Jim Barry Wines and Pikes Wines, Clare Valley, South Australia

by Vic Harradine

The Clare Valley is a cooler-climate Geographical Indication (GI) wine region in the state of South Australia. It’s marked by a Mediterranean-like climate with afternoon sea breezes, an exceptional diurnal temperature variation and lengthy hang time for fruit. Some of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz vines in the world survive here along with numerous 4TH, 5TH and even 6th generation family-owned growers and wineries. The primary white grape planting is Riesling with Clare considered its Australia home along with Chardonnay and others. Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are the two most popular red plantings along with others including some very old Grenache vines.

Jim Barry Wines in Clare Valley, South Australia

Jim Barry vineyard

We continue visits to exceptional wineries in premium Australia wine regions with an eclectic tasting of a stellar line up of Jim Barry wines. One thing that marks all top-notch wineries is their generous price-quality balance at virtually every price point and Jim Barry is no exception. They are also members of the über-exclusive—only 12 members—‘Australia’s First Families of Wine’. The stringent criteria dictates the very limited membership. The Jim Barry, ‘The Armagh’, was recently catapulted to the top ‘Exceptional’ category of the acclaimed Langton’s Classification of Australian fine wines.

Peter Barry and his daughter Olivia

Jim Barry Wines has been producing internationally acclaimed wine for more than 50 years, the late Jim Barry was a pioneer in Australian wine, graduating from the acclaimed Roseworthy Agricultural College as just the 17th recipient of a diploma and later becoming the first diploma winemaker in the Clare Valley. Their second son Peter, also a Roseworthy grad, is now at the winery helm. In 2010, Peter’s eldest son, Tom, made Jim Barry wines the first Australian winery to have three generations graduating from the same course of studies at this University.

• Just released and available NOW in LCBO stores in the Vintages section

****1/2 drink or cellar
Jim Barry ‘The Lodge Hill’ Shiraz 2013

Clare Valley, South Australia $24.95 (998476) 14.0% alcohol

Legions of red wine-lovers anxiously await each release of this well-priced, Aussie Shiraz from cooler-climate Clare Valley—this won’t disappoint. It opens with aromas of red and black berry fruit, licorice, spice and grilled herbs. A balanced-on-a-pin, medium-plus bodied wash of ripe mulberry and black currant is joined by racy red currant on the palate along with peppery spice. It finishes dry and mouth-watering good. Good to go now, a two-hour aeration/decant amplifies its many attributes. (Vic Harradine)

• Just released and available NOW online via the LCBO website

****1/2 drink now
Jim Barry Wines ‘The Lodge Hill’ Riesling 2016
Clare Valley $25.00 (262469) 12.0% alcohol
Fruit for this was sourced from the eastern ranges of Clare from one of the highest vineyards in the Valley at 480 metres. Subtle aromas of lemon citrus and piquant spice introduce a tight line of lime, salinity and lemon pie filling racing across the palate and infusing the lip-smacking, bone-dry finish. An absolutely stunning Riesling that will really shine with pan-seared fish or grilled calamari. (Vic Harradine)

• Released previously and available NOW with limited distribution in Vintages

**** drink now
Jim Barry ‘The Cover Drive’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 

Coonawarra/Clare Valley $24.95 (677476) 13.5% alcohol

Cover Drive is cricket terminology and the Barry family are cricket-mad. Spice-driven aromas of cherry and dark berry fruit herald a solid line of pomegranate acidity balanced by ripe mulberry fruit on the palate, persisting through the lip-smacking aftertaste. Good to go now after a two-hour aeration/decant and on to 2026 with grilled gourmet sausages. (Vic Harradine)

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages release dates: TBD

****1/2 drink or cellar
Jim Barry Wines ‘The Lodge Hill’ Shiraz 2014
Clare Valley $24.95 (998476) 14.0% alcohol
Fruit was sourced from the Lodge Hill Block standing within view of the Cellar Door tasting room. Sexy, perfumed aromas of ripe, juicy red and black currant and peppery notes precede a generous mouthful of ripe mulberry and black cherry fruit framed with excellent tang and underpinned by a soft tannin structure. This is creamy smooth with deft balance and a lengthy finish. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Jim Barry Wines ‘The Cover Drive’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Clare Valley/Coonawarra $24.95 (677476) 14.0% alcohol
Cabernet Sauvignon fruit from an abandoned cricket pitch near Penola in the terra rossa rich Coonawarra wine region is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon from the Barry Estate in the Clare Valley producing this approachable red with plenty of crowd appeal. Floral notes, peppery spice and dark fruit aromas deliver replays on the palate—currant and black cherry interwoven with fresh cracked pepper and excellent tang. This is balanced and complex with good structure and a lingering finish. Pour with grilled rib-eye steak. (Vic Harradine)

Classics Catalogue release date: October 5, 2017

***** cellar
Jim Barry ‘The Armagh’ 2012
Clare Valley $429.95 (424077) 13.7% alcohol
Deep-ruby hued, it sports an involved nose of grilled herbs, floral notes, licorice and currants decorated by gamy notes and eucalyptus. It coats the palate with a mouth-filling, teeth-staining array of ripe, juicy red and black berry fruit and mulberry jam framed with delightful tang and underpinned by firm, ripe tannin. There’s solid structure, persistent purity of fruit and deft balance with a monumentally long finish. Cellar until at least 2018, there’s a lot of life here. (Vic Harradine)

For your interest and possible release in Canada

• There are now a substantial amount of Assyrtiko vines planted in the Clare, all by Jim Barry Wines, following a 2006 visit to the Greek island of Santorini by Sue and Peter Barry. Most vines are trellised, but a few have been, and continue to be formed as they would in Santorini—in concentric rings—aka kouloura method—with grape bunches concentrated in the middle protected from the extremely windy conditions and shadowed by the leaf canopy above from the hot, arid conditions on Santorini. Peter Barry was impressed with the dryness of the wines and pH level when tasted and cognizant of climate change. He postulated the Clare one day could be faced with conditions not unlike this Greek island. It’s thought at this point, these are the only Assyrtiko vines planted in Australia.

****1/2 drink now
Jim Barry Wines Assyrtiko 2016
Clare Valley $35.00 12.0% alcohol
Delicate aromas of floral, piquant spice and minerality decorate the nose of this fresh and lively gem. It rides a clean and crisp line of excellent acidity delivered by lemon zest, Granny Smith apple and pear interwoven with saline minerality streaking over the palate persisting through the lip-smacking finish. There’s good weight and texture along with complexity and great élan. Pour with salt grilled calamari rings, ceviche or freshly shucked oysters. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink now
Jim Barry Wines ‘Watervale’ Riesling 2016
Watervale, Clare Valley $19.00 12.0% alcohol
Lifted aromas of peach, mandarin orange and pear billow from this nicely textured Juicy, crisp and refreshing gem. It bathes the palate with a tang-laden stream of lemongrass and lime zest decorated with salty minerality and white grapefruit. This delivers persistent purity of fruit with a lusciously long, balanced and beautiful aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink now
Jim Barry Wines ‘The Florita’ Riesling 2016
Clare Valley $45.00 11.3% alcohol
Picked at night to preserve the shimmering acidity, the Limestone subsoils are evident in the minerality on the aromas and palate. Aromas of green apple and citrus interplay with mineral notes before unleashing a bracing, almost salty, taut line of Key lime and lemon tang streaking across the palate persisting through the lip-smacking aftertaste. A legacy wine that will reward patience, open now to 2024. (Vic Harradine)

* Wines with ‘South Australia’ as the Geographical Indication (GI) on the label are not to be confused with the mega-wine region of Southeastern Australia as this mega-region GI can include wine made from numerous states—all of Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, as well as the southeastern portion of Queensland and South Australia. It can be argued the size and incredible diversity of latitudes, climate, soils and subsoils render the Southeastern Australia GI as virtually without meaning. South Australia, on the other hand, is meaningful and a valuable addition to your Australia wine-purchasing criteria.

Pikes Wines in Clare Valley, South Australia

Pikes Wines - Cellar door

The Pike family arrived in South Australia in 1878 when Henry Pike emigrated to Oakbank in the Adelaide Hills from mother England. No abolitionist, Henry began a successful brewery, eventually called H. Pike & Co. They were also known for their cordial, soft drinks and famous tonic water. He used a picture of a Pike fish on his labels. His great-grandson, Edgar Walter Pike, was immersed in the wine business when H. Pike & Co. was sold in 1972.

Pikes Wines - Andrew Pike (left) Neil PikeThat was then and this is now—Edgar’s two sons, Andrew and Neil, the present owners of Pikes Wines, both graduated from Roseworthy in viticulture and winemaking, respectively, beginning the winery, with help from their father and mother, Merle, in the early 1980’s. Sadly both mother and father have passed, but it’s been a wonderful run at Pikes Wines for the past thirty-plus years and for the foreseeable future for the two Pike boys.

Pikes wines -  winemaker Steve BaragliaTheir flagship Riesling ‘Traditionale’ is a runaway success. The 2014 “Traditionale” Riesling won Gold Medal and Trophy for ‘Champion International Wine’ at the recent International Aromatic Wine Competition held in New Zealand. Winemaker Steve Baraglia, a U. of Adelaide grad in Oenology, was recognised as the Wine Society 2010 ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’, and more recently bestowed with the Clare Valley Winemakers 2014 ‘Rising Star Award’.

• With everything coming up golden and all wines over-delivering in fruit flavour, texture and balance, we hope to see more Pikes Wines flowing our way.

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release date: TBD

• The following 2016 Riesling was divine poured young. After tasting the 2010 alongside the ‘16, I’m confident predicting it’s also a prime candidate for short-term cellaring as it’ll broaden its perspective developing honeyed, apricot and marmalade characters over the next four to six years.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Pikes Wines ‘Traditionale’ Riesling 2016
Clare Valley, South Australia $23.95 11.5% alcohol
This is the 32nd vintage released of Pikes flagship Riesling. Floral aromas, peach and notes of minerality introduce a gorgeously textured flow of tang—lemon zest and white grapefruit—interwoven with lime-drizzled papaya. It’s clean, crisp and refreshing with a lip-smacking aftertaste. Pour with steamed mussels, grilled calamari rings or soft white cheese. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Pikes Wines ‘Hills & Valleys’ Riesling 2016
Clare Valley, South Australia $24.95 11.50% alcohol
A quiet nose of floral and citrus notes provide segue to a delicious flow of lemon pie filling and Key lime yoghurt bathing the palate with good mouthfeel adorned with plenty of lip-smacking tang to go along with the slight off-dry character. This is balanced on a pin with a lingering, crisp and clean finish. Just plain delicious sipped on its own, it also pours well with pan-seared/grilled seafood or roast chicken, veal or pork. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Pikes Wines ‘The Dog Walk’ Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot 2014
Clare Valley, South Australia $21.00 14.5% alcohol
This fairly even-split, red blend bounds from the glass with lifted aromas of mocha, savoury herbs and juicy, dark berry fruit. It glides over the palate with grace, balance and elegance along with tang-forward fruit—black raspberry and juicy black cherry—interlaced with hints of eucalyptus and bittersweet dark chocolate. It’s well balanced with persistent purity of fruit and drinking well now along with good bones for short-term cellaring. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Pikes Wines ‘Eastside’ Shiraz 2014
Clare Valley, South Australia $26.00 14.0% alcohol
Floral aromas decorated by red and black currant pave the way for this rich, ripe, ready and raring-to-go Shiraz. It coats the palate with a creamy-smooth river of ripe, spice-flecked mulberry fruit and black plum. There’s good structure, depth and complexity throughout. It’s medium bodied with a dry, balanced finish—each sip’s as good or better that the previous—showcasing the long ‘hang time’ in cool-climate Clare. (Vic Harradine)