<<<UPDATE JANUARY 2018: Payten & Jones have just opened a cellar door! It’s open 7 days a week so check out their website for hours and be sure to visit. >>>
Established in 2006, Payten & Jones are one of those small producers who have steadily built a reputation for producing wines of integrity and quality. The personal investment is high with day jobs and family life to be worked in around this label – or perhaps the label worked in around family life – but the objective of producing wines that are the best expression of the site and the fruit produced from that land remains unchanged.
2015 has seen their reputation grow internationally with the wines receiving a warm reception at a recent tasting in London. Domestically the number of restaurant and bar lists that the wines appear on continues to increase both in Victoria and across the eastern coast of Australia.
Since my first article in 2013, not only has the business developed and expanded, so too have the members of the Payten & Jones families, with mini P&J’s now amongst us. A special mention must be made of the most recent addition to the Jones family who, rather than waiting for the ambulance to arrive decided to make an entrance in spectacular fashion – at home – courtesy of a rather shocked Mum and Dad – nice one Charlie!
And in keeping with the theme of new arrivals, this year has seen two new wines added to the Payten & Jones stable. With a good eye for design as demonstrated by their existing labels the team at Payten & Jones have pushed the envelope that much further for the latest two wines.
Sitting under the Drunken Monkey category on their website, Major Kong, Planet of the Grapes is a Yarra Valley Syrah of whole bunches and drunken monkeys as per the label. This is a wine that will get people talking – particularly about those whole bunches!
Very aromatic, the perfume of black fruit and herbaceous greenery wafts out of the glass, bringing to mind green peppercorns, red and black fruit and a touch of freshly raked earth. On the palate the texture is just right with fine velvety tannins. The wine is packed full of flavour; blackcurrant leaf, blackberry, plum and cherry are all there together with spice and mineral notes of pencil shavings. The acidity is refreshing and matches the intensity of flavours well. The vintage is 2014 so the wine is young and there is definitely a young pup, in-your-face quality there which some might find a bit overwhelming – if you fall into that camp, which I find myself to be in, give it some time and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
The next wine is in keeping with an increase in the number of wines produced in Australia from Italian varieties. While traditionally in Victoria these varieties have been grown in the King Valley area in the North East Victoria Zone, the instances of plantings is increasing in other areas such as the Yarra Valley. Equally “eye-catching” in design, the Leuconoe Sangiovese label references one of the many Greek myths around Dionysus, the Greek god of all things wine.
Keeping with the ethos that drives winemaking at Payten & Jones, the wines are made using a hands-off approach with no additions, no fining and no filtering. Of the two wines this is the one that is more immediately approachable with a very New World twist on Sangiovese. The red fruits, herbal notes and fresh acidity are all there but the fruits have a sweet lift to them from the carbonic maceration that occurred to some degree when the bunches were added to the vats for fermentation.
This wine has an addictive luscious quality to it. Juicy fruit notes, savoury dried herbs, racy acidity and fine tannins create a wine that is an absolute pleasure to drink. The finish is long with lingering sweet red fruit notes and most definitely falls into my dangerously drinkable category…
Images: courtesy of Payten & Jones