kym teusner named young winemaker of the year
You know my thoughts about the brilliance of Teusners wines. Read this article from Peter Forrestal from Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine about why Kym Teusner from Teunser Wines was awarded the Kemenys Medal 07 – Young Winemaker of the Year……
Kemenys Medal winner 2007: Kym Teusner
Having bought the fruit no-one else would, this young South Australian has made exciting wines that impressed the WINE tasting panel and won him the Kemenys Medal.
The Barossa-based Kym Teusner came to the notice of the judges when his 2005 Teusner Joshua Grenache Mataro Shiraz topped a WINE tasting of 80 grenache and grenache blends. It put into the shade both the family wine of former Grange maker John Duval 2004 Plexus Shiraz Grenache Mourv and the wine Teusner makes in his day job, the 2004 Rolf Binder Christa Rolf Shiraz Grenache. His wooded grenache blend, the 2004 Teusner Avatar, also finished in the top bracket of wines.
The tasting panel loved the purity of the black cherry, mulberry, raspberry pastille and damson flavours in the 2005 Joshua, plus its fleshy velvety texture, supporting structure and restrained mineral tannins. We saw it as a quintessential expression of an uncomplicated grenache blend.
Teusner ended up in the wine industry via a roundabout route. After growing up on a sheep farm at Tailem Bend, SA, he worked as a labourer for two years before his mother suggested he needed to do something more demanding or more profitable, so it was off to Adelaide to enrol in a business management course, majoring in hospitality. This was followed by an eight-year stint managing Ayers House function centre, where he developed an interest in wine. He then decided to head overseas and spent 18 months working in the USA (he filled in an application form for the oenology course at Adelaide University from a spa in the Napa) and London, from where he explored Europe. Just as he was about to board a ferry for Spain, Teusner received a message telling him that his application had been successful.
Teusner packed the oenology course into three years and during that time worked (without payment) for his brother-in-law (now business partner) Michael Page, who was the viticulturist at Torbreck. This experience helped him gain an assistant winemaking position there after graduation. As he puts it, he’d learned by the book, then went to a place that didn’t follow the book. It was a steep and dramatic curve, and he discovered how far it is possible to push the boundaries.
Teusner met his partner, Vanessa Schiller, while working in Adelaide, and in late 2001 overheard her uncles, the Riebke brothers, talk about ripping out the 70-year-old grenache vines on their Ebenezer block because the big companies wouldn’t pay high enough prices for production to be viable. Teusner and Page offered to take as much of the Riebke fruit as they could afford. So the aged vines were saved and Teusner Wines was born. Mataro was bought from friends in Gomersal, some shiraz from Ebenezer, and Teusner and Page were able to make 165 cases of 2002 Joshua and put some barrels aside for Avatar.
Soon after this, Torbreck was facing financial difficulties and Teusner could no longer make his wines there. He moved on, wandering around the valley for 18 months, working at Ross Estate and the Colonial Wine Company, before landing at Rolf Binder where his desire to develop his own label was seen as a positive motivating force. There he has had two coaches with very clear views of their own style Rolf Binder and Christa Deans and remains free to be innovative with his own wines. Binder describes him as a go-getter who is able to keep the two regimens distinct.
Teusner’s love of unirrigated, old-vine material helps explain the evolution of his flagship shiraz, sourced from 45-year-old vines at Gomersal and 90-year-old vines at Ebenezer. He agreed to take 10 tonnes of shiraz from a grower who was not happy with big-company prices and realised, while the wine was fermenting, how good it was. So he paid the grower eight times more than he had been getting. Consequently, he kept being offered more fruit and eventually got his hands dirty with older shiraz. Thus Albert, of which 500 cases is made, came into being a concentrated, opulent and yet restrained wine. Medium-bodied, it benefits from the spiciness of 30 per cent new French oak without being overwhelmed. The 2004 has a savoury plum and fruitcake character with weight while remaining quite fine. The current release, ’05, is generous and fleshy with restrained ripeness and deep, long flavours.
The Teusner Wine website (www.teusner.com.au) offers fascinating detail (using Google Earth) about the position of the vineyards which Teusner uses. Production has risen to at least 12,000 cases as more growers have made their fruit available to Teusner and Page. About 2000 cases of Joshua and Avatar are produced annually, and about 8000 cases of the budget Riebke Ebenezer Road Shiraz. Kym Teusner is clearly a winemaker with a great future. PETER FORRESTAL, Gourmet Traveller WINE Magazine.