"From Penfold's former winemaker, John Duval's debut release is the 2003 Plexus, a brilliant blend of Shiraz (46%), Grenache (32%), and Mourvedre (22%) that was aged in 30% new French oak. At present, there are only 500 cases of this stunning effort, but, hopefully, production will increase. A dense ruby/purple color is followed by an extraordinarily precise nose of flowers, blackberries, kirsch, licorice, and a hint of Provencal herbs. A pleasant smokiness and meaty richness also emerge as the wine sits in the glass. Opulent, full-bodied, stunningly pure, and dense as well as elegant and well-delineated, it can be drunk now or cellared for 10-12 years. Kudos to John Duval." -Wine Advocate
Four generations of the Duval clan have been vignerons in South Australia. The inspiration of the Barossa Valley's old vine, low yielding Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre created Plexus, combining elements into a beautifully structured blend. Traditional winemaking practices and fifteen months in French oak barriques will ensure the age worthiness of this first ever release, ensuring a long cellar life.
John Duval Winery
John Duval began his self-titled label in 2003. Duval graduated from Adelaide University in 1973 with a degree in agriculture and winemaking before becoming a winemaker for Penfolds for the next 29 years. Duval was appointed Chief Winemaker at Penfolds in 1986 and was lucky enough to oversee one of the most dynamic periods of change in the Australian wine industry. He received 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 saw the 1990 Penfolds Grange named the Wine of the Year by the prestigious US magazine Wine Spectator in 1995.
Duval focuses on fruit that comes from older vines in Barossa, including Rhone varietals, leading to one of his stellar ones, "Plexus."
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The Barossa zone consists of two sections - the Barossa Valley and the Eden Valley. Wines from the Eden Valley can be labelled Barossa or Barossa Valley.
Situated just a bit east of the large city of Adelaide, Barossa is Australia's wine headquarters. Mega producers are based here, boutique wineries call it home and a majority of the habitants claim their income on the wine industry. The valley is strewn with a series of hamlets, small towns spotted throughout the region.
Barossa is red-wine territory, with red grapes consisting of about two-thirds of the region's plantings. The reds, Shiraz in particular, are lauded for their rich, concentrated flavors and aging potential. Old vines of Shiraz and Grenache are popular, many up to 80 years old. The valley is home to some of the most famous vineyards of Australia - this is where the first Penfolds Grange was made. Whites are also found, mainly from the Semillon grape – these wines are as full-bodied as the reds although harder to find. Riesling and Chardonnay are also planted.
Right next to Barossa Valley, but a bit higher in elevation, Eden Valley is an ideal neighbor. Many wineries source vineyards from both areas as the climate difference in Eden Valley leads to wines of a different character. Reds are still mainly Shiraz and Grenache, but the wines are often more restrained and less dense than those in the Barossa Valley. Whites are popular here too. Eden Valley Rieslings and Semillons are particularly excellent.
Like the United States, which is about the same size, Australia's winemaking regions are huddled into one or two pockets of the country. The state of South Australia, which produces about 60% of the country's wine, also has the most wineries and sub-regions, including McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Coonawarra and Barossa Valley. New South Wales is home to the Hunter Valley, while the smaller, southern state of
Victoria is best known for theYarra Valley. Head way west to the very large state of Western Australia and you'll find the tiny region of Margaret River at the southern tip.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.