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Spinifex

Spinifex

Perpetual Virtuosity from one of the Pioneers of the ‘New Barossa’

We first offered Spinifex’s wines in 2006, writing, “If Spinifex is not one of the most exciting Australian producers to have cropped up in the last decade, then we don’t know much about wine.” Time has been kind to those words, and thanks to this outstanding producer’s continuous progression, our reputation is not only still intact but indeed enhanced! Thanks, Pete.

Spinifex was started by Magali Gely and Peter Schell in 2001. Magali and Peter’s background is the key to understanding the styles of wine they produce. Magali comes from a family that has been growing wine near Montpellier for over ten generations, whilst Peter is a trained oenologist and has made wine in Burgundy, Switzerland, Provence, the Minervois, the Languedoc, Bordeaux and New Zealand. Peter and Magali’s combined backgrounds led to the belief that the vineyard is paramount in the production of unique, authentic wines, and that the wines they produce should not only reflect their sites; showing richness and intensity; but also, be well-balanced and a pleasure to drink.

Pete Schell should be considered one of the pioneers of the ‘new Barossa’, in that he was perhaps the first to truly grasp that seeking ripe fruit at lower Baumé and large format, or at least neutral oak was the way to go in the Barossa. He knew that power came naturally in this part of the world and that his efforts need to be directed at finding perfume and finesse and digestibility. He also grasped the importance of the old parcels of heritage grape varieties (much of which had been grubbed up) and worked hard to lock down what he could. Finally, and most thought-provokingly, he came to realise that the Barossa might well be as good a rosé and white wine region as it is a red wine area and promptly set about producing some of the most exciting examples of these wine styles the Barossa has seen.

While Schell’s wines remain quite unlike the traditional Barossa norm, they remain saturated with what we often call a ‘sense of place’ and maintain an unmistakable Barossan soul.

Twenty years into the story and Pete Schell’s fastidious criteria for site selection combined with his intuitive, hands-off work in the winery continues to yield dramatic results. His wines offer the textural openness and generosity that is the mark of the region, its climate and ancient soils, yet not at the expense of definition, tannic freshness and line.

Alongside their ground-breaking roster of négoce wines, Pete and Magali have realised their lifelong goal of owning and working their own vineyards. And what vineyards they are. The Rostein Vineyard in the Eden Valley was purchased in 2014. To complement the old vine Riesling and Shiraz already in place, they’ve planted Grenache (the highest block in South Australia at 495 metres) Mataro, Counoise and Cinsault. Next came the historic Dominion Vineyard near Vine Vale in 2018. Located in the dead centre of the Barossa Valley, this four-hectare site is home to two parcels of 1910 Grenache and 1918 Shiraz. Both varieties are deep-rooted in thin soils made up of fine, silty sand over friable, red-coloured clay. Translation: this is great, old-school Barossa country. A little Grenache Gris has also been planted. 

Each of these vineyards is entirely hand-pruned, hand-picked and has been managed to a very high standard, namely: biodynamic preparations; regular compost; no synthetics and no chemical fertiliser; no irrigation; and no under-vine management apart from some mulch application and lots of mowing. Despite this exciting evolution, Schell’s unwavering commitment to his growers means the négoce wines will always remain a cornerstone of the Spinifex range. 

State

South Australia, Australia

Region

Barossa

Wine Maker

Peter Schell and Magali Gely

“Pete and his partner Magali Gely operate what I think is the best new-wave of small-scale Barossa wine companies to emerge at the beginning of the 21st century… These weren’t big, blockbuster, showy wines designed to impress. They were wines that managed to take the best of the Barossa’s sometimes forgotten varietal traditions and fuse them onto a very European flavour sensibility.” Max Allen, The Future Makers

What They Are Saying

“Wonderful to touch base again with Spinifex wines. In the cornucopia of avant garde producers, sometimes it’s great to look back at those who were there at the genesis, and revel in their consistency and continuation at a high level.” Mike Bennie, The Wine Front

“Last year he was a finalist for Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year. Small wonder Spinifex has five red stars in the 2021 Halliday Wine Companion. If all this isn’t enough, the prices are a breath of fresh air.” James Halliday, The Weekend Australian Magazine

“Pete and his partner Magali Gely operate what I think is the best new-wave of small-scale Barossa wine companies to emerge at the beginning of the 21st century… These weren’t big, blockbuster, showy wines designed to impress. They were wines that managed to take the best of the Barossa’s sometimes forgotten varietal traditions and fuse them onto a very European flavour sensibility.” Max Allen, The Future Makers

Spinifex

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