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2017 Entity Halliday’s Shiraz of the Year

At last night’s Halliday Wine Companion Awards held at the National Gallery in Melbourne, our 2017 ‘Entity’ Shiraz received the award for ‘Shiraz of the Year’. The 99 point rating placed the wine in elite company, and being named Best Shiraz propelled it to the pinnacle of wines made from Australia’s signature grape variety Shiraz. The award marks another highpoint for our family business, and positions John Duval Wines amongst the great names in Australian wine. It’s an achievement we are exceptionally proud of, especially so considering Entity was just one of over several thousand of Australia’s best wines featured in the 2020 James Halliday Wine Companion guide.

Since the 99 point rating made news earlier this year, demand for the wine has been overwhelming and we and our many retail partners have sold out. (However, there’s no denying a determined search may yield a few rare bottles here and there.) As news of this new award spreads, we no doubt will once again be inundated with requests to purchase 2017 Entity Shiraz, stocks of which are now limited to our museum reserves.

Entity is always a limited production wine, and unfortunately the amount we typically hold in reserve will be in no way sufficient to meet every request. We have therefore decided the most equitable way of allocating some of this wine destined for our museum is through a new feature of our JD Wine Club.



2012 – Structured, Elegant

The more I taste the current release Plexus and Entity, I am convinced 2012 will be regarded as one of the classic Barossa vintages. Good soil moisture, a carryover from the wet 2011, and a mild summer during the 2012 growing season put a stamp of elegance on the 2012 wines. But don’t drink them all now: their balance, flavour depth and tannin quality will give excellent cellaring potential. In fact you won’t be surprised that I think the 2012 Eligo will give the 2010 a run for its money…and that is high praise indeed given that the 2010 received 98 Parker points. 2012 Eligo is due for release February March 2015.

2013 – Traditional, Concentrated

Concentration and character, was how I summarised the 2013 vintage after picking a year ago. The season was dry and warm to hot, resulting in low yields so there was never going to be a problem with lack of colour or tannin structure. But the young wines really needed time in barrel and several rackings to soften the tannins and fill out the palate. Now that I have just blended the 2013 Plexus and Entity I’m pleased with the way they have come together. 2013 will be a more traditional Barossa vintage; rich, full bodied and structured, these will reward cellaring until at least 2025.

2014 – Soft, Stylish

If the heat of early January 2014 had continued through February, the 2014 vintage might well have been a write off. Instead we had 100mm of rain which breathed life back into the vines. At the time I remember saying ‘when will it stop’: after all rain is the last thing one needs at vintage. But it signalled the end to the heat and prolonged the ripening of Barossa and Eden Valley vineyards. As a result the reds are soft, elegant and stylistically right on track. We got out of jail!

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Welcome to John Duval Wines. After 29 years as a winemaker with Penfolds, one of Australia's most famous wineries, I started my own wine label in 2003. I have had a fortunate career, graduating in agriculture and winemaking in 1973 at Adelaide University and then following in the footsteps of some of the greats of Australian winemaking such as Max Schubert, the creator of Penfolds Grange and Don Ditter, another famous Penfolds winemaker who mentored me in the 1970s and early '80s.

I guess there was a family precedent to all of this - the Duval family had for many years run a world famous sheep stud and quality vineyards south of Adelaide, coincidentally supplying Shiraz grapes and vine cuttings to Penfolds. So I wasn't exactly a newcomer to wine.

I was appointed Chief Winemaker at Penfolds in 1986 and was lucky enough to oversee one of the most dynamic periods of change in the Australian wine industry. With the support of my team in the Barossa I secured a number of awards for the company - Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London in 1989; Red Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine Challenge in London in 1991 and again in 2000; and seeing the 1990 Penfolds Grange named the Wine of the Year by the prestigious US magazine Wine Spectator in 1995.

Since leaving Penfolds I have consulted to a number of international wine companies in Europe, South America and Australia.  I am a vintner partner in the Long Shadows venture in Washington State, US with our first 2003 Sequel Shiraz released in late 2005 and I have a project with Vina Ventisquero in the Apalta Valley, Chile, producing several wines including our Syrah 'Pangea' and 'Vertice' our Syrah / Carmenere blend. 

As you can imagine I don't get enough time to spend at my home in the Barossa but I insist on securing at least four uninterrupted months around vintage to make my own wines. I love working with the fruit that comes from the old vines of the region, so I started with 'Plexus', a Rhone style blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre and in 2006 released my first Shiraz, 'Entity'. I have also released small quantities of a reserve Shiraz, Eligo, further highlighting the premium quality fruit from the Barossa.

John Duval Wines will never be another Penfolds - it is simply my chance to express my 40 odd years of premium winemaking knowledge using some of the best fruit in the world.

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Our aim is express the wide spectrum of red fruit flavours from Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre and also provide structure with a seamless balance and long finish. 

Traditional, low intervention winemaking techniques are employed, allowing the wine to be approachable in its youth, but also have medium term cellaring potential for 8-10 years.

Region:  Barossa Valley

Variety: Shiraz 51%, Grenache 30%, Mourvedre 19%. The Shiraz was sourced from old vineyards in the Tanunda,  Light Pass and Ebenezer districts.  Grenache from the Tanunda and  Ebenezer region and Mourvèdre from the and Light Pass region.

Winemaking: Fermentation with submerged cap and small open stainless  steel fermenters.

Oak Maturation:  100% barrel maturated for 15 months, with just 10% new fine  grain French oak hogsheads (300 litre barrels); with the balance 3-6  year old barrels.  Some Shiraz finished fermentation in new French  oak.

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Wine Moments

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 John Duval, Wine Producer (Australia)  tasted  20 wines  from  John Duval Wines . In a tasting of  20 wines 

John Duval Integro 2017 / Deep, dark plum and blackcurrant, bay leaf and clove. Alive with a vibrant array of intense blue fruit and blackcurrants supported by an elegant framework of poised and precise tannins. Deceptive depth and power all tightly packed and wound up ready to unfurl over many years, finishing long and pure.

The 2017 vintage year was defined by above average preceding winter and spring rains which restored sub soil moisture levels and replenished dams on the vineyard site. Generally milder summer conditions and cooler than average temperatures through the ripening period delayed harvest of the Cabernet until 17th April.

Cabernet Sauvignon was sourced from a single vineyard site to the east of the township of Springton. The vineyard itself is one of the oldest vineyards in Australia, with the earliest plantings going back to 1858. Best estimates put the earliest planting date of the Cabernet vines at this vineyard in the 1890’s, making these some of the oldest Cabernet vines still on their own roots anywhere in the word. The site was once part of an ancient sea bed, the thin loam soils sit above a substrate of red clay containing rose quartz and black mica schist fragments. The vines produce very low yields of intensely flavoured berries.

The Shiraz component was a blend of exceptional old vineyards from the Barossa Valley. The Cabernet (90%) and Shiraz (10%) components were fermented separately for 8 days on skins in small open top stainless steel fermenters with twice daily pump overs to extract colour, flavour and tannin. The Cabernet was aged in a mix of new (50%) and 3rd use (50%) French oak hogsheads for 18 months. The wine was then blended with the Shiraz component and bottle aged for 2 years before release.

6m 18d ago

 Thomas Girgensohn, Wine Blogger (Australia)  tasted  3 wines  from  John Duval Wines . In a tasting of  16 wines 

The top Elderton wine has always been the Command Shiraz. I could compare the 2016 and 2017 editions. The 2016 from the low yielding home block (1t per acre) is matured mostly in new oak lightly toasted puncheons, 2/3 American. Attractive blue fruit dominates the palate. The wine has good energy, and the acidity is well balanced (94 points). By comparison, the 2017 is lighter and fresher, but has enough fruit weight and attractive chocolate notes (94 points).

6m 20d ago

 Colin Gaetjens, Wine Merchant (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  John Duval Wines . In a tasting of  24 wines 

“The Best Australian Wine of the Decade 2000 -tasting Part I.
Penfolds Grange 2004 and Henschke's Mount Edelstone 2002 were the stars of the day.”

5y 4m ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  2 wines  from  John Duval Wines . In a tasting of  19 wines 

“Just before X-mas I got to chance to taste some great Australian Icons + few others:)”

6y 8m ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  John Duval Wines . In a tasting of  45 wines 

“My results from the Fine 'Best of Australia' competition (still to add the William Downie Pinot to the system). A fascinating event and huge thanks to Pekka for instigating it. Look for the full story in a forthcooming isssue of the magazine.”

8y 1m ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  John Duval Wines . In a tasting of  17 wines 

“The Cullen's vineyard for these varieties was planted in 1976. The Margan a bit later, in 1995. The early wines are mostly from the Cullen vineyard. And I’ll happily concede that, although we expect superlatives for Vanya's chardy and cab merlot, I was amazed at how good many of these were. Vanya believes the biodynamics promotes earlier ripeness – it suits. This one was still tight with herbal notes. It does have maturity. Slight floral fragrances. A hint of oatmeal. An attractive textural style. Has absolutely amazing length. Nicely balanced. Lingers beautifully.”

8y 9m ago

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