Tasting Reviews

Jim Barry Clare Valley Wines in Wellington

Jim Barry Wines is one of Australia’s most loved and respected family winegrowers. Founded in 1959 by Jim Barry, who was the 17th Roseworthy qualified winemaker at the time, the company is now in its third generation, each generation having a qualified winemaker at the helm. Second generation Peter Barry, Roseworthy qualified, heads the company at present, but is handing over the reins to sons Tom and Sam, both also qualified from Roseworthy, the institution now called University of Adelaide Waite Campus.

The company is based in the Clare Valley, around 2 hours drive north of Adelaide, and has around 300 ha of estate vineyards which supply approx. 95% of its needs. There are 12 vineyard sites in the Clare with 2 in Coonawarra, comprising 160 individual blocks. Tom Barry is the winemaker, assisted by Derrick Quinton, and Sam heads the commercial business including sales and marketing. Their sister Olivia is a brand ambassador for the company. Peter Barry overseas the viticulture and is often seen in the cab of a tractor in the vineyards. The average yield for the estate vineyards is 3-3.5 tonnes/acre, and this yields fruit for over 150,000 cases of wine annually. Although most of the wine is sold in Australia, it is also exported to over 40 countries.

Several ranges of wine are made, with the Watervale Riesling in the ‘Regional Range’ arguably the most popular of its varietal in Australia. The ‘Lodge Hill’ wines come from a single Clare Valley vineyard, and the ‘Single Vineyard’ wines highlight special vineyard character. The ‘Premium Range is eclectic, with an Assyrtiko, ‘Florita’ Riesling, ‘Pb’ Shiraz/Cabernet, ‘First Eleven’ Cabernet Sauvignon, ‘Belbourie’ Cabernet Sauvignon, ‘The McRae Wood’ Shiraz and flagship ‘The Armagh’ Shiraz.

Emma Shaw, Jim Barry Wines

A Tasting of Jim Barry Wines
Jim Barry Wines global sales manager Emma Shaw was in Wellington to conduct a tasting of a range of her wines to hospitality and wine trade, and wine media at Shed 5 Restaurant on Queen’s Wharf. Emma is no stranger to New Zealand, having visited many times when she held a similar position for Langmeil of the Barossa Valley. My notes on the wines presented follow. www.jimbarry.com

Jim Barry Clare Valley Assyrtiko 2017
Very pale straw-yellow colour, near colourless on the rim. The nose is very fresh and tightly bound with aromas of white stonefruits, along with subtle citrus fruit and white floral elements and nuances of nuts Dry to taste, the palate has a tight core of white florals, citrus fruit, nuts and herbs and nuances of saline. The palate has a smooth-textured line and good palate weight, with crisp, refreshing acidity. The wine has good drive and linearity and carries to a long finish of stonefruits and florals. This has Arneis-like characters along with Riesling overtones and good palate weight. A seafood wine to enjoy over the next 2-3+ years. The fourth crop of this variety made from fruit from cuttings from Santorini Island in Greece, planted in the ‘Lodge Hill’ vineyard. Fermented in tank to 12.5% alc., TA 7.8 g/L and pH 2.9. 18.0/20 May 2018 RRP $34.95

Jim Barry ‘Lodge Hill’ Clare Valley Shiraz 2016
Very dark, deep, purple-red colour, near impenetrable and youthful in appearance. This has a bright, aromatic nose with dark red berry fruit and dark raspberries and violet florals, with some whole berry fermentation lift. Medium-full bodied, the palate is richly sweet and plush with fragrant dark-red florals, raspberries, plums and whole berry fermentation esters. The fruit is underlined by supple tannins that allow the juiciness to prevail, and fresh acidity enlivens the mouthfeel. This is a delicious fruit-forward and approachable style with fine textures. Great a barbecues and with pizza over the next 3+ years. Fruit from the ‘Lodge Hill’ vineyard fermented to 13.6% alc., the wine aged in seasoned French oak. 17.5-/20 May 2018 RRP $27.95

Jim Barry ‘Single Vineyard’ Clare Valley Shiraz 2015
Dark, deep ruby-red colour with hints of garnet. The nose is elegant with a firm and tight core of ripe blackberry ad raspberry fruit entwined with eucalyptus notes and a little menthol, unfolding nuances of spice and black pepper. Medium-full bodied, the wine is elegantly proportioned with good depth and intensity, with ripe black and dark red fruits along with pepper, eucalypt and spice. The fruit is supported by fine-grained tannins with balanced acidity, This has very good length, with liquorice notes emerging on the finish. This is a well-constructed traditional Shiraz with fruit, hints of eucalypt, pepper and liquorice. Match with roasted red meats over the next 5-6+ years. Fruit from the ‘Watervale’ vineyard, fermented to 14.2% alc., the wine aged in 10% new French oak. 17.5+/20 May 2018 RRP $34.95

Jim Barry ‘The Barry Brothers’ Clare Valley Shiraz/Cabernet 2015
Dark, deep, black-hued red colour, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is very soft, full and accessible with blackcurranty Cabernet Sauvignon predominating, along with dark herbs and mint notes, unfolding nuances of spice and cedar. This is very harmonious and integrated. The palate is rich, soft and plush with juicy and savoury flavours of plum jam, along with dark raspberries, spices and notes of red and blackcurrants. The mouthfeel is rounded and luscious with soft tannin extraction and low acidity enhancing the fruit richness. The palate has a little alcohol drive and the wine flows gently and smoothly to a lingering finish with curranty and eucalyptus elements. This is an integrated wine showing the Cabernet on the nose and Shiraz on the palate. Very easy drinking over the next 3+ years. A blend of 65% Shiraz and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon fermented to 14.2% alc., the wine aged in French and American oak. 17.0+/20 May 2018 RRP $27.95

Jim Barry ‘The Cover Drive’ Clare Valley/Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Dark, deep ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues. The nose is very elegant and fine in expression with good intensity of blackcurrant fruit along with nuances of mint herb forming a fine core. This has vibrancy and clarity of fruit. Elegant on palate, the flavours are tightly bound, showing blackcurrants, cassis and mint. The fruit is up-front and shows with clarity and is supported by fine-grained tannin extraction with good acidity enlivening the mouthfeel and providing drive. This has excellent energy. As the wine flows, the favours recede a little, leading to a light, sweetly nuanced finish. This is classical, bright and vibrant Cabernet Sauvignon. Match with beef and lamb over the next 5 years. Fruit from the company’s Clare Valley and Coonawarra vineyards fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged in French oak. 17.5+/20 May 2018 RRP $27.95

Jim Barry ‘Single Vineyard’ Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Dark, deep, ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is softly full with gentle volume of blackcurrant fruit melded with cedary oak. The bruit grows in expression and intensity to show nuances of mint and eucalypt. The palate is sweetly rich with gently mouthfilling flavours of blackcurrants and blackberries with cassis notes along with nuances of mint herb and cedary oak. The flavours are harmonious and well-integrated, and supported by fine-grained tannin structure and refined grip, with soft acidity enhancing the richness. As the wine flows, subtle earthy complexities emerge. This is a rich, soft and mouthfilling Cabernet Sauvignon with lovey harmony. It will keep well for another 5-6 years. Fruit from the ‘Kirribilli’ vineyard in Coonawarra fermented to 14.2% alc., the wine aged 5-10 months in 10% new oak. 18.0-/20 May 2018 RRP $34.95

Jim Barry ‘The McRae Wood’ Clare Valley Shiraz 2013
Very dark, deep, near impenetrable black-red colour with youthful purple hues. The nose is refined in presentation with intensely fragrant, perfumed aromas of dark-red berry and ripe plum fruit intermixed with dark-red florals, unfolding liquorice, Asian spices and eucalyptus. The intensity and depth increases with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a a finely concentrated, intense core with elegant proportion and tightly bound flavours of sweetly ripe blackberries and dark raspberries, along with juicy plum, liquorice and eucalypt notes. Some red floral lift adds to the atomatics. The fruit is supported by very fine-grained tannin extraction hat, though is considerable, allows the fruit sweetness to feature. This has great drive and line, and carries to a very long, spicy finish. This is a beautifully rich Shiraz with a degree of refinement, but also plenty of depth and structure. It will keep a decade plus. Fruit from ‘The Armagh’ and other Jim Barry vineyards fermented to 14.0% alc. the wine aged in French and American oak. 19.0/20 May 2018 RRP $64.95

Jim Barry ‘The Armagh’ Shiraz 2013
Very full, deep, dark, black-red colour with youthful purple hues. The bouquet is remarkably elegant, but clearly immensely concentrated with deeply packed flavours of ripe blackberry fruit with dark raspberries, plums. Liquorice, Asian spices and beautifully aromatic new oak vanillins and cedar. Full-bodied, the palate is intensely concentrated with rich and layered flavours of ripe blackberries, dark, raspberries, hints of blueberries, plums, liquorice and an array of spices. This has yet to unfold and blossom to show its full richness. The fruit is supported by considerable extraction and structure, the tannins very fine-grained and flowery, but showing mouthfell, presence and grip. The fruit and structure is underlined by sheer power and drive, and the wine carries to a very long and sustained finish that retains a sense of finesse. This is wonderfully rich, luscious, layered and elegant and needs 15-20 years to show its best. Fruit from 3.3 ha ‘The Armagh’ vineyard in the Clare Valley, vines planted in 1968, and fermented to 14.1% alc., the wine aged 20 months in 60% French and 40% American oak. The wine was first vintaged in 1985. 19.5/20 May 2018 RRP $364.95

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