Welcome to the Artisans of Barossa blog where we will highlight news and events from around the Barossa.
The Artisans of Barossa Grenache Project is an exciting initiative that brings together each vintage six Barossa winemakers and a single Grenache vineyard in a brilliant showcase of individual expression in the art of small batch winemaking. The 2017 vintage sold out in six weeks.
The 2018 Grenache Project features six individual wines produced from the same Barossa Valley Grenache Vineyard. The wines are made by Peter Schell of Spinifex, John and Tim Duval of John Duval Wines, Jason Schwarz of Schwarz Wine Company, Greg and Allison Hobbs of Hobbs of Barossa, Jason Collins of Massena, and Simon Cowham and Corey Ryan of Sons of Eden.
Each winemaker was allocated a single row of 60 year old bush vine Grenache in the Kylie’s Garden Vineyard at Stockwell in the northern Barossa, and presented with a simple brief – make a Grenache you’d like to drink. The results are outstanding and a superb reflection of the 2018 vintage which is considered to be a standout year for Barossa red wine. And whilst through each wine you can taste the consistent thread of the vineyard, each stands alone as an expression of six individual approaches to making Barossa Grenache.
The Grenache Project is an experiment designed to explore the influence of winemaking on the terroir of a single vineyard. The first vintage release in 2017 received acclaim from Australia’s most respected wine commentators.
“Grenache is the grape of the moment, at least in the warmer regions of South Australia… The Artisans of Barossa Grenache Project is in many ways the culmination of this obsession. The wines sold out long ago, but the six winemakers who share the Artisans of Barossa cellar door released six 2017 grenaches which demonstrate just how strongly the winemaker’s thumbprint can trump terroir, at least while wine is very young… Each treatment yielded a wine that is different from every other wine. All are interesting, several sublime.”
Huon Hooke, TheRealReview.com, April 2018
“There are all manner of groups and initiatives that have proposed a collective yet individual approach to a winemaking schemata, but by my reckoning none so far where a single vineyard of grenache has been explored through the lens of six, diverse winemakers.”
Mike Bennie, The Wine Front, January 2018
“Artisans of Barossa are a bunch of like-minded souls from six wineries who share a goal to “promote small batch, sub-regional winemaking. They collaborated last year on Grenache Project 2017 – an experiment designed to explore the role of terroir. And let me tell you, they made six glorious Grenache.
James Halliday, Weekend Australian Magazine
Each pack contains a single bottle of each plus an exclusive storybook detailing the story behind the Project and each wine.
Price is $250 per pack plus $10 delivery.
I grew up in Melbourne in an era when there were 12 VFL footy teams, and every game was played on a Saturday afternoon with kick off at 2.30. Harry Beitzel’s broadcasts on 3AW, then 3AK and later the ABC were legendary, especially his ‘around the grounds’ crosses to each of the games for regular score updates. Amazingly he could do all that, still call the game he was at and at the same time promote Pelaco shirts - ‘It is indeed a lovely shirt, Sir!’ His sidekick Tommy Lahiff was an accidental comedy genius. With a nod to the nostalgia of the good old days when Saturday afternoons in the middle of a Melbourne winter were spent listening to the footy on a National Panasonic transistor radio powered by 2 ‘D’ sized batteries, here is our first ‘around the wineries’ report on the 2018 Grenache Project.
This vintage, all six wines are being made from the ‘Kylie’s Garden’ vineyard at Stockwell. A 40 year old bush vine vineyard that yielded a crop of small, intensely flavoured berries. Each winemaker was allocated a single row, and each picked one tonne of fruit…which will make around two barrels of delicious Barossa Grenache.
John and Tim Duval are all business, and we received a detailed and precise ‘game update’ from Tim just 5 minutes after we ask for it - “The ‘Duval’ component of the AoB Grenache project is happily fermenting away in a small open top fermenter. The fruit was hand-picked on Friday 9 March, and we tipped a single bin of whole bunches into the bottom of the fermenter. We destemmed and crushed the balance of the fruit on top of the whole bunches and the ferment started kicking off on Saturday. We are now four days in and the lovely red fruits of Grenache are really singing. There is some savouriness from the whole bunch showing through and this will intensify as the fruit sweetness reduces during ferment. We are currently sitting at about 7 baume, and so far we are very happy.”
Jaysen Collins at Massena is classically light on with the details - “100% destemmed fruit being tipped into a fermenter, with the lid on and shoved somewhere in the back of the cellar.” (In 2017, Jaysen completely forgot about the fruit he’d sealed in a tank until 45 days later, and then went on to make a sensational wine….glorious mistakes can produce glorious results, and inspire a new direction in winemaking!)
Allison Hobbs called in from Hobbs of Barossa ranges. Last year they rack dried their Grenache before fermentation. Sounds like they’re taking a different approach this year – “We picked our fruit a few days ago and destemmed it before fermentation. Not much movement in the ferment yet, but we should start to see some action over the weekend. Looking very nice.”
The first report we saw from Jason Schwartz was on his own Instagram page with a video of his 3 kids in a ‘Barossa jumping castle’ – shoes and socks off and 6 legs and feet leaping with unbridled joy across the top of a tank piled high with whole bunches of fruit. There’s nothing better for a Barossa kid than helping dad make some awesome Grenache. FYI - foot stomping is not just used to keep Barossa kids busy after school, but to release juice from the berries and give the wine a bit of extra crunch from the breaking the stalks.
I didn’t get much out of Pete Schell – vintage is never a good time to be asking winemakers for information. But he did say he’d pressed the fruit and everything looks tickety-boo….bright, fresh and juicy. He made mention a few weeks back that a similar approach to last year was the plan – extended carbonic maceration with berries on the bottom and whole bunch on the top. When things calm down, we’ll get a few more words from Pete.
As for Corey Ryan and Simon Cowham, I think they were both last sighted buried under a mountain of red grapes. We might have to wait for the traditional post-game interview to get their story!
First time around, The Grenache Project became one of the most loved and talked about initiatives in Australian winemaking in 2017. The energy and excitement is up another notch this year, and we can’t wait to get these wines into bottle and ready to release on December 1 this year. If you’re keen, make sure you get your name on the waiting list by heading to our website here to register your interest.
Howard - Chief Operating Officer AoB
Register your interest in the 2018 Grenache Project