Clare Valley’s renowned wine company, Jim Barry Wines have made history, producing Australia’s first Assyrtiko. After a 10 year journey, the Barry family officially launched the notable Greek wine variety on Tuesday 8 November, with a limited on-premise release in Australia.
Peter Barry, Managing Director of Jim Barry Wines, first tasted Assyrtiko in 2006 whilst on holiday with his wife Sue on Santorini, and again the following year at the London Wine Fair. Ten years on, following a lengthy process of importation and quarantine of the cuttings, the 2016 Jim Barry Assyrtiko can now be shared with Australian consumers.
Mr Barry said when he first tried the varietal of Assyrtiko, it immediately stood out to him as a wine well suited to the modern Australian palate. On observing similarities in the climate in Santorini, he decided Clare Valley would be an ideal region to grow the variety.
“The fresh, crisp, acidic qualities of the wine are perfect accompaniments to contemporary Australian food – it is a natural partner for the Australian climate and cuisine,” Mr Barry said.
Jim Barry Wines have a noble reputation for their innovative approach to viticulture and winemaking. The release of the Jim Barry Assyrtiko is an example of the company’s continued strive for excellence in innovation.
“My late father, Jim Barry was a pioneer winemaker in Clare and was a passionate believer of keeping with the times and making wine consumers wanted to drink. In 1966, he urged those in the region to steer away from traditional varieties such as Pedro, Doradillo, and to plant Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Malbec – varieties that were uncommon at that time.
“While the laborious process of importation and quarantine of cuttings has discouraged many growers in Australia from trying something new, I, like my father, have an interest in growing grapes that have a sustainable future in our region. Santorini has an arid climate, with an average rainfall of 300mm. With the advent of climate change and global warming, Assyrtiko is a variety that is well suited to the changing landscape of Australian winemaking.
“Similar to the distinct flavours of our site specific Rieslings (namely The Florita, Watervale and Lodge Hill), Assyrtiko provides a true expression of terroir. Our soil and climate have imparted their own unique characteristics to our Assyrtiko, however I believe we have reproduced some similar characteristics to the Assyrtiko of Santorini, producing a richer wine with a mineral/salty finish.
“We look forward to sharing this wonderful variety with Australia,” he said.
The Jim Barry Wines Assyrtiko has already made an impression, winning the 2016 Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show Chief of Judge’s Wine to Watch Award last Friday 4 November in Mildura, just days before its release. This award recognises wines that are dynamic and emerging, and in 2016, was judged by some of the most respected wine judges in the country, including Jane Faulkner as the Chief of Judges.
Just under 500 dozen of the 2016 vintage will be released this year. The Jim Barry Wines Assyrtiko is currently being poured at Peter Gilmore’s restaurant Bennelong in the Sydney Opera House, Dinner by Heston and across George Colombaris group of restaurants Press Club, Gazi and Hellenic Republic in Melbourne. It is also at Georges on Waymouth and FermentAsian in South Australia.