Welcome to the Artisans of Barossa blog where we bring you news and events from Artisans of Barossa, Vino Lokal and the Barossa region.
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.
Congratulations to Sons of Eden whose 2015 Remus Eden Valley Shiraz has just been awarded Best Shiraz at the 2018 Winewise Championship.
The Winewise Championship is open to gold medal-winning wines from regional and the National Wine Show. It is judged by winemakers, media commentators, retail trade people and Winewise to decide the “best of the best”.
Buy wine: /product/Sons-of-Eden-Remus-Shiraz-2015
John Lienert seems to be known by more names than I’ve had hot lunches - the impressive sobriquet ‘Jack West’ graces the labels of his ridiculously delicious Western Ridge reds – wines made from the fruit he grows himself in a part of Barossa locals like to call New Mecklenburg. (Seems like one name is never enough out on the western ridge – others may know this part of Barossa as Gomersal.)
John’s/ Jack’s Barossa wine story is a familiar one. He's part of a Barossa family tree with a solid trunk and roots that go deep down, and with plenty of branches producing aunties and uncles and cousins here, there and everywhere across the district. He was born here, grew up on the family farm here, spent his school years here and graduated from Faith Lutheran College under the guidance of the Lutherans. They don’t come much more local than John Lienert, which may be what motivated him to create the alter ego Jack West to name his wines. “Jack West just sounded a whole lot more interesting than John Lienert of New Mecklenburg.” John’s words… and point taken, perhaps a good strategy to stand out from the pack of Barossa Lienerts many of us know.
John started off in wine growing grapes in Lienert country at one of the higher points on the Western Ridge, out along the Gomersal Road. 100% reds – this is no country for white wine. He had a ‘dabble’ with winemaking back in 2005 with a bit of Sangiovese that no one else wanted, which became the itch he just had to scratch when he launched Jack West Wines in 2014.
“It wasn’t a hard decision to make, I’d think about making my own wines as I was going to bed, dream about making my own wines through the night, and then still be thinking about it the next morning as I was ploughing through my bowl of cornflakes. Sometimes you’ve just got to follow your gut feel, and gives things a crack. I’m 5 years down the track, and very comfortable with where I’ve got to. The wines reflect my bit of Barossa dirt, and me and my approach to winemaking and wine enjoying. I like to keep things simple, I like wines that express a sense of place, but wines that have a distinctive personality. For me, that means making the rich and juicy reds for which the Western Ridge is known for, wines with plenty of flavour and a good strong backbone. And making wines that people love to drink.”
And then almost on queue, ‘Wazza’ a local grapegrower passes by and slaps John/ Jack on the back - "John - that Grenache of yours is bloody delicious, send me another case." This winemaker has plenty of local and vocal fans.
As for a perspective on the 2018 vintage from someone who grows it, picks it and makes it?
“It sure was slow to get going. January was very cool, and apart from a spike of heat at the start of February, things were fairly cool out our way through February and March. I think we cleaned and polished our new harvester plenty of times before the Shiraz got ripe. The Grenache came in straight after the Shiraz, and then the Mataro did what Mataro does – hanging around longer than a single bloke at the Tanunda Footy Club Social – we ended up picking it in late April. The yields were good this year, and the fruit looked great. The ferments smelt awesome and the wines have amazing colour, flavour and texture. This will be up there with the best of them I reckon. All up, 2018 was a great year for the grower, and also for the winemaker, lucky I’m both!”
Jack West joins us in the house at Artisans on Saturday 12 & Sunday 13 May from 12- 4 pm. Stop by for a chat and introduce yourselves to these brilliant wines – and take time to talk to the farmer, the winemaker and now the sales guy - all wrapped up in one, and known only as Jack West of the Western Ridge.
The Hobbs' were always guaranteed to arrive in the Artisans house a little later than the others. Their vineyard in the high country of Eden Valley is generally the last to be picked of all of our Artisans' vineyards, and it wasn't until the last week of April that the call was made to bring the last of the fruit into the winery. With the hard slog of vintage now behind them, Greg and Allison join us this weekend to present the latest releases of their imperious and delicious reds alongside a superb Viognier.
Anyone that knows Greg Hobbs can appreciate he's a man not to mince his words. Nor is he a chap prone to hyperbole. In short, Greg calls it as he sees it. When I asked him early this morning for his thoughts on the 2018 vintage, he was emphatic. "At this stage, it's as good as Allison and I have seen since we bought the vineyard back in 1995. Plenty of power, but balanced with refined, silky and beautifully elegant tannins. We had a near perfect run up here at the home block - the early February heat didn't affect the fruit, and from that point all the way through to the last pick, the conditions were nothing but absolutely perfect. We couldn't be any happier with the quality that we've been tasting in the vineyard."
On tasting this weekend will be the 2015 vintage Gregor Shiraz, alongside a first showing of the 2015 Tango Shiraz Viognier and the excellent 2017 Viognier. Apart from the opportunity to have a good yack with Greg and Allison and taste some exceptional wines, this weekend also provides you the chance to get to understand a little more about what makes the high Eden such a very special part of our Barossa wine world. We've also got a few tables available at Harvest Kitchen....a Hobbs red with the Hutton Vale lamb, or Viognier with the field mushrooms (or both) would turn your good weekend into a great weekend. Call ahead on 8563 3935 to make a booking.
Sons of Eden are back in the Artisans house this weekend from 12-4pm on Saturday and Sunday presenting the produce of a partnership between expert grape grower Simon Cowham and expert winemaker Corey Ryan.
They’ll have on tasting new vintage releases of the twin Shiraz’s Remus and Romulus, along with the current release, and much loved and much consumed, Freya Riesling. Also on tasting is the first release of ‘Studium’, an Eden Valley Sagrantino of which just 1,000 bottles were produced. All of this plus up to four claret stained hands on show to tell the story of the fabulous 2018 vintage that’s just wrapped up.
We look forward to seeing you up at Artisans this weekend. Come say g'day and taste some brilliant expressions of Barossa winemaking… and let it be said… grape growing. Enjoying a glass of Studium or a shared bottle of Freya on the deck overlooking an ocean of some gold, some green and even a little red vine leaf is simply good for the soul.
the team at Artisans Of Barossa
Tim Smith, the one-man band that is Tim Smith Wines Barossa, is a busy bloke during vintage. But with the harvesting and the crushing, and the fermenting and the pressing almost done for vintage 2018, we finally got a chance to spend some quality time with the man who answers the phone… "Tim Smith Wines, Tim Smith speaking”.
2018 marks the 10th and final time that Tim Smith will make his wine at the Home of the Brave winery… a tiny Lichtenstein carved out of the continent sized former Kaiser Stuhl, come Southcorp then ‘Pennies’ winery at Nuriootpa. Sometime this year, Tim will move (subject to the usual approvals from Council of course) to his own shed on his own land at Vine Vale. A momentous moment for any winemaker to secure their own digs… and for Tim just 17 years on from that day in 2001 when, whilst necking Condrieu on the doorstep of the famous Hermitage Hill Chapel, the decision was made to launch Tim Smith Wines. Further proof that there is no such thing as an overnight success story in the world of small batch winemaking. A moment of inspiration (or madness) to make a start, 5 years of soul searching and questioning whether you can make a go of it, followed by 10 years paddling as fast as you can to keep your head above water, before you reward yourself with your own shed. It’s a hard slog. You wouldn’t do it if you didn’t love it. And you wouldn’t succeed if folk didn’t love what you created from the fruit grown in the vineyards of Barossa. Tim Smith is a man who has ticked all those boxes, and we wish him all the best for the big move in 2018.
With vintage almost done and dusted, Tim can now turn his attentions to other passions which typically take a back seat at this time of the year. And whilst playing the drums and riding classic Triumph motorcycles are high on the list, a quick look around the winery suggests the Port Adelaide Football club probably ranks alongside Tim Smith Wines in equal first place in the order of important things, well above all else in life.
Despite the mighty ‘pear’ pulling on the jerseys against Geelong this Saturday night at the Adelaide Oval, Tim will be back in the Artisans Of Barossa house this weekend and if you happen to be in the Barossa, we encourage you to drop in for a quiet chat. Along with the freshest stories of vintage, which are often the truest, Tim is also showcasing plenty of new releases.
Tim Smith - in the Artisans house this Saturday and Sunday from 12-4pm, just before he heads out the door to take his seat in the house of the 'pear'... no doubt with a glass of Viognier in hand.
the team at Artisans
We believe the keystones to delicious and exceptional Barossa wine are caring for where it comes from and how it is made, and encouraging and promoting individual expression. And our promise is to share the very best of these wines with you – wines from the established names, but also wines from a growing pool of exciting, emerging talent that energises and refreshes the collective output of the Barossa winemaking community each vintage.
Andy Cummins and Emma Welling impressed us with the ‘hearts on sleeves’ approach to wine when they first appeared in the Artisans house back in January this year. And the story of their journey to what is just a third vintage in 2018 rekindled great memories for our more established Artisans. Memories of the early days as a new winemaker, trying to find your feet, setting your course and then growing in confidence each year as you sense more and more that you’re on the right track.
We had a quick chat to Emma this week… Andy’s days are still fully consumed with balancing his day job at Henschke, ongoing commitments to his winemaking studies and working on the third vintage instalment of Rasa Wines.
“I’m amazed with his energy levels, and that he’s able to find the time to get everything done. If he manages to get a day off from vintage at Henschke, he’s instantly immersed in working on the Rasa Wines. It’s been a great vintage – brilliant quality and all at a nice, steady pace. There’s been plenty of long days and hard slog, but you don’t mind doing that when the quality is there to taste. We’ve taken Semillon from a new vineyard at Williamstown for The White, and also some Riesling from the Eden Valley. We like the idea of incorporating small portions of Riesling into our wines as a natural way of balancing acidity in our wines.”
The first of the 2018 wines won’t be released until late this year, and there are only tiny quantities of selected current releases still available. Emma (and maybe Andy) will be in the Artisans Of Barossa house this weekend from 12-4 each day, and this is your chance to come talk to the winemakers and grab a few of the last remaining bottles of Rasa Wines before they sell out.
We’re also featuring their wines at Harvest Kitchen… We're thinking a glass of the 2017 Bright Red with the field mushrooms, truffle oil and white bean puree would be a mighty fine tonic on a day like today!
We believe the keystones to delicious and exceptional Barossa wine are caring for where it comes from and how it is made, and encouraging and promoting individual expression. When you visit Artisans of Barossa, we want you to be able to make sense of Barossa in its entirety by bringing together every possible expression of Barossa wine along with great stories and the flavoursome food from Harvest Kitchen.
As the 2018 vintage draws to a close, we’ll once again welcome our winemakers into the Artisans house. Every weekend beginning on the 14 & 15 of April through to the end of June, you’ll meet the people who make our wines, and talk to them about their approach to winemaking - learning more about where each of their wines come from, how they are made and what makes them so very special. Coming so soon after vintage, you’ll see plenty of purple hands and sense first-hand the excitement shared by all about the exceptional quality of this year’s harvest.
Along with the established names like John Duval Wines, Sons of Eden, Schwarz Wine Company, Spinifex, Hobbs of Barossa and Massena there’ll also be a few new names. John Lienert from Jack West Wines out on the Barossa’s Western Ridge will join us for the first time, Andy Cummins and Emma Welling from Rasa Wines, Tim Smith from Tim Smith Wines and Sarah & Phil Lehmann from Max & Me will return to Artisans for a second time this year.
The winemakers will be in the house from 12-4pm each Saturday and Sunday. Why not make a lunch booking with Harvest Kitchen, and either before or after lunch, spend some time with our winemakers getting to know a little more about them and their particular take on the art of small batch Barossa winemaking.
The next Winemaker in the House program begins on April 14 & 15 with Rasa Wines.
Keep in touch and RSVP to our events through our facebook page.
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
Following a twelve-month search, Artisans of Barossa announced today plans to construct a new purpose-built home at a 56-acre vineyard property on the corner of Vine Vale and Menge Roads near Tanunda. The Barossa Council Assessment Panel approved the development application at their meeting last night, and construction will commence in April. Completion is expected by the end of this year and the doors to the new home will open in January 2019. In the interim, Artisans of Barossa will continue to operate from its Magnolia Road base at Vine Vale.
“Our aim is to make the new Artisans the keystone destination for any Barossa wine and food adventure – a place that enables people to make sense of Barossa in its entirety by bringing together every possible expression of Barossa wine along with stories, food and generous hospitality.” said Howard Duncan, Chief Operating Officer for Artisans.
“The best wine and food tourism destinations in the world share a number of key attributes, chief among them being a highly authentic expression of the produce of the region within which they operate. Throughout the process of designing our new home, we’ve challenged ourselves to create innovative and distinctive experiences around Barossa wine and food that encourage our guests to be more adventuresome and to discover more about this region’s brilliant produce - it’s culinary heritage, where it all comes from, how it’s made and the stories of the people who’ve made it. The new Artisans builds on our established position as the home of some of Barossa’s best small winemakers and, inspired by success stories from around the world, aims to set a new benchmark. Barossa is positioning itself as Australia’s global wine and food region, and Adelaide is known around the world as Australia’s ‘Wine Capital’. The new Artisans will play a leading role in supporting these twin endeavours that aim to draw increasing numbers of interstate and international culinary tourists to our State and region.”
With a new home comes the opportunity to set a new course, and from 2019 Artisans will deliver an integrated wine and food program through a single Artisans team of great Barossa wine and food people. Harvest Kitchen has chosen to remain at the current Magnolia Road location in a new partnership with Calabria Family Wines who purchased the site in 2016.
“Since early 2015, Artisans of Barossa has worked in tandem with Harvest Kitchen to become one of the most popular cellar door and restaurant destinations in Barossa. Peter, Tracy and Alex and their team have played a pivotal role, and we wish them continuing success working with Calabria Family Wines who have exciting plans for what we’ll always fondly remember as our first home.”
The new Artisans has been designed by local architects JBG, and Ahrens Construction and Engineering has been engaged as the builder.
“Through the construction stage and initial operations, the new Artisans home is expected to create more than 30 new full time equivalent jobs in addition to the team we currently employ. We’re all about offering our guests the best experience of Barossa they’ll find anywhere on the planet, and we’ll be bringing together a team that embraces our love of all things Barossa to deliver that. Recruitment should commence later this year.”
Artisans of Barossa is a group of like-minded producers with a common goal to protect and promote small batch, sub-regional winemaking. Our collaboration represents a shared way of thinking about winemaking and wine enjoying. The Artisans are Hobbs of Barossa Ranges, Schwarz Wine Company, Massena, John Duval Wines, Sons of Eden and Spinifex.
We look forward to welcoming you to the new Artisans of Barossa.