150 Year Anniversary: John Kosovich & John Duval - Old Bridge Cellars

150 Year Anniversary: John Kosovich & John Duval

Jul 06, 2023Meg David

For well over 10 years Jay and Ian, a veteran of the wine newsletter scene, have sat down once a month and tasted through some of the best wines in Australia and the World. They talk tannins, pump overs, mid palate texture and length all in the name of finding incredible wines to range in our beautiful stores. It’s a tough gig but someone has to do it!
Sometimes they discover wines with stories that they just have to dive deeper into! And the backstory to both of the wines below merited special attention. Jay and Ian have written up wineries celebrating incredible milestones. 50 vintages in the Barossa and 100 years in the Swan Valley!
Yes, we know the article is long but it is crammed full of new and interesting information. Also scroll to the bottom to see what tastings we have coming up this week.
We have worked hard to get some discounted pricing for you, so if you're keen to add some special-edition wines to your cellar you can purchase the twin-pack, noting that both of these wines can be enjoyed now, but will also benefit from careful cellaring...the choice is yours!

John Kosovich 100 Year Anniversary Chenin Blanc 2022

The John Kosovich 100 year Anniversary Chenin Blanc is the latest in a line of Chenin Blancs produced by John Kosovich Wines, previously Westfield Wines, that stamp these wines as the best Chenin Blancs made in Australia. This conclusion is consistent with John Kosovich Chenin Blancs winning three of the top table wine Gold Medals at the 2020 Chenin Blanc Challenge, with the 2015 vintage crowned best of the 60 Australian entrants.

It is an outstanding example that demonstrates very clearly why Chenin Blanc is ideally suited to the terroir of the Swan Valley, provided that the appropriate viticulture and wine-making procedures are adopted. It is also relevant that the natural high acidity of Chenin Blanc is of great advantage in Mediterranean climates such as that of the Swan Valley. 

Chenin Blanc has a remarkable ancestry, with analysis suggesting that it has relationships with a wide range of varieties, including Savignin, Sauvignon Blanc, Trousseau, Colombard and even Cabernet Sauvignon! That diversity of heritage may account in part why Jancis Robinson (British wine critic) regards Chenin Blanc as probably the most versatile grape variety in the world, producing outstanding dry and sweet long-living white wines and quality sparkling wines.

The genesis of Westfield Wines dates back to 1922 when Ivan Kosovich, a Croatian immigrant, and his two brothers purchased land at Baskerville in the Swan Valley. The land was initially used for producing fruit and vegetables and grapes for fortified wines. In 1952, Ivan’s son John left school at the age of 15 and was put in charge of the vineyard and winery. John soon decided that the future lay in producing table wines rather than fortified wines as they were so much better suited to our climate.

Among the grape varieties John planted was what he had understood to be Semillon, which produced delicious wines. In 1970, however, a visiting Frenchman identified the “Semillon” vines as Chenin Blanc! Chenin Blanc, in particular, responds positively to John’s underlying philosophy of low cropping, shoot and bunch thinning and fruit sorting at harvest. John also upgraded the winery and was one of the first to employ refrigeration and cold fermentation. A combination of meticulous viticulture and winemaking has resulted in the production of consistently high quality wines from all of their grape varieties. 

The name of the winery was changed to John Kosovich Wines in appreciation of John’s many years of wine making at his family’s winery. The award of the prestigious Jack Mann Medal for his contribution to the Western Australian Wine Industry and medal of the Order of Australia bear testament to the respect with which John Kosovich is held.

The whole Kosovich family were involved in hand picking the fruit for the John Kosovich 100 Year Anniversary Chenin Blanc, which underwent cool fermentation in stainless steel. After racking, the wine remained on its lees until bottling, at which time a portion of the fruit, which had been matured in French oak, was added. 
The bouquet of the John Kosovich 100 Year Anniversary exudes a range of attractive aromas, including citrus and a touch of subtle background toasty oak. The bouquet benefits from being allowed to breathe for a while. The palate is complex and vibrant, with its unique qualities owing much to the bracing acidity. A wine with real depth and persistence. Complex, layered and delicious to drink in its youth or left alone in the cellar where it will develop even more complex characters.

John Duval Entity Shiraz 2021

John Duval has had a huge influence on refining the style of Shiraz produced in the Barossa Valley. His wines are now much more approachable and elegant when young and yet still retain the best characteristics of the Shiraz made in that long-standing and premium area for this variety, including the ability to age.

We are delighted to acknowledge that, alongside John Kosovich, John Duval is also celebrating a milestone anniversary! Duval's contribution to the wines of the Barossa Valley now extends for 50 years. 

John Duval started working at Penfolds in the early 1970s, where he benefitted greatly over the next few years from the mentoring he received from Max Schubert, the creator of Grange. He eventually became only the third Chief Winemaker of Penfolds and thus the caretaker of Grange.

While John was responsible for introducing new wines at Penfolds, his most important innovation by far was to start trialling the use of French oak hogsheads rather than American oak. The results of maturing quality old vine Barossa Shiraz in French oak in a trial in 1997 convinced John that this approach was the future and has been fundamental to his subsequent winemaking when he established his own winery.

John Duval has stated that 2021 in the Barossa Valley will be remembered as an exceptional vintage for red wines, particularly for Shiraz. This represents a remarkably strong endorsement considering the large number of vintages over which John has presided in Australia’s home of Shiraz. 

The fruit for this came from old Shiraz vineyards in the Krondorf, Tanunda, Marananga, Ebenezer and Moppa regions of the Barossa Valley, with the other 25% coming from the Eden Valley. The parcels of fruit were fermented separately in small stainless steel fermenters and then matured for 15 months in French oak, of which 25% comprised of new, fine grain oak hogsheads, while the rest were older French hogsheads and puncheons.

The 2021 John Duval Entity Shiraz has a deep, bright reddish-purple colour and a fragrant attractive bouquet that combines dark berry and plum aromas. Although full-flavoured, the palate is elegant and complex, with red and blue-fruit flavours complimented by a touch of dark chocolate and peppery spice, backed by fine tannins. Drinking superbly already but will develop further complexity with at least 15 years of good cellaring.

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