Welcome to the Artisans of Barossa blog where we will highlight news and events from around the Barossa.
On December 31 we close the door on our time in Vine Vale, and just days later open the doors to Vino Lokal, our new wine room and bar in central Tanunda. In April 2019 we begin construction on the new home of Artisans of Barossa which will be located at Kroemer’s Crossing at the top end of Tanunda. That will open in early 2020, and Vino Lokal and Artisans of Barossa will then operate in tandem offering two fantastic, but very different ways of enjoying Barossa wine and food.
The seven years we’ve called Vine Vale home have been quite a ride. What started as a simple idea for a group of small Barossa winemakers to share a cellar door mushroomed into something much, much more. The team at Harvest Kitchen have played a pivotal role in that story, and we wish them well as they stay on in a new partnership with Calabria Family Wines who take up residence from January 1. Make sure you head up the hill and say hi to Bill, Michael and Andrew Calabria. This a great family and we welcome them warmly to the Barossa wine and food community.
The first set of new doors to open for Artisans will be at 64 Murray Street Tanunda, in a building once known as Roger’s Shoe Store and then for a time as Nosh. Construction and fit out will be completed in the next six weeks, and we’ll tear down the brown paper to reveal ‘Vino Lokal Barossa Wine Room & Bar’.
Vino Lokal will be a melting pot of ideas, opportunities and possibilities. A distillation of our collective experiences, of much time spent in some great (and occasionally not so great) wine bars and wine places around the world. Time spent thinking how, and wishing that, we could bring all of the good bits together in a place we called our own, right here in our Barossa backyard. A place where you can taste and drink and buy across the spectrum of Barossa winemaking, with wines from a few overseas friends thrown in to the mix as well. Somewhere to snack and graze from a compact wine bar style menu of tasty food, with its soul and its foundations in the lands of the farmers and the hands and minds of the artisans food-makers of our fair valley. A place to meet up with friends, and a place to take guests to and show them what Barossa does best. Even a place for a quiet moment of solitude and a sneaky glass of Eden Valley Riesling before you head home to face reality.
We hope Vino Lokal will be all of that.
The doors at Vino Lokal will be open 11am to 8pm Monday to Thursday, and 11am to 10pm on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is an 11am to 6pm affair. During the day we'll offer a completely re-vamped cellar door style tasting program featuring our Artisans of Barossa wineries in the front room. Think of sitting on luxurious, art deco inspired, velvet bar stools along a white marble topped bar, or sinking deeply into tub chairs. Think of pondering, and then creating tasting flights that can lead you astray, in a Barossa wine kind of astray. In the back room, drop in for a glass of wine and a light bite to eat anytime. Take a seat at the window, or somewhere along the 20 seater communal table. Come 5pm, the front room converts from wine room to wine bar, and we'll offer over 50 great Barossa wines by the glass and plenty more by the bottle. Yes, we aim to proudly overwhelm you with choice.
Alongside everything we do in wine, throughout the day and into the night we’ll have delicious bites on offer prepared by Ryan Edwards. We welcome the former Executive Chef at the one hatted Appellation at The Louise as our ‘food artisan’ and trust he is slowly coming to terms with the fact he will soon have two places to look after!
We’re on track for a January 4 2019 opening. The construction team from BGI have worked nothing short of miracles - Michael Hannay, you need to be cloned! Thanks also to Andrew from Homburg, and our landlords Robert and Pam for being so responsive and positive to our idea for Vino Lokal. Thanks too to Jenny & Steve from Decor Made Easy who have been a tour de force - just wait until you see the interior design they’ve come up with.
As you can see, there’s a strong ‘lokal’ flavour to this endeavour, from the wines to the food and to the people who helped bring it all together at breakneck speed. We can’t wait to welcome you through the doors at Vino Lokal when we open on January 4, and for it to become a place full of happy and contented lokals.
Howard and the team at Artisans of Barossa
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Congratulations to John Duval Wines whose 'Plexus' Shiraz Grenache Mourvèdre has been awarded in the recently released Langton's Classification VII.
Plexus SGM is one of only 12 Barossan wines selected in the Excellent category which is for "Australian wines of consistent merit. Steadfast, popular and expressive".
The Barossa Grape & Wine Assocation (Barossa Wine) says "The Langton’s Classification, now in its 30th year, bases eligibility on how well a wine performs on the open auction market; the volume of demand it attracts and the prices it realises. Revised every five years, Langton’s comments “ultimately, the reputation of a wine is based on its auction pedigree, the record it builds up, over time.” The success of Barossa’s wines in the Classification underlines the exceptional quality of both the region’s viticulture and winemaking."
Barossa continues its reign as the highest represented region" representing 28% of the Australia-wide list.
Purchase your John Duval Wines at our online wine store .
Langton's image courtesy Barossa Grape & Wine Association
We've been working on some new projects here at Artisans and we're very excited about our new collaborative winemaking project - Artisans Of Barossa Small Batch Wines.
The Artisans collaboration of John Duval Wines, Spinifex Wines, Schwarz Wine Company, Hobbs of Barossa Ranges, Massena and Sons of Eden gives unparalleled access to the cellars of some of the Barossa best small winemakers. Our winemakers are able to hand select individual barrels and small parcels of wine to craft these Small Batch wines.
The first wines in the Small Batch series are made by Sons of Eden Winemaker Corey Ryan. Winemaker and self-confessed wine tragic, Corey lives and breathes wine, having worked in Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy and Spain. Whilst equally comfortable crafting cool climate Pinot Noir as he is signature Barossa styles, it was Corey’s time as Winemaker for iconic Eden Valley producer Henschke that established an appetite for Barossa wines that is now his passion as co-proprietor of Sons of Eden.
The Small Batch wine series includes a Rosé, Graciano, Grenache and Shiraz. We have a limited amount of Small Batch reds available in a six pack (see below for details).
2016 Artisans of Barossa Small Batch Grenache.
The approach in the winery is very much around preserving and promoting varietal character, and ensuring the wine is an honest showing of its Vine Vale locale. There’s lifted fresh maraschino cherry with spicy cinnamon and clove aromas and the palate is loaded with delicious, juicy, fleshy & succulent Grenache flavours with terrific depth and richness
2016 Artisans of Barossa Small Batch Graciano.
Growers Simon and Kendy Cowham from Light Pass are producing outstanding quality fruit. This is an exciting wine for us given the rarity of this variety in Barossa. The wine features blueberry and lifted sour-cherry aromas, a richly concentrated and rounded mid-palate framed with focused acidity and freshness. We recommend enjoying this as a young wine when the fruits are bright and fresh.
2017 Artisans of Barossa Small Batch Shiraz.
A delicious, rich, flavoursome and beautifully balanced wine.
The pack features two bottles each of the Small Batch reds and can be delivered to you for $160.00 ($150 + discounted shipping of $10) saving you over $75. Inside the case, we'll include Corey's tasting notes on each of the wines
Be the first to find out about our new projects and special offers by become a Friend of Artisans. Sign up here.
Secure your Small Batch special offer at our online wine store.
We welcome some new releases from Schwarz Wine Company to the Tasting Room (and our online wine store) this week.
The Chenin Blanc is bright, fresh and laden with tropical aromatics. It is a wine to enjoy now, not deliberate over. Chill, pour and relax!
The Rosé is equally delicious and would be perfect to enjoy with an antipasto platter (or on its own 😉 ).
Both wines are now available for tasting at our Tasting Room (11am-6pm every day) or purchase through our online wine store.
In the school of winemaking, Tim Smith is most definitely a subscriber to the KISS principle, and I suspect in the school of rock, he may well be a subscriber to the KISS Army. After all, this was the bloke wearing black jeans during the recent ‘Barossa in Boardshorts’ roadshow through Queensland! In each and every wine that Tim produces under his succinctly named ‘Tim Smith Wines’ brand, there’s a consistent pounding beat of considered, unfussed winemaking principles applied to exceptional quality fruit sourced from a compact selection of superb Barossa vineyards. Each and every wine a pure expression of bottled Barossa deliciousness, each wine a reflection of Tim’s belief in vineyard over winery when it comes to influencing the character, flavour and texture of wine.
Tim is very upbeat in an understated Tim Smith kind of way about his latest releases. The 2016 Barossa Shiraz is a blend of Barossa Valley Shiraz – all rich and unctuous with a belly full of dark fruit – and ‘a good chunk’ of Eden Valley Shiraz to fancy it up . The 2016 Mataro is from a vineyard that’s somewhere around 140 years old making it one of the oldest on the planet for this variety. Farmed by the same family for 6 generations – a delicious and beguiling red with a big dose of Barossa heritage to boot. And the 2018 Eden Valley Riesling is in my view bordering on the perfect drink – juicy limes and citrus fruits, with just the right amount of crisp acidity to keep it fresh and balanced. At an exceptionally friendly 11.5% alc/ vol, I don’t think I’m out of line in suggesting this will be a very popular ‘sessionable’ wine for the warmer months in the Barossa.
The KISS principle applied to winemaking at the Tim Smith winery is also readily apparent in the Tim Smith ‘Guide to Gourmet Dining’ when discussions turn to matters of what to eat with each of these wines. The quick fire responses are: Riesling - a dozen oysters and a sunset. Shiraz - Linke’s porterhouse, hand cut by Steve, pan fried and served with bok choy tossed in the pan juices with garlic and a touch of oyster sauce. Mataro – roasted porchetta rolled in fennel seed and cumin, with old school roasted root veg such as swedes, turnips and parsnips. Served with a green salad to make the Instagram shot a winner. Impressive!
Tim is in the Artisans house this weekend – from 12-4pm on Saturday and Sunday presenting a range of new red wine releases from the outstanding 2016 vintage, and his recently bottled 2018 Eden Valley Riesling. Head up to Artisans at some time over the weekend to have a yack with Tim and taste through his range of wines. And if you’re feeling indulgent, grab a table at Harvest Kitchen and hop into a plate of their slow braised beef cheeks served with crunchy pillows of deep fried polenta. The perfect food for winter…the perfect match for a glass of Barossa Shiraz.
Get yourself to Artisans.
Every Friday from 4.30pm ‘til sundown.
Great a seat with the best views in town.
Drink wine from big glasses.
Graze on bites from the sunset menu.
Set your gaze to the west.
Across the rolling vineyard landscape.
Bathe in the glow of the setting sun.
EAT. DRINK. SUN. SET.
Wines by the glass from $10
Casual eats from $12
Bookings are appreciated, but not required.
Best seats in the house available on a first in, first served basis.
Wines by Hobbs of Barossa Ranges, Massena, Spinifex Wines, Sons of Eden, John Duval Wines and Schwarz Wine Company.
Food by Harvest Kitchen.
RSVP to Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/218342892218045/
‘MAX & ME’ or Sarah & Phil, back in the Artisans house this weekend.
As I walked in the front doors of the Rex in Tanunda at 6.40am on Wednesday to face my weekly thrashing at the hands of Jess the personal trainer, the BOM app on my phone reminded me how bloody cold it was – a touch below -2 degrees Celsius. And whilst I considered for a moment the insanity of anyone being out and about at this time of the morning (paying to be thrashed!) in these alpine conditions, my heart went out to the folk living high up in the hills of the Eden Valley. For we in the wine business recount time and again of the cooler nights and crisp morning conditions of that fair Valley, and the powerful impact these special micro climates have on the wines produced from the vineyards dotted across what must be the most Australian looking of Australian vineyard landscapes. (cue kangaroos, gnarly old gums, rolling hills and big blue skies etc).
Concerned, I dropped Phil “Lehmo” Lehmann a text this morning ‘Morning mate… random question. How cold did it get at your joint in the EV this week?’ I then prepared to wait a little while for a response, giving Phil the time to take of his gloves, warm his digits, blow the steam off a mug of coffee, shoo away the kangaroos and file his response. ‘Cold as penguin’s feet mate – would have hit minus 0.5 I reckon.’ Now that was not what I expected, and I conveyed my surprise at reports of positively tropical conditions coming in from my similarly hirsute mate from Eden Valley in a follow up question. ‘Bugger me, I thought you blokes would be colder up in them thar hills?’
‘Closer to the sun’came the reply in an whip crack of an instant of time. The Lehmann dry wit that has spanned generations is still hard at work.
Phil & Sarah Lehmann’s Eden Valley property produce some brilliant wines under their Max & Me label, and we’re very excited to have them in the house at Artisans pouring their wines this weekend. And why is their estate label ‘Max & Me’, and not ‘Phil & Sarah’? That story starts with a chance meeting of Sarah with Phil’s dog Max, which marked the start of their journey together. Sarah, a professional ballet dancer and passionate dog lover, was performing at the Barossa Music Festival. She met Max at rehearsal, and meeting Max led to meeting Phil. Max was always with either, or both; whether working in the vineyard or winery with Phil, or at work or University with Sarah. He went to the wedding, and tagged along on their honeymoon. So what to call their wines made from their beautiful Eden Valley vineyard? ‘Max & Me’ of course!
The full range is on tasting this weekend, and the Lehmanns will be in the house from 12-4pm Saturday and Sunday with the latest weather and vintage reports from their beautiful Boongarrie Estate property in the Barossa Ranges. A place where biodiversity is encouraged and where pest and disease pressures are minimal. Where sheep and cattle graze the vineyard grasses during winter, and where dung-beetles do what dung-beetles do – eat animal poo to produce dung-beetle crap to serve as fertilizer to improve the vineyard soils. This philosophy of managing the land to look after the soils, and deploying minimal chemical inputs makes for special dirt in a special place. And with special people in charge, there’s one thing for sure. These are exceptionally special wines!
Cheers, Howard from Artisans.
This year, John Duval Wines are celebrating the 15th anniversary of their foundation vintage, and have added a sixth wine to their range. Plexus was first in 2003, followed by Entity (’04) and Eligo (’05) in quick succession before a short hiatus leading to the release of Plexus White (’10) and Annexus Grenache(’13).) 2018 sees the release of the first vintage of Annexus Mataro from the stellar 2016 vintage, and this is what John had to say about the new wine.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Mataro, it’s a critical element of Plexus and a grape variety that deserves to be celebrated by Barossa winemakers. We’ve sourced fruit from this dry grown 100 year old vineyard at Light Pass for all the years we’ve produced Plexus - and with 2016 being such a great vintage the time was right to release a small quantity of Mataro under the Annexus label. We’re very happy with the first release wine - it shows plenty of classic savoury spiced fruit on the nose and powerful, yet restrained black fruit flavours on the palate, supported by ample, long flowing waves of tannin. It sits very comfortable amongst our small family of wines. Will we make an Annexus Mataro every year? I think the answer to that is entirely dependent on the qualities of future vintages.”
Also this weekend, the new vintage of Eligo will be available for tasting - the 2015 vintage. John’s aim with Eligo is to produce a structured but elegant expression of Barossa Shiraz - a wine with restrained power, rich texture and palate length in the classic John Duval Wines mould. From a master winemaker with access to exceptional and rare Barossa vineyards, the release of the 2015 Eligo will be one of the highlights of 2018 at Artisans.
John will be our Winemaker in the House this weekend at Artisans, from 12-4pm both Saturday and Sunday presenting these brilliant new release wines along with the rest of the family of wines that has been carefully framed over the past 15 years. Not to be missed!
Jaysen Collins from Massena is in the Artisans house this weekend. (And because winemakers are real people too, he’ll be a little late on Saturday as he heads back from Adelaide after watching the kids play soccer.) Catch him from 2-4pm Saturday, and 12-4pm Sunday.
A Massena tasting can be best described as an adventure – the wines once described by Lisa Perotti-Brown of The Wine Advocate as “…exciting departures from the status quo.” This weekend’s tasting will definitely have you venturing off the high street – the Eleventh Hour Barossa Shiraz surrounded by a bedazzling collection of diverse varietals including Saperavi and Primitivo, and red and white blends that reflect the eternal willingness of the Massena winemakers to take a path less travelled in the pursuit of making wines that are a sheer pleasure to drink. If you happen to make the journey to Artisans this weekend, you’ll also be treated to a sneak pre-release tasting of the first edition 2017 Massena ‘Stonegarden’ Grenache. Jaysen has smuggled a few bottles out of the winery ahead of the official release (which is on June 6 at Rockpool in Sydney) making it well worth a drive to the top end of Magnolia Road over the weekend.
Massena celebrates 20 years of winemaking next year, and I sense it’s a coming of age moment for founders Jaysen Collins and Dan Standish, along with their new collaborator - vigneron Glen Monaghan. Jaysen and Dan were young blokes in their early 20’s when they thought it might be ‘a bit of fun’ to partner up to make ‘a bit of wine’ – an opportunity to express some artistic licence free of the restraints of their respective day jobs at Turkey Flat and Torbreck. With the benefit of hindsight, those founding ideals of ‘a bit of fun’ and ‘a bit of wine’ now appear to be equally gross understatements. Plenty of wine has been made (albeit in small batches), and plenty of fun has been had… some would suggest fun on a scale previously unimaginable in the business of making wine.
2017 was a watershed year for Jaysen and Dan’s, bought about by the decision to head out in search of a peerless Barossa vineyard to produce a new range of top tier wines for Massena. They say fortune favours the brave, and an introduction to Glen Monaghan who’d only recently purchased the Stonegarden Vineyard in Eden Valley saw a partnership of two winemakers grow to include a vigneron. The platform for Massena ‘Stonegarden’ wines was in place and the first wines are now released. The 2017 Riesling was an impressive debut, as was the 2017 Fruit Salad Block White – a brilliant example of the power of collaboration between committed grape grower and innovative winemaker. Few would think to hang onto a vineyard block containing 20 something grape varieties – and I suspect only Massena would think to have a go at making a wine by blending the lot! The 2017 Stonegarden Grenache is next on the release schedule, followed by a 2017 GSM blend, then a second vintage of Riesling and a Shiraz and a Cabernet Sauvignon. And there is talk of a Mataro and a Malbec made in tiny quantities from fruit picked from individual vines found here and there amongst plantings of other varieties at Stonegarden. All exciting examples of extreme and rare Barossa provenance.
For 20 years, Massena has lived and celebrated the Artisan ideal of individual expression in Barossa winemaking. And whilst the Stonegarden wines might represent (dare I say it) a ‘maturing’ for Massena, the determination to keep making sure it’s fun has not diminished. To prove the point, Jaysen tells me they’re testing a new Shiraz-Tannat blend from the 2018 vintage – apparently it’s going to be called “Shitnat”.
If there were such a thing as 'Barossa Shiraz divining rods' then Pete Schell, proprietor at Spinifex Wines must own a set! This winemaker's ability to seek and find the patchwork of small vineyards that supplies an incredible array of superb expressions of this wine region's hero grape variety is certainly impressive. If not uncanny. Or possibly god-like if you really love your Barossa Shiraz. Either way, a tasting with Pete of his myriad of Spinifex Shiraz (at least 7 different ones at last count) is what we're offering this Saturday and Sunday from 12-4 up at Artisans. This is your chance to meet, talk and taste with a true Shiraz Sifu. (Or 'master' if your Cantonese is a bit rusty.)
Pete is clearly comfortable with the idea of embracing diversity. In contrast with some of the bigger wineries, his wines are driven by the landscape and his preference for expression of varietal and site typicity rather than the winemaker's influence. This is a winemaker who both understands the land, and respects the importance of building relationships with good growers. He rejoices in the differences. and that shows in the wines on tasting this weekend.
The 2015 La Maline is a fine and elegant example of Shiraz produced from mostly Eden Valley Vineyards. Just 60 dozen of the 2012 Old Vine Shiraz were produced, from a 110 year old vineyard at Nuriootpa. A great vintage and as good an example of Barossa Shiraz you're ever likely to taste. The 2016 Indegine introduces a good dollop of Mataro blended with old vine Shiraz from the Eden Valley and Moppa - it's a bold, tannic and structural expression of Shiraz, in contrast to the elegant La Maline...the sort of Shiraz you'd drink listening to ACDC at 80 decibels. The 2015 Bete Noir is fine - it's lean, it's structured, it's athletic - I think it to be cast in the image of Michaelangelo's David. And then there is the youngster produced from 20 year old vines grown at some of the higher points around Barossa - the 2017 Syrah is loaded with soft, plush and bright primary fruit. Barely a hint of oak, and so pure! Finally 2015 Miette - made with a singular mission in mind - to bring drinking pleasure to the table.
One winemaker, six diverse expressions of the art of making Barossa Shiraz on tasting (with the winemaker) this weekend at Artisans. Don't miss out!
Cheers from Howard at Artisans.
Browse/buy the Spinifex range here.