From vineyard to the glass, a family’s guarantee of exceptional Barossa
Duval family: foundations
During the second half of the 19th century at Morphett Vale, south of Adelaide, the Duval family managed their vineyards and operated a world-famous sheep stud for over 100 years. The vineyards supplied shiraz grapes and vine cuttings to Penfolds.
John’s early career:
John Duval graduated from Adelaide University’s Roseworthy College in 1973 and secured a coveted winemaking role with Penfolds for the 1974 vintage. Over the next 12 years, John was mentored by Grange creator Max Schubert and Penfolds Chief Winemaker Don Ditter ~ before he assumed the position of Chief Winemaker in 1986. In doing so, John became only the third Chief Winemaker responsible for producing Australia’s greatest red wine – Penfolds Grange.
Longside his custodianship of Grange and legendary wines such as Bin 707, Bin 389 and St Henri, John initiated many exciting new wines, including Bin 138 (shiraz, grenache mourvédre) and Bin 407 (cabernet sauvignon), wines that are now standard features of the Penfolds collection. Of particular note was the new wine, Penfolds ‘R.W.T.’ shiraz, made entirely from old vine Barossa shiraz using French oak, and an early indication of John’s winemaking direction post-Penfolds.
John Duval Wines: the beginning
After 29 years at Penfolds, John sensed the need to embark on a personal project, looking for a challenge that would allow him to be involved first-hand from vineyard to glass ~ and an opportunity to build something for his family.
John Duval Wines began in 2003 with a single wine, the inaugural vintage of ‘Plexus’, a shiraz grenache and mourvédre blend.
A second wine was added in 2004 - ‘Entity’, made entirely from Barossa shiraz, followed in 2005 by a reserve shiraz – ‘Eligo’.
The first white ‘Plexus’, a blend of marsanne roussanne and viognier, was released from the 2010 vintage, with Annexus grenache (2013) and Annexus mataro (2016) created to showcase exceptional small parcels of heritage varietals that define Barossa as one of the world’s great wine regions. Annexus shiraz was released last year (2022), from the 2021 vintage, with John commenting to our Group GM, Fraser, that “the deconstruction of Plexus is now complete.”
‘Integro’, the long-planned cabernet shiraz, was released from vintage 2017 and followed up with 2018 as an age-worthy wine, allowing a journey of evolution over its many years.
John Duval Wines: philosophy
Rather than simply emulate Penfolds, John Duval Wines aims to perpetuate the story of a South Australian wine family through a collection of wines made from fruit grown in exceptional old Barossa vineyards, their distinctive style defined by elegance and structure.
Next generation: Tim Duval
John Duval Wines welcomed a second generation as eldest son Tim joined the family wine business. Having worked a number of vintages and then in wine retail whilst he studied, Tim returns to wine following 7 years of practicing as a lawyer in Adelaide. ‘Concilio’ is the latest creation with John and Tim working together. The development and naming of this wine are symbolic of the evolution of John Duval Wines as they bring together two generations of the Duval family in the business, with Tim Duval joining his father, John, ahead of the 2016 vintage. And whilst they continue their love of working with old Barossa vineyards, this wine also reflects the style evolution of Barossa grenache, led by the region’s many small artisan winemakers. The first grenache release was from the 2018 vintage, with shiraz following in 2021.
Cheat sheet: From Latin, the meaning behind the John Duval Wine proprietary names:
Integro | To integrate or make whole | A cabernet shiraz blend contributing to the proud and distinctly Australian tradition of blending these two varieties.
Eligo | To pick out, select or choose the best | A meticulous selection of the most exceptional shiraz John Duval Wines can produce | Inaugural vintage in 2005.
Annexus | Attached, linked or joined to; highlighting exceptional elements of Plexus | Single Vineyard grenache, shiraz or mataro | Inaugural vintage in 2013
Plexus | Single Vineyard grenache, shiraz or mataro | Inaugural vintage in 2013.
Entity | The outcome of a singular grape variety transformed by the winemaker’s craftsmanship | A culmination of 50 years (2023) experience producing world-class shiraz from exceptional Barossa vineyards | Inaugural vintage in 2004.
Plexus | An intricate or interwoven combination of elements into a coherent structure | A classic Barossa blend crafted from old vine shiraz, grenache and mourvèdre. | Inaugural red vintage in 2003, followed by white in 2010.
Concilio | To bring together | A modern style evolution of grenache and shiraz.