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Pikes Wines new label design

By Neil Pike

Autumn is my favourite time of the year. I like the hustle, bustle and excitement of harvest and the beautiful autumn colours. But mostly, I like that the weather is more conducive to red wine consumption than the preceding hot summer months.

Fortunately, autumn is when we release our new vintage reds and this year, we’re starting to roll out reds from the excellent 2015 vintage.

Overall the 2015 vintage rates very highly and is up there with previous high quality years such as 2012, 2009 and 2005. All the wines display their usual traits and all are very much in the medium-bodied style that we do best here in Clare.

Our Shiraz-based wines seem to be the stars at present; they’re a little more approachable, but this may well change once our Cabernet-based wines settle down post bottling.

In recent times, we’ve aimed to get our red wines into bottle just a tad earlier, in an effort to retain a little more of the juicy freshness of the grapes. The wines are now spending less time in oak, a little more time in tank and are going to bottle sooner.

This has meant we have had a busy time of it in the winery since the middle of last year, finalising the blends, finishing the wines off ready to bottle and getting them into bottle, thus making way for the new vintage.

You will also no doubt notice a “freshen up” of our labels for the 2015 reds. We are really pleased with the new look and will be interested to hear your feedback. Not huge changes by any means – just a tidy up.

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The Pike Family patriach, Henry Pike, emigrated from Dorset to South Australia in 1878 aboard the HMS Oakland.  He settled in the small town of Oakbank in the Adelaide Hills and in 1886 established a family business called Pikes Dorset Brewery. Subsequently this business became known as H. Pike & Co. and the Pikes name became known throughout South Australia for its quality beer, ales, soft drinks and cordials and its famous Tonic Ale. From the outset, Henry Pike used the striking English Pike fish on all his beer labels and we have continued that tradition on all our current products – a symbol of Pikes long heritage, now spanning three centuries.


H. Pike & Co. was unfortunately sold in 1972, but this did not end the family tradition. By this time, Henry’s great grandson, Edgar Walter Pike, was well established in the wine industry as a private vigneron and vineyard manager for a large propriety wine company.  Edgar’s sons (Andrew and Neil) both entered the wine industry after graduating from Roseworthy Agricultural College and have established themselves in their respective fields of expertise (Andrew in viticulture and management and Neil in winemaking and marketing).  With the assistance of Edgar and his wife Merle, they then established ‘Pikes Wines’ in 1984 at ‘Polish Hill River Estate’ in the Polish Hill River sub-region of the beautiful Clare Valley in South Australia. The first Pikes wines were released in the Spring of 1985 and we have since been making and marketing a range of premium table wines which reflect the region, the vintage season and the varieties grown.

In 1996, Pikes beer was reintroduced to the market and continues to be a small, but increasingly important part of the Pike family business.

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Hectares/Acres: 75 ha (180 acres) vineyard planted 1984-2003. Majority planted on their own roots with a diverse range of clonally selected varieties used. A small amount of Riesling, Viognier and Tempranillo is planted on rootstock.

Cool to cold and wet winters (650 mm rainfall). Warm to hot and dry summers. Mean January Temperature 21.9°C. Rainfall is heavily winter dominant with most rain falling between May and October. Frost and hail risk is minimal.

Generally described as duplex red brown earth over clay, with slate and broken bluestone sub-soil. Nutritional status is generally low to moderate in terms of vigour potential and drainage hazard is generally low.


The majority of our older vineyard has an east to southeast aspect (away from the hot afternoon sun). Some of our newer plantings have a more westerly aspect.

Vineyard Specifications:
A standard 2 metre vine spacing with a 3m row spacing is set up for total mechanisation. A single wire VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioning) trellis system is standard, using treated pine posts and steel intermediates, 1.8 m above the ground with a single cordon wire at 1.0m with two moveable foliage wires for vertical shoot positioning.

Irrigation Levels:
The entire vineyard is fitted with an in line drip irrigation system. Irrigation is only applied when necessary, i.e. to keep vines functioning at their optimum levels to produce the best possible quality grapes. Iyr average irrigation usage over recent years is less than 0.5mL/Ha

Hand spur pruning only (mechanized pre-pruning on most varieties) leaving an average of 40-50 buds/vine. Crop levels are on average 7.5 tonnes/ha (3 tonnes/acre.)

Soil Management:
A mid-row cover crop is planted every alternate row every other year. Mid rows are sub soil ploughed prior to cover cropping to avoid compaction.

Triticale is the preferred species for mid-row cropping as it produces a rapid vegetative mass which is either turned back in by disc ploughing, or slashed and sprayed off (depending on seasonal conditions).

A limited dressing of phosphate and nitrogenous fertilizer is applied at the time of cover crop seeding.

Under-vine strips are mulched both with the mid-row slashing’s and with locally grown cereal straw which is spread every three to five years. This has a multi-purpose benefit of reducing soil moisture losses through evaporation, improving soil structure through added organic matter and reduced chemical inputs for under-vine weed control.

Pest & Disease:
Clare is generally regarded as one of the safest high quality viticultural districts in Australia in respect to the risk of pest and disease of grapevines. The low rainfall and low humidity which typifies this region during the growing season is not conducive to a high risk of fungal disease. Powdery mildew is the most common of these which is normally easily controlled with routine elemental sulphur sprays. Downy mildew and botrytis can be a problem in unseasonally wet years. Insect problems are confined to lightbrown apple moth which are normally controlled with a biodynamic chemical agent. Overall the routine spray program is very “soft” and is close to organic status, however we remain pragmatic in our approach to our pest and disease control program.


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Most fruit is lightly crushed and destemmed prior to pressing or fermentation. Minimal amounts of SO2 added in the vineyard to protect against oxidation in delicate white varieties (Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon). Reds have SO2 added at the crusher prior to maceration/fermentation. Pectic enzymes added to white varieties ex press, juice/must adjusted where necessary with tartaric acid. Inert gases, carbon dioxide and nitrogen, are used extensively to protect all our wines from oxidation.

Pure yeast cultures added for most delicate whites produced as well as most reds. Wild yeast ferments are encouraged for some Shiraz and Sangiovese batches. Some batches of Sangiovese, Grenache and Mourvédre may receive post ferment maceration for up to 3 weeks. We encourage 100% wild yeast fermentation in the Chardonnay and Viognier with solids. MLF happens naturally and is desirable in all reds.

Oak Usage: 
All red wines matured in oak 12-18 months prior to bottling. We use only high quality 228 L & 225 L French oak barrels. We top barrels once a month during most of the year. Chardonnay and Viognier may have their lees stirred occasionally during maturation and then are racked only once (off lees) prior to bottling, while the reds may have up to three rackings.

Finishing the Wines: 
All whites are cold and heat stabilised prior to bottling. If fining is required PVP is our preferred agent. Membrane filtration is carried out at the bottling stage. Reds are fined only if necessary and minimum filtration if required.

We aim to produce wines that reflect their variety, region and vintage conditions. We are quite happy to watch over the wines during their formative stage and intervene only when necessary. We aim to produce the best wines we can from the fruit our vineyards give us from any particular vintage.

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Inside information

VINTAGE 2015 By Andrew Pike

Based on our records, February 4th is the earliest ever start to vintage in our 30 years in the Clare Valley…and given we are now almost finished…it will almost certainly be the earliest ever finish!

This is not in itself a problem, but the compressed nature of vintage has certainly provided some challenges coordinating the intake and the logistics of moving it through the winery before maturities and fruit condition become an issue.

However with the huge majority of Pikes fruit now in from the Clare Valley, we are able to concentrate on safely tucking away the cooler climate Adelaide Hills (Lenswood) fruit from Pike & Joyce. Again, vintage in the Adelaide Hills is very early and will be finished in record time.

Yields from both the Clare Valley and Lenswood vineyards have been on or slightly above estimate so far, which is probably a reflection on the cooler start to the growing season and the very welcome 75mm of rain we received mid-January. By contrast, the month of February was very warm (hot) and with practically no rainfall, the ripening process has accelerated rapidly across all varieties to the point where there is little varietal separation in the maturity curves.

A challenge for the vineyard and winemaking team for sure…but in our favour this year, we have seen great natural acid retention, sugar levels generally within tolerances, lovely flavours and fantastic fruit condition…so we will see some sensational 2015 wines from both the Pikes and the Pike & Joyce stables.

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8 different wines with 25 vintages


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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  3 wines  from  Pikes . In a tasting of  33 wines 

De Bortoli ‘Riorret’ ‘Lusatia Park’ Pinot Noir 2016 / This exciting Yarra Valley vineyard does Pinot Noir as well as it does Chardonnay, perhaps even more so. This is a cracker. Plums, earth, slightly sappy notes with some animal skin complexity. Licorice and dark fruits. Satiny tannins and excellent length. This is no simple Pinot; this is seriously good. Should age well for a decade or more. 

Score: 95/100

19d 2h ago

 Pikes  has news

AUTUMN 2017: IN THE RED By Neil Pike Autumn is my favourite time of the year. I like the h  more ...

1m 9d ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Pikes . In a tasting of  21 wines 

Yalumba ‘The Caley’ 2012 / Yalumba’s new super-blend, from vines dating back as far as 1901. A mix of Coonawarra cabernet, Barossa cabernet and Barossa shiraz. One for the cellar. Finely balanced, tight and with length. There are dark fruits, hints of old leather, cloves, black olives and much more. Great intensity here, with real persistence. Abundant yet silky tannins. Not a foot out of place. An Aussie classic.

Score: 97/100

Best drinking: Any time over the next three decades.

4m 21d ago

 Jasmin Foster / Sommelier, Pro (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Pikes . In a tasting of  23 wines 

“Torbreck's RunRig is the estate's flagship wine, made from extremely old vines from eight separate premium Barossa plots.

The RunRig 1996 combines the sheer fruit intensity of some of the finest Shiraz vines of the Barossa with European elegance - the small percentage of Viognier adding real vitality - and hence the best of both worlds.

Torbreck is named after a forest in Scotland where winemaker David Powell once worked as a lumberjack.

1y 6m ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  12 wines  from  Pikes . In a tasting of  13 wines 

“Pikes traditional" Riesling 2002 - First under screwcap.
I would defy anyone who genuinely enjoys wine not to be blown away with this absolutely cracking wine. Pikes may not always have the same cache with cult drinkers as a winery like Grosset's (and this in no way is to suggest that Jeff doesn't make stunning wines or that he fully deserves his almost Gandhi-like reputation), but that is the fault of drinkers (and possibly reviewers). Perhaps, as Pikey's production is reasonably large (around 18,000 cases for the wine that has become the Traditionale and 500 to 1,000 for the Merle, the “Reserve” riesling) or perhaps because the prices are hardly stratospheric (about $22, before the discounters butcher it, for the Trad and $38 for the Merle), it has never achieved the same revered status. Get over it. Pike's Riesling deserves to sit with the Clare's best, year in and year out. And if you doubt me, get some of this (and no, you can't have mine – and that includes you, Swig, though perhaps if you find a really sensational cigar, we could talk about sharing one).
Fully deserves its reputation as one of the top, if not the very best of all, vintages from this decade. The wines were so delicate and pristine in their youth. It was the coldest summer on record. Also dry. There is a feeling that, with global warming, we may never see another vintage like this one.
Worth mentioning that this vintage saw no adjustment at all re acidity. Usually around a gram/litre is added and that can go as high as 2 gms/ltr but in this perfect vintage, not a thing.
And the wine? All class. Complex and brilliant. There is honey and toast. A beautifully evocative nose. Good acidity. Still fresh and clean. Good acidity. Perfectly balanced. One for the ages. A beautiful wine that goes forever.
I would venture to say that I think this might be the very best riesling made in the Clare Valley in the last decade. And that is a very big call, but if you can try a bottle of it, I’d love to hear what you think is better.
98 points

1y 9m ago

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