Team Harrop - The Sydney Crew:

24 March 2013

Somewhere between wine geek royalty and the Power Ranges lies this soul of this tour de force of wine pros hailing from Sydney. With equally eclectic backgrounds, but a driving urge to crush grapes for all their worth, this team rallies together a disparate and yet positively unique group to attack the BOF project.

So what are you calling yourselves?

AJ - We are Team Harrop, with Matt Harrop of Shadowfax as our mentor. The name of finished wine (if and when we get there) will be Domaine Michael Young History. Michael Young History is a Lupe Fiasco character (Michael slang for My-Cool). He is kind of a young and up and comer trying to rewrite history or at least impress upon it. Similar to what we are doing here I suppose but more relevant to us being unskilled in this field of the wine industry.

So who are you lot? What do you do? You’re a quartet, yes?

AJ – Gab Webster is from Bloodwood in Newtown, Sydney and goes by Mistress Of The Vine in her spare time. She’s a sommelier and soon to be wine bar owner in Surry Hills, Sydney. In the past she trod the boards at Astral, Civic and a couple of other Sydney dining venues. She’s a lover of minimal intervention/natural wines and active member in Women’s Wine Society based in Sydney. If its cloudy, she will want to drink it.

We’re also made up by Pip Whitting of Merivale group. Head sommelier for Ivy restaurants and ex-group general manager and sommelier for Firefly bars in Sydney. Formerly a pastry chef of some repute (Jonah’s and a couple of Michelin starred kitchens overseas) and recently graduate of WSET diploma. Currently preparing for MW studies and doing beer sommelier course this year too. Lover of wines of all styles but has a penchant for Champagne.

She must bring some interesting takes on wine with the pastry chef work as a background.

Yep. But next up another interesting take on wine via ex-pharmacologist, Locky Barber. He’s always had a keen passion for food and wine. Worked at Universal for some years before moving to Melbourne from Sydney to finish his science degree where he followed Liz Carey to the Movida group. Had a brief stint at Cutler and Co and after finishing his masters now works full times as sommelier of Movida Aqui. A hospo kid to the core with denial issues and a big fetish for Spanish wine.

And you? What about AJ?

I’m Andrew Jamieson from boutique wholesaler Vines to Venues, Hugo’s group and Morrison bar and oyster room. Consultant sommelier and formerly group sommelier for Keystone group in Sydney, across multiple venues. Various roles in management and operations and contract openings (Mojo records, Mrs Sippy, El Topo et al). Currently studying WSET diploma.

OK, now for winemaking cred – what is going to be influencing your winemaking for the BOF project? What are your group’s baselines?

AJ - Mount Langi Ghiran and the wines produced there by both the late great Trevor Mast and more recently Dan Buckle. Love of these wines led Pip, Locky and myself to undertake a couple of weeks vintage work experience in 2009 as part of studies and try to gain a better understanding of how they came about - unfortunately it wasn't the best of vintages but still a great experience. Perfumed, ethereal, compact spice driven styles of Shiraz similar to those of some produced in the northern Rhone. Powerful yet graceful in style and stature with the ability to live in bottle gaining complexity and an array of desirable tertiary character. We’re also big fans of Maurice O'sheas and old Stevens vineyard Shiraz from the Hunter, Great Southern Shiraz, much of what Larry Cherrubino, has produced in vintages of late. Many producers and wines from Hermitage and Crozes for their acid lines and spiciness come to mind, and also Cornas in its cooler years for the concentration of fruit and richness of spice they can have in their youth. We also would have to say a couple of Canberra wines of late too. When it's not raining and warm enough to ripen they can be some of the best examples of cooler climate spice driven styles around.

That’s some formidable yardsticks for yourselves. Now you’ve got some time with winemaker Matt Harrop, and you’ve been able to understand him through his unusual accent, what are do you need his help most for?

AJ - Namely the science related aspects of the ferment and controlling it. Whilst we have a fair understanding of how this goes, having to do it and getting it right will be a whole other ball game. I dare say he will be on speed dial and be sick of the sound of my voice by the time this is all out... I've already apologised in advanced. He is a pretty great winemaker with some interesting philosophies and ideas so we are pretty stoked to be working with him on this. Whilst we have only spent a little time with him he has given us a couple of solid pointers and put our minds to ease on a couple of things we were pretty in the dark on.

Quietly confident as a result...

Confidence won’t make the wine taste good. Or will it? Did you get some wine under belt to work the mojo of your group out? Any sessions which might let us understand some of your drinking habits?

AJ - Bit of everything really. I know that's a shit answer but we are after a bit of everything in our lives. As mentioned, the guys have affinities with certain wines styles but we are always all seeing as much wine as can possibly come in front of us. We did have a drink at out first team briefing/dinner together, it might give you an idea of where we looked for inspiration the first time we caught up to knock heads on this project

Mogador Nelin Garnacha Blanc Macabeo ’08 Monstant
Shobbrook Riesling '12 Eden Valley
Hart and Hunter Shiraz '11 Hunter valley
Giaconda Nebbiolo '09 Beechworth
Sorrenberg Gamay '11 Beechworth
DJP Corullion '09 Biezro

Reads like a broad palate to be working off. Some exciting drinking in there. If you could take yourself to your end point and crack open a bottle of Michael Young History Shiraz 2013, what do you imagine it will taste like?

AJ - Our biggest aim is to get a clean wine in bottle. Given this is new to us and the temporary winery will involve an element of 'winging it', we are aiming for a clean finished wine that's drinkable in six months when it will be judged. Our aim is to treat the fruit as gently as possible. Cool ferment, nice and slow without working it too hard.

To taste, we hope the wine is soft and elegant with good perfume and spice characters. Wanting to show the site and more than anything else. Juicy in the mouth and with some mid-palate texture and weight. Soft and fleshy acid, fine tannins and hopefully no green characters in there due to the quick ripening that this season has experienced.

We will look forward to the results, thanks AJ.


2013, The finalists


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