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Spinifex Wines, Barossa Valley

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Winemaker of the Year 2019 Finalist
Peter Schell

Peter Schell’s portfolio of wines may seem random, but his experimentation and careful crafting of alternative varieties has produced drops that will keep you coming back for more.

Peter (or Pete, as he’s universally known) Schell is a man of instinct; exploring possibilities and opportunities with an innate curiosity and intuition. Schell experiments with parcels of fruit, often blending them for some years into his seemingly random portfolio of dangerously drinkable wines before allowing a variety to fly solo.

The Spinifex range is a reflection of the (often minuscule) parcels of fruit that Schell seeks out from both ancient vines and new-wave varieties. Schell finds that these old vines – which have tolerated the rigours of drought and heat – produce fruit of exceptional depth, with the indefinable savoury flavours that set Spinifex apart from the stereotypical Barossa style.

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Peter Schell - Nominated for Winemaker of the Year 2019

James Halliday
Australian Wine Companion 2018 Edition

Peter Schell and Magali Gely are a husband and wife team from NZ who came to Australia in the early 1990s to study oenology and marketing at Roseworthy College. They have spent four vintages making wine in France, mainly in the south, where Magalis family were vignerons for generations near Montpellier. The focus at Spinifex is the red varieties that dominate in the south of France: mataro (more correctly mourvedre), grenache, shiraz and cinsaut. The wine is made in open fermenters, basket-pressed, with partial wild (indigenous) fermentations, and relatively long post-ferment maceration. This is a very old approach, but nowadays la mode. The current releases are superb, the best so far to come from this top- class producer. Exports to the UK, Canada, Belgium, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and NZ.


Tri Nations Wine Challenge 2009
Trophy awarded to 2006 DRS Vineyard
2019 Penguin Award - Winery of the Year - Spinifex Wines

James Suckling Tasting Report:
Looking for Balanced Reds in Barossa Valley

February 6th, 2014

I haven't released until now a small Rhone-style red tasting I did in Australia's Barossa Valley following judging at the Barossa Wine Show last fall. As written in a blog then, I came to Barossa as a personal dare more than anything else. Ian Hongel, a friend and senior winemaker of Peter Lehmann Wines, said that his region was making many balanced and complex wines now compared to the big, jammy and mostly undrinkable wines that many of us grew to associate with the Barossan the late 1990s and early 2000s.

As I wrote in a column for Asia Tatler magazines, these overdone wines are becoming less and less apparent in the Barossa Valley wine world. And they have lost favor in most parts of the world. There's a new classic for Australian wines emerging from here that everyone should discover and enjoy. The benchmark Barossa Valley shiraz shows a typicity and style that can be compared to the best syrahs of France. Some even resemble Burgundy with their delicacy and freshness. Click here for a copy of the story from the site.

With all this and more in mind, I asked my friend and wine writer Mike Bennie to help me put together a small tasting of popular Barossa Valley reds made mostly from shiraz and grenache, but also blends that he thought were refined and balanced. And here is what I tasted blind over a couple of days. I found some fabulous wines particularly from Penfolds, Head, Spinifex and Massena.

Sure, there were some jammy and overdone wines as expected. And I understand how some people like this Port-like character. I couldn't give these wines rating of 90 or more points.

But I was happy to find many harmonious, delicious wines that make me thirsty just thinking about them. They have all the succulent, savory and intense flavor and richness of a great, classic style Rhone red. They were definitely @realaussiewines.