With the first Ashes test defeat still such a fresh wound, our contributing editor and chef extraordinaire Roger Jones kept conversation away from the Welsh and English team’s performance when sat next to Australian cricket legend Mark Taylor. Very much on the menu, however, was the full range of the wines of Jim Barry that were paired with premium Japanese food, including the best crab dish that Jones reckons he has ever tried.
The 2016 Jim Barry “Single Vineyard” Shiraz, was served alongside 2013 The McRae Wood Shiraz, which was not a fair fight in my mind, writes Jones.
To cheer up the locals, Australian cricket captain Mark Taylor was in attendance as was Rie Yoshitake, the influential sake communicator.
Whilst London is awash with wine dinners and events it’s good to see the county set being looked after and what better winery than Jim Barry with its cricketing background and quality Australian wines to showcase to the locals.
It’s always interesting talking to consumers and seeing how they see the wine world, it is surprising how knowledgeable they are and of their interest in premium New World wines.
Jim Barry was founded by the late Jim Barry in 1959, and now the third generation (Tom, Sam and Olivia) are running it, with Peter Barry (2ndgeneration), of course, still at the wicket.
The evening also highlighted the seamless way that they managed to match Japanese food to Jim Barry wines.
Jim Barry, McKays “Single Vineyard” Riesling, Clare Valley, 2017
Sourced from the Watervale area of Clare, this Riesling was beautifully highlighted by the fatty salmon belly. The orange blossom and pink grapefruit together with the lemon-tart flavours cut through the salmon and the fresh zingy acidity cleaned the palate ready for another mouthful. What a beautiful match.
Jim Barry, Assyrtiko, Clare Valley, 2018
Peter’s love and fixation of Assyrtiko resulted in him planting this Greek grape in the Clare to great success. This is a gentle wine that has a lovely ‘lemon fool’ feel and texture with restrained citrus flavours balanced by a lovely creaminess. This was matched by an outstanding glazed Alaskan king crab dish with a spiced mayonnaise and wasabi foam – certainly one of the best crab dishes I have had – with the soothing, creamy, lemon nuances from the Assyrtiko balancing the spicy heat.
Jim Barry, The Florita, Riesling, Clare Valley, 2016
The Florita is a wine to age, but already delivers excellence with its texture and steely purity. Pineapple, rose water, limes and a juniper essence, all these are perfect and open up well with the matching deep fried red snapper dippers. This is the style of Riesling that has made Australia famous and they are always pleasurable to drink when young with food, but with age just enjoy them au naturel.
Jim Barry “Single Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, 2015
Balanced, gentle aromatics of cassis and earthy red stone, mint and herbaceous flowers, softly spiced with gentle blackberries.
Jim Barry “First Eleven” Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra, 2015
Made only in exceptional years this certainly created a whirl of admiration in the room. More forward than the Single Vineyard, with a more fruit-forward theme. Bright red currants blended with dark juicy cherries, hints of cocoa and toffee with a gentle vanilla hit. Matched to teriyaki lamb neck fillet enhanced with apricots.
Jim Barry “Single Vineyard” Shiraz, Clare Valley, 2016
Jim Barry The McRae Wood, Shiraz, Clare Valley, 2013
These two Shiraz were served together, not quite a fair fight, as to me The McRae Wood is the gift that Jim Barry gives to those who cannot afford The Armagh.
The Single Vineyard, however, has that classic Clare spice, with a touch of eucalyptus, a touch of refreshing acidity with that beautiful opulent fruit structure.
But for me the older McRae Wood is just sublime with its complexity and multi-layered flavours, dark silky fruit, leather armchairs, cocoa, and gentle spices; pretty seamless and a great advocate of the Barry family’s excellence.
Jim Barry “The Armagh”, Shiraz, Clare Valley 2013
This is built to age and, my word, how good are they with 10-20 years bottle age. This 2013 on the nose has the intensity of precise, pure, tiny dark berries, balanced by a chestnut aroma. On the palate it is pure espresso aromas intermingled with graphite and liquorice, silky and luxurious with great power and length.
With dessert we were also served Umesh by Urakasumi, a dessert Sake. Light in colour with a wonderful expression of yellow plums, its intensity on first approach soon evolved on the palate giving a restrained sweetness – a lovely refreshing style of Sake with a marzipan/wedding cake nuance.
Jim Barry as a winery delivers a complete package abiding by quality as well as providing a wide price point, encouraging consumers to divulge and, with time, explore. It was also encouraging to see restaurants like Arigato take on premium wines and showcase the diversity of Japanese food with wines other than Sake and lager.