2018 Jim Barry, Assyrtiko, Clare Valley, Australia.
While famously known for their red wines and especially their legendary The Armagh Shiraz, which has been an Aussie icon since it was first released in 1985, it is lesser known that Jim Barry does an exceptional selection of white wines, with their Riesling collection being absolutely outstanding and now they have this equally compelling Assyrtiko, it is a star in the lineup and this 2018 is a stunning wine. I first tasted the Assyrtiko at a trade tasting a few years ago, and I have been waiting what seems ages now to get a take home bottle of this Greek varietal that is now planted on the Jim Barry estate in Australia’s Clare Valley, and it did not disappoint and is even better than I had hoped with crisp bone dry detail, fresh mineral focus and a vibrant array of lemon/lime, white peach, salty stones, apple skin, citrus blossom and a touch of hazelnut. I can’t wait to try the latest 2020 release when it comes out, from everything I hear it is another step up and that would seems understandable as the vines get into full maturity here this Australian Assyrtiko should get more deeply layered and complex, though I love this very much and highly recommend it, in particular with oysters, grilled shrimp and or with marinated goat cheese, an Aussie specialty.
Peter Barry, while on vacation to the Greek Islands in 2006 came across a tasty white wine on Santorini and became obsessed with Assyrtiko and thought, since the Riesling was so good at home, he could bring some cuttings back and see what happens, so after some careful research over a few years and a few headaches, he got his original Assyrtiko cuttings from Santorini, Greece planted in the Clare in 2012. An interesting side note, did you know Australia has one the highest populations of Greeks outside of Greece? It’s true, with close to 400,000 people of Hellenic/ Greek ancestry living down under. These vines were, as the winery explains, planted on the south side of the ridges where the soils are thinner and the vines are naturally de-vigorated, making for smaller yields, allowing the true character of the Assyrtiko to develop. In the cellar, the Assyrtiko saw a combination of stainless steel and oak aging with a portion of Assyrtiko, as the Barry’s add, being fermented in a seasoned, well used large barrels and aged on lees before the final blend is put together to add texture, depth and complexity to this intriguing wine. I am a huge fan of this wine, which I think is a fantastic success story and I hope that someone in California gives Assyrtiko a try too. This ultra pale, 12% alcohol, Jim Barry Assyrtiko is a serious Summer wine and a great alternative to some of the more generic bottles out there.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive