Max Allen on wine fam­i­lies.

The Weekend Australian - Life - - FOOD & WINE - lin­fiel­d­road­; whistler­; jeri­ MAX ALLEN @max­al­len­wine

It’s a con­ver­sa­tion that even­tu­ally takes place around the kitchen ta­ble in most wine­mak­ing fam­i­lies. The older gen­er­a­tion has done things a cer­tain way for years; the younger gen­er­a­tion wants to try some­thing new and rad­i­cal. Things can de­velop in many dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions from here: some­times the older gen­er­a­tion re­sists — nup, that’s that; some­times dad in­dulges his kids’ ex­per­i­ment; and some­times the fam­ily em­braces change with gusto.

I’ve imag­ined th­ese sce­nar­ios as I tasted my way through some ex­cel­lent new re­leases from winer­ies in the Barossa Val­ley and McLaren Vale.

The Wil­son fam­ily has sold wines un­der the Lin­field Road la­bel since the 2000s, but they have grown grapes at their home in Wil­liamstown, in the southern Barossa, over five gen­er­a­tions and more than 150 years. Lin­field wines in the past have been solid, straight­for­ward, con­ser­va­tively la­belled Barossans — their inky, bold shi­raz The Stub­born Pa­tri­arch ($28) says it all, really.

Imag­ine my sur­prise, then, when I tried their new, 2014 chardon­nay ($26). Ob­scurely dubbed There Will be Stars, the wine was wild-fer­mented on skins and is a ter­rific ex­am­ple of the style that’s so in vogue, with a glow­ing pale bronze colour, tangy com­plex­ity and lovely creamy, nutty tex­ture. It’s about as far from “stan­dard” Barossa chardon­nay as pos­si­ble, and has been re­ceived very favourably.

The Pfeif­fer fam­ily has many gen­er­a­tions of grape­grow­ing history be­hind it, first in the River­land, and from the early 1990s in the Barossa, at Whistler Wines in Marananga. Again, the main Whistler range con­sists of good, con­ven­tional, plainly la­belled Barossa wines. For the last couple of vin­tages, fourth gen­er­a­tion wine­maker Josh Pfeif­fer has played with some small batches pro­duced in a drink-now, mod­ern id­iom us­ing (for ex­am­ple) wild fer­ments and whole bunches: my pick of th­ese colour­fully la­belled wines is the 2015 Get in My Belly Grenache ($35), a juicy, spicy, thor­oughly glug­gable ex­pres­sion of grape and place.

An­other fam­ily com­pany un­der­go­ing gen­er­a­tional change is Jeri­cho Wines. I’ve known Neil Jeri­cho for years at com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Brown Broth­ers and Tay­lors. A couple of years ago, Neil and wife Kaye, mar­keter daugh­ter Sally, graphic de­signer son Kim and wine­maker son An­drew formed their own busi­ness, sourc­ing grapes from McLaren Vale and the Ade­laide Hills. The Jeri­cho wines are ex­cel­lent: of the re­cent re­leases I par­tic­u­larly like the 2015 fi­ano ($25), a gor­geously per­fumed, ex­ot­i­cally flavoured white wine, and the slurpy, medium-bod­ied 2015 tem­pranillo ($25).

The kitchen ta­ble con­ver­sa­tions that re­sulted in th­ese ex­cit­ing new wines must have been fas­ci­nat­ing.

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