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The New Barossa
Part 3: Turkey Flat

Bethany Road, Tanunda SA 5352, Australia
Telephone: +61 (0)8 8563 2851
Website: www.turkeyflat.com.au E-mail: turkeyflat@bigpond.com

The Schulz family have owned the Turkey Flat property since 1865, but the family business was butchering and latterly dairying alongside grape growing. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that a fourth generation Schulz, Peter, decided to start making wines, along with his wife Christie.

I turned up here late in the afternoon, to meet Peter, along with Jaysen Collins (general manager), Pete Schell (winemaker) and Jason Schwarz (winemaker) – all of whom have started making their own Barossa wines (we’ll here more about these later).

I find barrel sampling is always an interesting activity, and I did plenty of this at Turkey Flat, led through a range of mainly 2004s by Pete Schell (right). You get a feel for winemakers, and how passionate they are about their craft, as they lead you through their barrels. With many of the best winemakers, the focus is on what’s in barrel almost to the exclusion of the bottled wines. Why? Because they always want to press on, to improve, to make something new and experiment with the fresh possibilities afforded by each new vintage.

First, a blend of Marsanne and Viognier 2004 from two vineyard plots. This has a distinctive nose of apricot and peach – very appealing. The palate has rich texture. A nice wine.

Then 2004 Marsanne, wild fermented – left to do its thing with deliberately dirty juice. This has a rich textured palate with lively acidity. Very interesting – Pete points out the ‘tannic dryness’ which comes from the phenolic extract.

Comparing Viognier from two vineyards, one picked early and fermented with clean juice, one picked late and fermented with dirty juice. The clean earlier picked version has lovely fresh aromatics – it’s fresh, grapey and lemony, although not too complex. The late picked dirty version had 15 degrees alcohol and some raisined fruit. It’s more complex with rich peach and apricot notes, some lovely richness of texture and tangy complexity. Really impressive.

A delicious oddity is the 2003 rack-dried Marsanne, where the grapes were picked and put onto stackable trays for a couple of weeks before fermentation. It has a sweet, rich, grapey nose with a herby edge. The palate is intensely sweet with good acid and complexity. Very impressive.

Onto the reds. (1) 2004 Shiraz from young vines picked early on the western side of the valley (soils: red clays over limestone/chalk base). Old Seguin Moreau barrel. Lovely intense dark fruits nose. Palate shows savoury, intense fruit with good acid. Quite elegant, despite the big, intense fruit.

(2) 2004 Shiraz from near the winery, later picked (soils: grades of quartzy gravel). Spicy, intense and ripe. Very distinctive spicy intensity on the palate with good acid. Almost tangy. Bit of herbiness and sour fruit character.

I asked Pete about blending. Interestingly, he says that you don’t get the best results blending from disparate, extreme components (say a high acid, fresh wine with a big, soft, over-ripe one); instead, it’s better to blend from wines that are complete in themselves.

(3) 2004 Shiraz, other side of the road from the winery. Siltier soils. Dark coloured with sweet, ripe nose. The palate is less full, but riper and sweeter. Lighter. ‘Velvety black fruits’, says Pete.

(4) Eden Valley Shiraz 2004, from the eastern side. Younger vineyard. Cool, dry, continental conditions here. Nice sweet dark fruit aromatics. Lighter in the palate with high acid and green spice – a herbaceous twist.

(5) 2004 Shiraz from Stonewell. Thin top soil over lime. Deep coloured and intense with chocolatey spiciness and good aromatics. Rich with a lovely intensity of fruit and good tannins. Rich and fleshy.

(6) Shiraz 2004 old vine block pressings. Rich, dark, herby fruit; spicy and open. Intense.

(7) Grenache 2004, gravelly soils. Planted 1921. Sweet and ripe with some spiciness and a liqueur-like edge. Lovely and expressive on the palate with some earthiness.

(8) Grenache 2004. Sandy soils, more aromatics. Very spicy. Spiciness dominates.

(9) Mourvèdre 2004. Very chunky with a lovely spicy edge. Savoury, spicy character – almost austere with big tannic structure.

(10) Mourvèdre 2004. Very intensely spicy with good acid and mouth-coating tannins. Bold stuff.

Conclusions: there are some fantastic blending components here for 2004. What’s fascinating is the differences between the various vineyard sites. Barossa Mourvèdre and Grenache are also fantastic in their own right.

Then we moved on to the bottled wines.

Turkey Flat Marsanne Semillon 2002
Very fruity, open and quite aromatic. Fresh, slightly herby palate with lots of character. Very good+ 87/100 (£10.99 Australianwinesonline.co.uk)

Turkey Flat Rosé 2004
An important wine because it represents 40% of the production by volume, and widely regarded as one of Australia’s best. Very appealing fruity nose with lovely soft fruit: no rough edges here. Some character. Very good+ 85/100 (Tanners, Noel Young, Asutralianwinesonline.co.uk £8.99)

Turkey Flat Old Butcher’s Block 2001
A Mourvèdre (44%)/Shiraz (36%)/Grenache (20%). Soft, open, spicy nose with sweet, tarry hints. Leathery edge. The palate is open and rich with  a lovely spiciness. Soft and savoury with some tannic structure. Rich but still with good structure. Very good+ 89/100 (£11.80 Tanners, £13.49 Noel Young)

Turkey Flat Grenache 2002
Lovely opne, subtly herbal character to the sweet, spicy nose. Complex hints of raisins. The palate is chewy and spicy with good structure and sweetness to the fruit. Quite rich. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£10.99 Noel Young)

Turkey Flat Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
20% new oak used. Minty, subtly herbaceous black fruits nose. The palate is quite structured with firm tannins and good acidity. Slightly tarry finish. One for the long haul. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£15.75 Australianwinesonline.co.uk)

Turkey Flat Shiraz 2002
All French oak. Quite restrained nose with a touch of herbaceousness. The palate is structured and full with good acidity and structure. Nicely weighted with some restraint shown: it’s big but not flash or showy. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£16.99 Noel Young, £18.50 Australianwinesonline.co.uk)

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