Pirathon Wine | Barossa Valley
We had a chat to the highly trained winemaker at Pirathon - Adam Clay, and explored a couple of wine questions. We begin with the origins of Pirathon, the climate challenges the Barossa wine region faces and why Adam would crack a bottle open with Penfolds alum (and genius), Max Shubert.
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What are the origins of Pirathon, how did it all begin?
The first vintage of Pirathon was back in 2006. The aim has always been to produce richly flavoured wines centred on Shiraz from the North Western districts of the Barossa Valley. The name Pirathon is an ancient word that has several meanings including peak or summit which ties in nicely to our aspirations of producing high quality award winning wines.
Are you full time on the farm? Or are you up to other things as well?
In the Barossa Valley Pirathon operate with two employees. Tony manages our vineyard in Marananga and helps out in the winery during the harvest period and Adam manages the winery ensuring the wines are made to the quality and style that is required.
Your grapes are from a network of many different wine growing families in the Barossa, how did this model get started?
The Barossa has historically been divided into growers and winery’s which was due in part to the taxation system in the 1800s. More recently it is typical for a winery now to both have access to its own fruit and supplement this with growers fruit. In 2019 Pirathon bought a 20 hectare property in Marananga which now supplies the majority of the grapes we require. We still have strong connections with local growers and where required source fruit from them.
What makes Pirathon so special?
Pirathon as a brand is built around offering high quality Shiraz wines. Sourcing from only the best vineyards means our wines are consistent in flavour, style and quality each year. With a new winery completed in time for the 2021 harvest and a cellar door planned to open soon we can now complete the circle of owning vineyards, winery and providing authentic customer experiences.
This is a toughie, how are you finding the effects of climate change on the region? Do you think the weather is going to support many more decades of high quality shiraz production?
We have certainly seen more challenges in weather conditions from drought years, frost, wind and more days of extreme heat. Fortunately for the Barossa the grapes that are most prominent Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro and well suited to dealing with these challenges from both a viticultural and winemaking perspective. Historically the warmer years were seen as the best vintages, in the decades to come this will likely change to the cooler vintages seen as the best.
Someone invents a time machine and you can crack a bottle open with any historical person - who is it, what are you drinking and why?
Max Schubert the first Chief winemaker at Penfolds helped take the Barossa from producing mainly fortified wines to producing the great red wines the world knows us for today. I’d love to sit down and drink some of the first experimental reds such as 1951 Grange with him and get a better understanding about the industry at the time and his thoughts on how to make great wines.