Friday, March 6, 2020

A Strange Day In The Barossa Valley

On this day, I tasted wines from Spinifex, John Duval, and David Franz; the first two at Artisans of Barossa, the last at the winery.

The situation with Spinifex was a bit unfortunate, as their highly anticipated premium 2018s would only arrive the following day. I tasted the 2018 Garcon, a light Grenache. This wine is easy drinking. There is some whole bunch in the wine, which makes the mouthfeel more savoury and rounded (90 points). The 2018 Aglianico is actually sourced south of Williamstown, really from the Adelaide Hills. The fruit is late ripening, and the acidity and firm tannins stand out in this wine (88 points). Finally, the 2018 Syrah (notice the spelling) is a very fresh, juicy wine, with good acidity and varietal character, but not much depth (91 points). I am looking forward to tasting the other 2018 wines.

I tasted a fuller range of John Duval wines. The 2017 Plexus shows pretty fruit and good balance. 50% of this GSM is Shiraz, which took over from Grenache to give the wine more weight. The mouthfeel was not as rounded as in some previous years (91 points). The Annexus wines are relatively new. They show particular components of the Plexus, worth bottling separately. The 2017 Annexus Grenache comes predominantly from the 150 year old Eden Valley Stonegarden vineyard. This is a well structured wine, showing raspberry fruit and minerality on the finish. In this relatively cool year and higher altitude, the fruit weight is a little weak (91 points). The 2017 Annexus Mataro, suffering from this vintage, is muscular, and a little bitter and tannic (88 points).

There will be a lot of interest in the 2018 Entity, the follow-up to the outstanding 17. Again, the Shiraz fruit is 50/50 Barossa Valley, Eden Valley. This wine shows good depth of fruit and great harmony. This wine is not overly extracted, which could have been a temptation (94 points). Comparing this wine to the 2016 Eligo, which consists of Duval's best fruit, I give the crown to the Eligo. It is a more powerful wine, with darker fruit and bigger fruit weight. This wine makes a statement. The tannins are firm and the finish long (95 points). We now cannot wait for the 2017 Eligo. Will it beat the 2017 Entity?

The tasting at David Franz was the worst tasting I can remember for many years. Why does this winery show in its premium range wines from the very wet 2011? The 2011 Benjamin's Promise Shiraz is brown in colour and tastes of stewed fruit. There are confectionery notes and the tannins are very soft; unpleasant (84 points). The 2011 Alexander's Reward Cabernet/Shiraz is very similar, a bit more lively with acidity (85 points). I was relieved to leave 2011 with the 2014 Georgie's Walk Cabernet Sauvignon, only to find that the redcurrant flavours were overshadowed by herbal notes. There is a strong American oak influence in this oxidated wine (82 points). Finally, I tasted the Larrikin VII, a non vintage blend of Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot and Grenache. This wine seemed to include all components that could not be used otherwise (not rated).

The good news is, I can report on two excellent Barossa tastings in posts to come.  

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