In a way, Ben Ranken’s wine career has come full circle. He grew up on a vineyard in Tumbarumba, a region in New South Wales famed for the quality of its chardonnay. Recently he and his wife purchased the Wilimee Vineyard in Macedon, another cool-climate region ideal for chardonnay. In the intervening years he gained considerable vintage experience in Australia and the northern hemisphere, and since 2007 has been making wine at Galli Estate, an incredible Sunbury-based producer that also has a vineyard in Heathcote. We chatted about his winemaking journey, his many influences, and also how important the Lorenzo Galli Scholarship is for educating the wine industry on the nuances of Italian grapes that they work extensively with.
When Marie Doyard says that “Champagne is running through her blood”, she’s not kidding. Not only was she born in Reims and raised in the region, but her great-grandfather Maurice Doyard was one of the founders of the Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Champagne (C.I.V.C.) during World War II. Her parents brought the Jacquart and Doyard estates together – all based in the Côte des Blancs – and when she took over in 2004 she had some dynamic ideas of how to take Champagne Andre Jacquart into the new millennium. On a recent visit to Melbourne I was able to find out more about her journey and about grower-champagne.
Alice Feiring is without question one of the most passionate and controversial voices in wine today, having spent many years delving into her own love of authentic and natural wine. Through countless articles, blog and newsletter pieces, and several books, Alice has carved a path to not only find but also bring to light some of the rarest gems in the wine world. Whilst her opinions are far from universally welcomed, her integrity is hard to question. She joined me via Skype on this episode to talk about her path and her newest book, The Dirty Guide to Wine.
Matt Holmes’ winemaking career has come full circle. His first short experience as a chief winemaker was at Bannockburn Vineyards, stepping into a role that was vacated just before vintage, but in effect was a caretaker position until the new winemaker was appointed. Following that he gained experience all over the world, before recently returning to Bannockburn to become the permanent chief winemaker. We spoke on this episode about his amazing journey, and what excited him about the new opportunities that Bannockburn and Melbourne offer.
Having worked in the Yarra Valley and spent plenty of time driving around it, I’m amazed at how geographically large and diverse it is. Mac Forbes has been one of the most important wine producers that has attempted to show how different each part of the region can be. He does this through the medium of grape variety, having released a number of sub-regional wines every vintage since 2004. I was thrilled to sit down with him and hear more about his journey and what led him to take such a serious risk in choosing this approach.
Growing up in Ballarat, John Harris graduated from Charles Sturt University with a degree in oenology in 1999, and soon took up a position at Domaine Chandon. Over the next seven years he gained much experience and by the end of his tenure was in charge of sparkling production for the Yarra Valley-based operation. In 2008, along with his wife’s extended family, he began the Mitchell Harris brand that would eventually be based in their mutual home town of Ballarat.
To suggest that Elaine Chukan Brown has led an incredibly diverse life is a massive understatement. In fact she’s lived several of them. Growing up in Alaska taught her an appreciation for the artisanal and the value of hard work, but it is her love of travel and discovery that eventually led to her becoming one of the most sought after voices in the global wine scene. She is probably most famous for pioneering the illustrated tasting note, something that some wineries have asked her to recreate on their wine labels!
Becoming the Chief Winemaker for Mount Pleasant Wines – one of the most important and historic vineyard/winery operations in Australia – is no mean feat. Being only the fourth chief winemaker since Maurice O’Shea is even more impressive. With incredible and diverse winemaking experience behind him, Jim Chatto did this a few years ago. He also manage to find time to produce some outstanding wines in Tasmania under the Chatto Wines label, where he has also recently been appointed Chief Winemaker of Kreglinger Estates.
Greg Lambrecht discovered an interest in wine while growing up in California, but his passion for discovery began when he studied in Boston and met the woman who would become his wife. Through family and friends he was able to taste and learn while he developed an incredible career in medical technology. During his wife’s pregnancy he wanted to enjoy a glass of wine but it seemed a waste to open a bottle as she wasn’t drinking. Thus he conceived of a device that could allow someone to drink from a bottle without opening it, and the Coravin is now changing the wine industry around the world.
To be an institution in the Melbourne wine trade you need to have been around for at least ten years and retain the elements that made you so amazing in the beginning. After 20 years as the owner-operator of Armadale Cellars, Phil Hude is most certainly an institution. He’s been in wine retail for 30+ years, and has seen a great many wine trends come and go, and supported several Australian icons since they were young winemakers. Phil and I recorded this episode down in the wine catacomb of Armadale Cellars, discuss how Phil got into the business, his unique approach to wine retail over the years, and the exciting events that are being run to commemorate two decades of continuous wine retail on High Street.
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