Lyndon Kubis is the brains behind Melbourne wine shops/bars The Alps and Toorak Cellars. Here he highlights some local and European winemakers to watch.
Favourite wine memory?
Visiting Cullen a few years ago for their annual chardonnay masterclass. It wasn’t so much the actual tasting, but more so the dinner beforehand at Vanya Cullen’s house, which came with some of the most amazing wines I’ve seen in my life. There was a ’56 Margaux, a ’99 and 2000 Rousseau... all these crazy, disco-vintage wines.
Who’s been your biggest in influence?
My partner at Milton Wine Shop, Mark Nelson, was an early mentor for me so I’m pretty stoked I’m in business with him now.
How do you source the wines for your bars?
Being in business for around 10 years now, we have a core group of importers and producers who share a similar wine philosophy to ours. So it’s about constantly meeting with them and keeping an eye out for others. I think we straddle the divide between so-called natural wines and classic producers – we’re seeking winemakers who do as little as possible in the winery, but step in where they need to.
The Alps is your newest wine digs – what’s the idea there?
If you look at a map of Europe, all the significant wine regions form a ring around the Alps – Burgundy, Jura, Savoie, Piedmont and Alto Adige. I also love snowboarding, so I wanted to bring that into the concept in some way. We also have Toorak Cellars and we’re about to open another bar in Collingwood, which will be a wine shop and bar like the others, but we’re looking to have a stronger focus on food there.
Which local winemakers can you recommend?
Jarad Curwood from Chapter Wine is quickly establishing himself as one of the best winemakers in Australia. He’s amazingly thoughtful and detailed, and draws inspiration from everywhere – classic and boundary-pushing producers alike. The wines are very natural in their production, but taste classic and clean, which I think should be the objective for any winemaker. There’s also a producer called Jordy Kay from Chevre Wines who is doing his first vintage in the Otways. He only bought that vineyard last year, but he’s made wines on the Mornington Peninsula for the past two years that have gone crazy in Melbourne and sold out almost instantly.
And international wines?
Patrick Walsh from CellarHand is bringing in the wines of André Bonhomme, who is based in southern Burgundy. He produces affordable white Burgundy from a single site in an area that’s generally become much more unobtainable. Those wines have wowed us this year and we stock pretty much the whole line-up at our bars.
What’s your ultimate food and wine match?
My death-row meal, and what I feel like everyday, is chardonnay and roast chicken.
What do you reach for when not drinking wine?
Cold beer. Sample Brew’s 3⁄4 IPA is my knock-off most nights.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Moscato. It really must be the ultimate beverage – it’s sweet, it’s fizzy and it’s low in alcohol, so you can have heaps of it.
Next article: Top cellaring options from near and far