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The New Barossa
Part 10: Schwarz

Jason Schwarz (above) is a football coach. But we're in Australia now, and football means Aussie Rules, a tough, pacy and I have to say (from an outsider's perspective) slightly comical game that's particularly popular in Victoria, but which also boasts a couple of pro sides in Adelaide. You have to be pretty tough to play Aussie rules, so maybe a soft pom like me shouldn't say these things.

I was lucky: Jason wasn't doing his usual coaching on Saturday when I visited, and he's actually quite a nice guy who doesn't rough up poms, so he had the time to show me his wines, which have begun to attract some critical acclaim.   

What's the story here? Jason’s father Ian is a successful independent grower, with over 100 acres of vineyards in the valley. In 2001 Jason persuaded his dad to let him play with a ton of fruit from the Nitschke Block vineyard – a Shiraz vineyard over the road from Turkey Flat that was planted in 1967 (pictured right) – to make some home brew. The results were very impressive, and Jason has added a Thiele Road Grenache to his nascent range. These are quite big, ripe wines, but with good balance and incredible fruit quality. Incidentally, Jason is another employee of Turkey Flat winery, along with Pete Schell and Jaysen Collins. His dad still sells fruit to the big companies, but if Jason carries on this way, he might well get more to play with

We began with some samples from 2004.

Schwarz Thiele Road Grenache 2004
Something odd happened to this in 2004: it’s a rather weird wine with 16% alcohol and 6 grams/litre of residual sugar. Very sweet liqueur-like nose leads to an intense, slightly sweet palate. Unusual stuff with a smooth fruit character. Not quite a sweet wine, but certainly not a dry one. 1200 litres made.

Schwarz Shiraz 2004
At just 12.5% alcohol, this is light, fresh and spicy with some nice structure. Good fruit quality. A light style. 500 litres made.

Schwarz Nitsche Block Shiraz 2004
Intense, dark colour. Lots of spicy, dark fruit on the nose. The palate shows a great concentration of firm, spicy fruit with great balance. This is potentially fantastic. 92–96/100 (800 litres made.)

Then on to the bottled wines, which were wonderful

Schwarz Thiele Road Grenache 2003
Fine spicy nose of sweet red fruits with some elegance. The palate shows lovely fine-grained tannins and a spicy intensity. A full-flavoured Grenache style with lovely fruit quality. 91/100

Schwarz Nitschke Block Shiraz 2003
Wonderfully intense nose of summer pudding and dark spicy fruit, which is quite open and aromatic. The palate is full and chewy with a lovely minerally spicy core and a big structured finish. 92/100

Schwarz Nitsche Block Shiraz 2002
Lovely seamless sweet intense fruit on the nose, with more of that summer pudding character. Delicious concentrated palate with smooth, intense red fruits backed up with good acids and tannins. Rich but balanced, with a nice subtle spicy character and a hint of meatiness. 93/100

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