Growing up in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, David Clarke’s interest in wine came initially from his time working in state government. His wine career proper started working in the Harrod’s wine department in London, which is where he met his wife Jeanette. Upon his return to Australia, he followed a career as a sommelier, before he and Jeanette returned to her birthplace, South Africa. Since relocating they have established a business distributing independent wine producers both domestically and also to Australia through Ex-Animo Wines.
Just wanted to let everyone know that I was asked to be a contributor for this new Melbourne wine bar guide, an ideal Christmas gift for the adventurous!
“Have you noticed the quiet revolution taking place across Melbourne city and its suburbs? Where once there was a proliferation of cafes, now it’s wine bars. In any neighbourhood they can be found, from Glen Iris to Kingsville and beyond. In the arc of Carlton to Collingwood, there’s practically a wine bar in every block. Melbourne’s bar scene is now all grown up.
Melbourne DRINKS WINE features 52 enchanting wine bars, more than half of which opened in the past few years. These are the new grown-up corner stores that express the maturation and essential nature of our relationship with wine.
The guide profiles bars with Spanish, Italian or French leanings, and also the hyper-specific Project 49 which represents wines from northeastern Victoria’s Beechworth and surrounds. Other venues favour ‘natural’ wines such as Cult of the Vine, while Tom Pockett Cellars negotiates exclusive supply direct from winemakers. The move towards spending on experiences rather than ‘things’ partly explains the growth of these wine bars that retail exquisite bottles of wine to be celebrated and consumed in good company.
Some wine bars open early for no-reason-required Champagne breakfasts, and many remain open until the small hours. Wine bars are where you can go for a decent coffee after 3pm. They’re our new meeting places, somewhere to prime your appetite with an aperitif or end an evening with a nightcap. Most double as wine stores, so try a glass and buy a bottle on the way home, or make a night of it. Many of the featured wine bars have the kitchen chops to go entree to entree with the city’s best restaurants.
Wine bars are havens of all that is great about hospitality. They’re inviting, comfortably appointed, usually offering table service and conversational acoustics, with wait staff who are passionate about sharing what they’re serving. From tastings to educational courses or winemaker dinners and wine and food pairings; come for the sheer pleasure of tasting something unique, chosen with care and consideration.
Luckie Guides are 100% independent. No venues pay to be included. Their format is unique: a deck of cards in a sturdy box with a flip top lid. Each pack features 52 cards profiling a single venue plus two ‘Luckie Seven’ cards featuring seven of the best. For Melbourne DRINKS WINE this means the best regional wine bars and the best online wine boutiques.
Available online for $14.99 and at good bookshops and gift stores.”
Though Jonathan Ross always had competitive tendencies, it wasn’t until he discovered hospitality and wine that he truly applied himself and found his passion. From growing up in New Jersey to working at one of the top restaurants in the world, his career has always had an upward trajectory. Soon after relocating to Australia with his fiancée Jane Lopes (who is also a top sommelier), he became a Master Sommelier of which there are currently only 249 in the world. He joins me on this episode of The Vincast to talk about his journey, and his new-found love of Australian wine.
Loic Avril was destined to work with wine, considering he grew up in one of France’s most historic wine regions, and sharing of great wine and food was always important to his family. His love of hospitality and restaurants came very early, from the age of ten in fact, and he was determined to follow a path in fine dining. After gaining experience in restaurants in the Loire Valley and northern England, he joined the team at The Fat Duck – at one point considered the best restaurant in the world – and soon received significant attention when he was named the global best young sommelier. When the restaurant relocated to Melbourne for six months he relocated, and decided to stay and run the wine program when it transitioned to Dinner by Heston.
When Jean-Jacques Morel made the decision to move his family from Paris to Burgundy, it in fact wasn’t for wine, his entry into the wine industry was merely to earn a living once he moved to the region. It was his previous influences and experience that not doubt led to him finding a true passion for viticulture, and the decision was made to follow a path of wine farming. His incredible journey in life has not only influenced his approach to his wines, but also his approach to life, as his enthusiasm and affability his hard to deny. The fact that he limits interference with his wines is but a small part in his mystique and acclaim, and spending a short amount of time it’s hard not to find his love of life infectious.
Despite having grown up in Rome and working in hospitality for a number of years, it wasn’t until Mattia Cianca was working in Perth that he became interested in wine. The added irony was that he was working in an Italian restaurant, learning about Italian wines, in Australia! Since arriving Down Under he has been on a fast track for sommelier stardom, working at Australia’s number one restaurant (Attica), and now with access to one of the most enviable lists in the country (Dinner by Heston). His talent and hard work was recently recognised by Sommeliers Australia, who named him 2017 Sommelier of the Year, and he is on a path to become a Master Sommelier in the next few years.
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.
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.
For the past fourteen years, Ashley Ratcliff has worked for arguably Australia’s most important family-owned wine business, Hill-Smith Family Vineyards. Over those years he worked in many different elements of the business, from viticulture to marketing, operations to running one of the wineries. More recently he has established a vineyard in the Riverland – considered one of the warm-hot irrigated regions known for large volume grape production – and has been planting more alternative varieties to show the potential for these grapes in the region, particularly for high quality fruit. He has now thrown himself 100% into Ricca Terra Farms, and even has other plans for the future.
Konpira Maru is a new brand based out of Melbourne, producing low-intervention wines from fruit purchased around the state. I bought a bottle of their Gymkata 2015 as I was intrigued by the brand and also the fact that it was a red wine under a crown seal. Let me know what you think in the comments below, don’t forget to like and subscribe!
The Vincast - a Wine Podcast with The Intrepid Wino
Wine - Wine People - Wine Culture
A podcast about wine, wine culture and wine people. Every week a different guest from the wine industry joins host The Intrepid Wino (aka James Scarcebrook) for a casual chat about the world of wine.
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All content on this website, including text, images, audio and video, remains the sole property of the author unless otherwise acknowledged and appropriately credited. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of content without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Content may be used for reproduction provided that full and clear credit is given to James Scarcebrook and/or The Intrepid Wino with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.