Barry, Clare Valley, Australia
Presented by Peter Barry
Jim Barry Wines is one of the leading producers in
Australiaís Clare Valley. Jim was only the 17th winemaker to
graduate from Adelaideís Roseworthy College back in 1946, and went
to work for the Clarevale Cooperative Ė the first qualified
winemaker to operate in the Clare. This was followed by a spell at
Taylorís, also in the Clare, and then in 1959 he purchased a
property of his own, followed by another in 1964. However, the grapes
from these vineyards were sold to others, and it wasnít until 1974
that he set up his own operation, with a new winery.
Thereís a nice history here.
Today, Jim Barry Wines has over 200 hectares of vines
in 10 sites in the Clare and a 15 hectare vineyard in Coonawarra.
Itís still a family-run operation, and Peter Barry (above),
one of Jimís sons, is the MD.
These wines were tasted with Peter. I really liked
them, but on some of the older reds I was a bit surprised by what, to
my palate, seemed to be some brettanomyces character. This isnít
necessarily a fault; it just depends on your tolerance for these
spicy/phenol/animal notes and how they fit in the context of the wine.
This was a rare chance to try some older Rieslings (which were
evolving beautifully) and a vertical of the top wine, the Armagh. This
is a Shiraz that is now one of Australiaís cult wines.
1000 cases of Armagh are produced annually; the exact volume is not
disclosed. Just 200 bottles reach the UK. The vineyard is managed in
three separate lots and usually only two of these will make the grade
each year. The scarcity of Armagh was the reason that the McRae Wood
was developed, but even this is now allocated, too.
doubt, the Clare is a special place to make wine', says Peter. 'We
make great Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet, but we can't make great
Chardonnay or Pinot Noir: it's an unusual thing'. He also adds that
one of the strengths of the Clare is that it has been settled by the
winemakers, not the lifestylers. 'I was lucky to be born here', he
says. 'Hopefully, I'll die here'.
also got to look at the new icon wine from Jim Barry, The Benbournie,
a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Jim Barry Watervale Rhine Riesling 1977 Clare Valley
This was picked by Roseworthy students in a weekend. Peter Barry
reckons that Rielsing has a short picking window of just two or three
days. ĎIn those days we had no refrigeration or must chilling
facilitiesí, he says. ĎWe crushed with high sulphur dioxide levels
and drained the juice off quickly.í This has survived 30 years
pretty well. Aromatic, toasty and rich on the nose with nice
complexity. Bold and a bit spicy. The palate has a nice citrussy
freshness with real depth and presence. A long finish. Still fresh.
Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Rhine Riesling 1986 Clare
Quite aromatic and full with a strong petrolly, toasty nose and a
bit of smokiness. The palate is rounded, complex and soft with a
smooth texture. A really complex, integrated wine. 94/100
Jim Barry The Florita Riesling 2004 Clare Valley
Intense, fresh petrolly nose with nice citrus presence. The palate
is powerful, concentrated and a little spicy with lots of weight and
citrus intensity. Real potential here. 92/100
Jim Barry The Florita Riesling 2005 Clare Valley
Intense, crisp, citrussy and bold with tight limey, almost spicy
fruit. Bold and concentrated. Thereís a nice freshness here. Itís
dry but thereísome fruit sweetness. 90/100
Jim Barry The Florita Riesling 2007 Clare Valley
Lifted aromatic, flowery nose. This is bright, limey, crisp and
concentrated with real intensity. A youthful wine that shows lovely
fruit quality and which is very dry. 90/100
Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Riesling 2007 Clare
Really fresh and expressive. Bold with high acidity and limey
intensity. A precise, focused Riesling. 89/100
Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2006 Clare
Sweet, pure, intense blackcurrant fruit here on the nose. The
palate shows very ripe, sweet, pure fruit with a nice fresh edge. A
rich style but still balanced. 90/100
Jim Barry The McRae Wood Shiraz 1994 Clare
Aromatic and evolved with tasty woody complexity on the nose. The
palate is bold with nice minty freshness under the earthy, spicy
fruit. A classic Aussie evolving quite nicely. Finishes dry. 90/100
Jim Barry The McRae Wood Shiraz 1996 Clare
Aromatic spicy, phenolic nose is appealing but rather bretty. The
palate is fresh and bright with good acidity and a bit of spiciness.
Slightly metallic finish suggests brett. Second bottle is similar.
Jim Barry The McRae Wood Shiraz 1998 Clare
Distinctive spicy nose is warm, woody and a bit bretty. The palate
is bold and spicy with a medicinal edge to the dark fruits. Itís an
attractive wine. 89/100
Jim Barry The McRae Wood Shiraz 2004 Clare
Very deep coloured. Rich, vivid, intense sweet blackcurrant fruit
nose with good purity. The palate shows great concentration and lovely
purity of fruit. A big wine thatís really stylish. 92/100
Jim Barry The Armagh 1994 Clare (from magnum)
Intense, evolved nose showing rich spicy notes. Itís sweet and
warm with a subtle medicinal edge. The palate is broad, intense and
spicy with a distinctive warm earthiness. Quite evolved. 89/100
Jim Barry The Armagh 1996 Clare (from magnum)
Very deep coloured. Warm, earthy, spicy nose is full and intense.
This is a bold wine thatís warm, spicy and expressive. The palate is
smooth and concentrated with ripe spicy, earthy notes. Evolved and
drinking very well now. 92/100
Jim Barry The Armagh 1998 Clare (from magnum)
Warm, rich and spicy on the nose with some evolution. Thereís a
ripe, rich, tarry character, too. The palate is concentrated rich and
spicy with a strong earthy character to it. Bold stuff that is quite
The Armagh 2004 Clare
Really intense, bold, rich spicy nose with pure blackcurranty
fruit. Lovely focus with notes of spice, tar and wood. The palate
shows pure fruit and has an attractive sweet, meaty edge.
Concentrated, broad and full with some earthy undercurrents.
Deliciously full. 93/100
Barry The Benbournie 2002 Clare
Intense and concentrated with pure dark fruit and some soft spicy
structure. Subtle woody, tarry notes combine with a really intense
blackcurrant fruit quality. There's some earthy depth too. Sytlish
Barry The Benbournie 2004 Clare
Focused dark fruits nose of blackcurrant and spice. The palate is
quite fresh and concentrated with nice freshness and good acidity.
Great purity of fruit with good tannic earthy structure. 92/100
Wines tasted 02/08
these wines with wine-searcher.com
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