What are the most important attributes you need to become a winemaker? The best ones, like me, are handsome, intelligent, witty and unquestionably charismatic. The others are generally just monkeys. Seriously though, the two big dangers are not taking the job seriously, and taking yourself too seriously. I try to avoid those traps.
List three things you think about during a busy vintage? The Weather, the weather and the weather. Good weather is vital, Bad weather is not so much.
What do you do to relax? Relax? What’s that? I very much enjoy growing grapes, making wine, eating and drinking…. I travel quite a bit to visit our customers all over the world, again involving eating and drinking. There’s not a great deal of time outside of this so I guess that’s what I do to relax.
If you were hosting Christmas what wine would you serve? Bear in mind that we’re in the Southern Hemisphere. So our Christmas is generally hot…bloody hot! We’d have to kick off with Champagne, probably Bollinger or Roederer. A few chilled whites would follow, probably a Sancerre and a couple of Chardonnays. Christmas needs red wine, and we have plenty of that at hand. It’s always nice to pull out a few older vintage Directors’ Cut Shiraz and an Amon Ra and have them in the decanters for family and friends to help themselves. I’d also have a few Italian reds, some from Sardegna on the generous, rounded front and Bolgheri for structure and richness. I love Italian reds. Don’t get me wrong though – I love Aussie wines too, but I get to taste them all the time so Christmas is for something different at my place.
Best budget wine to bring to a party? From our vineyards it would have to be Heartland Spice Trader, a great wine at a bloody good price point. There are some seriously impressive Shiraz/Cabernet blends from all over Australia that provide real bang for the buck.
Top insider tip? Taste, taste and taste some more. Always trust your own palate, if you like a particular wine then that’s the only opinion that matters. It’s too easy to overcomplicate wine. Ultimately, it’s a beverage for enjoying. Be confident in your own opinion and drink what you like not what you think you should like.