Grenache Project 17 – Artisans Of Barossa release a new six pack celebrating single vineyard grenache

There are all manner of groups and initiatives that have proposed a collective yet individual approach to a winemaking schemata, but by my reckoning none so far where a single vineyard of grenache has been explored through the lens of six, diverse winemakers. There was the grenache-focussed McLaren Vale ‘Cadenzia’ program some ten years ago, but that didn’t look at a single site, more a regional exploration of grenache wines. You could argue that the multiple bottlings from Ricca Terra Farms, Chalmers Heathcote vineyard or something like the suite of nebbiolos off Malakoff vineyard are less structured investigation of multiple expressions from site, but this Grenache Project comes as a single six pack, from a single vintage, from a single site – narrow bandwidth. It’s a strong PR move for Artisans of Barossa first, of course.

The vineyard in question is Quarry Hill vineyard in Angaston. It was planted in 1971 and vines are dry grown on red clay over limestone soils. Yields are typically low, though some of the six wine producers involved in the project decided to drop yields even lower. By chance, or by organisation, the same picking date was used by all; a ‘late-ish’ 21st of March.

The winemakers in question are a who’s who of modern Barossa, with the Hobbs family (Hobbs), John Duval (John Duval Wines), Jaysen Collins (Massena), Jason Schwarz (Schwarz Wine Co.), Corey Ryan and Simon Cowham (Sons of Eden) and Peter Schell (Spinifex), involved. The wines were tasted blind, aside John Duval’s as the screwcap had broken glass off the lip of the bottle, with shattered glass in the screw also found under the cap. The wines and winemaking were as follows. 

John Duval Wines: faulty seal/broken glass in wine – not tasted

‘Collins’: Jaysen Collins opted for 100% whole bunches left to ferment in a sealed tank for four to five weeks. It was then foot stomped and pressed, then settled in tanks and left to rest in old oak to finish its short maturation pre-bottling. 

Shows scents of game meat, green herbs, green grape stems, red cherry and rose water. Pretty sort of thing, decidedly savoury and herbal. The palate is ultra silky, very fine and fresh in fruit character, hemmed with succulent tannins, long and glossy through its lingering, sweet-sour finish. There’s a pinosity of sorts here. It’s a superb wine, so fine boned, delicate yet character filled. Delicious drinking. 95 points, 2018-2025+

‘Schwarz’: Another 100% whole bunch ferment here. The wine under went carbonic maceration for nine days then was trodden on and left for five days before being basket pressed. 

Light and fresh in style, it’s a understated expression of grenache, crisp in texture, a little washy in fruit character but wholly pleasing as a charming drink. The perfume is pretty, set up with red cherry, satsuma plum, fennel, Chinese five spice and briary characters. The palate does feel a bit ‘watery’ in flavour, and the finish a bit watercolour, but overall you can’t help but like the feel of the wine, pretty, fine and fresh feeling. 92 points, 2018-2023

‘Hobbs’: Shiraz is the metier of Hobbs, so a grenache from them is a dalliance, in some respects! Here, the intent was to see ‘how far we could push the boundaries of flavour concentration, without losing the innate character and appeal of Grenache”. Bunches of grapes were dried on racks for five days, then destemmed, then fermented in open tanks before being pressed to older oak barrels. 

A full figured, resolute grenache, with richness and dense fruit character on its side. Bouquet shows dark berries, ripe plum, a hint of fig and date, some mocha scents. The palate is generous in sweet fruit flavours, quite velvety upfront though it finishes with some brick dust tannins, a puff of breathy warmth and a light zing of lemony acidity. There’s still a prettiness to the wine, but it’s definitely the most athletic on the table. 91 points, 2018-2025

‘Ryan/Cowham’: Another one for the 100% whole bunch ledger, though this time the ferment occurred in an ‘egg-shaped fermenter’ (material of such non specified). The wine was left on its skins for a significant 65 days, then pressed off and sent to old oak for four months. 

A sappy grenache of sweet fruit, sweet perfume, suggestions of game meat strong in both bouquet and palate. There’s a generosity here though the wine does feel relatively fresh and perky, despite the heft of concentrated fruit and skinsy, grippy tannins, though a sherbetty acid tang to finish is a bit distracting. The wine is pretty pleasing though a touch angular and brutish, it looks less pretty and readily accessible than the first two wines with their pretty herbal notes and silky textures. That being said, the attractive sweetness and general vibe of the wine is pleasing. 90 points. 2018-2023

‘Schell’: The wine saw 50/50 whole bunch and de-stemmed grapes fermented in a single vessel. It spent ten days on skins, left alone, then the wine was foot trod and pressed, then sent to large, old oak to mature. Simple stuff. 

It’s a fine boned, lithe grenache of complex structure and a swish of firm tannin. The wine smells of red cherries, red currants, clove, brambles and pepper. The palate is savoury, just ripe red berries under dried herbs and brown spice. It’s got some depth to it too. The grip that finishes the wine is quite addictive, and a light amaro note is pleasing too. It’s a very good grenache, perhaps the most serious of all here. 94+ points, 2018-2030

All wines arrived at a consistently labeled 14.5% alcohol.

+

Each pack contains a single bottle of each plus an exclusive storybook detailing the story behind the Project and each wine.

Price is $250 per pack plus $10 delivery.

Mike Bennie - Winefront

 

Halliday Magazine Review

95 points - 2016 the moonlight run
Constructed from estate mataro (34%) fermented with partial stalk inclusion, 33% early harvested 150yo bush vine grenache and Tanunda shiraz. The secret ingredient that invests the wine with savoury spices and freshness is the alcohol, usually 14.5% and above in the Barossa Valley. the length and finish have zest and braille, important in establishing the texture of the wine.
— Halliday Magazine, Feb/Mar

Winefront Reviews

2017 Fruit Salad Block - 93 points
Couldn’t be a more appropriate name for a field blend, really. Old vines, mixed planting, co-fermented, time on skins, sent to bottle. What ho! Here’s a live one. And a good example for those who need further help with the concept of what a field blend is. Sophist wines. I like ’em. More so, this is an intriguing, delicious wine in its own right.
I bet there’s muscat or traminer in this block, for if not, something has that candied, rose petal whiff to it in the bouquet. More than that though, there’s exotic spice, ginger, ripe stone fruit, a touch of green herbs. Attractive start. The palate is hemmed with fine, saline mineral character with a light juiciness and perky acid tang giving freshness. It feels like lots is going on in its sleek, electric frame. Refreshment is high, as is personality and textural detail. What a ripper.

— Mike Bennie, winefront.com.au

2016 Primitivo - 91 points
It’s heady in dark plum, dried fruits, prune and raisin character, sniffs of dark chocolate. The palate does have a lift of fresh acidity but the flavours roll a similar way to the bouquet. It’s slick, rich, lightly syrupy, shows some suppleness to tannin and a good exit on mocha powder tannins. It’s a very good expression of primitivo, as it stands; for those seeking some generosity in their reds, but drinkability too. Nicely done.

— Mike Bennie, winefront.com.au

2017 Stonegarden Riesling - 94 points
A delightful wine. Textural, laden with flavour, long through the finish and delicious every step of the way. It packs a real flavour punch but it steps lightly; it feels soft. Sweet lime, talc, rose petals, orange blossoms. Quite an exotic thing, it is. It will age but it’s a ripper drink right now.

— Campbell Mattinson, winefront.com.au

94 points - 2016 the moonlight run
Blend of Barossa Valley mataro, grenache, and shiraz, pretty much in equal parts. The mataro included some stalks in the ferment. The grenache is off extremely old vines, well over 100 years (more like 150).
It’s a wild ride of flavour. It’s mid-weight, complex, charming and silken, with game, an array of dried spices, flings of roasted nuts and of course red/black berry flavours. So much to experience. Floral notes add yet more to the show. A beautiful red wine.

— Campbell Mattinson, winefront.com.au

2016 the eleventh hour - 93+ points
Shiraz from Greenock and Stonewell in the Barossa Valley. Open fermented, basket pressed, no new oak, bottled unfined and unfiltered. Old school Barossa, in a new school way.
Barossa shiraz is such a pleasurable beast when it’s allowed to run free. This is the famous fruit in all its deep, dark, blackberried glory. It’s fresh but intense, simple in a straight-shooting way, intricately tannic and lengthy. I’d reckon they’ve nailed it. It’s sturdy but pretty; it drinks ever-so-well.

— Campbell Mattinson, winefront.com.au

2016 the howling dog - 92 points
Wild ferment, 30 days skin contact, bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Dense but bright. Characterful. Iodine, blackberry, sweet cherry and a slight, smoky infusion. Like smoked dried flowers. It’s not overtly tannic but there’s enough here to give the wine shape. It’s an easy wine to like, you’d have to say, but there’s also plenty to distinguish it. Different face of the Barossa.

— Campbell Mattinson, winefront.com.au

Fruit Salad Block Review

How cool is this? Minimalist, edgy, fresh, non-conformist and dangerously drinkable. The hipsters will love this brand-new field blend from Massena Vineyards in the Barossa Valley, one of the Artisans of the Barossa collective. But so do old beardies like myself. Winemaker Jaysen (such a trendy name) Collins has a very different take on winemaking, saying he "makes spontaneous decisions how to make the wine.” Around a dozen different grape varieties from the Eden Valley go into this blend; including muscat, riesling and other whites, along with red varieties including grenache and mataro. Some of the fruit is from old vines and it sees a short amount of skin contact to lift the funk levels up a few degrees. Think sweet and sour notes, muscaty and citrus flavours, brisk acid and impressive refreshment.

Winsor Dobbin, Winsor's Choice, 11th August 2017

2018 James Halliday Wine Companion

97 points - 2015 the moonlight run

Mataro (from Moppa) and whole bunch Cinsaut co-fermented, old vine Grenache (Vine Vale) and Shiraz all wild yeast fermented, bottled without fining or filtration. Its crimson colour is excellent, the bouquet full of spicy purple and black fruits, its mouthfeel is simply outstanding. A tour de force of winemaking.

95 points - 2015 the eleventh hour

Destemmed, open fermented with wild yeast, basket pressed, matured in used French Oak. A very rich  and complex full-bodied shiraz, opening with and expressive spice  and liquorice bouquet, the palate with a savoury edge within the folds of its black fruits. It has an X-factor of freshness too.

95 points - 2015 the twilight path

A 66/27/7% estate-grown blend of primitivo (aka zinfandel), mataro and graciano, wild-fermented, the primitivo with 30% whole bunches, and unoaked. Bright colour; a resoundingly fresh sunburst of red and purple fruits, the mouthfeel supple and smooth. Drink asap, although it won't die any time soon.

94 points - 2015 the howling dog

Estate-grown saperavi, no vineyard sprays, destemmed, wild-fermented, neither fined or filtered. The black fruit flavours could have come from the River Styx, the bouquet super-complex, the texture likewise - the latter creates and almost airy feel to the palate.

92 points - 2016 the surly muse

A blend of viognier and marsanne from a single vineyard in Gomersal, wild-fermented, part in barrel, part in tank. The marsanne gives some spine for the viognier, which in turn provides some flavour for the marsanne. Interesting wine, but needs time.

Winefront Reviews

2015 the moonlight run - 93 points

Blend of Barossa Valley mataro, grenache, shiraz and cinsault.
Aromatic. Fleshy. Plenty of fruit and yet dry and spicy to close. Excellent style of wine. The kind of wine we all should drink more of. There’s no lack of sweetness and/or ripeness and yet the savoury crowd is played to. Hits the nail pretty much bang on.
— Campbell Mattinson, winefront.com.au

2015 the twilight path - 91 points

Blend of primitivo, mataro and graciano from the Barossa.
Succulent red wine. Juicy and fresh. Red berries, light and lovely. Some firmness to the finish but the fruit keeps pouring on through. Refreshing. Both polished and pure. Drink it young.
— Campbell Mattinson, winefront.com.au

2015 the eleventh hour - 90 points

Old vine shiraz out of the Barossa.
Sweet and ripe. This is luscious red wine drinking. Tar, honey, baked plums and dried herbs. It loads up the palate with flavour, all sweet and loose and delicious.
— Campbell Mattinson, winefront.com.au

2015 the howling dog - 90 points

`The Howling Dog label is about “celebrating varieties that have density and power”.
This is so fresh it almost seems raw. It has that tank sample freshness to it; that purple crack of bare fruit flavour. Berries, foresty and spiced. A little chocolate. A lot of floral elements. And mouthwatering acidity. There’s tannin here, slightly twiggy but carried by fruit. It has drinkability writ large.
— Campbell Mattinson, winefront.com.au

WINE AUSTRALIA BLOG: JAYSEN COLLINS: BAROSSA BOY MAKES GREAT

Jaysen Collins isn’t your typical Barossa Australian wine producer. Whilst he was born in the Barossa it wasn’t into a winemaking family and his award-winning winery, Massena, has been something he has had to build from the ground up. So, with a flash of typical Aussie pluck, in 2000 he and a friend, Dan Standish, began a self-funded wine apprenticeship by buying some fruit and trying their hand at making wine.

Read more ....

WINE COMPANION REVIEWS

2014 the twilight path - 91 points

A 70/20/10% blend of primitivo, mataro and graciano as far removed from its Howling Dog sibling as the sun and the moon; this has a dart board of juicy, spicy, earthy nuances all in a light to medium-bodied frame. To be enjoyed while The Howling Dog calms down.
James Halliday - Published on 04 Nov 2015

2014 the eleventh hour - 94 points

Bright colour; has the best of both worlds, with the lush black fruits of Barossa shiraz while retaining freshness and poise. Makes its point quietly, not with a sledge hammer.
James Halliday - Published on 02 Dec 2015

2014 the howling dog - 95 points

A deeply coloured, ultra-exotic 72/16/12% blend of saperavi, petite sirah (durif) and tannat; has all the qualities its varietal parentage promise; it is infinitely powerful and compact, a vinous black hole in space, yet retains sufficient balance to guide it through decades of change.
James Halliday - Published on 04 Nov 2015

A day in the Barossa

Had the great opportunity to host Jamie Goode at Artisans recently.

Some great praise for Massena wines: "The wines are really interesting. Jaysen’s Massena wines impress across the board. I particularly liked the Primitivo-dominant ‘The Twighlight Path, and the Mataro-based Moonlight Run is really nice. My favourites from Jaysen, though, were the excellent 11th Hour Old Vine Shiraz and the Saperavi/Petite Sirah/Tannat blend The Howling Dog."

A great read for checking out what else is happening in wine in the Barossa, click below to follow to Jamie Goode's wine blog. 

Revisiting the Barossa

 

THE WINEFRONT REVIEWS

We've got some good feedback on the new release wines from Campbell Mattinson of the Wine Front!

2015 the surly muse - 92 points

Barossa Valley blend of 50/50 viognier and marsanne. A whole lot to like. You’d have to say that this nails the style. It’s fresh, vibrant, is slipped with enough flavour and then races straight through the finish line. Candied citrus, stone fruits, fresh lime, honeysuckle. It’s just a little underdone, but in a good way. It has good mouthfeel too. Give it another six months in bottle and it really should start to sing.

2014 the twilight path – 92 points

Barossa blend of primitivo (70%), mataro (20%) and graciano. It’s no shrinking violet. It’s dark in colour and deep of flavour, with jammy blackberry and tar flavours through the middle before rusty, ferrous, campfire notes add intrigue around the edges. The finish/aftertaste then turns sweet, raspberried, almost liqueurous, though dry/grainy tannin is a handy offset. Very good. 

2014 the moonlight run – 92 points

58% mataro, 22% grenache, 20% shiraz. Barossa Valley. Beautiful set of numbers. Delicious wine to drink. Earthen and spicy but loaded with dark, substantial fruit. Sweet and dry. Complex flavours but a simple/straightforward appeal. It feels as though it’s been forged in a hot, dry, sandy landscape, the berries soaked in sun. No complaints whatsoever.

2014 the eleventh hour - 94 points

Shiraz, from a variety of Barossa vineyards. Pure and simple.This pours it on. It feels modern but it also feels intense. If you want to sink your teeth into top shelf Barossa shiraz, in a modern context; check out this wine. Dense plum, tar, cedarwood, cloves, graphite. It strikes the chord and holds it. The flavours hum. if you enjoy Barossa shiraz, you’re as good as guaranteed to respond well to this.

2014 the howling dog - 94 points

Traditionally Massena has made The Howling Dog with durif/petite sirah; this release is a blend of 72% saperavi, 16% petite sirah and 12% tannat. The Howling Dog aspect may well have been lost a bit, but the blend itself sounds full of promise.Dark, brooding colour. Thick flavour. Asphalt, cloves, blackberry, sweet woodsmoke. Mouth-filling and mouth-puckering. Chunky chains of tannin drag through the wine. It’s not overdone, despite the way it sounds. Fresher, red-berried flavours peek through the finish, though it remains a Very Big Wine. A mouthful, but an intriguing one.