Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dolan Dynasty

Tim, Rebecca & Sarah Dolan
By Caroline Dunn

Dolan Family Wines have only recently taken the wraps off their first release 2008 Dolan Barossa Shiraz, but there is a lengthy history attached to this family, whose lives have been intertwined with Australian wine across six decades and three generations – they surely must have deep dark Barossa Shiraz now flowing through their veins. 

In fact, the family’s initiation into Australian wine began long before they claimed the Barossa as home. Sons of Thomas, an Irish immigrant who settled in Clare in 1860, Arthur (Tim) and Thomas Dolan established an 88 acre vineyard and small winery at Dolan Road, Stanley Flat, just north of Clare in 1895. Thus began the lure of the grape and the first flickerings of winemaking passion. 

Arthur’s son (also named Arthur) moved his family to Naracoorte in South Australia’s South East where son Bryan spent his formative years. He enrolled in agricultural studies at Roseworthy College and jumped on board when the very first Oenology course was offered a year later. Bryan graduated in 1949 and accepted a position with Henry Martin, then owner of Stonyfell and Saltram vineyards. Initially in the role of Winery Manager at Saltram, and assisting legendary winemaker Fred Ludlow with the winemaking, Bryan officially took over the reins as winemaker when Fred retired in 1959. Shortly afterwards Bryan appointed Peter Lehmann to fill his shoes when he relocated to Stonyfell as winemaker and General Manager. After 30 years at Saltram and Stoneyfell, Bryan moved to The Hardy Wine Company before retiring in 1999. Bryan was a highly respected winemaker and contributor to the Australian wine industry. His long and distinguished career spanned 50 years in Australian wine and he has left a legacy of passion for his craft and an anthology of wines highly regarded for their power and longevity. 

Learn first to recognise wine quality and then how to capture it” 
Bryan Dolan

Bryan’s son Nigel is truly a Barossa icon, as well known for his passion, dedication and irreverent spirit as he is for the dazzling portfolio of wines he has created throughout his career. Nigel graduated from Roseworthy College in 1981, joining Seppeltsfield, where his skills were developed in fortified and red winemaking along with winery management for both Chateau Tanunda and Seppeltsfield wineries. Nigel was appointed Senior Winemaker and Winery Manager at his Dad’s old stomping ground, Saltram, in 1992, a position he retained until 2007 when he resigned from Foster’s Wine Estates, where he also held the position of Group Red Winemaker. Nigel is currently Wyndham Estate’s Chief Winemaker and still based in the Barossa. Winning just about every red wine trophy it is possible to win in Australian regional and national wine shows, Nigel has an impressive record of winemaking success, being appointed, among numerous other awards, Barossa Winemaker of the Year in 2000 and Baron of the Barossa in 2002. 

But the story doesn’t end there. Enter next generation Dolans Tim and Rebecca. Tim cut his winemaking teeth helping out the Saltram crushing crew after school. He graduated as a winemaker in 2008 and has travelled the world gaining vintage experience in the Barossa, Hunter Valley, McLaren Vale, Napa and Sonoma Valleys, Tuscany, and is currently working at Hillebrand Winery in Ontario, Canada. Tim has shown a natural talent to follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps assisting Nigel in producing their first release wine in 2008, as well as the upcoming Shiraz and Tempranillo from 2010, and is heading full tilt into a stellar career. Tim will be returning to our shores for the 2011 Barossa vintage. Rebecca is soon to graduate with a double degree in Marketing and Management at Adelaide University and has taken on the role of Marketing and Communications Manager with Dolan Family Wines, being largely responsible for the label design and brand image, as well as sales and marketing. These are a couple of very talented operators. 

The whole Dolan family, including Tim and Rebecca’s younger sister Sarah and mum Stephanie got their hands dirty during the 2008 vintage creating this first release Dolan Barossa Shiraz. With fruit sourced from Stonewell, just outside Tanunda, this wine’s a cracker, full of deep, dark fruit and chocolate, freshly ground coffee beans, and hints of smoky Barossa meats and earthy spices. The palate is juicy, fleshy and smooth with balanced acidity and a backbone of fine long tannins. 

Find out more about Dolan Family Wines and their 2008 Shiraz by visiting their website at

Friday, September 17, 2010

Congratulations to all our Exceptional Barossa Wine Show Trophy Winners

A hearty congratulations to all the winners in this year's Barossa Wine Show, announced during last night's Presentation Dinner held at the glorious Chateau Tanunda. Make sure you get along to Yalumba tomorrow morning for the Public Tasting of all these amazing wines and many, many more. Here's a list of all the Trophy Winners. Thanks for keeping all us wine lovers truly happy!

The Willows Vineyard

2010 The Willows Vineyard Riesling
The Orlando Wines – L Hugo Gramp Memorial Trophy
Best Dry White Riesling, Current Vintage, Class 1

The Barons of Barossa – Bruce Thiele Memorial Trophy
Most Outstanding Barossa White Table Wine – Premium Classes

The Barossa Living Trophy
Most Outstanding Single Vineyard Table Wine, Premium Classes

The Barossa Printmasters Trophy
Most Outstanding Table Wine, Small Producer, Premium Classes

The Wine Business Traveller Trophy
Most Outstanding Barossa Table Wine, Premium Classs

2006 The Willows Vineyard Semillon
The Prowine Trophy
Best Dry White Semillon, Class 3

2005 Saltram No 1 Shiraz
The Classic Oak Products Trophy
Best Museum Dry Red Wine, Class 21

2006 Saltram The Journal Shiraz
The Lynas Valley Ford Trophy
Best Mature Dry Red Shiraz, Class 11

NV Saltram Mr Pickwick Tawny Port
The Hahn Corporation Trophy
Best Fortified Wine, Premium Classes, Classes 18 & 19

NV Saltram Anniversary Port
The Tarac Technologies Pty Ltd Trophy
Best Museum Red Fortified Wine, Classes 24 & 25

The Appellation at The Louise Trophy
Most Successful Exhibitor

2009 Teusner Joshua GMS
The Riedel Trophy
Best Dry Red, Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre blends, Class 16

2009 Teusner The Independent Shiraz Mataro
The Cooperages 1912  Australia Trophy
Best Dry Red, other Varieties and Blends, Class 17

2009 Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier
The Lynas Valley Volkswagen Trophy
Best Dry White Wine, variety or blend, Class 5

2008 The Yalumba Wine Company The Signature
The Vintners Bar & Grill Trophy
Best Dry Red, Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon blends, Class 15

The Rod Schubert Trophy
Most Outstanding Barossa Red Table Wine, Premium Classes

2004 Wigan Eden Valley Riesling
The ASA Trophy
Best Dry White Riesling, one year old & older, Class 2

2009 Peter Lehmann Wines Botrytis Semillon
The Roaring 40’s Trophy
Best Sweet Wine, Class 7

2008 Naked Run BWC Shiraz
The Tanunda Cellars Trophy
Best Young Dry Red Shiraz, Classes 9 & 10

2009 Nurihannam Wines Barossa Scholar Chardonnay
The Lallemand Australia Trophy
Best Dry White Chardonnay, Class 4

2009 Purple Hands Wines Old Vine Grenache
The Vinpac International Trophy
Best Dry Red Grenache, Class 14

NV Seppeltsfield Vera Viola Oloroso
The Barossa Grape and Wine Association Trophy
Best Museum White Fortified Wine, Classes 22 & 23

2005 St Hallett Eden Valley Riesling
The Air Liquide Australia Trophy
Best Museum White Wine, Class 20

2009 Pepperjack Cabernet Sauvignon
The A P John Cooperage Trophy
Best Dry Red Cabernet Sauvignon, Class 12

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lunar Lore ~ Old Vines, Roots and Arcane Alchemy

by Caroline Dunn

Now there may still be much contention over whether man really did land on the moon on 20th July 1969, but one thing certainly happened that day that changed the course of history. John and Erril Kurtz purchased a small block of young Shiraz vines at Light Pass that would become Lunar Block, named in honour of the great event that may or may not have taken place on the day the vineyard was signed over. Lunar Block produces the finest Shiraz in the Kurtz Family Vineyards stable - a unique, expressive wine displaying all the hallmarks of longevity and site distinction. The vines were up to ten years old when the block was purchased, making them now some of the oldest vines on the Kurtz property.

So with the vines hitting the 50-year-old mark, Lunar Block starts to face its own challenges. Vineyards reaching this age begin to lose vigour and can become commercially unviable. Eutypa dieback, a widespread grapevine fungal disease is an ever-present threat in wine regions the world over, resulting in stunted shoots, decreased productivity and eventually the death of the vine. Careful and considered pruning is required to maintain vine health and prevent further spread of the fungus. Unfortunately Eutypa is an adversary the Barossa is all too familiar with, something dedicated vineyard custodians, such as Steve Kurtz, son of John and Erril, know only too well. Steve is undergoing painstaking layering and replanting using pruning cuttings to re-establish lost vines and improve the overall health and vigour of the block; a practice required in many old Barossa vineyards.

Australia is lucky enough to be one of the few countries in the world that still has extensive numbers of old vines planted pre-phylloxera and on their own roots. And the Barossa is blessed to have its fair share, staking its claim to some of the oldest, which were most likely introduced from Europe by the early settlers. It is believed the oldest Shiraz vines in Australia are to be found in the Langmeil vineyard, planted by Christian Auricht in 1843; and Penfold’s Block 42 in the Kalimna vineyard, first planted in the mid 1880s, is thought to accommodate the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon in the world.

So does it really make a difference how old a vine is? The Barossa Grape and Wine Association thinks so. The BGWA’s Old Vine Charter, an inventory of the Barossa’s remaining old vines, classifies vines depending on their age. According to the Charter, an Old Vine is one that has reached 35 years of age and has shown consistent quality, proven over many vintages. The root structure and trunk thickness encourage diversity of flavour and character. This is well represented by Lunar Block, which has developed a captivating character all its own. Something that can never be replicated from another block or vineyard.

Survivor Vines are those which have reached 70 years of age. They have weathered both natural and man-made storms, such as the 1980s Vine Pull and have come through triumphant. Centenarians are low yielding vines planted over 100 years ago when dry farming techniques demanded careful site selection, and have proved resilient in the face of adversity. And lastly we have the Ancestor Vines, those that at 125 years old or more are living tributes to the early Barossa pioneers, and which, through their genetic material, have helped populate the Barossa with irreplaceable, remarkable grapevine stocks, and are among the oldest producing vineyards in the world. I doubt I’ll be around when Lunar reaches Ancestor status but no doubt, the tender loving care of the Kurtz Family and their descendants will ensure she makes it.

Some of the great sensory advantages that old vines lend to the wine they produce are structure, balance, concentration and power, often attributed to reduced crop levels and ancient root systems. There is generally a more layered complexity, and a maturity and depth to the mid palate not often seen with young vines. But then there is also that indefinable, elusive character they possess. A uniqueness. An individuality. A character and personality all their own. An arcane alchemy resulting in wines of revered distinction.

Which brings us back to Lunar Block. In 1999 Steve Kurtz decided it was too good a parcel not to make into his own wine, so he ventured out of the vineyard and dipped his toe into winemaking, adding a new element to the Kurtz Family quiver of talents. And we can now reap the rewards of his decision. Not too many wines can claim that they are crafted from a single vineyard block, but here is a wine that expresses its viticultural roots year after year. The latest release of Lunar Block Shiraz is the 2006 vintage, made with minimal winemaking intervention and matured in fine French oak, this is a wine of merit and pedigree. A supple, medium to full bodied red from an outstanding Barossa vintage, rich in distinctive blueberry and black fruits with hints of dried mint, sage, spice and liquorice. The palate is voluptuous and warm, the oak perfectly balanced, and long, fine velvety tannins give the wine line, structure and backbone.

For more information on Kurtz Family Vineyards visit their website at

Try Kurtz Family Vineyards wines at Collective Barossa, 47 Murray Street, Tanunda and check out their blog at

For more information on the BGWA Old Vine Charter visit