Nathan Hurst is head sommelier at Brisbane’s Rosmarino – a stunning new heritage-fronted Italian restaurant and wine bar with a focus on Italian varieties made from biodynamic or sustainable methods. He describes his journey from novice to expert through these five seminal drops.
Nathan Hurst of Brisbane's Rosmarino.
01. 2007 Amisfield Pinot Noir
My first job in hospitality was at One Tree Grill, a staple in the Auckland restaurant scene for 25 years. I knew nothing about wine at the time and can recall the charismatic Californian wine director pouring a glass of this pretty red juice and asking us what we could smell and taste. It was ripe red cherry, strawberry with raspberry, wrapped in a little vanilla spice. I remember thinking, “This is heaven in a glass.” I quietly sat in the corner marvelling at how this glass of grape juice had brought so many different people together – and from then I understood that wine is about people.
02. 2010 Petaluma Piccadilly Chardonnay
I had started dating a girl two months earlier and finally asked her over so I could cook for her. She had just finished telling me she didn’t like chardonnay and took a sip of the wine I poured her. Her face lit up. Ripe stone fruit, citrus and pineapple, beautifully balanced with fresh acidity and creamy oak – she couldn’t believe chardonnay could taste that delicious. We talked and had dinner with that bottle accompanying us, reflecting often on how good it was. I remember thinking then that she was someone special. We got engaged four months later and have been happily married for seven years.
...from then I understood that wine is about people.
03. 2015 Rockford Basket Press Shiraz
On one Friday afternoon in 2016, when I had just returned to working in the hospitality industry, a couple asked for some help picking out a bottle. As I was the only one there with an interest in wine, I was sent over to help. When it was time for the bill, the man said, “What’s your postal address? You are great with people and love wine – you should think about working with it. I want to send you something to help.” Three years later in a new city and in my first job as a sommelier at a restaurant, a table orders the Rockford Basket Press Shiraz. It was the same couple. I got to open the bottle with the wine knife they sent me and told them about my wine journey that they helped inspire.
04. NV Jacques Selosse V.O Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Champagne
I snagged my first official job as a cork-puller at Brisbane’s Hellenika with no experience and just a great interview. I found myself paired with Andrea Gatti, an Italian, Michelin-Star-restaurant-trained somm, so no pressure! I invited him over to meet my little family and cook him dinner. He turned up with this bottle of champagne that completely blew me away. I had no idea it could have such elegance and complexity. We formed a fast friendship after that. He is one of the owners of Rosmarino, where I work now, and loves to remind me I couldn’t appreciate that bottle back then like I would today. But I’ll never forget the experience of forming new friendships over that amazing wine.
05. 2016 Soldera Case Basse
I was on my way to work in September this year when I got a flood of messages that someone had bought a bottle of Soldera – the first we’d sold at Rosmarino. When I arrived, I recognised the people who bought it as a couple I met all those years ago at One Tree Grill in New Zealand. I sat and shared a glass with them, tasting a bucket-list sangiovese that shows the kind of ultimate purity of fruit that comes from love and careful grape guidance from start to finish. I was sitting in a restaurant, owned by friends I’d made through wine, with people who had supported me since the beginning of my career. It felt like a full circle moment and all I could do was marvel about where wine would take me next.