Today we take on you a trip to the Yarra Valley, Australia, and, specifically to the Payten and Jones winery run by old school mates, Behn Payten, Troy Jones and Behn’s dad, Peter, who are very much part of the raw, minimal intervention style of winemaking that is becoming such a feature of Australian wine. Here Troy Jones shares his thoughts on the wines you can taste at this month’s Wine Australia tasting, and as we are still in Aussie cricket season, his memories of the Ashes.
Troy Jones and Behn Payten know how to sell as well as make a “must taste” wine as a quick glance at their website proves. They’re all about producing wines that have the “perfect personality for the situations they’re made”. Try them for yourself on the ABS Wine Agencies stand at the Australia Day tastings later this month.
How was 2017 for you? The highs and challenges?
It’s been a big year for P&J and all of us personally. We had a great vintage with lots of fun and some amazing fruit to play with. Continued with a few of our experimental wines that have now become main stays in our range. We secured some great vineyards that we have been working with and a couple of new sites with some great growers (with Peter still overseeing all the sites).
We also opened our cellar door at the tail end of the year. It’s located in the township of Healesville (away form the vineyard, directly opposite Four Pillars Distillery). It’s been a few years in the making with local council and renovating so that was a pretty big mile stone.
Most importantly, Bec and I had another child to add to the mix, so a three and a half year-old, a two year-old and as I type this Frankie is now a four month old! A big year!
What are your hopes for the 2018 vintage?
We have hopefully reached a point where we have stopped needing to grow. Our mission from the get go was just to be sustainable and make enough juice that we can sell and hopefully the three families can eventually live off that. We don’t want to take over the world, just make some great vino and have a bit of fun along the way. So this year is a big one for us, 10 years and its starting to come together. Peter has been pretty happy with the sites he’s looking after so far (still a long way to go though). If the farmer is not complaining we have high hopes!
Where are the best markets for your wine and why?
Domestically Melbourne is the obvious answer for us as we are on its doorstep. It also has a thriving independent retail wine scene and amazing restaurant culture. Being an hour away from such a bustling and cool market has been our biggest advantage as we have been able to service it ourselves. It’s home ground advantage, we have so many mates and great operators to work with directly.
Otherwise partnering with great importers and distributors has been vital to secure continuity in other markets that we cannot be in all the time. Queensland was the biggest surprise for us, we have an amazing fella up there looking after a traditionally slower market and smaller target audience, he is killing it.
We’ve just dipped out toe into the US and China. The UK is a solid favourite for us and working with ABS Agencies has been amazing. Like minded people that put up with us giving them a little bit of stick as well. Every single market is about forging relationships, hopefully long standing ones.
What are your hopes and challenges working in the UK market
Getting to eat at St John at long last, that’s all I hope for this year. I guess the challenges for us is getting over to spend the appropriate time in the market. We will endeavour to get over twice a year from here on in. Hopefully you all like our booze enough to make it worthwhile! Keeping in mind this trip we are leaving peak summer of 30c days with brilliant sunshine, to come to 5c and dark by 4pm, I think that’s a pretty big challenge for us!
Which of your wines are best suited to the UK?
Without trying to deflect with a simple answer, I would have to say all of them! Our wines all sit pretty well in the UK (we think). All, though, for different reasons. Fun, approachable, fruit driven, layered and serious. Chardonnay that is textural and rich (without being flabby and big) picked nice and early for ripping acid to complement the texture.
Then we have glugable, fruit driven Pinot Noir that is approachable with just about any food and on its own. Through to single vineyard Pinot Noir that sings of the site.
There’s spicy, lighter cool climate Syrah that’s totally different form the old school Aussie Shiraz. Smashable Sangiovese to have with a slice of Pizza or a Sangiovese from vintage 14,15,16 and 2017 with no use of sulphur at any stage.
So a broad range of wines that tick many different and non-traditional boxes.
I think the main reason, though, is we’re not trying to emulate any Old World regions or styles. We are making booze that reflect sites form where we have grown up and live. The Yarra Valley. We don’t reckon the UK needs a Chablis-style Chardonnay being produced in the Yarra, or a Burgundian Pinot Noir. You have that at your finger tips. We make booze that sings of the Yarra Valley.
Why should buyers and sommeliers come and see you at the Australia Day tasting?
It’s us. Were 100% independent, we own P&J, we grow the fruit, we make the booze, we love it.
OK let’s talk cricket…congratulations (ahem) on the Ashes win.
It was pretty comprehensive this year. Was good to be able to give Elliot (Awin of ABS Agencies) a bit of stir as he was over here for the Boxing Day test.
Other than this year, what have been your favourite Ashes memories?
Being bourn in 1979 I reckon we got to watch the golden era of cricket as a kid – I guess we all look back at our time when we had not a care in the world with the fondest of memories. It’s pretty predictable, but I’d have to say 1994 and Warne’s hat trick. That whole early to mid nineties was pretty special. So many characters on both sides.
Favourite ground – and why?
The MCG. Our home ground. The potential to have 100,000 odd people around the ground. The atmosphere is electric
What is your earliest Ashes memory?
It’s not the Ashes, but my earliest cricketing memory , apart form the inaugural Christmas Day match (we have a pretty big extended family and Christmas Day was 20 odd in the backyard) was getting my nose broken from a fast ball my loose uncle bowled at me.
Otherwise it would be sitting in North Queensland in the sweltering heat on school holidays as a kid, with my grandmother and not being able to touch the television. West Indies vs Australia. It was so bloody hot from 5am and there was absolutely nothing you could do except sit inside next to the fan. She would watch every ball being played. I’m still to this day unsure if she actually liked the cricket or just liked watching Brian Lara and Curtly Ambrose.
Best wine to relax and watch the cricket with, who you drinking it with – one cricket personality and one person from the wine trade.
I never forget my roots and it so hot here in the summer so its tins of beer all the way when watching the cricket. Would defiantly have liked to go can for can with Boonie (David Boon) when we were both in our prime! Or a cheeky Skol with our former Prime minister Bob Hawke at the MCG would be pretty amazing.
- Payten & Jones on the ABS Wine Agencies stand are one of a number of winemakers and producers who are making the trip over to attend the Australia Day tastings hosted by wine Australia later in January. Here are the various dates and registration details:
- 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.