Wine of the Week “John Duval was for many years the chief winemaker at Penfolds, crafting Grange, Bin 707 and other Australian wine icons. These days he has his own label and sources fruit from old vineyards in and around the Barossa Valley. This was the wine with which he kicked off his new enterprise a decade ago, a Rhone-style blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvèdre. And boy is this new release a cracker. From one of the best vintage in living memory, it has both power and elegance and is approachable now while being cellar worthy. Fifteen months in French oak have added structure and texture to the blackberry and spice notes and the end results taste like a wine that should command at least twice the price.” Winsor Dobbin Wine of the Week – July 2014
95 pts “The former Penfolds chief winemaker hasn’t put a foot wrong since launching his own label in 2003. His reds are his strength, reflecting his Barossa Valley base. Plexus is usually the most charming and approachable of his reds in its youth, and 2012 is a top vintage. The aromas are attractively spicy, clean and fresh, while the palate is intense and well-balanced, with soft tannins and spicy re-fruit flavours. There are hints of aniseed and plum. The texture is smooth and fleshy; it’s medium to full-bodied and deliciously drinkable despite its youth. Enjoy now to 15 years.” Huon HookeThe Sydney Morning Herald July 2014
92 pts “Deep Ruby. Complex aromas of red and dark berries, pipe tobacco, peppery spices and fresh flowers. Juicy and precise on the palate, offering sweet black raspberry and cherry compote flavours that flesh out and become spicier with air. Tightens back up on the long, incisive finish, which is firmed by dusty, fine-grained tannins, This wine saw only 10% new French oak.” Josh Raynolds Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar August 2014
95 pts “Armed with flavour and dangerously drinkable. Red and black berries, ground Asian spice, earth, aniseed and quick kiss of cedary French oak. Puts on an impeccable performance.” James Halliday, 2015 The Wine Companion
89+ pts "A blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre, the medium to deep garnet colored 2011 Plexus offers up an alluring nose of kirsch, warm red currants and spiced black cherries with underlying nuances of rose petals, dried herbs, cinnamon and pepper. Medium to full-bodied with just enough expressive fruit in the mouth, it has a medium level of chewy tannins, bright acidity and a finish with good length.." Lisa Perotti-Brown Robert Parkers the Wine Advocate March 2014
92 pts "Broad and open-textured, with pure blueberry and spice flavours. Not heavy, but the flavours persist into the deftly balanced finish. Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre." Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator February 2014
91 pts "Spice - and floral-accented aromas of candied red berries and bitter cherry. Bright and refreshing, with strong finishing cut, supple tannins and a late jolt of peppery spices. I really like this pinot-like focus and texture." Josh Raynolds The International Wine Cellar - July 2013
92+ pts "This wine opens with notes of blackberry preserves, blueberry compote and warm black plums over suggestions of vanilla, cinnamon toast, anise, espresso and mandarin peel. Full bodied and generously fruited with warm black berry and spice flavours plus touch of oak, it has a good backbone of medium to from finely-grained tannins and just enough acid to balance through the long finish." Lisa Perotti-Brown Robert Parkers the Wine Advocate March 2013
92 pts "Bright violet color. Dark berries, licorice, mocha, lavender and black pepper on the nose. Supple and smooth in texture, with fresh blueberry and blackberry fruit complicated by touches of mocha and vanilla. Offers a suave combination of depth and vivacity, finishing with clinging sweetness and subtle floral notes.' Josh Raynolds The International Wine Cellar July 2012
93 pts "Another excellent Plexus ... taut and firm in the mouth, the tannins are ample and fleshy and the finish long and textured." Huon Hooke Sydney Morning Herald November 2012
95 (96) / 100 "Figgy, pruney & a little alcoholic smelling at first, but as it opens up, sweet-earthy Mourvedre characters build, plus abundant forest berries smells. There's a gentleness before it gets richer and loaded with fruit cake and dark chocolate. A seriously smart wine from a master of his craft." Tim White The Australian Financial Review
"This has lovely floral, damask quality on nose and palate to its supple, rolling layers of red and balck fruits. Very Good.Sarah Ahmed The Wine Detective October 2013
Double Gold Medal - 5 Nations Wine Challenge 2011
96 pts “The Crimson-purple hue puts the often insipid colour of Barossa Valley GM to shame; the fragrant bouquet and vibrant black cherry and plum fruit of the palate likewise; quality French oak has been used to maximum advantage.”
James Halliday, 2012 The Wine Companion
92 pts "Bright purple. A complex and expressive nose displays spice-accented red berries and candied cherry, along with anise, vanilla and cola. The spiciness carries onto the palate, adding bite and lift to the red fruit compote and floral flavours. Becomes sweeter on the clinging, impressively persistent finish, which leaves notes of smoke and licorice behind. Already drinking very well. Josh Raynolds Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar - New York July 2011
93 pts “Polished, round and plus, but not over the top, offering a mouthful or ripe blueberry, blackberry, cream and spice flavours that merge seamlessly and persistent through the long, refined finish. Shiraz Grenache and Mourvedre. Drink now through 2020. HS.”
Harvey Steinman, Wine Spectator April 2011
Nick Stock WINE 100 – June 2011
92+pts “It’s not heavy or especially intense, but the more I tasted this wine the more impressed I become. It’s beautifully ripened. It’s exquisitely well structure. It tastes of peanuts and raspberries, blackberries and Asian spices. Cloves, cinnamon, anise. It has sweetness and savouriness. And it’s delightful from go to whoa. The Grenache (I suspect) plays a starring role here. It’s the balance and harmony of this wine that makes it impressive.”
Campbell Mattinson, the Wine Front – May 2011
93+pts “The 2008 Plexus Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre is a decidedly Shiraz dominant version of this classic blend. Deep garnet-purple colored, it gives an abundance of Indian spice aromas – cumin seed, fenugreek and cloves - over raspberry cordial, preserved blackberry, dusty earth, powdered cinnamon and moss covered tree bark. The full-bodied palate displays the elegance of this blend in its effortless harmony, offering a medium-high level of very fine tannins, crisp acid and ample opulent flesh with a long finish. Drink it now to 2018+.”
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate December 2010.
95 pts “Purple-red; Barossa Valley blends of Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre seldom have the poise, conviction or richness of this wine; the flavours are multi layered yet not the least jammy, the tannins particularly good, the length all one can ask for. Screwcap.”
James Halliday, The Wine Companion 2011 – July 2010
93 pts “Inky ruby. Expressive black raspberry and cherry aromas are complicated by black and white pepper and incense. A floral note comes up air and carries onto the palate, joining sweet red and dark berry preserve flavors and undertones of anise and candied rose. A hint of candied flowers lingers on a very long, sappy finish. I'd have no problem drinking this now. For a wine from a ripe vintage this is quite elegant. ”
Josh Raynolds, Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar - 16th July 2010
90 pts “Bright and jazzy, with a smoky edge to the tart blackberry and cherry flavours, picking up a licorice note on the finish. Has complexity and balance, and cellaring should bring it all together. Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre. Best from 2012 through 2018.”
Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator July 2010
Decanter World Wine Awards 2011 – London
100 Best Australian Wines May 2011
Matthew Jukes, 100 Best Australian Wines
93 pts “The 2008 Plexus Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre is a decidedly Shiraz dominant version of this classic blend. Deep garnet-purple colored, it gives and abundance of Indian spice aromas – cumin seed, fenugreek and cloves – over raspberry cordial, preserved blackberry, dusty earth, powdered cinnamon and moss covered tree bark. The full-bodied palate displays the elegance of this blend in its effortless harmony, offering a medium-high level of very fine tannins, crisp acid and ample opulent flesh with long finish. Drink it now to 2018+.”
Lisa Perotti-Brown - Robert Parkers, The Wine Advocate – December 2010
93 pts “Fine elegant and well structured, this balanced and approachable red blend has a fresh, briary and slightly confiture-like aroma of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries and sweet chocolate/vanilla oak with licorice and clove-like undertones. Its vibrant, mouthfilling and juicy, round and generous, delivering a smooth, creamy presence on the palate delightfully stuffed with dark fruits and underpinned by fine tannins. It finishes dusty and savoury, with meaty elements balanced by sweet oak.”
Jeremy Oliver, The Australian Wine Annual 2010
93 pts “Bright, but light, colour; a fragrant bouquet of red fruits is replicated on the light-to medium- bodied palate, backed by gossamer fine, savoury tannins.”
James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion 2010
92 pts “This is one of the very best of its type, stunningly complex, balanced, seamless and full of Barossa generosity.”
Rob Geddes MW, “The Gold Book”, Australian Wine Vintages 2010
92 pts “Deep ruby-red. Fresh raspberry and cherry aromas display a striking southern Rhone-like character, with complicating notes of dried flowers, spicecake and minerals. Juicy and smooth, with sweet red berry flavors and gentle tannins. The finish is brisk, gently sweet and long. No way I'd have guessed that this came from a drought year. Ninety percent of this wine was raised in five- or six-year-old French hogsheads, the rest in new casks.”
Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar Autumn 2009
91+pts “John Duval Wines don’t take many steps wrong. This is a clean, pure, fruit-packed wine that still - despite its jammy, raspberried, blackberried flavours - manages some kind of elegance. It’s the polish, the lack of any overt alcohol heat, the undercurrent of earthy, loamy complexity. Really enjoy the juiciness here. Not sure it has quite the impact through the finish to warrant a higher rating. But the quality and enjoyment is clear here.”
Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front, October 5 2009
95 pts, “The 2006 Plexus is composed of 52% Shiraz, 30% Grenache, and 18% Mourvedre. Purple-colored, it offers up an exotic concoction of underbrush, violets, leather, black cherry, and blueberry pie. On the palate, this sexy effort is opulent, succulent, incipiently complex, and altogether hedonistic. It should perform well for a decade. In the scheme of things, it is also a terrific value."
Jay Miller, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 2009
95 pts "A beautifully balanced and utterly seamless array of red and black fruits, without a scintilla of confection character; lovely now or in 10 years. Bargain."
James Halliday 2009 Australian Wine Companion
93++pts "Lovely apt oak gives this exquisite Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre blend the air of an old Barossa barn: it seems like a long time ago. Whiffs of ancient spicebox and cedar coffee grinders add to the nostalgia; there's a piquant edge of aniseed, too. Then comes a rise of elegant fleshy fruit, very clean and modern. The palate is all silk and satin, with langorous, very fine tannins. It's superb now - especially if decanted - but will be majestic in a decade, under that screw cap. Perfect with a cassoulet of Kanmantoo smoked hock, plenty of chilli and black pepper."
Phillip White, Independent Weekly, June 4, 2008
92 pts "Pinot-like red fruits, minerals and flowers on the nose, with a gentle baking spice undertone. Sappy and fresh, with vivid raspberry, cherry and smoky mineral flavors. Gains weight and sweetness with air but maintains vivacity, finishing clean, brisk and juicy."
Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, July, 2008
100 Best Australian Wines for 2008 "John has cleverly managed to give this wine impeccable balance from the word go and that is a rare talent when you bear in mind the characteristics of the grapes in the mix. So when will it peak? I would be surprised if it doesn't make a decade in perfect nick. The Southern Rhone has never been under such pressure to respond to the challenge from Down Under."
Matthew Jukes, The Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines, 2008.
Silver - International Wine Challenge, London 2008
93 pts "I love the interplay of sweet, juicy fruit, supple tannins and understated oak. Finishes with the clarity, complexity and persistence of wines that cost three times the price. Once of the greatest values in Australian wine today."
Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, July 2007
92 pts "Opaque purple-colored, it offers up an enticing bouquet of cedar, spice box, tobacco, smoked meat and game, black cherry, and blueberry. This is followed by a full-bodied wine with lush, opulent fruit, mouth-filling flavours, and a seamless, forward style.
Jay Miller, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, October 31, 2007
Silver - International Wine Challenge, London, 2007
Gold - 2006 International Wine Challenge, London
95 Points "Far more structure and substance than the majority of Barossa Valley blends of these varieties; abundant, spicy black fruits; excellent tannins and oak."
James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion, 2007
93 Points "Rich, sumptuous bouquet of blueberries, tree bark, earth, pepper, and background floral scents."
Robert Parker Jr, The Wine Advocate, October, 2006
Wine of the Week "Barossa reds are not always to my taste...But this one I found seriously well crafted, expressing Barossa's extreme heat and slightly medicinal quality but with great gentleness and approachability."
Jancis Robinson, Jancis Robinson.com, August 8, 2006
91 Points "Ripe blackberry and pomegranate flavours, balanced with lively acidity."
The Wine Spectator Insider, July 12, 2006
"Here's the former Grange maker's Barossa shiraz grenache mataro blend, and a beautiful thing it is. Fine, tight, intense and perfectly focused and balanced, it shows that you can get higher alcohol without jam and fudge. It has lovely viscosity but, like the French oak, even that's overshadowed a tad by the sheer tart intensity of the fruit. Twenty years.
Philip White, The Adelaide Advertiser April, 2006
"The Plexus, predictably is softer, broader, fleshier, more floral and fruit sweet- typical of Rhone blends - but, being Shiraz-dominant, it has better backbone than many of the more grenache-led Rhone styles about the place."
Huon Hooke, Sydney Morning Herald, March 14, 2006
94 Points "From Penfolds former winemaker's debut release is the 2003 Plexus, a brilliant blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre that was aged in 30% new French oak. At present there are only 500 cases of this stunning effort, but hopefully production will increase. A dense ruby/purple colour is followed by an extraordinarily precise nose of flowers, blackberries, kirsch, licorice and a hint of Provencal herbs. A pleasant smokiness and meaty richness also emerge as the wine sits in the glass. Opulent, full bodied, stunningly pure, and dense as well as elegant and well delineated, it can be drunk now or cellared for 10 to 12 years. Kudos to John Duval."
Robert Parker Jr, The Wine Advocate, October 2005
93 Points "If you love Barossa reds, this one feels like a best friend who's always there for you."
Wine and Spirit Magazine, June 2005
Duval made Grange when he was chief winemaker for Penfolds. No surprise, then, that this Shiraz/Grenache blend, the first wine to be released under his own label is a cracker: spicy, tightly wound wild berry fruit, fine tannins and superb length. Intense but elegant now, it should also age superbly.
Max Allen, The Australian Magazine, April 23-24, 2005
An excellent red, as you'd expect from the former Penfolds chief, cast in a complex, savory style without excess of oak or alcohol. The bouquet has nutmeg and other subtle spices, together with raspberry and cranberry fruit. Serious depth: now to 2010.
Huon Hooke, Sydney Morning Herald, Good Living, April 19, 2005
"Since leaving Southcorp, where he made flagships like Penfolds Grange, eyes have been on John Duval. What next for this celebrated winemaker? We have the answer: his own range of old-vine Barossa reds. The first installment is delicious and richly concentrated, all ripe berries, spices and dates with subtle oak, mouth coating texture and ripe, friendly tannins."
Ralph Kyte-Powell, The Melbourne Age Epicure Uncorked, March 22, 2005
94 Points "Duval returns to duty with a near perfect example of the traditional Barossa blend, but with more fragrance, finesse, elegance and intensity than most modern Barossa reds. The wine has astounding length and persistence and haunts the palate long after the glass empties. It's gently spicy, complex and silky with savoury velvet tannins to make you hungry. It'll cellar for at least 15 years, but it'll be very hard to keep past 2010 by which time it will be an absolute dream."
Philip White, The Adelaide Advertiser, February 24, 2005