GRAPEVINE: GROWING THE next generation
Getting established as a young or new producer in a famous wine region is a tough gig. The best sites have by and large been found, the incumbents have developed decades of regional knowhow, and have built strong brands.
Every 10-20 years, though, we see trends change and inflection points reached.
This is often when a new generation can establish themselves as icons of the future if they happen to see which direction the winds are turning towards.
The Barossa Valley is one such region, with a long history and plenty of iconic producers. World-renowned for Shiraz; full-bodied, rich, powerful Shiraz. High in alcohol, very, even over, ripe flavours and lavished with new oak is the image for much of the ‘90s and ‘00s. A small group of young producers saw the excesses that many wines of the region had reached and saw a different path to establish themselves within a region rich with history. Producers such as Spinifex, Head, Ruggabellus and Izway to name a few over the past decade or so looked to cooler sites, picked a little earlier, raised their wines in larger format seasonedoak. These producers have been lucky enough to still have great quality fruit from established vineyards with old vines – the result is wines with ample depth, complexity and structure but are more refined and restrained, allowing for earth and mineral qualities to shine as much as the fruit, and to make use of oak more for
its vinification and ageing benefits rather than imparting too much flavour.
Of the producers mentioned above, Izway may be one of the lesser known, but they are excellent winemakers making wines with remarkable consistency. They are based in the Seppeltsfield towards the Northern end of the Barossa, having been established by Craig Isbel and Brian Conway in 2002. Their fruit is often sourced from classic, established Barossan vineyards and sub-regions, particularly in the North of the region where producers such as Kalleske, and Rockford are found amongst the sub-regions of Moppa, Koonunga and Seppeltsfield.
Their Rob & Les ($33) combines the new and the old of Barossa Shiraz. They source fruit from two of Kalleskes vineyards,
producing a wine with fine and elegant structure gliding across the palate paired to a deep, dark and rich core of fruit that fits clearly into the typical picture of Barrosan Shiraz. Worthwhile putting in the cellar for a few years, although it is so
silky and such a gorgeous drink now in the depths of winter.
The Bruce ($55) finds its roots as the single barrel produced back in 2003 at the inception of Izway. In 2016, they have
nailed what was an exceptional vintage for the region. Balancing power and depth, ripe dark berry fruits with dark chocolate, black pepper savoury/ meaty notes and velvet-like tannins.