hoping for more days like this for the rest of vintage

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The Year of Grenache

The Year of Greanche

2017 has been an amazing year for Grenache. Often overlooked in favour of its more widely planted friend Shiraz, Grenache has been somewhat of a winemakers favourite without attracting as much public recognition. Boy did that change in 2017, with our Barossa friends Turkey Flat taking out the Jimmy Watson Trophy for Best Wine at the Melbourne Wine Show (for their 2016 Grenache), and a Grenache also winning wine of show at the Barossa and McLaren Vale wine shows.

We’ve also been spreading the word internationally, presenting at a Wine Australia led panel in Boston where the trade enjoyed a masterclass of 16 different Grenache expressions. The wines were a revelation for many in the room.

Grenache Masterclass in Boston. The ’15 Annexus Grenache was in good company.

Here at our home, the Barossa, the Grenache story has many chapters. The original Grenache vines, some planed as early as 1848, were at first in high demand for fortified wines. With steady demand and high suitability to our warm climate requiring little water, Grenache shone for many years. When taste preferences started shifting away from sweet fortifieds to table wine, the Barossa was very fortunate to have an amazing array of old vineyards to draw on. However, horrifically in the 1980’s many of these historic vineyards were removed as part of the SA government’s vine pull scheme.

Today Grenache is often blended with Shiraz and Mataro (Mourvedre) to highlight the wonderful lifted aromatics and textural qualities of Grenache, the mid-palate richness of Shiraz and the savoury structure of Mataro. We love working with these varieties – so much so that the first wine John released post Penfolds was this celebrated blend: the 2003 Plexus.

A Star is Born – Annexus Grenache

Despite our love for blended Grenache wines, when a special site and favourable vintage conditions combine we can’t resist highlighting Grenache in all its glory. And so in 2013 the Annexus Grenache was born, when for the first time we got access to an ancient Grenache vineyard planted in 1858 (one of the oldest Grenache vineyards in the world).

The first two releases of Annexus Grenache sold out in quick time and received some amazing reviews. We think Mike Bennie of the WineFront summed up the 2015 release perfectly:

“Power, grace, finesse, flavour, tannin-structure, deliciousness, drinkability. Couldn’t ask for more. This is as elegant and seamless a grenache I have seen from Australia. Fine web of tannin gives additional succulence to cool, even, medium weight red fruit and spice flavours. Epic in length, total restraint, pure-feeling and energetic. It’s beautiful wine here. Utterly.” 95+ Pts

The Gourmet Traveler Wine panel loved the 2015 Annexus. 95 pts and equal top of their Grenache tasting.

Artisans of Barossa Grenache Project

As you may be aware, we are proud members of the Artisans of Barossa collective (along with Spinifex, Schwarz Wine Company, Sons of Eden, Massena and Hobbs of Barossa Ranges). Many of you would have visited our tasting room and enjoyed the fantastic food program hosted by Harvest Kitchen.

The 2017 vintage was a turning point for Artisans – we decided to make a wine together under the Artisans of Barossa label. Of course, in the “Year of Greanche” what other variety could we choose…. However, rather than making one grenache wine collectively, we’ve gone down a different path. The guys at Sons of Eden earmarked a special Grenache vineyard and each Artisan got allocated two rows of pristine fruit. Co-incidentally we all ended up picking on the same day, but the final wines are all very unique. Our own “Duval” version has about 20% whole bunches, saw 7 months in an old hogshead and is bursting with flavour. The other Artisans have used a variety of techniques and vessels including ceramic eggs, some 100% whole bunching, carbonic maceration etc etc. Its been a very exciting and fun project – just like the wines.


We are selling the wines as a 6 pack only – one of each wine – for $250. If you’re interested, head over to the Artisans of Barossa Website – or give them a call on 08 8563 3935.


Coming Soon…

2016 Mataro. 115 year old vines. Sandy soils in Light Pass, Coming March 2018.

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March 2017

Vintage has finally arrived! We started with some Stonewell Marsanne on Wednesday 8 March and some hand picked Marananga Shiraz on Thursday 9 March. This was closely followed the next day with Shiraz from the Light Pass district, which came with a little surprise visitor (don’t worrry we saved the little guy from the crusher). The Light Pass Shiraz is showing great aromatics and colour in ferment and is due to be pressed off today (20 March).

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February 2017

With a cooler growing season, vintage has yet to kick off yet. Our Krondorf Shiraz was picked on 8 February 2016 but as at 9 February this year still hadn’t finished veraison (see picture below). We expect that this vineyard will be ready to pick in mid-march. Roussane in the Kalimna region of the Northern Barossa (bottom image) is looking great this year, developing excellent early flavour. Stay tuned….