After a stellar 29-year career at Penfolds, including 16 years as Chief Winemaker, John founded John Duval Wines in 2003 with the express aim of making wines from the Barossa’s classic varieties and prized old vines. John’s first wine was ‘Plexus’, a Rhone style blend containing Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre (GSM). He released his ‘Entity’ Shiraz in 2006, and then a super premium Reserve ‘Eligo’ Shiraz, which is made in tiny quantities and only when vintage conditions allow.
A new and expanded range
Over the years John has added more wines to his range, and he now makes two wines exclusively for Cellarmasters. His ‘Affinis’ Shiraz is an archetypal Barossa Shiraz with bold fruit flavours, smooth tannins and the potential to age magnificently in bottle. The 2010 vintage was crowned Red Wine of the Year in 2012, while his ‘Spiritus’ GSM blend is proving hugely popular with customers. Both wines draw on John’s unparalleled skills as a winemaker as well as his extensive contacts and deep knowledge of where to find the Barossa’s best grapes.
The future looks bright
Content with the course he has set, John has no ambitions to turn John Duval Wines into another Penfolds. His mission is to protect and promote small batch, sub-regional winemaking, as well as having a vehicle to express his 40 plus years of premium winemaking knowledge. By working closely with some of the Barossa’s best vignerons (who are key custodians of the region’s treasured old vines), the future of John Duval Wines looks very good indeed.
Meet John Duval, John Duval Wines
John graduated in agriculture and winemaking from Adelaide University in 1973 and started at Penfolds in 1974. He was fortunate to follow in the footsteps of some of the greats of Australian winemaking such as Max Schubert, the creator of Penfolds Grange, and Don Ditter, who mentored John in the 1970s and early '80s. In 1986 John was promoted to the position of Chief Winemaker at Penfolds, where he witnessed one of the most dynamic periods of change in the Australian wine industry. Under John’s guidance, Penfolds was catapulted to fame on the world stage, winning Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London in 1989; Red Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine Challenge in London in 1991 and again in 2000; and seeing the 1990 Penfolds Grange named the Wine of the Year by the prestigious US magazine Wine Spectator.
John’s favourite wine moment
Releasing my first wine under our family label; the 2003 Plexus SGM (Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvedre). This wine went on to score 93 points from Robert Parker Jr in The Wine Advocate (Oct 2005), and 94 points from Philip White in The Adelaide Advertiser who called it a “near perfect example.”
John’s winemaking Philosophy
1. Quality grapes from a well-managed vineyard. Picked at the right time with optimum flavour and tannin ripeness with sugar levels not too high.
2. Fermented to retain fruit expression and balance; not over extracted for red wine.
3. Bottled at the right time, after maturation has developed and enhanced complexity.
“Being involved making wine in three continents of the world, my aim is to make elegant wines which are true to the soils and climate of each of the vineyards I work with.”