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While not holding any formal qualifications in winemaking, Jason’s appetite for the subject was voracious and he was lucky to learn from some of the Barossa’s finest winemakers until finally, after some encouragement from friends he approached his father to discuss buying a small parcel of the fruit from the 2001 vintage. He agreed and Jason put together his first Nitschke Block Shiraz, making only two hogs head barrels. In 2002 Jason produced his first Thiele Road Grenache and have made both wines every vintage since. To this day Jason’s parents have supported his venture and without their encouragement and the sacrifice of some of the Barossa’s greatest Shiraz and Grenache he could not have made this dream happen.
Relationships with some of the Barossa’s finest vignerons have grown over the years and having access to some of the region’s best old-vine fruit allows Jason to take a hands-off, intuitive approach in the winery.
Jason’s minimal intervention winemaking style enables him to create small-batch wines that are not mainstream – they are new-age expressions of Barossa classics, designed to allow the fruit to speak for itself and tell a story through the glass.
The Nitschke Road Shiraz block was planted by Jason’s mother and father in 1968 in Bethany near the base of the Eastern Barossa Range. The vineyard is still pruned and picked by hand and the soils of loam over brown and red clays results in a wine of considerable concentration and drive. Rich, opulent fruit is the reoccurring theme with this vineyard and it always seems to show great balance and texture year in, year out.
The Nitschke Block Shiraz was the first wine made by Jason Schwarz back in 2001.
Vintage 2019 was one of those years, starting off with a very dry winter in 2018, frost in late September, then a hotter and dryer October to December period, wind in October/November during flowering and hail after fruit set in late November, no rain and a hotter than average January including the infamous record 46˚ day, and another heatwave at the end of Feb/start of March. Add all that up and it might sound like a horror vintage, but while yields were down the quality is great! As often happens when yields are low, the quality and intensity of the flavours in the fruit increase as the moisture level decreases.
Vines seem to know when it is going to be a dry season, they feel the stress, so they just don’t set as much fruit from the outset. That way they can concentrate all their flavour in the fruit that is there.
Frost decimated the vineyard in spring 2018 along with the drought the vineyard recorded the lowest ever yields with only 1716 Kg picked off 1.5 hectares. The fruit was picked in 2 stages as patches ripened differently. First picked on February 20, 25% whole bunch clusters into a fermenter with the lid sealed on. Natural fermentation occurred six days later when gentle pump overs occurred twice daily. Foot stomping took place towards the end of fermentation to break any whole berries.
The fruit was pressed thirteen days after picking. The second pick took place on February 26 with 30% whole bunch clusters. A similar process took place to the first pick with a longer maceration process being carried out. Once primary fermentation finished the lid was sealed back on the fermenter to stop any oxidation occurring with occasional soft plunging to keep the cap moist. Once Jason had the structure and fruit desired the fruit was pressed, 28 days post picking. Both parcels were racked to French oak Hogs heads 25% being new oak. The wine was blended September 2020 and bottled late December. 1865 Bottles Produced. A vegan friendly wine bottled with no fining or filtration.
A display of the purest blood-plum and black cherry, with cracked black peppercorn and streaky bacon over some seriously fine oak. Some subtle herbaceous qualities, nettle and thyme bring life to an otherwise immense nose. Very juicy on the palate, deeply flavoursome, long and with mouth-coating tannin for a very textured very focussed Barossa classic.
Will continue to improve with careful cellaring for 10-15 years.