We continue our series looking at some of the Australian winemakers who will be over in the UK next week to take part in Wine Australia’s Australia Day Tastings with Rory Lane of The Story Wines from just outside Melbourne who will be showing his cool climate wines made from grapes grown in the Grampians in Western Victoria. He also shares his cricket memories and the highs and lows of The Ashes as an Australian.
Buyers looking for good examples of cool climate Australian wines should take a look at the Syrahs and Pinot Noirs being made by Rory Lane and The Story Wines on ABS Wine Agencies stand at next week’s Australia Day tastings.
How has 2017 been for you? The highs and any lows/challenges?
2017 was a clockwork vintage of good crop levels, a return to long-term average harvest dates (proper, long autumn ripening) and classic, detailed wines. I had almost forgotten what those sort of wines taste like! The answer is a little paradoxical – dark flavours but lighter weights, more complexity of flavour but less overall flavour – light and shade, spice and purity.
The highs are the perfumes of the Syrahs and the Pinot Noirs. The lows were a four month harvest, and dodging a little mildew towards the tail end. But I’ll take that trade-off any day.
What are your hopes for the 2018 vintage?
A continuation of cooler weather and later harvests. I don’t think it will happen given the changing climate, but it’s nice to have nostalgic yearning every now and again.
Where are the best markets for your wine and why?
The vast bulk of our wine is sold in an around Melbourne in our home market. There is no substitute for personal connections with customers. We only make a couple of thousand cases each year so it tends to be soaked up at home. Within that, the domestic on-trade is very supportive of small producers like us, and the small producer revolution has well and changed the domestic market. Gone are the days of big company wine dominating wine lists. Consumers demand variety, new experiences and unique stories (thankfully).
What are your hopes and challenges working in the UK market?
The hope is that the UK market sees the quality and diversity coming from Australia and jumps on board the train! It is a totally different message to the 80s and 90s – these days it’s much more about detail, diversity and food friendliness, whilst staying true to the adventurous spirit and freedom we enjoy in Australia to experiment, challenge and have a good time.
Which of your wines are best suited to the UK?
It’s great to see the surprise of consumers and buyers in the UK trying our cooler climate Syrah wines when they are expecting more oak/fruit/sweetness/alcohol. These are wines from old vineyards in truly suited cooler regions like the Grampians in Western Victoria. The best vineyards there regularly make wine the equal of anything else in the world. That tends to suit many palates.
Why should buyers/sommeliers come and see you at the Australia tasting in January..
The wines I will have on show span some excellent vintages – some newly bottled and absolutely amazing Pinot Noir from the Henty region in Western Victoria that is utterly unique, some 2017 Riesling that is our best vintage ever, and a couple of pretty mean 2015 Syrahs from the Grampians, that have garnered some high praise back home and are new releases to the UK. Plus I usually sneak in a bottle of my Australian botanicals gin which I’m pretty sure isn’t allowed….
OK let’s talk cricket…congrats on the Ashes win.
Congratulations (ahem) on the Ashes win. Other than this year, what’s your favourite Ashes memories?
While it would be tempting to say Australia’s 5-0 whitewash in 2006/7, the most exciting series was undoubtedly the previous one in England in 2005. I can distinctly remember biting my nails watching the final overs of the 2nd test with Australia’s tailenders Lee and Kasprowicz trying desperately to inch towards a win, and a fired up Harmison, Flintoff and Jones bowling short ball after short ball to try to dislodge them. Two runs was all that was in it – and Kasprowicz definitely didn’t hit that last one caught by Jones [of course he did -Ed].
Other than that it’s hard to go past the 1989 series win by Australia with an unsecure Steve Waugh scoring 177 in the first test at Leeds to set up the series.
What is your earliest Ashes memory?
Crying as a child when England won the 1985 series and Beefy Botham seemed to take wickets and make runs at will. I had pure hatred for that man as a seven-year-old.
Best wine to relax and watch the cricket with? Who you drinking it with – one cricket personality / one person from the wine trade?
It’s generally hot so drinking some seriously good Chardonnay from the Henty region or Tasmania would be the go to, and making David Boon drink wine with me instead of beer – we’d probably go out for beers afterward and Boony would drink me under the table. I’d prefer not to talk shop whilst doing something important like watch cricket, so there would be no need to have any trade present.
- Rory Lane will be 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.