Jim Barry Assyrtiko is a white wine made from the Assyrtiko grape variety. Assytiko is native to Greece and makes some excellent wines there, but Jim Barry is one of the very few growing this exciting grape variety outside of Greece, certainly the first in Australia.
Jim Barry is a legend of the Australian wine industry and one of the principal drivers leading to the Clare Valley becoming recognised as one of the benchmark wine-growing regions of Australia. The Jim Barry Armagh Shiraz is considered one of the finest examples of the Clare Valley Shiraz. After a degree in oenology at Roseworthy Agricultural College, Jim Barry founded Jim Barry Wines in 1959. The company remains in family hands and today his grandchildren Tom, Sam and Olivia are the winemaker, commercial manager and brand ambassador respectively.
Jim Barry’s son Peter and his wife Sue first encountered the Assyrtiko grape variety whilst on holiday with his wife in 2006. The wines reminded Peter of Clare Valley riesling, he was smitten and returned to the Greek islands in 2008 and collected some cuttings from Argyros Wines on the island of Santorini. After serving the 2 years quarantine required by the Australian government, the two Assyrtiko vines were released to Peter in 2010. 658 cuttings were propagated from these two vines and in first Assyrtiko vines were planted in Australia at the family’s Lodge Hill Vineyard. The first bunches were harvested in March 2014. Today there are nearly seven hectares of Assyrtiko across four vineyard sites in Clare Valley (including The Florita vineyard at Watervale, one of the oldest in the Clare Valley), some of which are grown and pruned in the traditional Santorini kouloura basket shape. All
the vines in the Assyrtiko blocks are planted in shallow soils over the bedrock which
makes them struggle just a little, producing intensely flavoured wines. The vines are
single cordon trained to promote even canopy growth and provide optimal shade.
The grapes for Jim Barry Assyrtiko are hand-harvested and undergo a careful sorting. The fruit fruit was chilled to 6°C before being destemmed and pressed. After cold settling, the juice was racked with a portion of the light “fluffy” lees. Cool fermentation took place with selected yeasts at temperatures of 14 to 16°C and lasted two to three weeks. A small parcel underwent
cool fermentation in aged French barrels, enhancing the texture.