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Sal Johnson
5 December 2016 | The Artisans | Sal Johnson

Winemaker of the Month - John Duval

Winemaker of the month - John Duval of John Duval Wines

With over 40 vintages under his belt here in the Barossa and winemaking across three continents, what JD doesn't know about making wine - and in particular Shiraz, isn't worth knowing. After a career defining stint as chief Winemaker at Penfolds, John stepped out on his own in 2003 and developed his own label, finally geting his name on the label! I recently caught up with John for a vintage update in one of his top Eden Valley Shiraz vineyards and squeezed in the following 10 questions.

What are the three most memorable wines you have tasted?

 - 1966 Penfolds Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Coonawarra Shiraz – tasted while studying at Roseworthy and influenced me to want to work for Penfolds

- 1948 Penfolds Kalimna Cabernet – a bottle that was given to me while I was at Penfolds and the oldest Penfolds table red wine that I have tasted and a wine that Penfolds didn’t even have a bottle of in their own museum.

- Seppelt Para 1878 Tawny (First vintage of 100 year old Para) remarkable in its concentration and complexity – Barossa at it’s best, unique and world class.

What is the oldest vineyard that you make wine from?

 - 1858 Grenache in the Stonegarden Vineyard in Eden Valley

What is your favourite part of vintage?

- Watching the transformation of fruit during fermentation from some of our best vineyards into wine.

What do you love about your job and why?

- It’s different every day, no two days are the same and it involves a mix of the art and science of wine, it’s a great opportunity to experience great food and cities around the world.

What grape variety or style excites you?

- Shiraz – I am lucky enough to make wines from Shiraz across three continents!

What are your top five tips for people visiting the Barossa?

- try hot air balloon, it gives you that other perspective of the Barossa

- enjoy some Apex bakery pasties, the unique wood fired oven’s pasties are to die for;

- visit in spring time; the new season; the green of the new vineyard growth, excellent weather, pretty Barossa – at it’s best

- Stay in the Barossa for at least a night, there is much more to do and see than just a day trip

- Visit the Barossa Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning from 7.30am

What was the first wine you drank?

-My grandfather worked for Reynella Wine, so I can remember as a young child being poured a little glass of port and lemonade – quite the treat.

What (and when) was the first wine you made and what did it teach you?

 - The first wine I made (employed as a winemaker) was in 1974 which was my first vintage at Penfolds. It was a wet, difficult year that reinforced the basics of winemaking.

What is it that makes the Barossa home for you?

- It’s the place that I bought up my family. It’s an easy comfortable way of life, full of good food, wine and people.

How many vintages have you completed?

43 Barossa Vintages, with 14 vintages in the US as part of the joint venture with Longshadows in Washington and 13 in Chile with Vina Ventisquera (can I claim 70?)


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