Teusner Wines

Another week, another wine tasting. This week Randall’s hosted winemaker Kym Teusner of Teusner (Toys-ner) Wines who are a small northern Barossa winery, based around Ebenezzer. They make a small number of Rhone style reds and are slowly adding some whites with some serious character to the lineup.

One thing that distinguishes Teusner from a lot of wineries is that they are not vignerons. They buy all of their fruit from a few carefully selected vineyards, the owners of which are treated more like business partners. Their largest supplier of fruit is the Riebke brothers, this family have been growing grapes in the Barossa for generations and were slowly being made to pull all of their old growth, but unprofitable Grenache and Mataro vines and replace them with Chardonnay. Forced by big corporations and the government and their big bank accounts.

Kym overheard the Riebke’s at a barbecue talking about this predicament and quickly raised enough capital to buy a small portion of the fruit. This, along with a lot of patience and financial assistance from the Riebke’s saved the vines and neither the Teusners nor the Riebke’s have looked back.

The story doesn’t stop there, not long after – Kym was working at Rolf Binder wines while trying to get his own label off the ground when one of the Riebke’s showed up with a truckload of fruit and asked Kym if he wanted some more fruit. Kym told him that he would come out tomorrow and have a look at the vines, the Riebke’s reply was that tomorrow wasn’t soon enough, the fruit was in the truck, they didn’t want to take it to the big guys down the road and Kym could pay him when he could afford it. Turns out the fruit was great, the wine was amazing, the bill was paid, the vineyard was picked and taken to the Teusner’s each year, not Fosters.

This process of taking good, old vines that are being “wasted” in massive mass produced wines is a common theme, their Woodside Sauvignon Blanc is from growers in a similar situation. The wine was being all taken to a “big” producer and being mixed into whatever was seen fit, the grower offered his wines to Teusner, who decided they could make great wine with a bit of helpful guidance and good winemaking. The Woodside Sauvignon Blanc is like very few Sauvignon Blanc you will have tasted. Full of character and minerality and very little of the crazy acidity and citrus flavours.

This wasn’t Teusner’s only gain at the loss of the big guys. The Grange Hermitage fruit is taken from a number of vineyards around the Barossa. For this fruit to be used in the Grange it needs to meet the Foster’s quality levels this amongst other things involves maximum vineyard yield and in 2006 this was too high. Turns out the fruit was amazing and it went into the Astral Series Riebke FG Shiraz, a wine that at $130 is worth every cent (this coming from a guy that can’t afford it)

The Joshua, Avatar and Riebke are Teusner’s staple. The first 2 are both Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro and both completely different. I’m pretty sure I ended up with 2 of the same glass and only got to taste the Avatar. This was a complex, savoury blend that would match well with spring rolls, a rich red curry or a rare steak. I’m told the Avatar was a much different beast, a much more not over-ripe fruit driven wine made in a northern-Rhone style.

The Riebke is one of the best valued bottles of wine you will find, priced around $20 this is a perfumed, fruit driven shiraz without a hint of raisins or sultanas. The oak-driven spices hold up perfectly against the fruit and is carried perfectly by the soft tannins. This will sit perfectly against a meaty lamb or duck dish.

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