David Franz, new Barossa vigneron

Website: https://david-franz.com/

David Franz Lehmann is the son of Barossa legend Peter. I visited on a September day to taste and chat with him in the tasting room, which is in an old cottage that dates back to 1860. This is the new Barossa: hand crafted wines of character and with a sense of place.

‘The backbone of all the wines I do is approachability, drinkability and ageability,’ says David. ‘All the pressings are barrel fermented and blending back in to help with texture and tannins.’

He acknowledges that the Barossa lost its way in the 1990s and early noughties, when producers chased ripe, alcoholic wines that were the darlings of powerful critics. ‘We made the wines that were the seed of our own destruction.’

He also thinks the big companies didn’t help. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there were lots of wines in the 12.5-13.5 range which was a good thing. And because no one had money there was no new oak, and the winemaking was a lot more rudimentary. This was also a good thing. But with the success of the Barossa, along came the big companies, and these big company winemakers suddenly found themselves responsible for big volumes. ‘You go into prophylactic winemaking and a lot of soul falls out.’ But, he says, over the last 10 years there has been a flash of winemakers approaching wine from the cooking side rather than the chemical side, many of whom aren’t formally trained. The soul is returning.

David is moving towards more oxidative handling of whites. His reds are small batch 500-800 kg open fermentations with as many as 85 going at once, and they spend a minimum 35 days on skins

David also does all the label design. The labels are silk screen printed on the bottle and also printed on the paper the bottles are wrapped in.

David Franz Eden Edge Riesling Semillon 2016 Barossa
75% Riesling and 25% Semillon cofermented. Really intense and limey with lovely depth. There’s citrus plus a bit of pith on the finish. Juicy and dry with keen acidity. 89/100

David Franz Long Gully Road Semillon Ancient Vine 2015 Barossa
135 year old vines. Beautifully complex with lovely texture. Lemons, pears and some nuttiness. There’s a hint of pith and some fruit sweetness, with a hint of waxiness. Really mineral. Has lovely balance and weight. 93/100

David Franz Marg’s Blood Semillon 2012 Barossa
11.8% alcohol. This is a rerelease of the Long Gully Road. Complex, pithy, linear and pure with keen citrus fruit. Juicy and linear with a touch of subtle creaminess on the finish. Really high acidity with a juiciness. Very appealing. 92/100

David Franz Eden Valley Riesling 2016 Barossa
11.5% alcohol. From 60 year old vines, dry grown. So linear and fresh. Dry, elegant and quite delicate but not lacking in flavour, with very pure lemon and lime fruit. There is a lovely harmony to this, with amazing fruit quality. 93/100

David Franz Ricca Terra Farms Vermentino Barmera Vineyard 2015 Riverland
Grapes are from Ashley Ratcliff, a well known grower. Fermented in old oak. So fruity and lively with attractive citrus and pear fruit, with some apple notes. Textured and fruity with hints of cheese and tangerine. So delicious with a hint of seriousness. 91/100

David Franz Brother’s Ilk Chardonnay Moskos Birdwood Vineyard 2014 Adelaide Hills
12.8% alcohol. Barrel fermented, 30% inoculated for malolactic prior to fermentation, mix of different aged oak. Really linear with lovely pithy depth to the pear and white peach fruit. Has lovely intensity with generous, broad fruit but also nice focus. Finishes long and rich. 92/100

David Franz Eden Valley Riesling 2009 Barossa
Powerful and pithy with hints of toast and pear as well as direct citrus fruit. Lovely depth here and it’s beginning to develop really nicely. Very juicy and fine with lovely pristine citrus fruit and a juicy acidity. 92/100

David Franz Red Rosé 2016 Barossa
108 different varieties, some only a few bunches. Lovely fruit here with sweet grapey notes and lifted aromas of roses, strawberries and cherries. There’s a juicy edge and a bit of sweetness. Very fruity and delicious. 89/100

David Franz Grenache Noir 2015 Barossa
14% alcohol. 1923 plantings, 30% whole bunch. 14 months in old oak. Lighter-coloured, this has lovely supple, elegant sweet ginger-laced strawberry and red cherry fruit. Sweetly fruited with smooth structure and a lovely spiciness. Warm but very finely spiced and elegant. 92/100

David Franz Waxing Lyrical Mataro Shiraz Grenache Bin E621 2015 Barossa
Pick Mataro in a lean form (65%). Fresh and supple with sweet cherry and berry fruits. It’s very approachable and fruity with fine spiciness. Has supple spiciness and a hint of herbs, with a savoury twist to the light joyful fruit. Very drinkable and elegant. 91/100

David Franz H.P. Hydraulic Press Shiraz 2015 Barossa
Ripe and sweet with lovely definition, showing juicy, rounded sweet raspberry and cherry fruit with a hint of pepper. Very sleek but fresh and super-smashable, with more than a hint of seriousness. 91/100

David Franz Plane Turning Right Merlot Petit Verdot Cabernet 2014 Barossa
Really supple with lovely bright blackcurrant and red cherry fruit, with a bit of gravel and chalk, as well as some fresh mint. Very nicely defined and delicious, with freshness and nice weight, finishing dry and spicy. 92/100

Three Kids and a Dog range: all three years in oak

David Franz Benjamin’s Promise Shiraz 2012 Barossa
14.4% alcohol. Powerful but fresh with some spicy, cedary oak over the sweet, dense berry fruits. Lively and complex with nice freshness and depth. Quite serious with some oak evident, meshing well with the dense fruit. Spicy and vivid on the finish. 92/100

David Franz Alexander’s Reward Cabernet Shiraz 2012 Barossa
13.5% alcohol. 75% Cabernet in American oak and 25% Shiraz in French oak. Fresh and complex with lovely savoury spiciness. Very fine with lovely sweet berry fruits and a real harmony across the palate. Fresh, spicy finish. Lovely definition here. It’s weighty but refined. 93/100

David Franz Georgie’s Walk Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Barossa
12.8% alcohol. Really fresh and spicy with lovely red cherry and plum fruit, together with a twist of blackcurrant, as well as hints of coffee and mocha, and a distinct spiciness. Fresh, juicy and delicious. Typical Barossa Cabernet and quite delicious, with brilliant freshness. 93/100

David Franz Larrikin VI NV Barossa
A blend of 61% Shiraz with Mataro, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Started making this in 2003. Supple and juicy with lovely elegance and richness hand-in-hand. Lovely sweet cherries and plums with juiciness and also a lovely texture. Has a really expressive personality (has as many as 14 different vintages of each of the varieties). Classic and elegant, with real harmony. Some leather, spice and iodine hints. Could age well too. 94/100

David Franz Botrytis Semillon 2011 Barossa
2 weeks on skins, 12 months in neutral French oak. Really sweet with complex notes of apricot, ripe apple, peach and marmalade, with lovely brightness and lift. So complex and expressive. 93/100

David Franz Old Redemption XO Barossa
An old tawny average age 52 years old. So complex and intense with sweet grape notes, a bit of raisin and sweet spiciness. So complex and intense with amazing spiciness and lively acidity. Approaching perfection in this style, with lovely purity. 96/100

David Franz VP Crazy Liqueur Shiraz 2010 Barossa
Mellow, minty, spicy and intense with lovely complex spiciness. Cherries, plums and nice sweetness. There’s nice fruit here but there’s also a savoury spiciness, with a warm complexity. 93/100

David Franz AD 1979 Vintage Port Barossa
Cabernet 75% from Langhorne and 25% Shiraz from Barossa. 17.4% alcohol. The last of the Metala vintage ports made at Saltram. This is mature and complex with a mellow, savoury palate, showing blackberry and black cherry fruit with some nice spiciness. Has some herb, leather and earth hints, with lovely mellow maturity. 93/100

UK agent: Graft Wines

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