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The Durif of Rutherglen is unique. Nowhere else in Australia are wines of such immense richness and power made from the variety. Durif is one of the least known grape varieties in the world. It is believed to have been introduced as an imported experimental variety in the early 1890’s by the famous Victorian viticultural pioneer, François de Castella.
The variety originated in the Rhone Valley of France and was bred by a Dr Durif in the mid 1800’s. Although the precise varietal heritage of durif is not known, its characteristics and Rhone origin suggest some shiraz in its ancestry, and possibly some of the equally rare mondeuse variety, from which the extensive fine tannins of durif may derive.
So rare is durif that little exists outside Rutherglen. The few vines that survive in the Barossa and new plantings elsewhere produce such different wines from Rutherglen Durif that it is almost certain they are grown from a different clone, and possibly not from durif at all. Rutherglen may have the only major plantings of genuine durif in the world – a fact unlikely to change for one inflexible reason; the vine louse Phylloxera still exists in the soils of Rutherglen. This makes the removal of vine material from the district illegal, thereby making new plantings outside the region based on vine cuttings from Rutherglen, impossible.
The variety plays an important role at Campbells – not only producing their special durif, “The Barkly”, but also providing a vital part of Campbells’ unique shiraz and durif blend.