Team Lapalus - The Outsiders:

25 March 2013

If there ever were to be a Baptism of Fire greater than all, then surely it would be with the team that doesn’t even work in the wine industry. But forged from sterner stuff, Team Lapalus are drawing on their love of wine to take on the task at hand.

CB - We've been good mates since high school. Unlike the others, we don't work in the wine industry, but reckon we have done our bit to prop it up financially over the past decade or so. Our interest in wine has evolved over time. It’s difficult to pinpoint one reason how we ‘got into wine’. What is for sure is that once we caught the bug there’s been no going back. Holidays are now normally scheduled with a region in mind, auction house catalogues poured over regularly, and tastings worked into the weekend schedule.

Cheyne and Tim both work in communications and stakeholder management and Cam teaches Secondary School English and Literature.

Right so you will be making a wine, what sort of things come to mind when you think about your influences to draw on for this project.

CB - Our cellars are mis-matches of single bottle purchases of single batch wines, ranging from the garage wines of California, to the mountain slopes of the Jura, and the patchwork of Burgundy. At home, it’s been the refined beauty of Bailey Carrados at Yarra Yering, Ian McLean at Yarra Yarra, Sandra and Guill de Pury at Yeringberg that are the mainstays of the cellar; not to mention Mornington pinots from artisans such as Paradigm Hill, Hurley Vineyards and Main Ridge Estate. We're also big fans of the wines from some of the emerging small producers around Victoria, guys likes Gary Mills from Jamsheed, Luke Lambert, and Mac Forbes.

Cheyne goes through various stages of obsession with particular wine styles and regions, and has gotten seriously into Burgundy over the past couple of years, and is now feeding the passion in the rest of us. Tim has railroaded his holidays through the wine regions of South America, and Western Australia, and will be heading to California later this year with his (understanding and sympathetic) wife to visit vineyards and bring back unique wines. And Cam, well, Cam just can’t say no. Whether it is loading up a suitcase with Niagara Riesling and Chardonnay on a trip back from Canada, taking a punt on wildbacher rose from Southern Styria in Austria, or breaking the bank at Pyramid Valley Vineyards in New Zealand, he’s a sucker for a wine with a story. Not even travelling with his in-laws could stop him from making a four-hour return trip to visit and taste wines at the vineyards of Paolo Vodopivec and Fulvio Bressan.

There isn’t one style or producer or variety that we love, what we do love are wines that have personality, are reflective (and respectful) of their region and terroir, and of the winemakers drawn there.

Sure is a breadth of expression there, and some mighty fine drinking. But now you’ve gotten time with your mentor, Gilles Lapalus, what do you think you most need a hand with, if you have the great wine drinking under control?!

CB - Gilles has been really helpful in narrowing down the scope in terms of the style of wine we can make - remembering it has to be drinkable (and fit for human consumption) by October. We've had a crash course in the techniques and processes we need to undertake, but Gilles has been a calming influence and been really important in giving us confidence that we're on track. Wine making is all about improvisation, especially in the environment we're working in, and he's brilliant at finding simple solutions to the random technical problems that crop up - we've nicknamed him Mac-Gilles-ver.

What will you be drinking with Mac-Gilles-ver if you take out the BOF crown?

CB - Anything and everything. At the moment, there's an interest in 'natural' wines and some of the unfiltered funky whites coming out of Northern Italy, Slovenia etc., as well as Burgundy (not quite at Grand Cru level just yet!) and, of course plenty of good stuff from the regions on our doorstop - Yarra Valley Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula Pinot and Geelong region Shiraz.

And how will your wine taste when it gets to bottle at the end of BOF?

CB - We're aiming to create a highly aromatic wine that's akin to a Beaujolais Villages, of course using Shiraz instead of Gamay. We're using a high proportion of whole bunches so it will be fresh, savoury, lightly spiced and (hopefully) elegant. As we're releasing in Spring we want it to be light enough that it can be served slightly chilled as a refreshing summer wine, but with the depth of flavour and pepperiness we love about Langi Ghiran wines.

Thanks Cam. Go well Team Lapalus.


2013, The finalists


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