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On Tasting
The Artisans of the Barossa 12th September
Part 2 of the Barossa Tastings

Friday, 30th October, 2009  - David Farmer

The ten makers showing were Hobbs; Kalleske; Massena; Radford; Schwarz; Sons of Eden; Spinifex; Standish; Teusner and Tin Shed. I only tasted the red wines.

We wandered over to see our friends at Teusner Wines and I had a quick sip of the Teusner Joshua GMS 2008 just to tune up the palate. Delicious stuff and I could drink this all day-but not this day as there was work to do. I also do not review the wines of Teusner here because Kym makes wine for us at Glug and no matter what, I will show an inherent bias.

At the Standish Wine Company I found four serious wines; The Relic Vine Vale Shiraz Viognier 2007; The Standish Vine Vale Shiraz 2006; The Andelmonde Greenock Shiraz 2007 and the Borne Bollene Eden Valley Shiraz 2007. This is the best line up of Standish wines Iíve ever tasted. Of these the first two come from the former Standish vineyard at Vine Vale now owned by the Steinbornerís. Vine Vale is interesting as itís a large area on the central Barossa floor that is partly covered with windblown sands. The Standish vines are also old dating back to 1912. The Relic contains 3% viognier and The Standish none otherwise they are the same and the wines spent 26 months in oak. Of the four, on the day, I was swept away by the Borne Bollene which is masterful. Quantities are as small as 100 cases.

The wines of the Sons of Eden were new to me but what great wines. I relished the Sons of Eden Kennedy Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2007 and decided that a little sip could cause no harm. This wine is from the floor of the valley and close to the Teusner Joshua in style. Then I moved into two lovely shiraz, the Romulus Barossa Valley Shiraz 2006 and the Remus Eden Valley Shiraz 2006, both excellent-the winemakers are Simon Cowham and Corey Ryan.

To the Schwarz Wine Company to say hello to Jason Schwarz and on the day he was the big improver of all the wineries. I thought the Schwarz Thiele Road Grenache 2007 was gorgeous and must recommend the Schwarz Nitschke Block 2006 and the 2007 both of which showed real class. In summary, terrific wines and we will be following Jasonís future with interest.

I was less certain about the wines of Radford as being from the Eden Valley they are lighter with a very different structure to Barossa Wines and it is not so simpler to move from one style to the other and give both equal considerations. I did think the Radford Eden Valley Shiraz 2006 was the best of the range but at this stage I will reserve judgment till I know the wines better.

At the Massena stand I found Jaysen Collins hard at work and began with a Massena Barossa Valley Barbera 2008 which was a fresh and inventive style very much to my taste. Then I was well rewarded as I swept through a line-up of Massena The Moonlight Run Grenache Shiraz Mataro Cinsault 2006; Massena The Eleventh Hour Shiraz 2007; Massena The Howling Dog Petite Syrah 2006 and Massena The Looting Duke Shiraz 2007. The range is of high quality and to pick one I would go for the Looting Duke. Jaysen works closely with Dan Standish and I thought these wines were one of the highlights of the showing.

Moving briskly along next up was Kalleske. I found the start a bit disappointing but the fireworks were towards the end with wines such as the Kalleske Greenock Shiraz 2007; Kalleske Old Vine Grenache 2007 and the Kalleske Johann Georg Shiraz 2007 and on the day decided I liked the Greenock the most.

With the wines of Hobbs I was back in the Eden Valley or is that the Barossa Ranges and for a bloke who loves maps I must confess Iím uncertain exactly where the Hobbs property is. Greg takes his wines very seriously and I enjoyed the Hobbs Shiraz Viognier 2007 though Iím less and less certain about adding viognier to good Barossa shiraz and to be frank see little point as it strikes me as artificial. The Hobbs Gregor 2007 is made in the Amarone style and has spent two years in new French oak and if you are looking for a difference give it a try as it will outpoint many an Italian.

I was less certain about the wines of Tin Shed and would like to see a bit more work done on them although all are appealing and drinkable. Peter Clarke is also the chef at a restaurant, Vintners, which I frequent so I express encouragement and look forward to next yearís crop.

And I finished the day at the Spinifex stand where Peter Schell and Magali Gely were busily pouring. I must say at the outset Iím an enthusiast for the wines of Spinifex so I confess to bias about these notes. There is another direction to make warm climate reds and Spinifex goes as close to anyone of indicating this way (another is Nic Bourke in McLaren Vale) as the wines have a fragrance and delicacy that makes me return to them again and again. To clean my palate I quaffed a glass of Spinifex Papillon Grenache Cinsault Mataro Shiraz 2008 which just slid away. What fun! Then I had a sip of the Spinifex Taureau Tempranillo Carignan Cabernet Graciano 2007; the Spinifex Esprit Shiraz Granache Mataro Carignan Cinsault 2007 and finally a Spinifex Shiraz Viognier 2007, with my highlight being the Taureau which is a current Farmer favourite.

In summary this was a room of very impressive talent making great wines and dotted around the room maybe half a dozen wines that are world class. The big test will be next week when some of these hopefully will be lined up against the rest of the Barossa at the Barossa Wine Show. Many though do not show. My review of the Barossa Show will be Part 3.

The news is that John Duval of John Duval wines will join the Artisans next year.

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