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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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Rutherglen Legends Campbells Wines
What makes Rutherglen so special? Rutherglen has a very unique climate. Our heat degree days are about in line with the Clare Valley , but we have more sunshine hours than any other wine region in Australia. This means our grapes get more exposure to sunlight so we can make our table wines earlier in the season. Also, we normally have nice dry autumns that enable us to get much riper fruit for Muscats and Topaques. Rutherglen is also a very unique region because we work very closely together as a group – we call it ‘coopetition’. We cooperate and work together when we’re out in the bigger scene and at joint promotions and when we’re at home, we’re competing with our neighbours. What are some of the winemaking challenges Rutherglen presents? Just this year we had not overly hot temperatures, but up in the mid-30s for 10 days in a row and that brought all the grapes on very, very quickly. We’re in some interesting times because as a winemaker you can’t foresee these things, you’ve got to deal with them when they happen. But I find it difficult to believe that the dramatic changes in vintages have been caused by climate change, because it’s too sudden. While I’ve got no doubt that our climate will change and it is, climate change is going to be a slow, developing thing that will happen over time. What have been some of Campbells’ proudest achievements in recent years? We’ve done a lot to promote our fortified wines, our Muscats and Topaques, including developing the classification system and repositioning them as icon wines. Our Muscats are highly regarded all around the world and in 2010 renowned wine critic Harvey Steinman gave our Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat 100 points in Wine Spectator magazine. This was the first time in the magazine’s history that an Australian wine was awarded a perfect score. So if we hadn’t repositioned the Muscats and Topaques they would have probably become a bit of a curio. Instead, we’ve been able to turn that around to something that has been a growing quality market. Having said that, however, it can be a challenge getting people to try these wines because they just associate them with Christmas lunch. So we’re in the process of revamping our fortified range with the help of a mixologist to show people that you can drink these styles any time. The other thing that’s been very rewarding is our movement with Durif. We’ve had Durif in the area for over 100 years, and because we had phylloxera, no cuttings can be taken out of the area, so we’re really proud to have the original clone. However, nothing was ever really done with it until Mick Morris made a table wine out of it about 30 years ago. Then we made our Barkley Durif in 1992 and having recognised that it was a pretty special wine, we worked on it to develop a style that was more drinkable as a younger wine, but still with longevity. Now, every Rutherglen producer has Durif and I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that it’s their most expensive wine and that’s been a real coup. Your world class fortifieds are obviously an incredible asset, but do you think the message is getting out there that you do fantastic table wines too? No, that’s something that’s developing all the time. We’ve been trying new varieties, we’ve got a lot of Rhône varieties grown here now and that’s only happened in the last 10-15 years and also we’re trying varieties from Portugal, Spain and even into Italy to prepare ourselves for what we would say is climate change. The Wine Selectors Wine of the Month for July is your Limited Release Cabernets 2012, which features Ruby Cabernet. This isn’t a variety that we hear much of, can you describe its appeal? Ruby Cabernet is interesting because the first wines were made down around the Riverland , etc., and they weren’t very smart, they were overcropped and Ruby Cabernet ended up with a bad name. But John Brown and ourselves planted it here and we found that at the normal crop level it makes a totally different wine. It’s just a lovely wine that holds its fruit very well and ages well We’ve matched it in our 2016 calendar with slow roasted lamb shoulder with Middle Eastern spices and cumin yoghurt sauce. What are your favourite food matches with this wine? I’m pretty basic with my food – just a nice steak would probably suit me very well.
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Talking with Taylors
In celebration of the Taylors Merlot 2014 being the Wine Selectors Wine of the Month for April, we caught up with Chief Winemaker Adam Eggins to talk Taylors and winemaking. You’ve had huge success at Taylors with Merlot, what makes it such an appealing red variety and what’s the secret to getting it right? Merlot is challenging. The French say Merlot is very fickle, very demanding. The site must be perfect, the soil, the drainage, the amount of wind and sunshine. Ultimately, your belief in Merlot is what drives your winemaking approach. Everyone tells me we have the wrong clones in this country. I think not. We may have Merlot in the wrong viticultural sites and we may be approaching the variety with the wrong mind set, however, Merlot can be one of the world’s greatest wines so the question becomes what can we do or not do to release its worldly potential. Tannins are important, or more importantly, the carefully controlled lack of over extraction. Our Merlots are cuvee wines, predominantly free-run, which has greater levels of aromatic intensity and a natural beautiful delicacy for which the variety is renowned. What makes working for such a historic family-owned winery so special? Making wines for the Taylors family is very special. Wine is in their blood and every decision we make is in the best interest of their wines, as ultimately their wines are their brand. The family thinks generationally and makes decisions for a sustainable future. Working against drought conditions, your first vintage with Taylors was a challenge? Are the challenging vintages sometimes the most rewarding? South Australia is a beautiful winemaking climate, but we can have it all: drought, bushfire, heatwave and flood and a bit of frost and hail to boot. The tough years can produce spectacular wines and it feels like they are more deserving, as you may have had to look harder to find them. The great years are a pleasure too, however, and South Australia is generally blessed with how many great seasons. We can have somewhere around 6-7 out of 10 vintages rate incredibly highly. What’s your favourite wine style to make? Is it also your favourite to drink? To make, it’s probably Shiraz , the sheer colour and flavour spectrums available are fascinating to work with and I also love how the variety absorbs and harmonises with the right level of the right oak. To drink, it’s much harder. Great Chardonnay has incredible appeal, as can Riesling and Pinot Noir and our finest Cabernets can’t be beat in the middle of winter. Of late, I have a growing interest in Tempranillo and taste it as often as I can, especially the lovely wines of Rioja. What’s been your most memorable winemaking moment? To be honest, there is no one moment, but many. What we like doing is some small scale research to raise the quality bar, then the following vintage taking it to large scale process to have a quality impact on an affordable wine. We have been researching the early application of oak with St Andrews Shiraz for many years, which has worked well, but our greatest honour is when our ~$18 rrp Estate Shiraz won the Best Shiraz in Australia twice, against all competitors. Why is this more special? Well, the wine is affordable and widely available, so that people all around the country can enjoy it. This is largely Taylor’s philosophy, to make great wines in an affordable scale. What makes the Clare Valley such a special region to make wine in? I have asked myself that many times and I rate Clare equally with two other regions – Margaret River and the Yarra Valley . These regions have the potential to do many things well. World Class Riesling , Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon and possibly in the future Tempranillo can be achieved in the Clare Valley. Not many regions have this depth of potential that the Clare Valley offers. It is an unusual combination of the heat of the region and its altitude and the proximity to the coastline that gives us beautiful ripening weather during the day, but very cool evenings, which helps retain natural elegance and restraint. Taylors certainly has an admirable approach to sustainability. Do you think enough Australian wineries are doing their bit for the environment? Taylors are very disciplined about making decisions based around sustainability. This can involve employees, growers, vineyards, winemaking approaches and/or our community. Yalumba is another company who excels in this area. I wish more companies would be more active in this space, however, I do understand that for many wine businesses the core focus is the retail sale and the state of the market. The benefits of family companies are often they can take a broader, much longer term, generational view of the industry, which will often lead to a better outcome for all.
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Meet Steve Webber from DeBortoli
The Wine Selectors Wine of the Month for September is the De Bortoli Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2014. So we caught up with winemaker Steve Webber to find out a bit more about the man behind the wine. Can you recall the first wine you tried? Not really. My father enjoyed Pirramimma Shiraz so it was probably something like that. When did you fall in love with wine? I have enjoyed wine since I was 18 (38 years ago) and been fascinated by it, however, I feel I only fell in love with wine about 20 years ago after spending lots of time in France and Italy, breaking out of the wine bubble, enjoying delicious inexpensive wine with friends and secretly enjoying the odd delicious expensive bottle with Leanne (and maybe 1 or 2 friends). Do you have a favourite wine? Pinot Noir . Ridiculously alluring, charming, gracious and great with fatty cuts of pork and duck. What is your favourite wine memory? A bottle of 1996 Salon Champagne that Leanne and I vacuumed after her final cancer treatment. It must be why she is fighting fit today. Other than your own, which wine do you like to drink at home? Pale dry Rosé in carafes from lots of different Australian and French producers. What is your favourite wine and food match? Fine minerally Chardonnay with pan fried John Dory. How do you relax away from winemaking? Hanging out at our beach house on the Mornington Peninsula – good food and the odd bottle. What is your favourite…. Book: McEnroe – talent to burn, had attitude. Movie: The Rock – love the one liners TV show: Rake – too funny Restaurant: France Soir – unfortunately my kids favourite as well Lunch: Dory, Chablis and friends Dinner: Charcoal roasted chicken with the family Time of day/night: Twilight in spring in the Yarra Valley – amazing colours Sporting team: Geelong
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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