Recently I had the absolute pleasure of attending a Masterclass with the fountain of knowledge that is Andrew Caillard. On first meeting Andrew, he presents as you would expect; tastefully dressed, intimidatingly industry educated, well-travelled, well-spoken and an expert in his field. I immediately prepared myself to pretend to smell the complex bouquet and taste the full-bodied mouth feel and use words like grassy, apricot and tobacco undertones or was that earthy undertones? You can understand my surprise when the second wine we tasted was under $10 and Andrew began to explain that he believes the best wine selection is discovering the best value for money!! Whaaat?! He then went on to explain that he is constantly learning himself in the ever-evolving world of wine. What I quickly learnt is that Andrew was more than a sommelier, he was actually mature, complex and surprisingly bold.
Wine should be enjoyed by everyone – every budget & every knowledge level. Below, Andrew helps me break down the industry talk so it’s a little less intimidating.
If you could change anything about the wine industry, what would it be?
The Australian wine industry is a sharing culture and full of people with generosity of spirit. But it is also complex and technical with long term visions. There will always be a mystery about wine, but it would be great if we could create a better way of engaging consumers and creating a true wine culture in Australia where drinking is a shared experience in moderation. While I am very keen on seeing value, I am also aware that making wine is a very difficult business, especially for family winemakers. People need to recognise that wine is not a soft drink. It takes an enormous amount of effort to get a bottle onto the table. In the end you can only take value so far and then it becomes bland. We need to premiumise our industry and create new expectations.
What are your favourite ‘wine’ words we should all know if we want to sound like we know a little more about wine than we do?
I use words like aromatic complexity, concentration, volume, definition, al dente tannins and mineral length. And many others. But actually I recommend that your readers think about what they are drinking and use their own words to describe their experience. There’s nothing wrong with saying I like this wine because it’s fresh and delicious.
Let’s talk about value for money – how much should we be spending on a bottle of wine?
It depends on your budget. You can buy great drinking wines for under $20. It really depends on the type of wine. For instance we bring in a wine called Marques de Riscal Proximo – which comes from Spain and it sells for under $10. It’s fresh, classic and delicious to drink. But achieving value under $10 is very difficult. With constricting supply in Europe because of severe frosts and increasing costs of production no one should take these wines for granted….
What are your picks for this price (above mentioned)?
I think it’s worth pointing out that we spend a lot of time looking for great value wines. We appreciate that most people have a budget and want to drink something that is genuinely lovely, yet at an affordable price. When we bring in wine directly from a supplier it shortens the supply chain which means that wines that are ordinarily selling at $25 can be listed at retail for $15. Chapoutier Cotes du Rhone and Illuminati Riparosso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo are extraordinarily good slurpy examples. With Australian and New Zealand marques it’s all about economies of scale and style. Some wineries/ brands are able to do things really well because the winemakers are also intuitive to style.
Below are my recommendations and their RRP for great value wines which are available at Dan Murphy’s. All are highly enjoyable.
$7.99 – Paul Mas Chardonnay
$7.99 – Amiri Sauvignon Blanc
$9.99 – Arrogant Frog Lily Pad Viognier
$8.99 – Borsao Tocado Macabeo
$9.99 – Giesen Sauvignon Blanc
$9.99 – Balliamo Pinot Grigio
$13.99 – Franklin Estates Chardonnay
$14.99 – Cat Amongst the Pigeons Chardonnay
$14.99 – La Forge Chardonnay
$14.99 – Marques de Riscal Rueda
$16.99 – Rocca di Montemassi Calasole Vermentino
$15.99 – Domaine Astruc Chardonnay
$15.99 – Marqués de Riscal 1860 Tempranillo
$15.99 – Lobster Reef Sauvignon Blanc
$17.99 – Dopff Au Mouil Riesling
$17.99 – Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio
$19.99 – Schloss Vollrads Polratz Riesling
$8.99 – Minchinbury Moscato (semi sweet)
$13.99 – Zonin Prosecco
$14.99 – Porta Dante Prosecco
$18.99 – Santa Margherita Prosecco de Valdobbiadene
$19.99 – Dopff Au Moulin Cuvee Cremant d’Alsace
Rosé under $20
$12.99 – La Planchelière Rosé
$17.99 – Pigoudet Rosé
$17.99 – Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio Rosé
$19.99 – Gerard Bertrand Cotes des Roses
$7.99 – Paul Mas Cabernet Sauvignon
$7.99 – Zonin Regions Merlot
$8.99 – Borsao Tocado Garnacha
$9.99 – Arrogant Frog Ribet Red Cabernet Merlot
$9.99 – Marqués de Riscal Proximo
$9.99 – Illuminati Riparosso
$9.99 – Piccini Chianti
Reds under $20
$11.99 – Borsao Seleccion Grenache
$13.99 – Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon
$14.99 – Cat Amongst the Pigeons Shiraz
$14.99 – Chapoutier Cotes de Rhone
$14.99 – Carpineto Dogajolo
$15.99 – Stonyfell The Cellars Shiraz Cabernet
$15.99 – Marqués de Riscal 1860 Tempranillo
$16.99 – Tasca Regaleali Nero d’Avola
Recently you introduced me to a Balliamo Pinot Grigio that retails at $9.99. A lot of people might not consider spending below $10 on a bottle (until recently this included me)– how is it possible to get such great value for money?
It’s a combination of expertise, supply chain, economies of scale, competition, relationships, travel, regular tastings and negotiating with suppliers to reach critical price points. This is not always an easy thing to do because there has to be a balance and fairness in this complex equation for everybody.
What are 5 words you wish were used in the industry?
All you need is Love.
This encapsulates the idea that care, attention and belief are the ingredients for making beautiful wines.
You have said your favourite match for wine is people. I love this! That said, what is your all-time favourite food to pair with your favourite wine (and obviously share with friends)? I am not really into food matching although occasionally there is a transcendent moment. I had a beautiful bottle of 2013 Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling with sushi the other night. And it was made all the more special by sharing it with the best of friends and family.
What have you learnt over the years that you have applied to wine?
Wine is something that truly reflects the wonderment of nature and nurture. At whatever your budget you can find wines that are delicious to drink or something that are worth talking about. I spend my working life tasting the full range of genres, every style, every country, every region, every conceivable price from basic cask wines to classic priceless 19th Century vintages. There is always something fascinating about the most simple of wines to the most complex and rare vintages. Within this incredible diversity are a zillion perspectives, preferences and experiences. Yet regardless of all of this I find most people are intuitively connected to wine and that it’s best to guide rather than tell them what they should like. Wine has natural “voice”. In the end people gravitate to what they like through trial and error. That’s the fun of wine. So I urge your readers to explore and taste and not worry about what people might think!
Special thanks to Dialogue PR for introducing me to Andrew.