Sunday, August 12, 2018

Jim Barry Tasting

Jim Barry is an unusual family wine business, maybe only comparable to Yalumba. It produces wine in large commercial quantities, like more than 100,000 cases, as well as high quality specialty wines. Based in the Clare Valley, the focus is on Riesling and Shiraz. The other day, I tasted most of the line-up.

The 2017 Assyrtiko is a welcome addition to the portfolio. It is the first Assyrtiko (native to Santorini, Greece)  commercially available in Australia, planted as recently as 2012. This is actually an excellent summer wine: crisp citrus, acidic, dry (90 points).

The 2018 Watervale Riesling is the high volume product, and it shows. This wine is straight forward and quite fruity, but not unpleasant (86 points).

The Clos Clare Riesling is a side project by third generation Tom and Sam Berry. It is actually a little block at a corner of the famous Florita vineyard. The 2017 has reasonable fruit weight, but is a little broad (89 points). The 2012 is quite different, maybe due to the ageing. Earthy flavours dominate this wine (89 points).

The 2012 Lodge Hill Riesling has more power. It is on the fruity side, but dry (90 points).

The game changes with the 2017 Florita Riesling from this exceptional vineyard, established by Leo Buring in 1962. This is a world-class dry Riesling. The colour is straw green. On the palate, the wine is delicate, but powerful at the same time. Citrus flavours dominate, but the key here is the steeliness and linearity of the wine delivered on the back of firm acidity. This wine will live for a long time, but is excellent to drink now as well (96 points).

Of the reds, I tried the 2014 McRae Wood Shiraz. The fruit is covered in  American oak. At four years of age, this is too much and unlikely to lift (89 points).

Then we come to the Armagh, one of Australia's most highly regarded Shiraz. The 2013 Armagh has some trouble to live up to that lofty expectation. This wine is still young and quite closed. It needs decanting. Blackberry and plum flavours are concentrated. Vanilla oak flavours hit on the front palate, cream and mocha on the back. The structure is impressive and not alcoholic, but will it all come together? (93 points).


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