Australian Winemakers in London
On Wednesday afternoon I had the chance to spend some time with Gary Mills of Jamsheed Wines and Taras Ochota of Ochota Barrels, two wine makers from Australia. Jamsheed is a pretty cool proposition. Gary is an English Literature graduate and it comes through on his website. He started making wine in 2003 based in the Yarra. He doesn’t own vineyards – it is pretty hard to unless you have vast capital at your command – but buys grapes from contracted growers around Victoria. He drives around 100,000 miles a year just keeping an eye on the grapes, which is dedication indeed. Taras of Ocota Barrels shares winemaking duties with partner Amber. They are based just outside Adelaide and their ethos is surfing, wine and punk rock. Which, to me, sounds like the perfect combination. So we have the name itself; Ochota being their surname and barrels being a good thing if you are into surfing. Also wine names like; “a forest adelaide hills pinot noir” named after The Cure track and “the fugazi vineyard blewit springs grenache”, this from the superb Washington DC punk band of the same name. Jamsheed makes a lot more wine that Ochota and the company has been in business a lot longer. His wines focus a lot on Syrah but makes some great Riesling and Rousanne too. What made them stand out to me is their freshness, perfume and sheer drinkeability. These wines are much more N Rhone than they are Australia, so expect lighter weight, more cocoa and spice and clear ring of earthy natural fruit. They are low intervention wines that let the fruit and the vineyard come through. Ochota as a business is pretty young and, although they have made a lot of wine for other people over the years it is only recently that Taras and Amber decided to go full out under their own label. What stood out to me was the texture of the wines, there is a thread of raw scratchy phenolic fuzz to the wines that make them really interesting on the palate and bring you back to the glass again and again. The Slint Chardonnay stood out, as did the aforementioned Fugazi Grenache. I’ve blogged before that Aussie Grenache has a lot to offer and this is yet more eveidence. Again this is low intervention wine making in action, so you get to taste the fruit and the soil. I’m going to be listing some of these as soon as I can carve out some space on the Australia shelf. Many thanks to Gary and Taras for their time and enthusiasm. The tasting was at a wine bar in Wapping called the Victualler. It is a cool, wine focused place and well worth checking out. So many thanks too to Daniil and Baroka for hosting us.