Meet The Maker
When you’re talking about the great Barossa Valley wineries, it ends up being a roll call of vintners carrying the family name that their German ancesters brought with them many moons ago – think Henschke, Kaesler, Langmeil, and Peter Lehmann, to name a few. Also belonging to this esteemed group is the Schwarz Wine Co., in the hands of the fifth generation since the Schwarz family first settled. These are the new kids on the block however – the company got underway when winemaker Jason purchased some vines from his father, and hasn’t looked back since.
Nowadays, he puts his expertise gathered across stints in France, South Africa, and California to use, in producing great Barossan wines. His philosophy is simple – find great fruit, handle minimally to allow full expression of vintage and sense of place. Schwarz Wine Co. has for some time been at the forefront of contemporary Barossa winemaking, crafting site and vintage transparent wines of perfume, structure, and finely etched detail.
The family vineyards provide the backbone of the label, though Jason’s relationships with talented growers are paramount to an enviable caché of old vine fruit sources. Touch the fruit lightly, don’t pick too late, keep oak use in check – the house style here is pure and vibrant.
Back in black here.
On tasting tomorrow with maker, Jason Shwarz
2018 Estate Chenin Blanc
After spending such a long time in Stellenbosch, it’s no wonder that Jason wanted to have a go at producing South Africa’s steen. Chenin Blanc is a wine of texture and intrigue – if you’re not a convert yet, you will be after tomorrow. Schwarz’s style is gentle, lean, and crisp, with lemon peel, apple, and dried herb characteristics, while vibrant acidity, a little bit of lees action and a delicate smokiness make this so utterly delicious.
2018 Estate Rosé
You’d be forgiven for thinking this was made in the South of France, with its gorgeous copper colour and bone-dry finish. Grenache provides a subtle perfume of juicy strawberry and crisp watermelon, while the Mataro delivers blood orange, and a touch of earth, herb, and spice. Finishes creamy and long. No need to whisper to the angels …
2017 Estate GSM
A well-made GSM is the best of all three worlds, and not only is that achieved here, but it’s also a wine far greater than the sum of its parts. Our notes for this one read more like an all-you-can-taste buffet – a bright raspberry and cherry perfume, dark plum, violets, thyme, almond, orange peel. Slightly stalky, slightly gamey, slightly tangy. Generous fruit meets the perfect amount of tannins, with a plump body and silky texture. Thanks for coming!
2017 Estate Shiraz
This wine is as much a nod to Jason’s time in the Rhône Valley as it is to his Barossan roots, being as much about spice and structure as the generosity of the fruit. The typical blackberry and plum receive vanilla and hazelnut from the oak, with some earthy terracotta creating a savoury note. Opulence aplenty.
2016 Thiele Road Grenache
The gnarled 78-year-old vines at this site are not pretty to look at, but produce one of the best Grenaches going around. Restrained and medium-bodied, yet ethereal: sweet fruit, potpourri, smokey, foresty. Highly complex and characterful. Will we catch any of our Pinot faithful cheating with this gorgeous wine?
2017 Nitschke Block Shiraz
As the first wine he made, using grapes from vines planted by his mum and dad, this is undoubtedly one of Jason’s favourite wines. In contrast to the estate wine, the Nitschke Block Shiraz is distinctly Barossan, with rich, jammy black fruit, licorice, and pepper spice wrapped gently in oak, with an earthy, chocolatey finish.
2016 Schiller Shiraz
When Jason found this vineyard that dates back to 1881, it was scheduled for bulldozing. So he came to the rescue, bought the lot, and set to work turning them into a masterpiece. Schwarz Wine Co.’s flagship Shiraz resists the temptation to smother the high-quality grapes in oak – and while French oak does add spice nuances of star anise and cinnamon, it’s the ancient vines that do all the talking, with an array of black cherries, plum, and berries in all their brambly glory, followed by rich mocha and earthiness. Everything good about Australian wine.
JM & VKL
Pix courtesy of Schwarz Wine Co©