John Duval Wines, Barossa Valley
John Duval Plexus Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre, John Duval Entity Shiraz, John Duval Eligo Shiraz
John Duval is one of the more famous contemporary names in Australian wine. For many years he was chief winemaker at Penfolds and responsible for the production of Grange, arguably Australia’s top wine.
After 29 years working alongside Max Schubert and Don Ditter and ultimately leading the entire Penfolds winemaking team, Duval stepped outside corporate life to start his own winemaking business. At first he started consulting in Europe, Chile (Pangea) and Australia (Songlines). He is also vintner partner in the Long Shadows venture in Washington State in the USA.
For four months each year, Duval makes sure he is back in the Barossa to make his own wines. He produces three wines: the compelling and beautifully scented Plexus, a Shiraz Mourvedre Grenache blend aged in older oak to retain its fruit integrity. The Entity and Eligo are both top notch, gorgeously seductive Barossa Shirazes. These wines are far removed from Grange. Indeed John Duval has said many times that producing a “son of Grange” would be seen by many as “arrogant “.
His developmental work with Penfolds RWT, the first Penfolds single region Barossa wine for several decades, was really the precursor to John Duval’s own Barossa Shirazes. These are elegant wines with beautifully black chocolate/ herb garden aromas and fine grained but lacy tannin structures. The fruit driven and plushly structured Entity is aged in 30% new French barriques.
The Eligo is a Grand Vin type wine based on the best parcels of fruit. The selection process for this wine starts in grower’s vineyards and right through vinification and maturation. The first vintages show an extraordinary handle on fruit, oak and tannin management. There is a smoothness of flavour and texture. None of the elements are out of line. While the Eligo is matured in 60% new French oak, the weight of the fruit and overall balance barely makes it noticeable. This is definitely a wine that will benefit from age.
Not surprisingly the international media has fully embraced the wines. They are completely consistent with Duval’s long term career at Penfolds, yet move away from the choco-berry characters associated with Grange and the Penfolds stable. The wines have great integrity and form.
While it is still early days for the incredibly modest, impeccably credentialed and charming John Duval, all the stars are in alignment for this emerging producer. This is definitely a producer to follow.
Andrew Caillard MW, Langton's