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!
Lawrence & Tim Scanlon grew up in Toowoomba, Queensland, and it was only due to the fact that Lawrence worked in bottle shops while studying that either of them are in the wine industry today. A desire to study how to be a winemaker brought Lawrence to Melbourne, and after many years working as a tradesman Tim joined him and started working in vineyards just out of the city. Their consumption of and subsequent passion for low-intervention wines led them to start their own brand with their own expressions, under the Dirty Black Denim brand. They shared their story on this episode of Australia’s number one wine podcast.
In August I took some behind-the-scenes footage at a few wine trade tastings here in Melbourne, and I thought I’d share it with you with the idea of showing how portfolio tastings are conducted. The two tastings were for Cellarhand Wines, and combined tasting of World Wine Estates, Enoteca Sydney and Vinous Imports.
After many years of experience in the hospitality industry and thousands of wines tasted, Steve Kimonides – sommelier at Il Bacaro restaurant in Melbourne – and his colleague Raph started their own catering business. Burn City Smokers is dedicated to slow roasted smoked meats, and is already turning heads and tastebuds. On this episode Steve tells me all about how he went from front of house to back, and how he prepares and cooks the meat.
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