John Duval is one of Australia's most highly regarded winemakers. Raised on a South Australian farm with three generations of grape growers before him, his vinous path was fated. However, it was during his 28-year tenure with Penfolds that his passion for the famed Barossa Valley flourished. As Chief Winemaker and custodian of Australia's most famous wine, Grange, he was instrumental in establishing Penfolds as one of the world's great wineries. His accolades include being named UK Wine and Spirit Competition's International Winemaker of the Year, Red Winemaker of the Year (twice) and receiving Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year award. In 2003, John embarked on his own label, John Duval Wines, inspired by the best of the Barossa Valley's low-yielding, old vine vineyards. With a deft touch he crafts intense wines that are as complex and distinctive as the diverse terroir of his treasured Barossa Valley.
"At the very pinnacle of quality and high standards rest a core of well-known names (including) John Duval. With 35 years in the winemaking business under his belt, nearly 30 of which were spent making Grange and developing the RWT label at Penfolds, John Duval is a bit of an Australian wine legend."
Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate (2010)
After many years overseeing the Penfolds wine stable, John Duval knew the treasure of Barossa lay in the Valley’s old vine Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre. Duval’s interpretation of this potential is unique though, and his decades of experience deliver a succinct, focused message. Submerged-cap fermentation is employed in traditional open-top tanks to ensure gentle, yet thorough, color and tannin extraction. The oak regime is explicit: new oak is kept to a minimum and French coopers hold the upper hand. Technique aside, it is Duval’s commitment to expressing the best of his cherished Barossa and its people that sees him create wines not only true to the region, but also to variety and vintage. With tightly woven berry flavors and layered complexity, these elegantly structured wines offer age worthiness and restraint uncommon among their regional peers.
The Barossa Valley, arguably the center of the Australian wine industry today, has one of the richest cultural histories of any Australian wine region. Settled in the 1840s by English and German emigrants, many of the first vineyards are farmed to this day by sixth-generation winemaking families. Here, gnarled old vines thrive in a warm, continental climate, with ample sunshine hours allowing the small berries to reach optimum ripeness and flavor concentration. While access to this scarce, old-vine fruit is fiercely guarded, Duval’s long-established vigneron relationships and an intimate knowledge of Barossa’s sub-regions ensures he has a rich palate from which to craft his wines. Be it complex Shiraz from Ebenezer and Greenock’s red soils, glorious Marsanne from the Marananga region, or fruit from the 100 year-old Mourvedre vines in Light Pass and Angaston, under Duval’s care this exceptional fruit is fashioned into a grand portrait of the region’s rich history.