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!
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.
When I embarked on my 16-month wine journey around the world, the first leg was up the west coast of the United States. While in the Willamette Valley region of Oregon, I was lucky enough to visit many of the most important and oldest wineries, including all of the wineries of my three guests on this episode of The Vincast. My first guest is winemaker at Stoller Family Estate, Melissa Burr, who is the only Oregon-native on the episode! The second winemaker guest is Dave Paige from Adelsheim Vineyard (one of the founding wineries of the region), who has been there for fifteen years! The final guest was Harry Peterson-Nedry, who established his Chehalem estate in the hills from which the winery takes its name in 1990, and has been one of the regions best ambassadors.
Visit Pinot Now to find out which Oregon wines you can purchase in Australia!
Gilles Lapalus was “born in a barrel”, as wine is in his family in the Burgundy region of France. After working for many years in different roles he took a trip to the furthest place he could think of, Australia. It was here that he was not only introduced to the “new world” of wine, but also his partner. Gaining experience in South and North America, he pursued further projects in France and Italy before he was lured back to Australia and became the winemaker at Sutton Grange just outside Melbourne. During his tenure he introduced many elements to the brand, and also launched a vermouth to a thirsty Melbourne bar scene.
Daniel Fischl didn’t find working in laboratories particularly appealing, and whilst completing a PhD in Plant Molecular Genetics at UC Davis (California) he was introduced to viticulture and was seduced with what lay outside. It also helped that the viticulture and winemaking students seemed to have more fun. Fast forward many years of experience consulting as a viticulturist and agricultural scientist, he and his winemaker wife Michelle started the Linnaea Vineyards project with a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. As he got work consulting in vineyards around the world he and Michelle discovered more terroirs and made more wines, across a number of continents and expressions.
Gary Mills didn’t learn how to make wine from any studies or books, he learned by doing. After falling into the wine industry in his home state of Western Australia, he got an opportunity to work in California for one of the most fabled vintners in the state, and his fate was sealed. He eventually returned to Australia and settled in Victoria, where he has become one of the most sought after single-vineyard winemakers in the country.
Alder Yarrow started his wine blog Vinography back in 2004 when the concept of a blog, let alone a wine blog, was still very unfamiliar. In spite of the fact that he quickly became the biggest wine blogger in the U.S.A. and remains so to this day, he still does it for passion and not as his primary source of income. Based in San Francisco, Alder not only receives samples of wines from all over the world but has had the opportunity to travel as well. In 2014 he ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to launch his book The Essence of Wine, which breaks down various characters of wine through a combination of words and images. He joins me on this episode of The Vincast to talk about his journey and passions.
In my recent exploits attempting to gain employment back home in Melbourne I trialled at the now 18-year-old Punch Lane Wine Bar & Restaurant. The venue is a staple in the city centre, having been an early proponent of the now famous lane way culture here. Whilst here I met with James Dossan, a certified sommelier originally hailing from Sydney, who is managing this venue. James runs a monthly tasting group for friends who are in the industry, which includes sommeliers and wholesalers alike. Each of them has is or will study wine and thus the tastings are designed to improve everyone’s skills in analysis. A theme is chosen and each member brings a bottle to be tasted blind. Continue reading →
For the fifth year in a row, Margaret River producer Voyager Estate hosted a masterclass in Melbourne and other Australian cities to benchmark new releases of some of their wines. This was my second time at this event; one of my first entries on this blog spoke about the first time back in September of 2011, just before I left for my trip. The exercise is designed to show sommeliers, buyers and media that Voyager is very confident about the quality of their wine against exceptional examples from around the world. Showing even more hubris, they do this against their three key wines; chardonnay, shiraz and a cabernet/merlot blend. That’s serious chutzpah.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a Wine Trade Fair virgin. Way down in Australia we don’t have anything like this as it is not a big enough market for such a trade fair, and most of the market is dominated by six wine companies. The closest thing we have is individual distributors inviting their producers to show new release wines either once a year or every other year. Having visited Prowein 2012 I can say that this is preferable, as there are far less producers to see and I am familiar with them all. There is also the fact that I know many other attendees and can chat about the wines with them. Attending Prowein is a little bit like the edible room scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, except in that scene they knew what everything was and what they wanted to taste. I spent most of my time wandering around not knowing many of the producers and not knowing which were good enough to visit. It is amazing to see all of these big bright shiny stands, and the layout is generally clear and makes sense. There are a lot of stands for negociants and importers, so you sometimes stumble on Australian wines in the German hall, or French wines in the Spanish hall.
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