Welcome to the Barossa Valley, the traditional and esteemed home of Australian wine. Big bold Shiraz, 150 different wineries and 200 years of winemaking history....
STOP. STOP. Throw out the script. There is an alternative narrative emerging just outside the town of Tunuda, deep in the heartland of the Barossa. That alternative is the story of Whistler Wines. Let's start this again...
Whistler Wines, led by brothers Josh and Sam Pfieffer, are making attention-grabbing, trend-defining, super tasty Wine. They are not the new kids on the block in the Barossa (the previous generation planted the vineyard in 1999), but they are certainly creating noise like they are.
Josh and Sam were introduced to the Wine Brothers family through our very own Barossa Boy and Hong Kong Wholesale Manager, Brad Hughes. When 'Hushsy' WhatsApps me on an Adelaide trip during the vintage of 2019 and says "You need to go and meet these guys - their wine is amazing", I take note. While not actively on the lookout for new Barossa producers, I was instantly interested in the approach that Whistler was taking....
1) Very personal. Very family orientated. This is not a branding project, not a marketing exercise. This is Sam and Josh - doing what they want, to the best of their ability, and uniquely theirs. ✔️
2) Immensely passionate. When I met with Josh it was mid-vintage 2019. He drove from the Barossa down to McLaren Vale and met me at a small winery filled with other small-batch winemakers. I can distinctively remember Josh's eye's lighting up when he realized he had a captive audience to present his wines; the sheer passion for what he was presenting was evident and well-received over a winery lunch of snags and burgers fresh off the BBQ. ✔️
3) The Barossa with a difference. Disrupting the big boys? Offering an alternative to the mainstream? You've got my attention. Making spectacular wines to boot? You've got me. ✔️ "
"Whistlers Wines' next gen winemaker Josh Pfeiffer gives tradition a shake-up" is the headline of the Barossa Herald in late November 2017. People are starting to take notice.
Fast forward to July 2019 and Josh is taking on Reid Bosward of Kaesler Wines in an editorial in the James Halliday production of '50 Great Reds' - "Big & Bold or Bright?" is the question asked. Josh is sitting firming on the Bright side of the argument. "People are looking for lighter, easier-drinking red wines that they don't have to cellar for five years..." Josh positively starts his piece with and continues on to say "...people want food-friendly wine."
This trend is here, and it is real. Lighter, brighter wines that are of drinking quality early in their life are starting to pop up all over Australia. The heavy Barossa Valley red that sits at 15.5% alcohol and has you asleep on the couch before 9pm is not dead, it will always have its place in Australian wine, yet it is the dominate player it once was.
Expect the wines from Whistler to be "lighter and cruncher" as Josh puts it. Fruit vibrancy and an abundance of flavor across their whole range.
We at Wine Brothers love those winemakers that think ahead. Without getting deep into the ongoing ideological debate of Climate Change action/inaction, we want winemakers to be making great wine for a long time - the whole process needs to be sustainable. Josh and Sam are all over this, starting in the vineyard.
"Going forward, our aim is to make our property as sustainable as possible, giving more back to the vineyard by improving soil health and limiting inputs in the winery to make our wines as natural as possible" Sam enthusiastically explains. While not giving away too much about exactly what the future holds, Sam highlights that the movement towards less intervention in their operations is the way forward; "natural wine, organics and bio-dynamics will continue to evolve the style of Whistler Wines over the coming years, while still maintaining the style of wines that we have built our reputation on..."