"As a winemaker, you tend to leave university thinking you know it all. If you're lucky, you have that beaten out of you fairly quickly. You start as a blank, purely scientific canvas and gradually debunk your misconceptions, evolve your palate and production methodology, and eventually refine your tastes and the wines you want to make. I was lucky, although I am by no means at the end of my learning curve. These are the five wines that have taught me the most so far, shattered my strongest beliefs, and that I still think of when I make decisions today."
2013 SADIE FAMILY SKURFBERG CHENIN BLANC SWARTLAND, SOUTH AFRICA
"A great wine by any standard, but the fact it’s made using a ‘natural’ approach is even more impressive. To achieve a wine of this intensity, beauty and youth without any spoilage or added sulphur is mind-boggling. It can be done, just not by everyone."
2006 GROSSET GAIA CLARE VALLEY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
"It’s hard to look beyond Margaret River for inspiring Bordeaux-style wines, but this one has stuck with me since the first sip. It’s austere and poised, and graphitic from top to bottom. I have never looked for, enjoyed, or strived to make a Bordeaux-style blend in any other way."
GROS' NORÉ ROSÉ BANDOL, FRANCE
"I first encountered this wine in 2012 and have tried it many more times since. It introduced me to the concept of texture and ageability in rosé, as well as the immense intricacy this style can achieve. I've been lucky to drink quite a few older Bandol styles and they age magnificently."
2006 COPAIN EAGLEPOINT RANCH SYRAH MENDOCINO COUNTY, USA
"An atypical American style in many senses, but not all. Low alcohol, intensely aromatic, savoury and porcelain in structure, yet with an arsenal of power behind it all. This wine taught me about the value of natural acidity in reds.
2009 SALO CHARDONNAY YARRA VALLEY, VICTORIA
"The ‘funky’ card in chardonnay has been overplayed. Balance has always been the less popular, but ultimately moral path to tread, and this wine is one of the most complex and balanced styles I have tried. It taught me that dirty can be good in the right measure."
This is an excerpt of what originally appeared as 'Punk pragmatist' in issue #44 of Halliday magazine. To read the full profile, pick up a copy or become a member here.