Welcome to the Artisans of Barossa blog where we bring you news and events from Artisans of Barossa, Vino Lokal and the Barossa region.
Winemaker of the Month - Jason Schwarz from Schwarz Wine Co.
The Schwarz family has been farming in the Barossa for the last five generations and have a long connection to the land. Both Jason's Father and Grandfather were state Pruning Champions and despite growing and pruning grapes for generations, Jason is the first in his family to make wine. Jason sources fruit from family owned vineyards around the Bethany sub-region of the Barossa Valley as well as Stonewall, Stockwell, Light Pass, Eden Valley and Vine Vale. The wines are a true expression of place.
I recently caught up for a chat with Jas in the Nitschke Block vineyard (above) and he was telling me about how the family have a long connection to the Bethany region, sure enough just up the road in the Bethany Pioneer Cemetery are the headstones of the first Schwarzs to arrive in the Barossa. Now that’s local.
10 questions with Jason Schwarz.
What are the three most memorable wines you have tasted? - An old mid 80’s Peter Lehmann Stonewall Shiraz, Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz and the wine I drank last night.
What is the oldest vineyard you source fruit from? - The 1881 Schiller vineyard at Hallett’s Valley, planted by Carl August Otto Schiller 130 years ago and still in the Schiller family to this day.
What was your very first job? - Cutting Apricots for drying on the family orchard at Bethany.
What do you love about your job and why? - Creating a unique product from grapes grown by family and friends that you then get to see people enjoy.
What grape variety or style excites you? - Funky Grenache – in particular Old Vine Grenache like the fruit we source from the Thiele Road vineyard in Bethany.
What are your top 5 tips for people visiting the Barossa?
Stay longer – there is plenty to see and do in the Barossa.
Listen to the local’s recommendations – especially when it comes to which wineries to visit.
Drink a bottle of wine at windy point – grab a bottle and head up Rifle Range Rd at Krondorf and watch the sunset.
Hire a driver – that way everyone gets to enjoy the experience.
Visit the unknown – head off the beaten track and visit the lesser known wineries, who knows you might find a new favourite.
What was the first wine you drank? - Riesling and lemonade with my dad at the Leo Buring weighbridge when delivering grapes during vintage in the 70’s.
What and when was the first wine you made and what did it teach you? - Four Flags Grenache in 1997 with mates from university and it taught me that it’s hard to make good wine.
What is your favourite part of vintage? - Getting dirty and the beer at 4am is pretty alright too.
How many countries have you made wine in? - Three - Australia, South Africa and Germany.
There’s history in Grenache. A history that goes back to the 1850’s here in the Barossa. Normally that’d be reason enough to join International Grenache Day but here in the Barossa and at Artisans of Barossa we’ve got more.
Our Artisans love the variety, and are dedicated to ensuring the story of this much loved variety continues to grow. From delicate rosés to lightly extracted examples right through to something you can cuddle to up to after a meal there is no doubting the diversity this grape variety offers. With winemaking references that span the globe this is one of the most interesting varieties that creates such diverse styles.
We’ve put together a unique line up to celebrate International Grenache Day on Friday the 16th in the Artisan’s Lounge.
It’s a great opportunity to taste current releases, an old one, and even a sneaky pair of pre-releases.
Wine Companion Results 2016
What a cracker of a result for all concerned, and yes I did channel my inner Eurovision host (complete with bad 80's hair and shoulder pads) when reading the points out!
Hobbs of Barossa Ranges
2013 Gregor Shiraz - 95 points
2013 1905 Shiraz - 93 points
2013 Tango Shiraz/Viognier - 93 points
2013 Tin Lids Shiraz/Cabernet - 93 points
2013 Eligo Shiraz - 97 points
2014 Entity Shiraz - 96 points
2014 Plexus Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre - 94 points
2014 The Howling Dog Saperavi/Petite Syrah/Tannat - 95 points
Schwarz Wine Co
2014 Meta Shiraz - 96 points
2015 Meta Grenache- 95 points
2014 Schwarz Shiraz - 94 points
2014 Schwarz Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedre - 94 points
2014 Thiele Rd Grenache - 91 points
2015 Meta Mataro - 90 points
Sons of Eden
2014 Zephyrus Shiraz - 96 points
2014 Kennedy Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedre - 95 points
2013 Pumpa Cabernet/Shiraz - 92 points *limited stock
2013 Indegene Shiraz Mataro - 96 points
2015 Rosé - 94 Points
2015 Papillon Grenache Cinsault - 94 points
What's the latest - Over the past 5 years Jason Schwarz has tweaked and refined his Chenin Blanc, a variety that he first fell in love with early on in his winemaking career in South Africa and getting it to taste just how he wanted. This year the delicious Chenin Blanc (and Rose) have been tweaked in more ways than one, the outside got some love too! The new look Chenin and Rose are the perfect pair for this gloriously sunny weather that we are enjoying (basking in even) at the moment. The Chenin has crisp and crunchy apple notes and the Rose is bone dry and savoury.
What's on the pour this weekend at Artisans - Simon has put together this weeks Tasting List with Mataro on his mind. We have the Meta Mataro, Massena Mataro and the elusive Sons of Eden Stavros Mataro all on tasting this week to give you the chance to taste one of the varieties that is the backbone of all those Barossa blends that we love. As well as Mataro we have some delicious lighter reds on tasting with the Spinifex pair - Pinot and Papillon.
To view what's on the pour this week at Artisans click here
What's cooking - I just spied the run sheet for this Sundays lunch and anyone would think its Valentines day. Never have I seen the floor plan so full of single tables, its usually larger groups and shared plates. The Harvest Kitchen crew are trialing some more delicious dishes this week, soon to be seen on the menu. I'm not going to give away any secrets but lets just say that Barossa Vegetarians will be very happy with the new dishes over the next few weeks or so.
What's the latest - Greg and Ali are back from the beach and the 2013 Tango Shiraz Viognier is now in the building! The Shiraz and Viognier for the Tango are co-fermented with naturally occuring yeasts. The Viognier grapes are late picked, left on the vine to intensify their flavour compounds which add a layer of complexity to the wine. The wine is then left to age in 100% new French Oak for 24 months, resulting in a complex and rich wine with plenty of life ahead of it yet.
What's on the pour this weekend at Artisans - This week's tasting list is all about some of our (and your) favourite's, one of the perks of building the tasting list is getting to pour your faves. From the much loved Freya Riesling, via the delicious Grenache based blends of Esprit, Plexus, Kennedy and Thiele Road, the trio of iconic Barossa shiraz in the Entity, Bete Noir and Eleventh Hour and rounding out with that classic Aussie Blend of Shiraz and Cabernet.
To view what's on the pour this week at Artisans click here
What's cooking - Now that School is back and the sun is shining, what better way to enjoy the day than lunch on the deck. The perfect dish for these sunny days is the Vermouth and dill cured salmon with pickled kohlrabi and fresh horseradish, and the perfect glass to go with it is the Spinifex Rose. Harvest Kitchen is also the perfect place to wind down at the end of the work week, with the kitchen open till late and so many delicious dishes to choose from why not head on up the hill for a sundowner.
We love our neighbours here at Artisans of Barossa, and why wouldnt you when they are such a talented, diverse bunch of Barossan's. About two years ago the lovely Emily Hay from Turkey Flat and myself got together and came up with the idea of setting up a trail the runs through our fabulous little pocket of the Barossa.
And thus the Bethany to Angaston trail was started, since those initial conversations (over rieslings of course) we have seen the group grow to its current list of 11 Tasting Rooms, 5 accomodation providers and 6 fine food establishments.
If you are heading up to the Barossa over the festive period this is the perfect way to spend the day exploring. Included in the map are lots of activities for the whole family, from the ever popular Menglers Hill Lookout for the photographers, the Barossa Farmers Market for the foodies, the Pioneer Cemetery at Bethany for the history buffs and for all of those with kids we have included all the parks so the kids can run!
Click here if you would like to download your own copy of the map for your next trip to the valley.
In the Barossa Valley region, there’s a story to be told and a history to be learned for everything. Our food at Harvest Kitchen is no exception. Local produce, flavours, personalities and stories all go into our dishes, and an understanding and respect of this turns them into something special. This understanding and respect is part of our ethos, from our people cooking the dishes to the team setting them down on your table. Last week the Harvest Kitchen staff, including yours truly, were provided with the opportunity to learn the story behind our Hutton Vale Lamb.
Hutton Vale Farm can be found just outside Angaston, in the Eden Valley. Up a long dusty track sits a cluster of farm buildings, and there we were welcomed by Jan and John Angas, the current owners and custodians of Hutton Vale. Under the shade of trellised vines, Jan and John explain their own beliefs, methods and stories behind the unique Eden Valley farm.
Their families land has housed sheep for 160 years, all the time focussing on treating the animals with respect, care and above all else using natural farming methods. The sheep are run as a ‘closed flock’; other than buying in rams all the sheep on the farm were born and raised there. This builds a stronger sense of adaptability between the animals and the land, resulting in less stress, happier animals and better quality meat.
A brief stroll around some of the property took us to their small poultry project, side-by-side with their pig pen. As we walked around a piece of land that measures some 2,000 acres it is easy to imagine a large team of farmhands taking up the strain that such a property presents. However the reality is Jan and John, their daughter Kate and her husband Shaun all living on and caring for the property.
Aside from lamb, Hutton Vale have also teamed up with Kym Teusner of Teusner Wines to make the most of the small vineyard on their land. Dry-grown vines, they yield Shiraz, Grenache, Mataro, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling. Years ago, while starting his career in winemaking, Kym Teusner came across the Hutton Vale fruit which his then-employer had been buying, describing it as some of the best fruit he had ever seen. Upon starting his own label, Kym approached Jan and John and expressed his interest in their fruit. Now, years later, Hutton Vale have their own label, which we were fortunate enough to taste.
On a balmy Barossan afternoon, sitting in the shade enjoying a glass of Hutton Vale Grenache and copious amounts of home-grown lamb Jan has just pulled out of the oven, it’s easy to forget where this all ends up. Then, looking at my work colleagues next to me, it’s obvious. This is it right here. The carefree nonchalance that goes with great wine, amazing food and good company. All the hard work ends up on a plate, in a glass, and part of a moment that you'll never forget.
Here at Artisans the Tasting Room team are getting their taste buds warmed up and ready to be put to the test. The first of our Wine Club Packs are set to be sent in the first week of November and who better to entrust with the task of making the selections than the fab team we have behind the Tasting Bar. The team are tasting through a selection of the finest examples we have to offer, and as they are well versed as to what you are all loving when you visit you can be sure the selection will be spot on.
To start us off we have two different tiers of wine packs on offer (stay tuned for more to come in the New Year). The Seasonal Selection is the perfect way to stock up on wines that are just right for enjoying now and are matched to the season ahead, this release we are thinking all things Riesling, Rose and lighter slurpy Reds. The Six for the Cellar pack is a great way to stock up on wines that will benefit from some time in the cellar and we will always try and include a wine that has already spent some tim, handy for those impatient souls like myself. This release we are including some old favourites as well as some that are set to be your next go to red from the cellar.
This week sees the arrival of the final wines in our 2015 Riesling line up here at Artisans with the release of two of our favourites in the Sons of Eden Freya and the Teusner Empress. Perfectly timed to coincide with the forecast here for the weekend of sunshine and good times, nothing quite satisfies like an ice cold Riesling on a sunny 34 degree day.
All three will be on tasting all weekend here at Artisans.
Teusner Empress Riesling – If shiraz is King in the Barossa, Riesling is surely Queen!
Intense orange blossom, white flowers and slatey minerality.
Sourced from 2 vineyards within the Eden Valley, one in High Eden and the other is located at the northern end near Keyneton and is a 50yo dry grown vineyard.
Sons of Eden Freya Riesling – Named after the Nordic goddess of Love, War and Fertility
Jasmine and fresh lime and lemon blossom with an intense core of lime and lemon with subtle minerality.
Whole bunch presses and fermented cool to retain aromatics
3 vineyard sites in Eden Valley – 25yo vines from Flaxmans Valley, 41yo vines from Craneford and 17yo vines from High Eden
Spinifex Riesling – the first Riesling in the Spinifex stable and rare for Pete, it’s a single varietal!
Floral notes on the nose of citrus blossom and rose petal, with talcy notes on the palate and fine acid with subtle weight.
25% whole berry ferment, 10% fermented in old French oak and partial malo
Spring in the Barossa heralds the start of the new season and the start of vintage 2016. The vines that have lain dormant over the winter months spring to life as the sap starts to flow and the vines grow greener every day.
While the days are sunny it still gets quite chilly overnight with the risk of frost keeping many a grape grower on their toes. At this stage of the growth cycle frost can cause quite a bit of damage to the young tender growth. Makes you wonder who would be a farmer hey, putting it all in the hands of Mother Nature!
As spring arrives our thoughts turn towards sunnier days, and we start craving lighter and brighter wines. Riesling is generally always the first wine we see released from the previous year’s vintage. This year sees the inaugural release of the Spinifex Riesling. This is the first year that Pete Schell has dabbled with one of the traditional and iconic white varieties of the Barossa. The fruit is sourced from 60 year old vines in the Eden Valley and in typical Pete style the wine has seen varied fermentation techniques not traditionally associated with Riesling. 25% of the fruit is whole bunch fermented and 10% is fermented in old French Oak. All these techniques add a complexity and texture to the wine that is alluring and keeps you going back for more.
The AoB team are eagerly awaiting the imminent arrival of the 2015 Sons of Eden Freya and Teusner Empress Riesling, both due in the next few weeks, watch this space.