Interview with Dan Simmons. Part 1.

B: What is your background in wine?


D: Started in the UK as a bar development manager, for which they put us through some pretty rad development programs. WSET for one,  and through that I picked up a real love and interest in all things wine and vine related. From there I tried to find different bottles and styles of wine, which provoked my interest and took it from there.


B: Did you come out with some sort of formal qualification or would you say you are more self-trained?


D: There is limited material for training yourself. Basically, just drinking lots of different wines from different regions and reading as much as possible is how I learnt and continue to learn. It’s easily lost if you don’t keep training that muscle and that muscle memory. I’d say more so now, I’m more self-taught and willing to learn on my own terms.


B: It sounds like the training you received was more on the classical styles, or old world wines, When did you become more interested in natural and low intervention wines and what makes you interested about those wine?


D: I read a pretty awesome quote a while ago that wine should be perceived as potential energy stored under cork, waiting to be revealed, which I thought was pretty rad and is certainly applicable to all wine. IN the case of natural wine, I feel it’s a true reflection of where it’s from and the people that make it. This resounded far more truths to me and that became apparent when I was at my last venue The Corner house. The previous owners there had a big affection towards natural wines, old world and new, and from there I jumped head first to it.


B: Natural wine making has been around for decades and was the way wine was made before science, chemistry and laboratories came in to play. They have been drunk in Europe and other parts of the world for some time now, why do you think that in Australia we have only really started to embrace this direction in the last 5 or so years?


D: Australia is such a young country and there are no indigenous varietals in Australia, so a lot of these old world varietals were brought to Australia as the conditions suit those grapes. I really enjoy classical Australian wines, but I think at some point some of the bigger producers wanted to start replicating successful wines from previous years. This meant we had a lot of wine being made that lacked any real character. For instance in 79′ sales rocketed, so how can we mimic those successful sales each year. Whether that’s inoculating yeasts, insuring a monoculture environment to eliminate unwanted pests, the use of pesticides and herbicides and other chemicals which, strip Australian wines at that point of any identity. What you have now is a bunch of young guns coming through that really enjoy drinking European natural wines. They are a true reflection of vintage as opposed to succession. I think that where it comes from.


B: Why do you think more and more people are becoming interested in low intervention, natural wines? Why they being spoken about more often?


D: It’s far more exciting. Wine as a whole wants to turn to vinegar, if you allow it to be in its truest form, depending on what the wine makers trying to achieve, sometime you have a long period to catch it at its best, or a real short period window to try and see its full potential. That’s exciting in itself, we spoke of wine as being potential energy under cork, and well that is a wine makers ambition or dream of that wine and that vintage. If you get to realise that in its truest form and to show a true reflection of its terroir and environment, and the vintage of that year, I think it’s far more exciting. We have seen a real push to lower alcohol and lighter styles and more drinkable wines in Australia. Look at our climate in Australia, a hot climate is not always suitable for drinking wine, so we have these fresher wines, and lighter expressions, which actually suit to being chilled, and the younger demographic drinkers in Australia are really starting to look for these wines to drink.

Interview continued in next post.

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