John Duval Wines and Yalumba Wines

by Vic Harradine

John Duval Wines, sourced in Barossa Valley and Eden Valley, South Australia

The iconic John Duval was Penfolds’ Chief Winemaker 1986 – 2002 responsible for making the 1990 Grange capturing the Wine Spectator, ‘Wine of the Year’ award. Penfolds’ premium red wines—Bin 407, Bin 138 and RWT—were developed on his watch as was the ‘White Grange’ project that eventually developed the über-premium Yattarna Chardonnay and led to the Reserve Bin A Chardonnay. In 1989 John was named, ‘International Winemaker of the Year’ and later in 1991 and 2000 named, ‘International Red Winemaker of the Year’. (information courtesy Penfolds’ website)

John Duval 

Recently, his John Duval Wines 2013 ‘Eligo’ was named—ironically alongside the 2012 Grange—as one of the top Australia wine releases of 2016 by Robert M. Parker Jr’s Australian expert and Master of Wine, Lisa Perotti-Brown. In spite of these and other accolades, John Duval—confident and highly competent—remains approachable and down to earth. His personal experience and impeccable integrity with growers throughout Barossa give him access to the absolute top plots of old-vine fruit for his John Duval Wines.

Hand-harvested, old Grenache vines

Vic was indeed fortunate to taste the following wine with John’s son, Tim, at their ‘Artisans of Barossa’ location near Tanunda in the Barossa Valley and was later joined by John Duval.

New in Consignment Wine

• Order the following Plexus red blend by the 6-bottle case for delivery to home, office or restaurant online from B & W Wines.

• The following Plexus red blend ticks all the boxes winemaker John Duval had in mind when making this gem. Fruit was sourced from various sites in the Barossa Valley and his vision was to provide a wide expression of red fruit flavours along with structure and seamless balance plus a lengthy finish. The red blend—47% Shiraz/32% Grenache/21% Mourvèdre—includes fruit from Grenache vines planted in 1858 and Mourvèdre sourced from 80 to 115-year-old vines.

***** drink or cellar
John Duval Wines ‘Plexus’ 2014
Barossa Valley $59.95 14.5% alcohol
Aromas leap from the glass of this Shiraz/Mourvèdre/Grenache blend with heavily perfumed notes of floral notes, baking spice, red and black berry fruit. It’s medium-full bodied, creamy-smooth textured with a mouth-filling stream of flavour and tang, bathing the palate, balanced on a pin, simply delicious—red currant and red plum interlaced with mulberry and piquant spice. Purity of fruit and delectable tang persist through the monumentally long finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

New in Private Order

• Order the following John Duval wines by the case via Private Order online from B & W Wines. For assistance with ordering wines, you can contact their office at any time at 416 531-5553 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

• The following, Plexus white blend—71% Marsanne/20% Viognier/9% Roussanne—was sourced from prime Barossa growing areas with the Marsanne from Marananga and Seppeltsfield, Viognier from Eden Valley and Roussanne from Kalimna.

****1/2 drink now
John Duval Wines ‘Plexus’ 2015
Barossa $45.00 12.5% alcohol
Floral and honeysuckle aromas abound on the nose of this gorgeous white blend—Marsanne/Roussanne/Viognier. It’s medium-full bodied with generous mouthfeel and a tapestry of flavours interwoven on the palate—white peach and pear with apricot, lively spice and lip-smacking, lemony tang with an herbal twist. There was partial ageing in older oak barrel, now integrated and barely perceptible. This is well balanced and delivers crisp, clean and refreshing flavour from twist top to last drop. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit for the following Duval ‘Entity’ was sourced from 100% older-vine Shiraz in Krondorf, Eden Valley and Marananga wine areas. It was then barrel-aged in 300L French oak hogsheads for 15 months—35% new, the balance 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill.

****1/2 drink or cellar
John Duval Wines ‘Entity’ 2014
Barossa $65.00 14.5% alcohol
An involved nose of black currant, mocha and sprigs of savory herb herald a medium-plus, generously textured stream of juicy black cherry, ripe bramble berry decorated with black pepper and a hint of vanilla. There’s firm structure from still-evolving tannin and excellent, tang-laden balance to the delicious ripe fruit, especially on the spicy, lengthy aftertaste. Approachable now after a three-hour aeration/decant, better 2019 and beyond. (Vic Harradine)

The following ‘Annexus’ was fashioned from 80% Eden Valley and 20% Barossa Valley fruit from two, low-yielding, Grenache vineyards that were barrel-matured 12 months in seasoned, French oak, 300L hogsheads. The oldest parcel of fruit was sourced from 150-year-old ‘ancestor’ Grenache vines.

***** drink or cellar
John Duval Wines ‘Annexus’ 2015
Barossa $85.00 14.0% alcohol
This 100%, low-yielding, old-vine Grenache showcases persistent purity of fruit, complexity, good structure, deft balance and oodles of charm. Black briary berry and red currant flavours intertwine on the palate mingling with earthy notes and notions of baking spice while underpinned by soft, fine-grained tannin. The monumentally long aftertaste delivers more of the same. Kudos to owner/winemaker, John Duval. (Vic Harradine)

• The following ‘Eligo’ is John Duval’s flagship red sourced from some of the finest 2014 Shiraz to be found in Barossa Valley and Eden Valley Geographical Indications with further meticulous barrel selection producing limited production of some 500 dozen bottles. Fermentation occurred with submerged cap in small, stainless-steel fermenters with select fruit on their skins for two weeks. Fruit was barrel-aged 20 months in fine-grained, French oak, 300 L hogsheads—60% new, the balance two- and three-years old.

***** cellar
John Duval Wines ‘Eligo’ 2014
Barossa $130.00 14.5% alcohol
There are myriad aromas on the nose with savory herbs, cassis, gamy and tarry notes to the fore. It’s full bodied, fully textured and full Monty on the flavour spectrum, rich and delicious—black Bing cherry, cassis and ripe mulberry adorned with black pepper, earthy notes and black licorice. It promises to be an outstanding wine experience, though requiring time to fully integrate firm tannin, luscious fruit, lip-smacking tang and perceptible oaky notes—pop corks 2022 and well beyond. (Vic Harradine)

Yalumba Family Vignerons of Barossa – Australia’s oldest family-run winery

Yalumba has almost magically kept their traditions alive while infusing itself with cutting edge ideas and technology. They are the only winery in the southern hemisphere—and one of a handful in the world—to have its own, on-site cooperage—using virtually the same techniques since 1850, the barrels are made in a traditional, hand-crafted method. However, it allows winemakers to precision order and utilise barrels made to the highest specification for each variety and style of wine. Yalumba has also become a vociferous proponent of sustainable agriculture and a world leader working with Viognier. They’re a member of Australia’s First Families of Wine, a 12-member group of family-owned wineries that represent more than 1200 years of winemaking excellence—Yalumba Chair, Robert Hill-Smith, recently cited Canada as a country embracing the First Families raison d’être, vision and in purchasing their fine wines.

Yalumba winery entrance

Control is another facet that allows this winery to excel. Control over barrel making is but the tip of the iceberg; and this is no more evident anywhere than their commercial vine nursery. Established in 1975 it has introduced and propagated some 50 or so grape varieties with only 10% of their 1.2 million going to Yalumba with the balance made available to Australian grape growers. Its impact on the country’s wine industry has been substantial. Their ground-breaking work with Viognier for the past two decades is apparent in all Viognier with none more striking than the über-premium, flagship wine, the ‘Virgilius’.

Yes, the Canadian flag flew over Yalumba to mark winecurrent’s visit—what attention to detail. Another unique feature of Yalumba is their culture. They recognise VSOP personnel—a term used to describe employees with 21 years of service—Very Special Old People. They’re all commemorated—200 of them—on a plaque inside Yalumba’s Barossa headquarters. Each vintage, one of their Rare & Fine wines, ‘The Signature’, carries the signature and story of someone who has made a significant contribution to the culture and life of Yalumba. Their winemakers have not only been their decades, they pass their expertise along to new employees in the same way it was to them, allowing for consistency and excellence in their wines. As Chair, Robert Hill-Smith, commented, we must ‘do the little things brilliantly’. It allows this wine writer to opine, ‘it’s one of a small number of wineries in the world that allows wine-lovers to buy wine confidently with no more information than… ‘Yalumba is on the label’.

Canadian flag flying over Yalumba

All that to say, the most striking aspect of Yalumba is revealed on a personal visit passing through the barrel room, their cooperage, the administrative offices or the bustling cellar door. And that striking aspect is the respect employees have for their work and for each other; it's clearly a tightly knit group who are valued and recognised for their contributions to the overall success of the winery, This very healthy, progressive work environment with best practices embedded in every corporate partner and employee goes a long way toward understanding the positive consumer acceptance and pure enjoyment Yalumba wine garners at every price point.

Upstream in winecurrent

Vintages Release date: August 5, 2017

• The following Rosé sparkling wine—68% Pinot Noir/26% Chardonnay/6% Pinot Meunier—was produced in a similar method and with similar grape varieties as Champagne. Jansz refer to it as ‘Méthode Tasmanoise’.

****1/2 drink now
Jansz Sparkling Rosé Brut Non-Vintage
Tasmania $26.95 (37499) 12.0% alcohol
Produced in the Traditional Method with top-drawer fruit and just a hint of pink, it delivers a profusion of mousse and is bursting with racy flavour. Aromas of strawberry and mineral notes make way for a lip-smacking mouthful of red currant and lemon-lime tang streaking over the palate infusing the crisp, refreshing finish and aftertaste. Pours well on its own and pairs well with pan-seared salmon. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release date: TBD (the 2012 vintage is currently in Vintages for following two wines - The Cigar and The Signature)

****1/2 drink or cellar 
Yalumba ‘The Cigar – Menzies Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Coonawarra $29.95 (165829) 14.5% alcohol
Flirting with 5 stars, this single-vineyard Coonawarra Cab is structured, complex with persistent purity of fruit and a lengthy, lip-smacking finish. Lifted aromas of spice, cedar and red cherry/berry fruit abound. This is medium-full bodied with generous texture and sense of elegance as it bathes the palate with flavour—ripe mulberry and black currant mingling with dark chocolate, licorice and wisps of eucalyptus. The long aftertaste is tangy and beautiful. Pour with grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

• The following is the 55th vintage of ‘The Signature’ recognising individuals who have made a significant contribution to the life and culture at Yalumba. The 2013 has the signature of Andrew Murphy to celebrate his story of many decades of service—starting out as a cellar hand, qualifying as a winemaker, now Director of Wine at Yalumba.

***** drink or cellar 
Yalumba ‘The Signature’ Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2013
Barossa $75.00 (528356) 14.0% alcohol
A 60% Cabernet Sauvignon/40% Shiraz red blend, it’s opaque in the glass delivering highly perfumed aromas—black currant and savory mint interwoven with exotic incense. This is rich, luscious, dense and complex on the palate showcasing a mélange of persistent flavour with dried currant, black plum compote, mint and fennel to the fore. It’s framed by a delicious line of racy tang and underpinned by firm tannin structure. The finish goes on and on and it was tough to spit. Pour 2023 and well beyond. (Vic Harradine)

New in Vintages

****1/2 drink now
Jansz ‘Premium Cuvée’ Sparkling Brut Non-Vintage

Tasmania $26.95 (566828) 12.5% alcohol

One of Australia’s premium producers of bubbly, Jansz produced this in the rigorous Traditional Method with the final blend spending just over two years in bottle on its lees before being disgorged—it’s a 53% Chardonnay/44% Pinot Noir/3% Pinot Meunier blend. It fills the glass with a generous mousse and fine-bead bubbles persisting throughout. Look for citrus tang, wisps of red berry fruit and notions of nutty notes on the crisp, clean finish. A terrific sparkler as an aperitif, for greeting guests or matched with seafood. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River is a Vintages Essentials wine always available in select LCBO stores.

****1/2 drink or cellar
ring.bolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Margaret River $21.95 (606624) 14.5% alcohol
Floral, savory and dark berry fruit aromas set the table for a smorgasbord of flavours led by a palate-coating, gusher of ripe juicy fruit—ripe juicy black Bing cherry, black bramble berry and red currant—interlaced with black licorice, espresso roast and hints of cassis. Showcasing good purity of fruit and with depth and complexity, this is medium-full bodied with creamy-smooth mouthfeel and a lingering aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

New in the LCBO Portfolio

• The following Viognier from Yalumba—one of Australia’s oldest, and still family-owned wineries—was fermented by ambient yeasts from the vineyard and was then left on lees for three months contributing to the creamy-smooth mouthfeel.

**** drink now Exceptional Value!
Yalumba ‘The Y Series’ Viognier 2016
South Australia $13.95 (470062) 13.5% alcohol
The price-quality ratio skews heavily in your favour in this delectable gem—back up the van and put in a case or two. Honeysuckle, floral and spice aromas pave the way for a palate-bathing wash of white peach, ripe apricot and peel marmalade cleaning up crisp and refreshing with lemony tang on the lip-smacking aftertaste. Sip on its own or pour with roast chicken, veal or pork. (Vic Harradine)

• You’ll receive 8 bonus AirMiles for every bottle of the following Yalumba Cabernet Sauvignon purchased in the LCBO now to March 26, 2017.

**** drink now
Yalumba Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Coonawarra $19.95 (460667) 14.0% alcohol
You’ll find very good value in this drink-me-now Cab from the famous Geographical Indication (GI) of Coonawarra. This dishes up a juicy stream of briary black berry and black currant intertwined with piquant spice and notions of mocha and earthy notes. It has good weight, oodles of texture and a long, long finish. Perfect for the grilled, red meats you pull off the barbecue and well priced for large or small gatherings of family or friends. (Vic Harradine)

New in Consignment Wine

• Order the following Yalumba ‘Old Bush Vine’ Grenache 2015 by the case of 12 bottles online directly from B & W Wines for delivery to your home, office or restaurant.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Yalumba ‘Old Bush Vines’ Grenache 2015
Barossa $24.95 (313071) 14.0% alcohol
As the label suggests, this was sourced from old Grenache vines; all between 35 and 80-years-old. Spice-laden aromas of red and dark berry fruit and floral notes mingle on the nose of this medium-bodied, nicely textured red. You’ll find complexity, depth and persistent purity of fruit throughout. Flavours of red raspberry, blood orange and spice are borne along the palate on a streak of lip-smacking acidity- trademark Grenache. The finish offers more of the same. All in all, a top drop, terrific value and nudging 5 stars. (Vic Harradine)

• The following two Yalumba wines are not presently available in Ontario. The Menzies is available in British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia.

• The following Yalumba ‘The Menzies’ 2013 is the Holy Grail for Australia Cabernet Sauvignon fans, collectors and aficionados. Sourced from estate vines approximately 30-years-old reaching deep in the famous red, sandy soil over limestone in the Coonawarra GI of South Australia, this was aged18 months in French hogsheads and barriques, 34% new; Hungarian hogsheads, 2% new; with the balance in seasoned American, French or Hungarian hogsheads (300 L) and barriques (225 L).

***** drink or cellar
Yalumba ‘The Menzies’ 2013
Coonawarra $75.00 14.0% alcohol
Piquant/peppery spice and floral aromas mingle with mineral notes on the nose. It’s rich and luscious throughout with depth, complexity and balance being showcased. Black briary berry and ripe mulberry take centre stage on the palate supported by dark bittersweet chocolate and sprigs of savory herbs. The finish adds excellent tang with racy red currant and mouth-watering pomegranate providing the balanced and beautiful aftertaste. The firm tannin structure suggests a three-hour aeration/decant, or to open 2019 to 2028. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Pewsey Vale Riesling is presently available only in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta.

• The Pewsey Vale’s original vineyard was first planted in 1847 then re-planted in 1961—rooted in tradition and soils that climb to 500m in the cool-climate, Riesling-friendly, Eden Valley.

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Pewsey Vale ‘Single-Vineyard Estate’ Riesling 2016
Eden Valley $21.95 12.0% alcohol
This is seriously good Riesling to be enjoyed now and on to 2023. Yalumba’s Chief Winemaker, Louisa Rose, commented on the particularly wide diurnal spread of the 2016 growing season allowing fruit to offer lively flavour and retain excellent, natural acidity. Aromas of savory herbs, citrus and mineral notes provide segue for a medium-bodied, fresh, lively surge of racy lemon-lime and saline/mineral notes on the palate. The racy finish is adorned with excellent pineapple tang, ripe peach and mango. (Vic Harradine)