Regions > South Australia > Adelaide Super Zone > Mt. Lofty Ranges Zone > Clare Valley region

: Stephen John


Stephen John

Government Road, Watervale, 5452

Cellar Door: Daily (11-5)

Ph: (08) 8843 0105

The Stephen John cellar is just off the Riesling cycling track (photo: genxywines)

Stephen and Rita John (the John’s are a famous Barossa wine family) decided to set up a small winery in 1994 in the Clare Valley overlooking the town of Watervale.

The cellar door is an 80 year old stable/blacksmith shop, which has been renovated and now proudly overlooks the township of Watervale and surrounding vineyards.

The long lasting Riesling is a consistent good performer. The reds now look rather old school with lots of ripe tarry fruit and lashings of American oak. The best of these is the premium Generation Cabernet Shiraz blend. The most unusual red is a Pinot Noir which is a variety nearly everyone else has given up on in the region.

Tasting Notes

There are three types of Tasting notes:

(W) Notes from the winery (blurbs from bottle)

(GXY) Notes from a GenXY wine reviewer

(G) Notes from GenXY's Tasting events (collective opinions)

Stephen John Watervale Riesling 2011

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2013 or 2021 if you like it toasty

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2012, includes some 1926 vines input, delicate and dry lime and lemon sherbert with a light dusting of spice and lavender and rose petal florals, talcy with crisp lemony acidity on the wet slate finish, very clean with minimal phenolics (***1/2)

Stephen John Basket Press Shiraz 2009

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2012, open fermenters, ripe, tarry and plump old school style showing plum, mulberry and fruitcake with liquorice and pepper notes, fairly overt oak from 18 months in new American barriques brings cedar, dark tannins and grainy oak tannins (***1/2)

Stephen John Pinot Noir 2009

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2012, carbonic maceration, open fermented with stalks, smooth and medium bodied plum and red cherry, silky tannins with a touch of sweet cinnamon/vanilla from the US and French oak, not enough complexity, pleasant enough but more of a medium bodied dry red (***)

Stephen John VI Generation Cabernet Shiraz 2004

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2009, unfined and unfiltered, roughly equal proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, long and rich blackberry, plum and blackcurrant with anise and eucalypt notes, earthy and medium-full bodied, persistent grainy tannins, new American oak brings mocha-cedar to finish (****)

Stephen John Watervale Riesling 2009

Purchased: Cellar Door ($25)

Drink: 2011 or 2016 if you like it toasty

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2009, from 85 year old vines, floral, minerally lime and apple with some passionfruit, rose petal and brown spice nuances, bath powder texture, good length but is a bit broad (***1/2)

Stephen John Basket Press Shiraz 2007

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2019

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2009, dry grown vines, rather extractive and tarry plum, prune and blackberry, spicy with chewy tannins and plenty of sweet cinnamon-vanilla from the American oak, needs time (***1/2)

Stephen John Loquat Tree Mourvedre Grenache Shiraz 2007

Purchased: Not ($30)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2009, blend of 53% Mourvedre, 35% Grenache and 17% Shiraz, spicy prune, blackberry and raspberry with cinnamon and pepper notes, earthy and medium-full bodied with some confectionary aspects, lots of sweet chocolate-cedar-vanilla from the American oak, savoury and grainy tannins, lacks the brightness of the best Rhone blends (***)

Stephen John Oak Matured Classic Tawny NV

Purchased: Not ($15)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2009, tawny red colour, rich raisened fruit and blackcurrant jam with chocolate and roast hazelnut aspects, fairly overt warming brandy spirit (***)

Stephen John Pinot Noir 2007

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2009, despite the altitude and mature thirty year old vines the variety doesn’t work here except in the coolest of vintages which this certainly wasn’t, sturdy and confectionary plum and raspberry despite carbonic fermentation to soften it up, some warm toasty brown spices with a dab of chocolate on the finish, overt American and French oak, the score is based on a assessment as a pleasant medium dry red rather than true varietal expression (***)

Stephen John Riesling 1997

Purchased: BWS, Kingston Shops, Canberra

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: July 2008, bright yellow-gold bottle age colour, on the lighter end of the Clare Valley Rieslings, has kept its balance and poise with its ageing, toasty lime and baked apple with honeysuckle, enough minerality on the base and lemon acid to hold the structure but drink it soon (group average ****)

Stephen John Reserve Shiraz 1999

Purchased: Norwood Hotel, Adelaide

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: July 2004, nose shows sour black cherry and blackberry fruit with a hint of mint and milk chocolate that flows into dark chocolate, medium-full bodied with an almost elegant structure, deep set with silky tannins, balanced acid, a long finish (****)