Andrew Jamieson Wine Merchants represent independent producers from Australia and New Zealand, those who blend trailblazing with tradition.
Created by Andrew Jamieson, an accomplished sommelier and bar/restaurant manager, AJWM is a specialist wine wholesaler and vehement advocate of emerging producers. Like those we represent, we're passionate about nurturing unique sites for future generations of winemakers (and wine drinkers), and celebrating regional and varietal harmony.
The AJWM portfolio showcases producers who are champions of their terroir; vignerons who toil hard in the vineyard so they can employ a hands-off, minimalist approach in the winery. The resulting drops can be found at independent retailers, and on the lists of local haunts, and top restaurants and bars right around the country.
Andrew Jamieson Wine Merchants currently represents 16 producers from Australia, with expansion continuing across the Tasman and into Europe.
VINTAGE 2017 - BAROSSA
A quick conversation with a busy, exhausted but very excited Dave Lehmann of David Franz wines about vintage 2017 in the Barossa.
JK: “G’day Dave, can you run me through this year’s vintage? Are you all done?”
DL: “Just about, yea. Waiting on a little bit of cabernet coming in pretty soon, apples for Scrumpy and some monte for a mate.”
JK: “Very good. So how was the bulk of vintage 2017?”
DL: “Bloody terrific top-to-bottom in the Barossa.”
JK: “Nice, so no dramas then?”
DL: “We just had such a nice, wet winter which was great for the vines. But then quite a wet spring was a bit problematic. The flood put some disease pressure on, but it wasn’t too bad at all. The vines were just set up so beautifully, they were so healthy.”
JK: “But the rain managed to all clear off for a nice dry harvest?”
DL: “Yea, pretty much. We had a little bit of rain, but that just freshened up the grapes nicely – it allowed for flavour ripeness to catch up with the sugar levels.”
JK: “Looks like it was all a bit later than the last couple of years?”
DL: “It was. Healthy and late. Not unexpectedly late though – I’ve always worked off Easter. A late Easter means a late harvest. Vines don’t take notice of the date, they just know the moon.”
JK: “And yields, were they healthy?”
DL: “Yea. A bit like 2006, it was monster vintage. We’ve upped our tonnage [intake at the winery] naturally from larger crops off each block we were sourcing from, and then extraction rates have been 20% higher as well. Luckily we were nice and organised with bottling previous years wines and had plenty of empty tanks and barrels at the winery.”
JK: “So the high yields haven’t affected quality?”
DL: “You look at the wines and they’re awesome. It’s proving this mantra of happy vines makes happy wines. When they’re naturally going well on their own, everything just comes together nicely. I mean look at the Loan Vineyard, an amazing dry grown vineyard, managed organically and biodynamically, they’re basically bush vines. There was no crop in 2015 or 2016. But this year we got 2000 litres. It’s now ticking through malo, and pretty exciting.”
JK: “So Semillons looking good then. Anything else really taking your eye at this stage?”
DL: “It’s an amazing vintage across the board really, one of the most fragrant and lifted. Bordeaux varieties are off the hook. As was shiraz – it’s just singing this year. But, as usual for me, those Bordeaux varieties just speak to me above everything else. Aromatic range is incredible.”
JK: “And in the winery, anything different, anything new to report on?”
DL: “Broadly, my philosophy has evolved a lot in the last 7-8 years. I’m going for a more refined, elegant, aromatic style; a lighter style. I’ve been drinking a lot of gamay and pinots at home; wines with a lighter touch. Aromatic, food friendly. Trying to do grenache with a Burgundian sensibility; the 2015 is about to reach your warehouse I think, and called grenache noir to hint at that. In saying that, I’m still staying true to the core of Kid’s wines [Georgie's Walk, Alexander's Reward and Benjamin's Promise] with that intensity, but even with those I’m evolving; raining back the oak, making sure the fruit is front and centre. No two vintages are ever the same, and you change the way you make it depending on the fruit each year but always with that overriding quest for the balance. And 2017 is really helping with that.”
JK: Sounds exciting, looking forward to coming down and tasting some barrels and seeing the wines a bit further down the track.
DL: Yea, it is. Hopefully we’ll have our cellar door ready by then, construction is set to finish in a fortnight – it's coming together nicely. Need to organise a time to get to Sydney soon, too, with the new batch of 2015 releases. Have you wrapped your lips around them yet? They look unreal. Anyway, better go – I’ve gotta call a bloke to check on where that cabernet is at.
VINTAGE 2017 - MCLAREN VALE
They're done and dusted, down in the Vale. And what a vintage it was - our friends at Inkwell have just finished their largest ever. One press, one, destemmer, one tractor and one devoted couple - Irena and Dudley Brown - were worked to the bone for seven weeks, generously aided by a swathe of big-hearted helping hands.
After a cool and wet winter, with record rainfalls, the clouds parted and sun shone brightly over McLaren Vale from veraison onwards. “Lots of water followed by lots of sunshine,” sums up Dudley. “Which for low yielding sites, like ours, was amazing. We didn’t have dense canopies so there was good airflow and no disease pressures at our site.”
Harvest kicked off a few weeks later than previous years, beginning in the last week of February for Inkwell, with viognier coming off the vines as soon as the desired ginger spice character emerged. This was followed by their grenache, mataro, shiraz, primitivo and cabernet sauvignon. “Six weeks of picking across six varieties,” explains Dudley. “And everything looks really good. It was ideal weather-wise, but a bit of a deceiving year due to a low alcohol yet high malic acid - it took courage to pick early. This means 2017 is going to produce a very fresh, acid driven style that we’re very excited about. We like plenty of fresh natural acid as we don’t add any,” he says.
The final pick came a week before easter. Late harvest zinfandel, destined for Black & Blue Late Harvest Fortified, was picked at 17 baume, let go naturally through ferment before it was stopped at 6 baume, fortified with 96 per cent pure spirit and drained into 100-litre barrels to transform into liquid pleasure.
New to the winery in 2017 is fruit from Ricca Terra Farms in the Riverland. Slancamenca bela, fiano and vermentino have all been fermented on skins. Their fate lies somewhere in the DubStyle Tangerine range, alongside the estate-grown viognier. Whether they are bottled as varietal wines or blends yet to be decided.
At the moment just about everything has completed primary fermentaion and ticking through malo. "Sometimes they shoot through, others you have to wait until spring,” says Dudley.
And then we’ll have to wait a little longer as the wines evolve in barrel, mature in bottle and begin to tell the proper tale of vintage 2017 in McLaren Vale.
For more, it's worth a read over the thoughts of the ever insightful and entertaining Philip White; Redefining Extreme: Vintage 2017
VINTAGE 2017 - ORANGE
Heading south to Orange, it was not fire but water that was the main concern for the region. But again, fortune favoured the farmer. “There were some heavy forecasts right in the middle of harvest – but luckily they got it wrong,” says Simon Gilbert of Gilbert Family wines. “After we picked sparkling base, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc came off – I think the savvy b should give The Hills a run for it’s money this year. Then chardonnay was harvested with fine flavours and good acid balance. Riesling came in after that with the TA, pH and Baumé in perfect balance – and the juice was pristine, vibrant and clean. So we're really happy with that,” he says. To the reds, “Shiraz is looking really tidy,” says Gilbert. “It was picked with baume levels in the high 12s, other components a bit higher and we’re seeing great colour and depth at this early stage... 2017 pinot noir is also exciting,” he says. “In the vineyard there were no dead pockets, or disease pressures, as the Borrodell vineyard is really high (970-1030 metres above sea level) and exposed to wind.”
So there you go, it seems a similar tale to the Hunter Valley… Pick from your region’s best vineyards, have some luck in avoiding some erratic weather – be it rain, fire or extreme heat (is harvesting relatively early the trick?), to give yourself the best shot of getting clean fruit into the winery.
Speaking of the winery, we’ve spent a fair bit of time at the Gilbert's over vintage and they certainly have a few new tricks up their sleeves. A large new concrete egg doubles the collection, another 900 litre French oak rolly barrel has come into play for whole-bunch pinot and a set of new Stockinger Austrian oak barrels is set to do wonders for the chardonnay. Some more experimental winemaking is occuring, too. Increased use of skin contact and some pet-nats will join the stable of Gilbert by Simon Gilbert's increasingly-refined and complex table whites in 2017. Keep an eye out – they’re coming sooner than you imagine!