Jim Barry Masterclass with Sam Barry
Friday, May 11, 2018 in News
Jim Barry The Armagh 2014
Vintage Release with Sam Barry
The Langton's Classification is the definitive guide to the greatest Australian wines. The top tier of the Classification contains the 21 greatest wines in Australia – we call them Exceptional. In the fifth edition of our Classification, Jim Barry joined the top tier – The Armagh is Classified Exceptional.
The Armagh Back Vintages 2000, 2004, 2006
Like most of the great wines of the world, The Armagh is about a place: eight acres near the town of Armagh in the Clare Valley. Planted in 1968, the Barry family believed in the vines even resisting the great Vine Pull of 1987. In 1985, at a time when Cabernet was king, Jim Barry released the first The Armagh. While the story of The Armagh is one of vision and great risk, its promotion to the top tier of the Classification is due to the support of the wine buying public. Each release, they come back to The Armagh showing why so many wine lovers and collectors support producers like Jim Barry regardless of the vintage.
At the Armagh event, Langton’s guests were able to taste (and access) the 2014 prior to release. Sam Barry, who led us through his family’s wines, also gave those guests access to the Jim Barry museum.
“The ‘14 is a very elegant vintage. You see that in both the ‘13 and ‘14 as we saw in the tasting. They drink beautifully on release with a few hours of decanting. Really approachable, but they’ve got all the tannin, acid, structure and fruit to be long-lived wines.”
Jim Barry, third generation at Jim Barry Wines
Through to the new release ‘14, the different vintages of The Armagh had the room talking. Sam Barry presented the ‘06 and 09’ together, which was rather clever. There was plenty of support for each of the two vintages in the room and their differences really illustrated how important knowing and trusting your own palate. The ‘06, a more muscular wine, had the benefit of a few extra years of age. While the ‘09, still displaying youthful, primary fruit, showed as more elegant. Vintage variation aside, the difference in age was very interesting. That ten-year-point, while by no means a rule, signalled the entry into magnificent middle age for The Armagh. The 2000, the elder statesman of the evening, showed that fully developed drinking window will remain open for a very long time.
2000 isn’t considered to be a great vintage by many but The Armagh from that year is undoubtedly a great wine. On tasting the 2000 Armagh, it was clear the wine had grown up yet it still had legs to run and run. With good cellaring, it will still be drinking well in ten years.
The evening opened with the Assyrtiko. Sam’s father, Peter, took cuttings from pre-phylloxera vineyards in Santorini in Greece. A chance sampling of this local variety whilst on holiday led to what is Australia’s first Assyrtiko. Langton’s asked Sam about the wine, and what people should expect.
“For anyone who is drinking Clare Valley Riesling, I think they’re going to be comfortable drinking Assyrtiko. It’s a little bit more textural, more saline, more savoury than Riesling but with similar flavour profiles and similar weight. But it’s not so out-of-the-box that’s it’s going to be confronting.”
Unsurprisingly, the Mediterranean variety Assyrtiko went exceptionally well with the food being served. That note of salinity and the savouriness pair well with pumpkin gnocchi and king crab salad. Savoury whites are very much on trend, and this Assyrtiko should be on any wine lover’s list.
Assyrtiko 2017 and The Florita 2012, 2017
Sam also shared the story of the Barry family acquisition of The Florita vineyards. Planted by Leo Buring in 1962, the land was already famous in the Clare for Riesling. This was during the recession in the 80s, the Barry’s bought the land, selling any that could fetch a dollar but the vines and worked the land themselves. During the evening we tasted the 2017 and the 2012, the one fresh and delightful that other clear through that difficult third year for Riesling, show the early promise of The Florita's ability to age.
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