Considering what has been happening in the Ashes over the last few weeks it is not surprising to hear Australian winemakers will be making the journey to the UK to be part of this month’s Australia Day tastings. One of which is Jeremy Dineen, chief winemaker at Josef Chromy, part of Bibendum’s Australian offer. Here he gives his take on the Australian wine scene and, as it’s still cricket time, his memories of the Ashes over the years.
Over the coming weeks The Buyer will be shining the light on some of the wine producers attending this month’s Australia Day tastings in London, Edinburgh and Dublin. Starting with Tasmania’s Josef Chromy Wines whose chief winemaker Jeremy Dineen will be exhibiting his wines at ADT through Bibendum.
How was 2017 for you?
It was a difficult vintage with poor flowering and fruit set producing very low yields. There will be some high quality Pinot and sparkling, but unfortunately only small quantities. 2017 had a few highs for us, including Alain Passard cooking at the vineyard, serving Pinot Noir on tap from kegs, hosting the fourth instalment of Effervescence (a Tasmanian Sparkling Wine Festival).
Seeing Einstürzende Neubauten and Mogwai in the same week at the Dark MOFO festival in the south of Tasmania also rates as one of the best memories of 2017.
What are your hopes for the 2018 vintage?
With a strong start to the season and moderate crops, we’re hoping for a solid 2018 with mild and relatively dry weather forecast.
Where are the best markets for your wine and why?
Our most supportive markets are mainland Australia, Japan, UK, Scandinavia and Japan. We have a small presence in several other markets but these represent the core of our sales, perhaps due to the appreciation of Tasmania’s unique environment and lifestyle as much as for the elegant wine styles.
What are your hopes and challenges working in the UK market?
Our main challenge is hardly unique, but it’s 17,300 km from the winery to London so it not easy, quick or cheap to get wines from Tasmania to the UK, nor is it easy to visit! I’d love to see Tasmanian sparkling wine become more recognised in the UK. We share similar challenges to UK domestic sparkling winemakers, in that we have a high cost, high quality wine but we’re always competing with wines from regions that have a couple of centuries of history and marketing behind them.
It is why we are going to be at the Australia Day tastings later in the month as we want buyers and sommeliers to be able to see and taste for themselves why Tasmanian wine is so different from Australian wine.
Which of your wines are best suited to the UK?
Our Pinot and Chardonnay have always had really positive reception, particularly from the UK on-trade.
OK let’s talk cricket. Other than the current series what have been your favourite Ashes memories?
The first day of every Boxing Day Ashes Test is always special, but the favourite memory would probably be David Boon’s 52 cans of beer he managed to consume on the flight over for the 1989 Ashes series.
It’s also pretty hard to forget Mike Hussey hitting the winning runs in Adelaide, Ashton Agar’s debut innings or David Boon’s short leg catch in 1994 that gave Shane Warne an Ashes hat-trick (see below…if you can face it!).
Best Australian cricketer – batsman and bowler?
It would be easy to go by the stats and pick Bradman or Warne, but I’d say Adam Gilchrist, not only for his flair and attacking style, but for his sportsmanship and honesty and I can’t go past Dennis Lillee as an Ashes bowling hero.
Best English cricketer – batsman and bowler?
I could pick Ian Botham for both but if I have to name one of each it would be David Gower and James Anderson.
Favourite ground – and why?
Maybe showing a bit of parochialism but my favourite ground is the TCA Ground in Hobart. It sits in an elevated position with amazing views of the Derwent River and Mount Wellington and it’s also where I saw my first game of international cricket.
Earliest Ashes memory?
My earliest Ashes memory is probably the 1982-83 tour (Australia won the five test series two tests to one).
Best wine to relax and watch the cricket with?
Test match cricket demands wines that can be consumed over long periods, so a crisp, lower alcohol Tasmanian Riesling to maintain freshness, verve and allow continuing consumption without excessive inebriation. Or a Pinot that will continue to change and evolve in the glass, and maintain interest for long periods.
- To register to attend the Australia Day tastings then click on the following links:
- London January 23, 10am – 5pm at B1, Southampton Row, London, WC1B 4DA.
- Edinburgh on January 25, 1pm – 6pm at The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh, EH2 2EQ
- Dublin on January 29 between 1pm to 6pm at he Round Room, The Mansion House, 2 Dawson Street, Dublin.