Kaesler Avignon

Kaesler Avignon

Reid Bosward and Travis Schultz

Maybe it’s human nature, or just the Aussie way, but we seem to be a bunch who like to seek the “good oil” in our quest for the proverbial holy grail. 

Whether it’s investing in the shares our stockbrokers are buying, following the lead of the racehorse trainer having a bet on their pick of the yard, or keeping an eagle eye on what the chef orders from the menu, the temptation to follow the expert in the know is as instinctive as it is irresistible. So after recently spending a few days with a Baron of the Barossa, it was probably inevitable that I’d find myself gravitating towards the wine that the winemaker himself chose as his tipple of choice; though it was a surprising selection for a “go-to” staple.

Reid Bosward was honoured with the title “Baron” by the wine fraternity Barons of the Barossa in 2004 in recognition of the significant contribution he’s made to the industry in South Australia’s most recognised wine producing region. The quietly spoken vintner has long been influential in an industry in which primary producers need to be much more than “farmers”. As a Barossa local, he spends most of his time working in the Kaesler operation although he is also a part owner of the iconic Yarra Valley, Yarra Yering operation.

A Roseworthy graduate, Reid completed his apprenticeship at Tyrells in the Hunter Valley before heading abroad where he worked vintages in France, Spain, South Africa and even in a country that you wouldn’t want to be visiting in the current geopolitical climate, Moldova. After returning home and spending many years working with the Cellarmasters team in the Barossa, he and business partner, Ed Peter bought the Kaesler vineyards in 1999 and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Kaesler winery is based near Nuriootpa (not that far from Tanunda) in the epicentre of a sprawling group of vineyards in some of the oldest viticultural parts of the Valley. These days the suite of vineyards is widespread but the undisputed jewels in the Kaesler crown are some ancient Barossa vineyards – including paddocks planted in 1893, 1899 and 1930 which provide the fruit for the super-premium “Old Bastard” Shiraz – the next vintage of which will sell at $300 a bottle. While the Old Bastard might be the most expensive in the Kaesler stable, there are other premium wines – including the Alte Reben ($110), the Old Vine Shiraz ($90) the “WOMS” Cabernet Shiraz ($90) and the “Bogan” Shiraz ($55).

So with such outstanding wines at his disposal, I was a little surprised to learn during a recent tasting with him that his preferred everyday drinker was not one of the world beating shiraz that inevitably win awards and accolades from the best palates in the industry, but rather, the “Avignon” GSM blend that sells at a relatively modest $35 price point.

The blend that earns the Baron’s nod is aptly named after the town in the southern Rhone which is the spiritual home of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape style.  An audacious selection of a moniker but no doubt reverential.  The 2018 edition of the Avignon is unashamedly grenache dominant – 92% grenache supported by small amounts of old vine mourvèdre (5%) and shiraz (3%). Pour a glass, give it a swirl and it’s not hard to see why “Boz” chooses the blend he describes as “easy” to be his go-to. Up-front the musky nose quickly leads to generous lashings of plum, raspberry and blueberry characters with the first sip, before layers of French Oak, soft tannins and more berries dance to a merry tune across the back palate. The near perfect seasonal conditions lead to late ripening giving the plump fruit every chance to develop all of the luscious berried characters that the sweet and savoury grenache grape is renowned for.

Perhaps it’s the old vines, maybe it’s the Barossa terroir, or just the winemaker’s art but whatever it is, the 2018 Avignon is drinking delightfully well and represents incredible value at the price point.

If you’re anything like me and like to steal a free tip from an expert, it might pay dividends to tip your top hat to the Baron and grab a bottle of his very elegant 2018 Kaesler GMS blend.

 

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