Spinifex Wines owners and operators, Peter Schell and Magali Gely, have had a home in the Barossa Valley for over twenty years and hold a strong commitment to and passion for the Barossa. They also have a strong French connection, both physically and philosophically.
Magali's family, who up until recently were vignerons with a long lineage in Lunel, near Montpellier, still live in south France, and over the last ten years Peter has worked six French vintages, in Provence, the Languedoc, Bordeaux and Burgundy.
Time spent in the south of France has fuelled their interest in making unique, hand crafted wines with personality, which are generous and honest expressions of the varieties and their provenance.
Spinifex Wines grapes are sourced from a group of dedicated growers in both the Barossa and Eden Valleys, taking advantage of the great diversity of the soils and meso-climates of the Barossa to create wines with balance, character, depth of flavour and Barossan generosity.
It seems like yesterday that I first tasted the Spinifex red wines. They were so different from the normal Barossa style, and I had no expectations when that tasting took place in 2006 – but the pieces fell into place when more wines sent the same message. And so to Spinifex and New Zealand-born Peter Schell and his wife Magali Gely (from a winemaking family in Lunel in the south of France), who opted to make the Barossa their home in 2001.
Schell began his wine education at Roseworthy, followed by six vintages in Provence, the Languedoc (Gely’s birthplace), Bordeaux and Burgundy. It comes as no surprise that he also points to this time with the Barossa Valley’s Turkey Flat as part of the education jigsaw that (in Schell’s words) involved “slotting parcels of wine into a harmonious whole, leaving no blank squares on the grid”.
The Spinifex wines are all medium-bodied and balanced, either from micro-plots that show regional typicity or, increasingly, single vineyard wines based on Mediterranean grape varieties that have made the Barossa home for more than 150 years: shiraz, mataro, grenache, cinsaut, carignan, ugni blanc, grenache gris and semillon. Old vines are sought for all except new varieties.
Having demonstrated his exceptional ability to create synergistic blends, he was crowned Young Gun of Wine in 2008. While giving Spinifex another major string to its bow, most of the wines will continue to come from a group of dedicated growers in the Barossa and Eden Valleys. In 2014 he and Gely bought their first vineyard, a 5.5ha plot in Flaxman Valley, with shiraz and riesling planted in the 1940s and ’50s. 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.