Jim Barry Wines releases first Aussie Assyrtiko

Gaëlle Laforest

22 January 2016

Clare Valley-based winery Jim Barry Wines is releasing an Assyrtiko, the first Australian wine made from this variety.

This is the first commercialised vintage of this wine, and is the result of a decade-long process that started when managing director Peter Barry first tasted the indigenous Greek grape.

'My family has been making wine for a long time,' he said. 'My late father, Jim Barry, was a pioneer winemaker in Clare and was a passionate believer of keeping with the times and making interesting wine.

'He urged those in the region to steer away from traditional varieties such as Crouchen, and to plant Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Malbec – varieties that were uncommon in the times. I, like my father, have an interest in growing grapes that have a future in our region.'

Barry worked with Yiannis Paraskevopoulos of Gaia Wines on this project, who helped him source Assyrtiko cuttings from a plant from Estate Argyros in Santorini. They were collected in 2008, quarantined for two years, then propagated throughout 2011 with help from Yalumba Nursery.

The first planting took place in August 2012 at Lodge Hill Vineyard, over a half hectare on a west-facing slope at 480m. The wine is made by whole-bunch pressing the grapes, resulting in a wine at 13.8% abv. 2014 was the wine's first vintage, but only 45l were produced. In 2015 the yield was a more substantial 1,000l, and the wine is now available over here exclusively via Negociants UK.

Barry added that this initiative was also motivated by concerns about climate change and how it's affecting vinegrowing and winemaking. '[Climate change has] opened our eyes to trying different techniques in the vineyard, and in this case, different varieties which are adaptable to warmer climates,' he said.

The Assyrtiko 2015 will be available to taste at the Australia Day Tasting in London on Tuesday next week, where Barry will also be present.

Negociants UK, 01582 797510

Pictured top: Sam, Tom and Peter Barry with the first parcels of Assyrtiko in March 2014

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