Clare's Modern Adventurers
Tim Knappstein / Enterprise
Tim Adams /Mr Mick
Stephanie Toole / Mt Horrocks
Clare's Wine Promoters
Considered one of Australia’s oldest and most beautiful wine-growing regions, Clare Valley is blessed with a climate ideal for premium grape growing.
The combination of consistently good winter rains, hot summers tempered by cool nights, and a long ripening period produces grapes of exceptional flavour and balance delivering superb regional Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and more.
With more than 30 Clare Valley wineries to choose from, visitors to the region are spoilt for choice, and with many of the wineries family-owned and operated, you’re bound to meet the people whose wines you’re tasting.
Learn more about Brian Croser:
VINE AND WINE VISIONARY
Brian Croser AO
has been an innovator in the Australian wine industry
for more than 40 years.
Schooled in Clare, educated at the University of Adelaide, where he was later Deputy Chancellor for eight years, and at the University of California at Davis, Brian was involved in establishing the Charles Sturt Wine Science degree in Wagga Wagga as well as many of the major Australian wine industry institutions through the 1970s and ‘80s.
The Brian Croser story is as intriguing as it is engaging. With his roots deep in South Australian soils, Croser established the iconic Petaluma winery and vineyards in 1978. The Petaluma vineyard is off the Farrell Flat road, east of Clare, and high up near the ridge of Hanlin Hill, with skeletal soil. The crop is taken to Piccadilly Valley for cool fermentation.
He went on to develop the curriculum for the wine science course at Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, before later taking the role of vice-chancellor of the University of Adelaide for eight years from 1999.
His pedigree is undeniable yet at the same time as he taught the wine science course, he was driving his vision to make wines from varietals that would do their best work in regions.
Such was his vision that in 1979 he saw the promise of the Adelaide Hills and became the first to plant a vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley – a district that is now widely regarded as one of the premier chardonnay sites in Australia.
For his reds, Croser chose the Wrattonbully region – not far from Coonawarra, from where he crafts some of the finest cabernets that will pass a wine lover’s lips.
For his lighter style pinot noir, it was the foggy Fleurieu Peninsula that piqued his interest.
It was many years ago in my early 20s that a dalliance with chardonnay resulted in a one-night-stand becoming a lifelong love affair so, I have to admit, that the Croser chardonnay is my pick of his wares.
Brian Croser, Petaluma and Tapanappa
One of the most famous figures in the wine world, Brian Croser rose to prominence in the mid 1970s, when he left his position as chief winemaker with Hardys to begin the celebrated wine science course at Riverina College in New South Wales.
At this time he also founded an influential wine consultancy and his own winery, Petaluma.
Brian and Ann Croser began Petaluma in 1976 and set about exactingly matching varieties to regions and meticulously managing for 27 years the vines in Petaluma’s “Distinguished Site” vineyards in Clare, the Adelaide Hills and at Coonawarra.
Considered one of Australia’s leading exponents of terroir-driven wines, he pioneered the development of the Adelaide Hills viticultural region, planting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and establishing the Petaluma winery in the Piccadilly Valley from 1978.
This was followed by Shiraz and Viognier at Mt Barker from the early ’90s.
Now Brian is no longer involved with Petaluma, his energies are focused on a new venture, called Tapanappa. The first wine to be released was the 2003 Whalebone vineyard Cabernet Shiraz, a seductive, smoothly fruited red of real poise.
In the mid 1980’s the purchase and renovation of the historic Bridgewater Mill provided a home for “Croser”, the eponymous premium sparkling wine made from fruit from the Piccadilly Valley, first released in 1987.
He was the first to plant vines in the Adelaide Hills’ Piccadilly Valley in 1979, and more recently he’s pushed the grape-growing boundaries into an area of the Fleurieu Peninsula far from any vines, where he saw potential and planted a now-thriving vineyard in 2003.
A true trailblazer, mentor and industry leader, these days Brian lives on the very first vineyard he planted, The Tiers Vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley.
‘It’s [about] finding the right places and planting them and managing them in the right way and learning from the experience.’ – Brian Croser
Croser Sparkling was created as it was believed that the right region in Australia could produce sparkling wine to rival Champagne. That region is the Piccadilly Valley in the Adelaide Hills.
Founded by Brian Croser, the first vintage of Croser was released in 1985 as an extension of Petaluma Wines.
The Croser Sparkling philosophy continues today starting in the vineyard where all the vines are hand pruned, the grapes handpicked, the fruit whole bunch pressed and the wines hand crafted in the traditional method.
It was crafted in the traditional method, as it was believed this to be the only method to make sparkling wines to rival Champagne as it created complexity of texture, flavour, bouquet and those tiny bubbles.
Croser is a worthy success
To my way of thinking, Brian Coser is an extremely fortunate man. He is one of those rare human beings who have lived to see a dream become reality.
From the earliest days of his professional association with wine, Brian Croser dreamed of raising the standard of Australian sparkling wine which, he contended, sorely needed it.
In 1969, a year he spent with the Waite Research Institute in Adelaide, his final paper dealt with the effects of low temperatures on acid preservation, a crucial factor in the making of sparkling wine.
As well as anyone, he knew that Australian wine-makers who who turned their hands to making wine with a second fermentation — he resolutely, and correctly, refuses to use the word champagne for any wine not emanating from the Champagne region of France — would eventually have to use pinot noir and chardonnay if they were to produce quality wine.
Tim Knappstein was born in Clare in 1945. He lived in Clare for the first fifty years of his life, where his father was involved in the wine business.
His grandfather had started the Stanley Wine Company along with four or five other people.
And while his father was never a winemaker—he was more on the sales side—there was a pretty profound winemaking tradition in the family.
"I was left in charge of the Stanley Winery operation when I was twenty. At the ripe old age of twenty I was running a 1400 ton winery."
Tim became a third generation vigneron when he commenced his career in the family company, 'The Stanley Wine Company', making his first wine in 1966 after graduating from the Roseworthy College Oenology course.
He proved to be a very good winemaker and still is. We must be grateful to our winemakers for the fortunate situation in which the Knappsteins found themselves prior to selling up. All the shareholders wanted to sell.
Knappstein remained as winemaker until after the 1976 vintage, fashioning a brilliant array of rieslings under the famous Bin 5 and Bin 7 labels, of which he rates the 1971, 1973 and 1975 vintages as his proudest efforts.
During the early years Tim amassed more than 500 show awards, including 120 gold medals and 24 trophies for the premium quality Leasingham range, through a period when new technology was revolutionising both winemaking and the wines themselves.
Stanley eventually sold to H.J. Heinz in 1971, and Tim Knappstein was kept on as winemaker.
An enthusiast of fast-moving automotive and aeronautical machinery and a highly respected wine show judge, following the sale, Tim developed his own vineyards at Clare and by 1976 had started his own wine company, Tim Knappstein Wines.
He became renowned for his no compromise approach to winemaking, producing style and quality standouts in a very competitive industry.
Knappstein ranks the 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1975 vintages of red wines as his favourites of the period and still believes the 1971 Bin 49 augmented with shiraz to be one of the best wines he’s ever made.
With his mother as a partner, Tim Knappstein established Enterprise Wines in 1976, quickly hitting his straps with a string of definitive Clare Valley rieslings and supple, reserved cabernet sauvignons in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In 1981 Tim was the first to plant a vineyard in the Lenswood area of the Adelaide Hills, where he still lives.
But by the time the company was sold to Blass in 1986, which then sold to Mildara in 1991, the Knappsteins were five years into their new project at Lenswood.
While the early vintages from Lenswood Vineyards were also made at Clare, Tim Knappstein’s last vintage as winemaker at Knappstein Wines was 1995. Since then, his winemaking has been gradually transferred to Nepenthe, where the 1998 vintage was made.
Riposte by Tim Knappstein and Son is a wholly family owned and run wine company producing a range of premium wine in the picturesque Adelaide Hills of South Australia.
Winemaker and Owner Tim Knappstein has over 50 years experience and is a recognised pioneer of the region.
Rated as a 5 Red Star Winery by James Halliday Riposte has an enviable track record of producing outstanding wines.
In this series:
The Story of Clare's Wineries
Chapter 1: Pioneers of Clare Wine Making
Chapter 2: The Boom in Clare Wine Making
Chapter 3: Clare Wines between the Wars
Chapter 4. Clare Wineries in the post-War Boom
Tim Adams and Pam Goldsack
Following an apprenticeship under the guidance of Mick Knappstein (Mr Mick) and winemaking positions at Leasingham and Quelltaler, Tim Adams and his wife Pam Goldsack established Tim Adams Wines in 1986.
Passionate about the Clare Valley, Tim and Pam source fruit from their own vineyards and those of excellent local growers from all areas of the valley.
Mr Mick Knappstein’s former apprentice Tim Adams has built a strong brand in his own right, and now operates two wineries in the Clare Valley, Tim Adams and Mr Mick. Tim Adams was awarded as a 5 Star winery by James Halliday's Wine Companion.
Tim Adams Wines was originally born of a partnership between Tim and Pam and local coopers, Bill and Jill Wray, in 1984.
The business was to make wine and small oak casks. This first year fell in the middle of a grape shortage, but fortunately the budding company was able to beg 10 tonnes of Shiraz from a good friend and neighbour.
1986 saw the first release of wine under the 'Adams and Wray' label, but the partnership was later dissolved in 1987, with the young couples choosing to focus on their respective passions. The families are still good friends to this day.
The Cellar door was opened and the first grapes crushed on site the following year.
Led by the iconic Aberfeldy Shiraz, Tim Adams Wines focus their attention on selecting Clare Valley grapes for their authentic varietal and regional characters.
A visit to this architecturally appealing Mr Mick winery is almost mandatory, given that the town of Clare itself is a little thin on street appeal.
The old stone building is actually a former distillery; check out the amazing old copper still near Mr Mick Kitchen, a tapas-style restaurant that’s hard to beat for lunch.
Named after the late Australian winemaking legend, K.H. Knappstein (AKA Mr Mick), winemakers Tim Adams and Brett Schutz continue Mr. Mick’s philosophy of producing “affordable wines for everyone to enjoy”.
Indulge in a wine tasting with new and traditional styles of wine complete with tapas style dining in the Mr. Mick Kitchen.
THE former Leasingham Wines winery and cellar door in the heart of Clare were purchased from Hardy/Constellation by Clare winemaker Tim Adams and his wife and business partner Pam Goldsack, and is now established as a winery making affordable wines using local grapes.
Tim Adams and partner Pam Goldsack now preside over a highly successful business.
Having expanded the range of estate plantings with tempranillo, pinot gris and viognier,
in 2009 the business took a giant step forward with the acquisition of the 80ha Leasingham Rogers Vineyard from CWA,
followed in 2011 by the purchase of the Leasingham winery and winemaking equipment (for less than replacement cost).
The winery is now a major contract winemaking facility for the region.
Jeffrey Grosset is the most celebrated Riesling producer in Australia
Wine Products Purchased Qantas purchases a number of wine styles, these include: Australian table wine in 750ml New Zealand+ table wine in 750ml Australian table wine in 187ml PET Australian fortified wine : Port, Muscat, Tokay Champagne++ Australian sparkling white wine in 200ml Australian sparkling moscato rose in 200ml + Served on flights to and from New Zealand. ++ Served on International First and Business services. Program Structure There are over 35 different wine product streams in the Qantas Wine Program. Qantas First International - Champagne, 3 red wine choices, 3 white wine choices, dessert wine, port, muscat and tokay. Qantas Business International and Tasman - Champagne, 2 red wine choices, 2 white wine choices, dessert wine and fortified wine. Domestic Perth City Flyer - sparkling Australian wine, 1 red wine, 2 white wine choices, dessert wine and fortified wine. Domestic - sparkling Australian wine, 1 red wine and 1 white wine. Qantas Economy International and Tasman - sparkling Australian wine, sparkling moscato rose, 2 red wine choices, 2 white wine choices. Domestic - a choice of red and white wine.
James Halliday, the noted wine judge, writes that "Grosset is one of the top ten wineries in Australia, and there is no chance of it losing that status."
"And on a world scale, his wines are significantly underpriced."
When he was 15, Jeffrey Grosset tasted a Riesling his father brought home and was mesmerised.
Upon completion, Jeffrey started work at Seppelts, before jetting over to Germany to continue to refine his Riesling knowledge.
At age 26, Jeffrey was Seppelt's head winemaker and increasingly motivated to start his own label.
Ray Molloy was an Adelaide friend (the head of the University School of Management) who had a weekend house in the Polish Hill River area of Clare, where he’d planted a bit of Riesling.
Grosset was already interested in Clare: he liked the ‘classicism’ of its Rieslings and the ‘strength and structure’ of its Cabernets and Cabernet blends.
The old milk depot didn’t cost too much to turn into a winery, and the Development Bank, a lender of last resort (with Grosset’s parents) helped pay.
"Jeffrey Grosset does nothing by halves. When he planted cabernet sauvignon he removed eleven truckloads of boulders from a stark, wind-swept hilltop, the highest site in the Clare Valley, before drilling holes in solid rock to anchor trellis posts."
"It’s hardly the easy way to grow grapes, but to the Clare Valley’s most famous winemaker, that’s not the point."
"Jeffrey Grosset has spent thirty-two vintages honing his Grosset wines to ever-finer molecular precision, forever striving to capture in articulate detail the nuances of some of the most expressive vineyards in the Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills."
"Grosset has long been upheld as the king of Australian riesling, thanks to his breathtakingly pristine Polish Hill and deeply mineral Springvale rieslings, but in recent times his reign has extended as each of his red and white wines from the Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills have come to represent benchmarks in their own right."
So Grosset purchased and converted the old milk depot in Auburn - turning it into a makeshift winery at a time when many Australian rieslings were still sickly sweet affairs.
Grosset Wines was established by Jeffrey Grosset in 1981.
Today he’s one of Australia’s great winemakers, internationally acclaimed for his brilliant, benchmark wines.
By 1998 Grosset was awarded Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller.
"The aim was simply to make the best wines possible," he recalls.
"It takes time, devotion and attention to detail to produce beautiful wine, especially when you’re a small family-run operation." says Grosset, who has been a leader in many fields including the introduction of screw cap closures and certified organic and biodynamic vineyards.
Grosset farms all his vineyards organically. They’ve been certified organic since 2011.
Grosset approached Clare Valley farmer Hamish Goss (Kadlunga Estate, Mintaro) in 1986 and proposed planting vines on his farm.
The Gaia site is the highest vineyard in the region, perched at 570 metres between Penwortham and Mintaro. From it, you can look down on most of the Clare Valley.
Grosset planted two hectares of vines, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot.
There was some luck, but also a lot of experience and intelligent research. The site is high and cool, the aspect is even cooler – east south east – so the vines receive the mild morning sun but not the burning late-afternoon sun.
All this was done before global warming was being talked about. But Grosset had read about James Lovelock’s Gaia theory, based on the idea that the Earth is a single living organism on which life is sustained by diversity, and in which every species depends on every other species.
He also sensed that the climate was warming and that grapes were ripening earlier. Cooler vineyard sites seemed to be the future.
Eminent viticulturist Richard Smart’s early reaction to Grosset’s Gaia adventure was: “You might buy yourself 20 years.”
Annual production is capped at 11,000 cases and just 25% is exported despite significant international demand.
Grosset's Biodynamic Agriculture
Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition and is rooted in the work of philosopher and scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner, whose 1924 lectures to farmers opened a new way to integrate scientific understanding with a recognition of spirit in nature.
Grosset and partner Stephanie Poole can also demonstrate how the move to first Organic and then, more recently, certified Biodynamic farming practices in their respective vineyards has resulted in healthier vines and finer-flavoured wines.
“What I find now is I can walk the vineyard and it just looks right,” Grosset says.
“I look at the fruit and I think, I want to grab this right now because it looks gorgeous. I love the fact that the acidity, which is such an integral part of the wine, is all natural.”
There does seem to be a refinement, an increase in detail and balance in the wines from 2019 on, after the biodynamic practices kicked in.
The 2005 vintage of Toole’s sweet, rich Cordon Cut riesling was served at the Queen’s 80th birthday, says Steph proudly, glancing over at Jeffrey.
Grosset admits to only reading nine books. Two of the nine authors he will admit to having read are the scientists James Lovelock and Tim Flannery, and environmental concerns are another campaigning battleground, intimately connected with Grosset’s own views as to the importance of terroir and the consonance of those ideas with aboriginal culture.
‘Flannery puts it most strongly. For aboriginals, the land is you. There’s no distinction.
So if you damage the land, you damage yourself. What we are doing, he says, is a kind of self-mutilation.’
Having come to realise that he’s ‘not a generous person at all’, he resolved to create the Grosset Gaia Fund.
Keeping a Lid on Wine Fraud
“In Australia, 95 per cent of wine is bottled under screwcap, which makes it more difficult but not impossible to fake,” says Grosset.
In our neck of the vineyards, usually the scam involves riding off the reputation of a region or celebrated winemaker via label fraud, by making false claims of origin or grape varieties or mimicking the authentic product with a similar name and design.
Hunting for a solution to thwart this criminal trickery, Grosset and Clare Valley grapegrower David Travers returned to the cap for inspiration.
In 2019, the pair won the SA government’s inaugural Blockchain Innovation Challenge with their idea to store inviolable information in a wine bottle’s all-important closure.
With a mostly Australian team, led by industrial designer Andrew Rogers, they got to work solving the technical challenges.
The resulting innovation is Enseal, which uses near-field communication (NFC) technology embedded in a specially designed chip in the screwcap.
It works in tandem with blockchain identity platform Entrust to hold immutable records about the wine.
“Simply hold any smartphone over the cap and the record pops up on the screen, assuring the provenance, authenticity and seal integrity of that wine,” says Grosset.
“There’s also a marketing opportunity – you could have a link to a video of the winemaker telling you about the wine or any other information you want to offer.”
In 2020, in conjunction with Wine Australia, 15 Clare Valley winemakers successfully trialled the Enseal system, which is now protected by international patents.
Grosset says they’re having conversations with European closure manufacturers, as Enseal could be the chance to finally elevate the use of the screwcap there, too. “We’re really proud that we worked on this in little old Gilbert Street in Adelaide,” he adds.
Keen to eliminate fraud, Clare Valley men David Travers and Jeff Grosset set about creating the supply-chain platform, Entrust. Picture: John Kruger
Amongst the Worlds Best Women Winemakers
THE Mount Horrocks Wines owner and winemaker Stephanie Toole came to the Clare Valley for love – and it was a decision that led to another life-changing move, she tells Roxanne Wilson.
A VINO LOVE STORY
"My wine interest began in London in the mid-’80s. I’m originally from New Zealand, but I moved to Perth in 1986 and while I knew a lot about European wines, I knew nothing about Australian wines.
So I enrolled in a couple of wine appreciation courses to get to know Australian wine and regions, and the consequence of that was I was offered a job in the industry.
I worked in Perth in retail and then in wholesaling and had my own wholesale wine business there. Then, at the end of 1992, I moved to the Clare Valley ... (because) I met my partner."
NEXT BIG MOVE
Horrocks Wines (owned by the Ackland brothers) came on the market and I thought, “Well, that will give me something to do”. It was a huge learning curve.
I had to juggle a new business, I was pregnant when I bought it and I had two children 15 months apart.
“I bought Horrocks in 1993, and 1993 was my first vintage.
I had no idea what I was doing, but I did what I was told.
I was twelve and a half weeks pregnant, but somehow I worked a 36-hour stint.
I’d been told there would be a continuation of the fruit (from the previous owner’s vineyards) but there wasn’t.
I sourced fruit elsewhere for the first few years. The Cordon Cut vineyard in Auburn was purchased in 2001.”
There are now three vineyards totalling 10 hectares.
The main one is the Watervale vineyard, recently re-named the Alexander vineyard, which is planted to riesling, semillon, shiraz and nero d’avola.
Cabernet is on a separate vineyard in the Polish Hill River district.
Mount Horrocks Wines’ Owner/Winemaker Stephanie Toole carefully crafts “essentially hand-made food wines with emphasis on structure as well as generous fruit flavours”. Only estate grown grapes are used and these are hand-picked and gently handled to ensure the varietal and site-specific flavours, as well as its organic and biodynamic status, are retained. As no finings have been found necessary the wines are all suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Only the finest French oak barriques are used for those wines spending time in barrel. Stephanie restricts production. No more than 2,500 cases (dozen) of the highest quality single vineyard wines are produced each vintage. All three estate-owned Clare Valley vineyards, totaling ten hectares, are ‘A grade certified’ organic and biodynamic (ACO).
AUBURN RAILWAY STATION
In 1998, Stephanie renovated and re-opened the disused Auburn railway station as her cellar door sales. It opens on weekends and public holidays.
“All the fruit comes from our own vineyards. It’s all certified organic, and all the wines are unfined and low-sulfur.”
The lack of fining agents means the wines are acceptable to vegans and vegetarians.
The Alexander vineyard is at 475 metres altitude, in the north-east of the Watervale subregion.
"This is my 25th vintage. All the wines are from my own vineyards, so they are estate-grown fruit, and I’m actually 100 per cent certified organic – that has been one of my achievements I’ve been most happy with."
“The vineyards are lower yielding, they have less vigour, much better balance,” says Steph as we taste Jeff’s and her own rieslings back to 2009."
“I feel like I’m getting the right flavour profile in the grapes earlier, at lower ripeness.
"The other significant difference is that I’m not needing to adjust acidity now, whereas back in 2009, 2010, I did.”
You’ll never catch Stephanie cutting corners. Quality is her biggest driving force.
She’s also passionate about producing world-class wines in a sustainable way.
In the years after buying Mount Horrocks, Stephanie acquired and planted or replanted three vineyards, and one of her proudest achievements is having them certified organic.
“When you’re planting vineyards, it’s about leaving the land in a better place than what you found it for future generations,” she says.
“If you come here [to the Clare Valley] and you look at the sky at night, the stars are extraordinary. It’s such a clear, clean, beautiful environment, which is one of the reasons why I’m certified organic, because it is possible to do that.”
Australia's Wine Guides
Leading Critics on Clare Valley wine:
James Halliday - Wine Companion
Australia's leading wine critic, award winning wine writer and author of The Australian Wine Encyclopaedia and the Wine Atlas of Australia.
As a former vigneron and lawyer who was one of the founders of Brokenwood and also of Coldstream Hills, James is an unmatched authority on every aspect of the wine industry.
Since 1979 James Halliday has written and co-authored more than 40 books on wine, including contributions to the Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine and The Oxford Companion to Wine.
His subscriber base reads www.winecompanion.com.au
"The Clare Valley is one of the few Australian regions where a focus on riesling is reflected by substantial plantings, which here are nearly on equal footing with shiraz.
Along with nearby Eden Valley, the Clare Valley is one of the most important destinations for riesling in Australia.
That being said, you can also expect some highly drinkable reds from the region, with cabernet sauvignon and shiraz in a plush, medium-bodied style, as well as many emerging wine varieties, from fiano to assyrtiko, tempranillo and malbec.
The three varieties ahead, however, still hold the lion’s share of plantings.
Clare Valley riesling is classically floral and citrusy, but with a beautiful depth of flavour.
The region’s age-worthy wines typically evolve from tart lemon, lime and Granny Smith apple characters to a softer profile of honey and toast. Recently, Clare Valley producers have been experimenting with styles that have a touch of sweetness and spice.
Juicy plum and berry fruit within a framework of oak are usual of Clare Valley shiraz.
Medium- to full-bodied styles with balance and richness are characteristic of the region.
Clare Valley cabernet sauvignon is full of fleshy dark fruit, currants and chocolatey decadence, plus spicy notes from oak.
These flavoursome styles, with their fine tannin and refreshing acid, can be quite approachable when young."
Halliday's Top Winery: Pikes
Pikes is a family affair, established in the 1980s by Andrew, Neil and Cathy Pike with support from their parents Merle and Edgar.
A generation on, Neil Pike has retired after 35 years as chief winemaker and Andrew’s sons Jamie and Alister have come on board (Jamie to oversee sales and marketing, Alister to run the craft brewery that opened in ’14).
Riesling inevitably makes up half of all plantings; shiraz, cabernet, sangiovese, pinot grigio and tempranillo dominate the other half.
Pikes’ flagship wines are the Merle Riesling and EWP Shiraz, named after Merle and Edgar, and only made in exceptional vintages.
Winner of the People's Choice Award in 2022 and 2023.
Halliday's Favourite Wine (2023)
Very well Reviewed:
Jim Barry 2020 Winery of the Year
by James Halliday Presented by Wine Australia
In looking at the story of Jim Barry Wines over time, a lot has happened since the purchase of that first vineyard back in 1959.
Beginning with humble aspirations to grow and sell grapes, the late Jim Barry could never have guessed how his small family business would grow – from one vineyard to 10, including some of oldest vines in the region, and with a raft of highly-rated red and white wines.
Today, Jim Barry Wines is one of the Clare Valley’s most successful wineries, with shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and riesling the long-term heroes of the range, and the Greek white variety assyrtiko the new star of its stable.
Read on to hear what James has to say about his Winery of the Year.
2018 Best Value Winery of the Year: Grosset
Jeffrey Grosset is unchallenged as Australia’s greatest maker of riesling, but he also makes sublime chardonnay and pinot noir from the Adelaide Hills, semillon sauvignon blanc from the Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley, and Gaia – his Bordeaux blend – from a high altitude vineyard in the Clare Valley.
Nereus and Apiana, his vinous grandchildren, are unique blends, forging into unmapped territory.
Overall, Grosset is one of the top ten wineries in Australia, and there is no chance of it losing that status. And on a world scale, his wines are significantly underpriced.
Decanter is the world’s leading wine media brand with a total monthly reach in excess of 2.2 million via their print, digital and social channels.
Engaging with wine lovers in over 100 countries around the globe, Decanter provides authoritative content, independent advice and inspirational events and competitions.
As the oldest consumer wine publication in the UK, Decanter was founded in London in 1975 following the success of wine columns in British newspapers.
It was the brainchild of Colin Parnell and Tony Lord, two of the most unlikely magazine entrepreneurs Britain has ever seen.
Parnell was editing the wine trade magazine Wine & Spirit when he and his deputy, Lord – a young Australian journalist and wine enthusiast – spotted a gap in the market for a wine magazine for consumers.
Decanter's Top Wines for the Clare Valley
Skillogalee Trevarrick Riesling 97 points Clare Valley 2022 White
Rabbit & Spaghetti Riesling 95 points Clare Valley 2021 White
Pinnacle Drinks Mockingbird Hill Shiraz 95 points Clare Valley 2021 Red
Kilikanoon Wines Oracle Shiraz 93 points Clare Valley 2018 Red
Pinnacle Drinks King of Clare Riesling 93 points Clare Valley 2022 White
Wakefield Taylors Wines The Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon 93 points Clare Valley 2016 Red
Kirrihill Wines The Pastor Cabernet-Malbec 92 points Clare Valley 2018 Red
Mockingbird Hill Dr. J.W.D. Bain Riesling 92 points Clare Valley 2021 White
Skillogalee Trevarrick Cabernet Sauvignon 92 points Clare Valley 2021 Red
Skillogalee Wines Shiraz 92 points Clare Valley 2021 Red
Skillogalee Wines Trevarrick Shiraz 92 points Clare Valley 2021 Red
Kingston Estate Shiraz 91 points Clare Valley 2022 Red
Byrne Vineyards Calcannia Grenache 91 points Clare Valley 2022 Red
Sevenhill Cellars St Ignatius 91 points Clare Valley 2019 Red
Sevenhill Cellars Inigo Riesling 91 points Clare Valley 2022 White
Huon Hooke – The Real Review
Huon Hooke is a leading independent wine writer in Australia, who makes his living entirely out of writing, judging, lecturing and educating about wine.
He's been writing about wine since 1983 and is best known for his weekly columns in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Living section, and regular articles and tasting notes in Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine, for which he is contributing editor, a tasting panel member and a columnist.
He was co-author of the Penguin Good Australian Wine Guide for 14 years and is a contributing writer to Decanter and the World of Fine Wine.
"It seems like a paradox that such a region should be a prized source of very full-bodied red wines—largely shiraz, cabernet and blends—as well as riesling, but that is the nature of wine. Expect the unexpected.
Later, Jeffrey Grosset arrived and carried the flame for the next generation, although many others in the region can lay claim to being similarly great riesling producers, especially the Barry family of Jim Barry Wines, who took great risks and made intrepid investments in riesling vineyards when others demurred.
Stanley Leasingham was another great riesling name of yore, Tim Adams being a present-day beneficiary of the wisdom of its boss, ‘Mr Mick’ Knappstein.
Knappstein and Leasingham may have been the instigators of the trademark Clare red blend, the Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec, which is a tradition carried on by several in the area, not least the wonderfully olde worlde Wendouree, which is arguably the region’s most distinguished vineyard, making sought-after reds from ancient dry-grown, own-rooted vines."
Jim Barry Wines big winner in a day of wine awards
SOUTH Australia’s classic wine varieties have starred in a monster day of show awards covering three major regions.
After a week of judgings in the Clare Valley, Limestone Coast and McLaren Vale, each district’s flagship variety has topped all competitors:
riesling in Clare,
cabernet sauvignon in the Limestone Coast, which includes the Coonawarra, and
the trendsetting grape of the moment, grenache in McLaren Vale.
The big winner was Jim Barry Wines in Clare, which took out an astonishing 10 trophies from the 22 major gongs awarded.
The Jim Barry Wines 2017 Single Vineyard Block 114 riesling took out four individual trophies including best wine in the show.
Jim Barry Wines also took out top awards for its 2017 Museum Release Assyrtiko, a Greek white wine variety, as well as
best rose for its 2017 Annabelle’s Rose, and
best Exhibition Dry Red with its Jim Barry Wines 2010 The Benbournie.
The Barry family’s associated Clos Clare winery also took out two more trophies.
In the recent refrigeration project upgrade at Jim Barry Wines in the Clare Valley, plant decisions focused on the importance of quality Riesling production, but also crucially the right decisions were made for environmental sustainability.
Temperature control is a critical parameter in quality wine production and is an especially important operation in South Australian wineries given the warm climate.
Refrigeration addresses this need, however is generally the largest consumer of electricity in Australian wineries, typically accounting for 50 to 70 percent of total electricity use, highlighting the critical need for environmental impact to be included in the decision making process.
Foreseeing a rise in Riesling demand, Tom Barry (left) of Jim Barry Wines recently looked to upgrade its refrigeration plant, seeking advice from Australia’s largest provider of refrigeration to the wine sector, Cold Logic.
Tom Barry concludes, “We love being a part of one of the most innovative winemaking countries in the world.
“We challenge traditions and adopt innovations, which can only benefit our industry and importantly the environment too.”
Clare's Wine Adventures
Clare Adventure worthy of name
By MICHAEL FOSTER
OPPORTUNITIES to taste very young wines and juices, almost before they begin their journey towards wine, are always approached with anticipation of pleasure.
The anticipation was particularly keen with the invitation to attend the 1987 vintage tasting associated with the third Clare Adventure.
This is one of the pivotal functions of the Adventure, designed to bring enthusiasts to the beautiful South Australian valley where they may begin an acquaintance with, and appreciation of, its wines and become aware of the efforts being made to develop restaurants that are more than mere tourist troughs.
The tasting, in Clare's sports complex, allows a broad overview of the range and style of the wines being made that year in the Clare and the other winemaking pockets which are generally recognised as being of the
An even broader view of the wine can be obtained by taking part in the Sunday adventure. This year, on Adelaide Cup weekend, 19 wineries made their wines available. The wines were accompanied by specially planned and prepared foods from the restaurants of the Clare and of Adelaide.
The tasting, open to the public from 1pm to 4pm on Saturday, followed a special tasting for guests on Saturday morning. More than 100 juices and wines were offered and the following comments are a summary of impressions.
Given a previous belief that the great wines of the Clare were the whites, there were a couple of quite stunning reds, which tended to overshadow all but the best of the whites. In fact, some of us formed the impression that the reds overall were the better wines.
The red, of those I tried in a valiant attempt to encompass all the varieties and styles, was the 1987 merlot from Enterprise Wines. This filled the mouth and palate with warmth and flavour.
Tim Knappstein, understandably enough, was also very pleased with the 1987 cabernet franc. Each presented him with the problem of deciding whether to retain it in its own right or use it to round out cabernets and other blends.
A 1987 Mintaro shiraz, and others in the lineup, confirmed my respect for this variety. Shiraz can be turned into many lovely wines, from the huge, bold Grange styles to the delicate, fruity new shiraz of Delatite.
The Mintaro is clean, bright, flavour-some, light (but not thin) and easy drinking.
A newish winery, Paulett, had a 1986 shiraz with an unusual spiciness, almost of cinnamon, in a wine of great length and depth through the palate and beyond.
A 1986 cabernet from the cellars of Andrew and Jane Mitchell was another of long and strong finish, replete with fruit and flavour, and promise for a long and pleasure-giving life.
I also enjoyed the Taylors wines I tried, the shiraz and cabernet, both of 1987, and the 1986 shiraz. All were varietally distinguishable, clean and easy-drinking with promise of improvement in the short [three- to five-year] term.
Two Quelltaler 1987 Rhine rieslings impressed. They were simply designated A and B.
The first showed great breadth of fruit and quality across the nose, palate and finish.
The second was less assertive but had a lovely steely finish, almost chablis-flinty.
The Grosset A riesling from Polish Hill was also a likable wine with a lovely suggestion of crisp, acidic apples through the wine.
I quite liked the semillons, but as wines, not as semillons. They all had a strong suggestion of the grassiness, the herbaceousness, more suggestive of sauvignon blancs.
In a paradoxical way they supported the assertion of Clare winemakers' president Peter Barry that "we make the best sauvignon blancs in the country. We just have not told people about them. Yet!"
Certainly those I sampled over the weekend, and not least of these the Jim Barry wine, would offer a reasonable base for discussion of the proposition.
A minor criticism, actually more a suggestion, might be that a better definition of wines would be helpful.
The bald designation A and B is hardly helpful, and it might also make it simpler to plan one's tasting if juices were separated, or better described.
Another pleasing factor in assessment was the opportunity to drink equivalent wines over dinner on Saturday night, and with carefully matched food on the Sunday.
Conception of a wine can change dramatically when it is taken with food, or in different company or circumstances.
This is one of the many charms of the Clare Adventure, a great way to spend a weekend.
This Clare Weekend Adventure has now become the New look Clare Gourmet week-long celebration
After cancelling the event in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Clare Valley SCA Gourmet Week have taken the opportunity to give the event a new week-long celebration, private dinners, education classes and more.
From classic Gourmet food and fun, to indulgent dinners, special events and musical entertainment, the Clare Valley SCA Gourmet Week will showcase the very best the region has to offer over 10 days.
The great South Australian wine tour
...Another valley renowned for quality wines is the Clare Valley, north of the Barossa. This region is a blend of beautiful scenery, living history and a tribute to the finer things in life.
A trip to the Clare Valley may include a stay in a century-old mansion, an historic farm cottage or refurbished stables.
Coinciding with the Adelaide Cup long weekend in May is the Clare Gourmet weekend - a festival for everyone to enjoy whether you are a seasoned connoisseur of fine wines or a novice.
One of the most famous wineries in the Clare Valley is Leasingham, (now Mr Mick) situated within a kilometre of Clare's town centre.
The name is as classic as the Clare Valley itself, and this year Leasingham (Mr Mick) turns 100.
Before it was sold, the winery produced a range of premium table wines such as Bin 37 Chardonnay and the Bin 56 Cabernet Malbec and the new Classic Clare range.
A unique feature of Leasingham is its organic vineyard. Schobers, the largest of the winery's three vineyards, is located 30km south of Clare and boasts 100 hect-res of totally organic vines, with 51 hectares of fine quality Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Rhine Riesling.
It has been managed by organic methods for three years, with its first organic harvest yielding about 150 tonnes of premium grapes, producing wines totally free of pesticide and herbicide residue.
Conventional spraying ceased at Schobers in 1990 and at the same time, the winery began enriching the soil with natural fertilisers, discarding all chemicals.
CLARE Valley winemakers will again show their young wines in the second Clare Adventure this weekend.
There will be a vintage tasting on Saturday afternoon, hotels and restaurants are staging special functions on Saturday night and more than 120 young wines from the 1986 vintage will be available on the Sunday.
Each of the 20 wineries will also have a restaurateur serving speciality dishes. The event was so successful when introduced last year that there were minor traffic james, believed to be the first in 130 years.
Much Earlier Commentary:
"There are only two sorts of people in this world," the legendary Clare winemaker Mick Knappstein used to say.
"Those who were born in Clare and those who wish they were."
"Clare is a tranquil, timelessly picturesque region. Its natural beauty is enhanced by the fact that it is relatively remote and unspoilt, with none of the crass commercialism of more popular, easily-reached regions."
"Clare makes some of the biggest reds in a country blessed with many whoppers.
The grape varieties are cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, merlot and malbec, with a little mataro (mourvèdre).
Grenache is becoming increasingly fashionable. Yields are naturally low and there are some very old vineyards which produce some of the richest reds.
Wendouree has vineyards dating from the 1860s and the vineyard from which Tim Adams makes his Aberfeldy Shiraz is similarly antique.
These are colossal reds crammed with dark-berry, plum, chocolate and mint flavours and substantial mouth-puckering tannins.
A signature blend of the district is cabernet sauvignon and malbec, which dates back to a visit the great blender Max Schubert, creator of Penfolds Grange, made to his friend Mick Knappstein at Leasingham on one of his regular wine-buying expeditions in the '60s.
Leasingham's famous Bin 56 Cabernet Malbec dates from then, as does Wendouree's.
Jim Barry's The Armagh Shiraz is one of the biggest reds of Clare.
The vines aren't especially old, but they are struggling low-yielders and the wine they produce a glass-staining concentrated monster.
It gave Clare a much needed boost when it made its debut.
The 1985 vintage came out in 1987 at a then-audacious price of $40. This was much higher than anything else in the Barry portfolio. But the Barry boys knew what they had and the wine is now considered one of Australia's icons.
Other top red producers are Wendouree, Tim Adams, Leasingham, Mildara/Annie's Lane, Mitchell, Paulett, Brian Barry, Waninga, Grosset, Mount Horrocks, Sevenhill and Skillogalee.
Throughout, the wines to look for are straight cabernet sauvignon and shiraz, and blends of cabernet shiraz, cabernet malbec, cabernet merlot and, at Wendouree, a straight malbec.
Wilson Vineyard makes a rare, late-picked zinfandel, the only Clare zin and one of the very few in the entire country.
Pinot noir is not suited to Clare. Grenache is good, but at its best when blended with other grapes, as in Tim Adams' superb The Fergus.
There are a few things the visitor to Clare shouldn't miss.
The 145-year-old Sevenhill winery was established by the Jesuit order to provide work and income for what used to be a college for Jesuit priests.
It still does a big trade in altar wine. Brother John May is the modest, kindly winemaker and all his wines are good, especially his shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet blend St Ignatius.
Take a bottle of his superb vintage 'port' home for later.
The St Aloysius church, built of sandstone quarried on the property, merits a close look.
Skillogalee winery is in the Skillogalee Valley, which got its name from a kind of gruel called 'skilly' that the early Irish settlers made.
It follows that this is a place to eat as well as drink: a quick and inexpensive lunch washed down with the property's steely riesling.
Book lunch in advance: the Clare Valley, being off the beaten track, is not overburdened with tourists and facilities are somewhat sparse.
Grand views are not common in Clare, but visit the Paulett winery in Polish Hill River to find a tasting room with a panoramic outlook.
The wines are excellent, too.
Then drive out to Mintaro and have a beer in a unique pub, the Magpie And Stump Hotel. A good dinner can be had at Crawley's in Auburn or Bryce Hill restaurant at Penwortham.
The Knappstein winery is a must-see.
Set in the Clare township, its lovely old stone building saw service at various times as a brewery and a soft drink factory.
Knappstein is owned by Petaluma and the winemaker, Andrew Hardy, earned his stripes at Petaluma. He's lifted the quality of the wines to a new level.
Wendouree is a national treasure. Time stands still. A century-old stone winery stands among scattered eucalypts.
No frills, no gardens, no tours. The wines are made in slate open fermenters, basket press and old oak vats.
The vines are mostly gnarled centenarians, unirrigated, many untrellised.
Yields are paltry (probably sub-economic, if truth be told) and the massively structured reds are deep, tannic and built to age.
They're increasingly rare but still not expensive.
Proprietors Tony and Lita Brady don't have a commercial bone in their bodies. They do it for the love of it. What better reason could there be?"