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Laughing Jack

Family Values: Outstanding Moppa and Greenock from a Historic Address

For 15 years, we’ve proudly represented the wines of Shawn Kalleske’s small historical family winery throughout Australia. The first thing to know about this winegrower is that he lives in the vineyard. Getting a hold of Shawn outside vineyard hours is nigh on impossible, perhaps because vineyard hours at this address are roughly the same as sunlight hours. Kalleske has completed over 20 vintages at the estate and not only do his gnarled, crevassed hands tell the tale of each tour of duty, but the quality of his wines is also a testament to his rare work ethic.

One imagines it helps when you have such an impressive office to work from. Laughing Jack’s enviable vineyard holdings were planted by his forebears and span three sub-regions—Moppa, Greenock and Marananga—with vines dating back to 1962. All sites are on the slopes, ensuring a cooler run through vintage for the Laughing Jack fruit, as compared to those on the hot and dry valley floor. The Laughing Jack website is an invaluable resource for those wishing to delve deeper into these special sites. 

Underpinned by a deep respect for traditional Barossa values, through a process of constant fine-tuning in the vineyards and cellar, Kalleske’s wines have become ever more refined and pure expressions of what are indisputably some of his region’s best-kept vineyards.

Looking back to the early days, Shawn readily concedes that in the Parker-era (like others in the Barossa at the time) the grapes were being picked on sugar ripeness. But, as Shawn told us recently, this “doesn’t come into it at all now”. Today the focus is placed squarely on picking grapes that are flavour-ripe, with great tannin and acid balance. Hard pruning keeps the already naturally low yields in check, and Kalleske has planted cover crops and manages weeds by cultivation without the use of chemicals.  

In the winery, méthode Barossa holds sway. The reds are all fermented in open-top fermenters, basket pressed and bottled without any fining or filtration. The use of wood these days is well-judged, with a mix of older and new French hogsheads and puncheons. 

Great sites, top-notch fruit and a most thoughtful and conscientious vigneron result in a range of authentic and characterful wines. The much-loved Jack’s Shiraz is the great value gateway to this producer. At the other end of the scale are the premium powerhouses of the range, the Limited Two and the Carl Albert Shiraz. These wines showcase not only the powerful and perfumed fruit, but Kalleske’s skilled winemaking hand, balance is key, and he strikes it time after time. There are riches in between, from a perfumed Old Vine Moppa Grenache to a textural, yet crisp Greenock Semillon. Those on the hunt for true Barossa soul need look no further.

The Range

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“The Kalleske family has many branches in the Barossa Valley. Laughing Jack is owned by Shawn, Nathan, Ian and Carol Kalleske, and Linda Schroeter. The lion’s share of the vineyard is planted to shiraz, with lesser amounts of semillon and grenache. Vine age varies considerably, with old dry-grown shiraz the jewel in the crown. As any Australian knows, the kookaburra is also called the laughing jackass, and there is a resident flock of kookaburras in the stands of blue and red gums surrounding the vineyards.”  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion



Primary Region

Barossa, South Australia


Winemaker: Shawn Kalleske



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