Fine tuned, minimally handled wines from enviable old vine sources
Find great fruit. Handle minimally to allow full expression of vintage and place. A deceptively simple philosophy to raising some phenomenal wines.
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 Schwarz’s relationships with talented growers are paramount to an enviable cache 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.
SCHWARZ CHENIN BLANC 2017
The lone white of the stable, very much in keeping with Jason's approach of freshness and drinkability, weighing in at a most modest 12.1% alcohol. Gentle, crisp and refreshing, it leads with pear, honeysuckle, paw paw and hay. In the mouth it has crunch, with mineral salt and lees character reminiscent of aged cheddar. Pear remains the dominant fruit character through the pulpy finish.
SCHWARZ ROSÉ 2017
Rosé – yes please! A blend of Mataro and Grenache, with a Provençal salmon shade and similar level of dryness. This gives our Provence wines a run for the money, one of Australia's best examples of the style. Zippy up front, it's got strawberries and raspberries, a watermelony juiciness, and a zestiness to its acid. It's got further complexity from it mineral component which lengthens the finish and evokes limestone and chalk. Firmly pushes back on the luscious, fruit sweet reputation of Barossa rosés of old - serious + refreshing = serious refreshment.
SCHWARZ GSM 2016
A vibrant nose of floral perfume, with some sappy and earthy notes. A medium bodied style, bright, juicy and sloshy in the mouth, this is an easy drinking wine which maintains concentration of fruit. Blackcurrants and black cherry are complexed by liquorice, rosemary and a touch of spice, with tannins fresh and fine. A moreish glass to glasser.
"Cherry, raspberry, spice, floral too, liquorice, but a little sooty/earthy too, which grounds it beautifully. Medium bodied, juicy purple flavoured wine, with a just the right amount of tannin grip, succulence and savoury. Finish is fresh and long. Delightful." 93 points, Gary Walsh, www.winefront.com.au
SCHWARZ SHIRAZ 2016
A fresh and perfumed nose, violets the leading impression over musk and blue fruit. The palate is rounded with great shape and feel in the mouth, and while the acid profile adds freshness and a precision to the flavours, the wine is by no means austere or lacking generosity. Flavour-wise it’s pretty classic Barossa Shiraz, full of black fruits, dried herbs and earth. Works as a young drinker or will certainly reward a few years down.
"It’s a substantial red wine with fruit – rather than oak – to the fore. It’s a pure expression of shiraz in a Barossa landscape. It tastes of coal and blackberry jam, campfire and cloves, but it’s that hearty hit of blackberried – tinged with raspberry – fruit that really characterises it. It’s a faultless shiraz, from all angles." 93 points, Campbell Mattinson, www.winefront.com.au
SCHWARZ META GRENACHE 2017
Hand picked, wild yeast, 91% whole bunch, unfined and unfiltered, 13.8% alcohol. 220 dozen produced.
Here’s where things start to get a bit more serious. Drop whatever pre-conceptions you may have about Barossa Grenache – this variety is perhaps the best showcase of Schwarz’s precise and fine tuned style. The paler colour gives hint to the whole bunch make, with stemmy impressions weaving through the lifted nose of red berries, rhubarb, cherry and spice. Deserves comparisons to Pinot Noir as an aromatic, crisp and textured food wine.
"That’s a whole lot of whole bunch. It shows in the wine. It hits you with smoky, nutty, spicy flavour, challengingly so, though it then backs it with Turkish delight and pure plum flavours. It yells at you but then lets you off easy. It does though remain grabby and light. It looks a little murky in the glass, which I don’t mind at all. This is grenache as food. Pulpy, savoury, smoked. You wouldn’t think it’s to everyone’s taste but who cares. It works." 92+ points, Campbell Mattinson, www.winefront.com.au
SCHWARZ META MATARO 2016
Hand picked, wild yeast, 15% whole bunch, unfined and unfiltered. 13.7% alc. 112 dozen produced.
Big time aromatics here, varietal black cherry over pepper and some alluring meaty/bacon character. An array of black fruits on the palate, a sweet and saline interplay, brambly even but ultra fresh. Maintains fineness of persona over so much fruit power, with a fresh acid driven finish over fine ripe tannin and stony mineral. Wines such as this show just what an exciting and pleasurable variety this can be.
" Saucy spices, cinch of stalk and smoke, blackberry and boysenberry. Medium bodied, grainy and stalky, but with nutty and plump bramble fruit, cool acidity and a pleasant spray of amaro herbs in the aftertaste. Lovely wine. Good now, likely better later." 92+ points, Gary Walsh, www.winefront.com.au
SCHWARZ META SHIRAZ 2016
Hand picked, wild yeast, 24% whole bunch, unfined and unfiltered. 14.2% alcohol. 112 dozen produced.
Lucid is the theme for this release - structured, perfumed, a lovely line of fruit. Plums, blue and black berries on the nose which continue to the palate, over coffee and a definite violet floral note. Tannins are fine and ripe which keep things fresh and moreish, not a palate overwhelming style by any means. Power and freshness here, as is this house’s theme.
"A touch of coffee-like flavour but it’s essentially fruit-driven and bold, its heart of blackberry wrapped in chicory and liquorice. Mouth-filling but mannered. Supple tannin draws the strings in a casual manner. Fruit really is to the fore from start to finish. The door isn’t closed; Barossa shiraz is open for viewing, and on clear display." 92 points, Campbell Mattinson, www.winefront.com.au
SCHWARZ THIELE ROAD GRENACHE 2016
Thiele Road Grenache has been produced since vintage 2002, a foundation wine of Schwarz, and a vineyard owned by the family. The gnarled old vines were planted in 1941, with the vineyard in the Bethany sub region.
Stylistically, this continues the theme of outside the normal box Grenache, its lines more sharply drawn, though with a little more meat on the bones than Meta.
"Hand-picked from the family block in Bethany planted ’41, open-fermented with 20% whole bunches, foot-stomped at the end of fermentation and left on skins for a further 15 days, basket-pressed to used French puncheons and a small tank, bottled Oct ’17. Very light, clear crimson; this is Barossa Valley grenache on its best behaviour, with a glorious abundance of sweet red fruits in a gossamer net of the finest tannins. It emphatically doesn’t show any sign of underripe fruit. A wine for rejoicing." 96 points, James Halliday
SCHWARZ NITSCHKE BLOCK SHIRAZ 2016
The wine where it all began - Jason approached his father to buy some of his Nitschke Block fruit in 2001, producing two hogsheads. This dry grown vineyard produces intense and clear flavours, maximized here by smart winemaking and a restrained use of oak.
SCHWARZ THE SCHILLER SHIRAZ 2014
Jason stumbled on this plot of 400 Shiraz vines planted by Carl August Otto Schiller, dated to around 1881. Earmarked for bulldozing, Jason's offer to buy the fruit would see these ancient vines remain in the ground.
Too often, winemakers throttle their 'reserve' or flagship wine with excessive oak or extraction - not here. The nose throws up pure aromas of turned earth and hay, just hinting to the fruit lurking within. In the mouth, the body is sloshy rather than thick, it oddly dances between intense concentration yet feels nimble. It's an array of black fruits - berries and plums, with a lick of coffee/mocha and further earthen flavours revealing through a finish of magnificent proportions. Purity of fruit remains paramount throughout, the full flight of concentration that only ancient vines can muster. Barossa Shiraz in all its glory.