A SUNDAY IN AUGUST

Michael Schindler is crafting some of the Okanagan’s most delicious and intriguing wines. This little valley in British Columbia, Canada, is the perfect place to grow healthy, organic grapes, yet most farmers opt for unnecessary sprays and treatments. Not only that, but in their quest for monster flavours and ripeness, most of the wines from the Okanagan are egregiously manipulated. Fortunately, Michael is working with what nature gives him instead of against it. Freshness, purity, texture; everything we love about this young region.




DIRTY & ROWDY

Before we started importing Dirty & Rowdy, I would wait patiently for the bi-annual email from the winery, purchase what I could, and would drive down to Montana to pick up my loot. The wines were so confounding I could hardly contain my joy and confusion. They were unapologetically Californian, yet low in alcohol, and had all the drinkability I craved. Read On...

 


KINDELI / DON

I got off the plane in Nelson (a modestly sized town at the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island) after a two-hour flight from Auckland. Alex Craighead, the winemaker and proprietor of Kindeli, picked me up. I was to spend the next two weeks working with him, learning his philosophy and techniques. As is the norm, we headed straight out to the vineyards.

After a quick dip into Marlborough to see some Sauvignon Blanc being grown for a client of his, we headed to the Upper Moutere where their winery and home vineyard is. The site is planted on Moutere Series Clay and features Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. They farm organically and opt for using sulphur, seaweed, compost, bat guano, and copper (only when absolutely necessary) to maintain the health of their vines. Between the rows you’ll find a stand of local trees, a small creek, and plenty of wild cover-crops. Plants like clover help restore nitrogen to the soil. Read On...

 




GUT OGGAU

On the western side of the Neusiedlersee in Burgenland you’ll find the quaint town of Oggau. As we drove in from the north, the rolling hills funnelling down towards the lake were dotted with perfectly angled vineyards, tucked amongst the forests and wildlands. We arrived at Gut Oggau’s heuriger (a traditional Austrian eatery that serves cold food and local wine) and were immediately surrounded by friendly faces, guzzling glass after glass with vigour and cheer. Read On...

 



LE GRAPPIN

There are few things we like as much as well-made Burgundy. Fortunately our friend Andrew Nielsen is crafting some of the finest examples we’ve ever come across. From wild and gregarious Beaujolais, to elegant and mineral Beaune Chardonnays, he really has a handle on the dozens of micro-plots he’s working with. Despite being born in Australia and living in the UK, he has a true connection to the land, opting for ethically farmed vines instead of their chemically farmed neighbours. He’s also not afraid of unsung appellations within Burgundy, often showing the nobility of what many consider second class sites. Aligoté anyone?


LES LUNES / POPULIS

I met Shaunt and Diego in November 2016 at the Raw Wine Fair in Brooklyn. After days of tasting and drinking and ingesting, my palate was getting a little exhausted. You can only taste so many wines with overt volatile acidity before you spiral into a natural wine depression, and crave mass produced Californian Chardonnay. Then I tasted the wines from Les Lunes and felt re-inspired and refreshed. Read On...

 


MEINKLANG

With throbbing heads and bleary eyes, we drive up to Meinklang’s gorgeous little winery. It is nestled into the back streets of a small town in Burgenland. The esthetic is half Austrian efficiency, half Japanese wabi-sabi. Nikolas approaches us beaming and we jump in his car and head towards their farm. Read On...

 





REVEL CIDER CO

I met up with Tariq, the mastermind behind Revel Cider, and his accomplice Stephen earlier this year while visiting Toronto. After a quick curbside introduction, we wandered down the street to Bellwoods Brewery where we proceeded to drink excessively. In fact, our lunch time drinking session went so well we were nearly an hour late for our dinner reservations. Needless to say, I could barely stop myself from guzzling their supremely complex, textural ciders. We chatted about fermentation dynamics, the quest to find rare apple trees scattered around Ontario, and how Tariq’s Muslim parents feel about him producing alcohol professionally. Read on…


TESTALONGA

Swartland is an intimidating region. Nearly flat wheat and canola fields are punctuated by massive rocky outcroppings. These ancient mountains look as though they may crumble before your eyes. There’s something surreal about the landscape - more than anywhere else I’ve ever visited, it looks like someone may have dreamt it up and then built it by hand. To the west, there is the rugged Atlantic coastline. Frigid waved crash relentlessly. On the region’s north-eastern border, a wall of mountains towers above the surrounding plains. Nestled into this range you’ll find Banditskloof, a small farm planted by Craig and Carla Hawkins.

As you drive down the red dirt road to their home and winery, you can’t help but feel you’ve reached the end of the earth. Small farming communities are their only neighbours - Carla drives to a town two hours away to do groceries nearly every week. When they first purchased the property, it was half derelict farm, half wildland. Angsty baboons and leopards live on the peaks above their home. They had to start from scratch. Read on…




Weingut STROHMEIER

It was the second day of the Raw Wine Festival. I had tasted roughly four hundred wines in 48-hours. My gums were swollen, my tongue was sore, my teeth panged, and despite spitting every sip, my head was heavy. The room was packed with every famous sommelier I had ever read about, as well as Action Bronson and Aziz Ansari. We were there to taste the best natural wines on the planet. Sadly, many of them underwhelmed.

I got to the last table, sensing the end was finally near. I forced myself in between a handful of people and raised my glass, asking Franz Strohmeier if I could taste his wines. He poured me a white and I swirled and sniffed. The room went silent. Read More…