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Wine

Masters of Riesling - Jim Barry Wines

We caught up with second generation winemaker Peter Barry, whose stunning Jim Barry The Lodge Riesling 2015 from the Clare Valley is the Wine of the Month for August.

What makes the Clare Valley such a special grape growing wine region?

The Clare Valley is such a special grape growing region due to the warm days and cool nights which allow grapes to ripen fully but retain natural acidity and hence freshness. The undulating hills provide many aspects so we can grow Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet on different slopes of the same vineyard.

What are some of the winemaking challenges it presents?

The major winemaking challenge in Riesling is sunburn, which can be mitigated by canopy management to ensure no fruit is exposed to direct sunlight. For red wine, it is about picking at the right time to achieve a balance between ripeness and acid without the grapes becoming over ripe.

What have been some of Jim Barry Wines’ greatest achievements in recent years?

We’ve had great success, but some of the standouts include:
Mathew Jukes Australian Winery of the year for 2016.
Trophy for 2016 Lodge Hill Riesling at the 2016 Royal Sydney Wine Show
Trophy for Barry Brothers Shiraz Cabernet for 2013 as the Brisbane and Melbourne Wine Shows, as well as Trophy in Brisbane for the 2014 vintage.
Trophy for best producer at the Clare Valley Wine Show for five of the past six vintages.

Also we’re very proud to have introduced the Greek variety of Assyrtiko to Australia.

Can you sum up your experience of the 2016 vintage in a few words?

Good rains in January hydrated very thirsty vines, leading to an exceptional vintage.

When Jim Barry purchased the Lodge Hill vineyard in 1977 he was confident it would “produce some of the best Riesling in Clare”. What did he see that was so special about this vineyard?

Three things. Elevation which leads to cooler night and better acid retention in Riesling, rocky/slatey soil meaning the vines have to send their roots deep into the ground in search of moisture and many aspects to suit Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet.

The Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Riesling 2015 is the Wine Selectors Wine of the Month for August. What makes this a standout expression of the variety?

The 2015 The Lodge Hill Riesling shows the perfect balance between ripe flavours, acidity and minerality.

We matched it with Thai pork salad in our 2016 calendar. What is your favourite food match with this wine?

With its natural acidity and zesty citrus, Riesling is the perfect match for spicy Asian food. Having said that, The Lodge Hill is absolutely delicious with a simple plate of freshly shucked oysters with finger lime.

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How climate change is changing our wine
In 2012, a leading Coonawarra viticulturist looked out upon a vineyard in the northern part of the region, a place of shallow soils, home to 25-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon vines. It was a good site, had been a strong performer for his employer Wynns Coonawarra Estate, but now, viticulturist Allen Jenkins decided to see just how robust it really was. He divided the block in half. For one set of vines it was business as usual. For the other, a harsher new reality was about to set in as he deliberately reduced the amount of irrigated water it would receive for the next three years, just 10 per cent of its normal allowance. When the results were collated, there was nothing but sad news for those parched Cabernet vines. “Yield dropped for each of those three years by 40 per cent, on average,” says Allen. “The berry number also dropped, berries were much smaller, there was an increase in colour and tannin, but the problem was you lost some of that Cabernet varietal character.” Recovery for the vines once water was returned was another big hurdle, it was far from immediate and they continue to struggle to this day. Cabernet Sauvignon is the flagship grape for Coonawarra , a symbol of its national and international standing in the world of wine, and here it was being stripped of its noble character by a deliberate man-managed climate intended to mimic global warming in all of its nastiness. Allen had made his point. Climate change was capable of treating even the most celebrated of grapes with disdain. Now, he’s learning to adapt. He’s not the only one in the Australian wine industry. A harsh reality Between now and the year 2030 the annual average temperature is expected to rise between 0.2ºC and 1.1ºC in many of Australia’s grape growing regions. By 2050, the projected increase is 0.4ºC to 2.6ºC. A warmer future will go hand in hand with a drier one and one, it is believed, that will be increasingly erratic, throwing up unpredictable extreme weather conditions. Under this scenario, the annual Australian wine grape harvest will be earlier; grapes coming into full ripeness during the hottest parts of summer, stressing vines. Some suggest it’s already here. “Vintage 2015 was our 35th in the region,” says Jeffrey Grosset of Jeffrey Grosset Wines in the Clare Valley . “We commenced harvest for our two Rieslings (Polish Hill and Springvale) 35 days, almost to the day in both cases, earlier than we did 35 years ago. The suggestion of a (earlier vintage) trend to around roughly one day earlier each year, seems compelling.” His Clare colleagues at Jim Barry Wines, to the north of his vineyard, had already picked and were fermenting their 2015 Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet by mid February, a first for them. What does climate change mean for my wine? In a warmer climate, vintage will probably be shorter and more compact, which might suit earlier ripeners like Chardonnay , but won’t go down well with late season starters such as Cabernet. The heat that drives sugars up will also force acids down. A drier season scenario similar to what Allen Jenkins found   with smaller yields and lack of varietal flavour may become a widespread problem. The effect will be more noticeable in inland regions that are expected to be hotter than coastal areas. Australian research suggests grape quality will be reduced nationally by seven to 23 per cent by 2030, and 12 to 57 per cent by 2050. The fact that climate change is real and not some annoying trend that will eventually cycle off and bring certainty back into our lives, would appear to now be acknowledged by Australian winemakers. And it’s not exclusively about heat. “Climate change to me is both heat and rain,” says Peter Barry at Jim Barry Wines. “Yes, it’s the unpredictability of the weather, all that is puzzling and a little terrifying.” Dr Leanne Webb, Climate Projections Liaison Manager at the CSIRO and an academic with more than a decade’s research into the subject, chooses her language carefully when describing the causes behind our changing climate. “Increasing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are altering the composition of the atmosphere,” she wrote in her seminal paper, Modelled Impact of Future Climate Change on the Phenology of Winegrapes in Australia (2007).   “It is very likely that most of the global warming since the mid-20th Century is due to increases in greenhouse gases from human activities.” For the first time in recorded history, the earth’s temperature is clearly more than 1.0ºC above the 1850-1900 average. Since 1997, which at the time was the warmest year on record, 16 of the subsequent 18 years have been warmer still. What to do? Dr Webb suggests Australian wine producers do three things to address its impact on their vineyards: 1. Look to grapevine management techniques, 2. Shift vineyard sites and 3. Think about different grape varieties. In the Yarra Valley , winemaker Dan Buckle at Domaine Chandon, one of Australia’s leading sparkling winemakers may be locked into the classic Champagne trio – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier – but he is still free to look at different sites. “I think that by focusing on altitude in vineyard selection we can avoid risks of climate change,” he says. “Certainly the results we see from our Whitlands vineyard are exciting.” Whitlands is one of the highest vineyards in Victoria, around 800 metres on a high point in the King Valley , and was planted by Brown Brothers in 1982. In 2010, Brown Brothers went in search of parts potentially cooler, buying the extensive Tasmanian vineyards of troubled forestery giant, Gunns Ltd. for $32.5 million. It was an expensive commitment to a changing climate, ironically, coming at a cost: the forced sale of Whitlands. But not everyone can change vineyard location. It’s far easier and cheaper to change the grape variety. McLaren Vale boasts a sunny, Mediterranean-style climate. With that in mind, Coriole winemaker Mark Lloyd thought it obvious to look to Italian varieties. Some didn’t work. Nebbiolo and Barbera are real sooks in the heat, as he discovered during the January heat wave of 2009. Fruit all but disappeared on the vine. However, grape varieties sourced from Southern Italy are a different story. Fiano has become possibly his greatest success story, an inspiration to others. It is already being hailed as making the region’s best white wine. Nero d’Avola, a late maturing red variety, is also performing well. And this year, he has Apulia’s dark-hearted Negroamaro planted. In the Clare Valley, one of the most surprising alternative grape stars is an unpronounceable Greek variety that originally hails from the fabulous volcanic soils of Santorini. Assyrtiko was brought into Australia by Jim Barry Wines and from its first vintage in 2014, its crisp acid personality was a delight. The grape absolutely thrives in the dry and the hot. Still, new grape varieties, many with difficult-to-pronounce names, may be trending, but there are others who simply look to adapt what they’ve got. Maybe they’ve read the controversial new book from pioneering Western Australian viticultural scientist, John Gladstones, Wine, Terroir and Climate Change (Wakefield Press) which doesn’t want to be too doom and gloomy about the future. His message? Terroir is resilient. Others may see hope in new varieties being developed by the CSIRO. Brown Brothers had moderate success with Cienna some years back and are now backing Project Enigma, another first in the wine world, a totally new grape variety that laps up the heat. Climate change means change. But, if handled with thought and positive action, it could signal an exciting future for winemakers and drinkers alike.
Wine
The Hunter’s best on show
While last month saw our athletes competing for medals in Rio, it also saw the wineries of the Hunter Valley going for gold at the Hunter Valley Wine Show. A huge success, the show saw 644 entries from 70 local producers. Of those entries, 59 won gold, 108 silver and 208 bronze. Among the judges at this prestigious event were Tasting Panellist Nicole Gow and Selector magazine publisher, Paul Diamond, who were both thrilled to have the opportunity to judge alongside local winemakers and others from key interstate regions. For Nicole, one of the highlights of the show was the fact that it reinforced her long-held belief that alternative varieties have a strong future in the Hunter Valley. “It was great to see the varieties we all know the region does very well like Semillon , Shiraz and Chardonnay , but it was also wonderful to see varieties like Vermentino, Fiano, Barbera and Tempranillo doing well.” “Wine Selectors has been championing alternative wines from producers like The Little Wine Co, David Hook and Margan for some time now, and they’re finally getting the recognition that their lesser known varieties deserve.” Paul added that he was also impressed with the rise of the categories outside of the traditional varieties and he also enjoyed how some producers were combining the traditional with the new with blends like Shiraz Tempranillo. Nicole was also excited to see the Hunter’s first ever trophy for a Rosé . “Overall, it was a really strong class”, she says. “The winning Rosé was made with Shiraz, but there was a mixture of varieties among the wines including Merlot and Sangiovese.” While the Wine Selectors team has worked hard over the years to build relationships with a huge number of Hunter Valley wineries, there is always someone new to meet. So for Nicole, judging at the show is a fantastic opportunity to discover some fresh faces to add to the Wine Selectors family. When all the awards had been given out, though, it was one of Australia’s favourite wineries that shone the brightest. The Tyrrell family proved that their passion and dedication never wanes with another 17 gold medals and 10 trophies added to their collection! The Clear Image Hunter Valley Wine Show 2016 trophy winners were: Marshall Flannery Trophy for Best Current Semillon : First Creek Wines 2016 Single Vineyard Murphy Semillon George Wyndham Memorial Trophy for Best Current and One-Year-Old Chardonnay: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2015 Belford Chardonnay J.Y. (Jay) Tulloch Trophy for Best Verdelho: Hungerford Hill 2016 Hunter Valley Verdelho Best Other White Trophy: The Little Wine Company Vermentino 2016 Henry John Lindeman Memorial Trophy for Best Two–Year-Old and Older Chardonnay: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2013 Vat 47 Chardonnay Ed Jouault Memorial Trophy for Best One-Year-Old Dry Semillon: Peter Drayton 2015 Semillon Elliott Family Trophy for Best Two-Year-Old Shiraz: Silkman Wines 2014 Reserve Shiraz Best Other Red Trophy: Dimbulla Estate 2014 Tempranillo Shiraz James Busby Memorial Trophy for Best Mature Three-Year-Old and Older Shiraz: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2013 Vat 9 Shiraz McGuigan Family Trophy for Best Mature Two-Year–Old and older Semillon: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2009 Vat 1 Semillon Trevor Drayton Memorial Trophy for Best Fortified Wine: Drayton Family Wines Heritage Vines Liqueur Verdelho John Lewis Newcastle Herald Trophy for Best Museum Red Wine: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2007 Vat 8 Shiraz Graham Gregory Memorial Trophy for Best Museum White: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2006 Stevens Semillon Rosé Trophy for Best Rosé: Australian Vintage Limited – 2016 Tempus Two Copper Series Shiraz Rosé Hector Tulloch Memorial Trophy for Best Shiraz: Silkman Wines 2014 Reserve Shiraz Innovative Red Wine Trophy: Margan Family Wines 2011 Breaking Ground Ripasso Shiraz Maurice O’Shea Memorial Trophy for Best Semillon: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2009 Vat 1 Semillon Murray Tyrrell Chardonnay Trophy for Best Chardonnay: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2013 Vat 47 Chardonnay Drayton Family Trophy for Best Named Vineyard Red Wine: Lucy’s Run Wines 2014 Shiraz Tyrrell Family Trophy for Best Named Vineyard White Wine: Meerea Park 2009 Alexander Munro Semillon Len Evans Trophy for Best Named Vineyard Wine: Lucy’s Run Wines 2014 Shiraz Petrie-Drinan Trophy for Best White Wine of the Show: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2009 Vat 1 Semillon Doug Seabrook Memorial Trophy for Best Red Wine of the Show: Dimbulla Estate 2014 Tempranillo Shiraz Iain Riggs Wine of Provenance: Tyrrell’s Vineyards Belford Semillon –¬ 2005, 2013, 2016
Wine
Celebrating 150 years of Best’s Great Western
Iconic Victorian, family owned winery, Best’s Great Western is in celebration mode this year with 2016 marking their 150th anniversary. Here at Wine Selectors we’ve proudly been working with Best’s Great Western for over 20 years and we’re excited to be a part of their amazing history. Established by the Best family in 1866, and owned by the Thomson family since founder Henry Best’s death in 1920, the estate is home to some of Australia’s oldest and most significant vineyards. “His determination, flare, and pioneering spirit are been huge qualities that I admire greatly. I'm extremely fortunate to work with my father Dominique and share his same vision for quality.” Patriarch and fourth generation winemaker Eric (Viv) Thomson is currently overseeing his 55th consecutive vintage and Best’s is now managed by his son Ben who is also the vineyard manager and Best’s talented winemaker, Justin Purser. “I’ve been working with Viv since the 1990s and what is truly impressive about Best’s Great Western is they consistently deliver exceptional wine at great value year after year – that’s why we love their wines,” says Trent Mannell, Wine Selectors Panel Member and senior buyer. “I love visiting their winery in the Grampians, it’s full of original equipment and the barrel stores and cellars are just amazing. When you walk in there you can smell the history.” “ While we’re celebrating 150 years of winemaking, our philosophy at Best’s remains the same as in the beginning – great wines are made in the vineyard,” says Best’s Great Western’s winemaker Justin Purser. “Even while practicing a minimalist approach, attention to detail is key. At Best’s, we avoid the overpowering use of oak or additional treatments. Instead, we prefer to let the fantastic fruit from Great Western tell the story.” Victoria’s historical home of Shiraz, Best’s Great Western produces superb cool climate, aromatic Shiraz including their Bin 1 Shiraz that’s made in a style that is floral, spicy and peppery yet retains generous fruit characteristics and intensity. In 2013 their 2011 Bin 1 Shiraz won the highly-esteemed Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show and also received the Fine Wine Partners Trophy for Australia’s Wine of the Year. The 2013 vintage has already been awarded a Trophy and a Gold medal. We have Best’s Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz 2013 on tasting at our Cellar Doors at Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth domestic airport terminals during March, so if you’re travelling please join us to experience a little taste of Best’s ongoing dedication to excellence. For more Best’s Great Western wines click here
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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