What have you got planned to celebrate your 20th vintage?
The first part of Logan's 20th vintage celebration has happened, a wonderful weekend of degustation lunches at our Tasting Room with Italian chef Alessandro Pavoni of the 2 hatted restaurant Ormeggio with each dish expertly matched to the current release and a past vintage of the same wine from Logan's stable. We had 100 people on both Saturday and Sunday feasting in our Tasting Room, it was a big hit. Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine were there and have published a lovely 5 page article on the lunch and Logan's first 20 years in the September issue of the magazine.
The start of September sees the launch of stage 2 of our 20th vintage celebration, the release of a new wine, Clementine Pinot Gris 2016. This special wine, named after Hannah and my daughter, is a bold and expressive, yet pretty wine (like our Minnie, as we call her), being Pinot Gris fermented on its skins (as you do with red wine). It has a lovely pale, peach colour, complex aroma of flowers, spices, orange rind and pear with a tangy, crunchy palate from the velvety tannins which result from fermenting the Pinot Gris on its skins. And a beautiful label, of course.
What was your most memorable vintage?
I always get excited by the arrival of a new vintage, harvesting a new seasons grapes and watching, smelling and tasting how they change through fermentation. But I guess nothing quite matches the discovery and wonder of my first Logan vintage, back in 1997. It helps that it was a good year in Orange (we didn't have any Mudgee grapes back then) and all four wines we made that year received Gold medals and high accolades which was handy when launching as a new producer.
What made you choose New South Wales to make wine as opposed to a more traditional region like Barossa or Western Oz?
I am born and bred in Sydney and while some other states, like South and Western Australia may be more famous than NSW for winemaking, that doesn't mean they are better. The only true mountain range on the Australian continent runs down the length of eastern NSW, allowing perfect conditions for cool climate viticulture in places such as Orange and Mudgee as well as Canberra, Hilltops and Tumburumba.
What are the issues facing the Oz wine industry today?
The European sommelier and wine consumer have a view of Australian wine which is based purely around big bombastic Shiraz (which is only a small part of the Australian offering) and the low priced supermarket wines which are simple, as are the cheap supermarket wines from all countries. Australia needs to re-educate Europe that it is a continent producing a complex range of wine styles and varieties and that, while all the supermarket wines come from 20 large and medium sized producers, there are another 2980 or so small, mostly family owned and run wineries who are producing interesting wines that express their terroir and personality.
What are your views on natural, organic and biodynamic wines?
All wineries, all businesses for that matter, have a responsibility to look after the environment but they also have a responsibility to not trick or deceive the consumer. If an organic or biodynamic winery is doing it for the right reasons and not spraying large amounts of copper and sulphur (as many do) and really taking care of their land then that is great. The average consumer believes that organic and biodynamic vineyards do not get sprayed at all and the wines do not contain sulphur, which is completely untrue and unfortunately many well-meaning wine drinkers are being fooled by marketing.
I am a fan of many 'natural' wines although not a fan of the term 'natural' for them. All wines are essentially natural and 90% of the world’s best wines are made with minimal intervention and with as little sulphur addition as needed. But there is a lot of interest to be found in the world of amber/orange skin contact white/pink wines.
At Logan we ferment a portion of our Weemala Pinot Gris, Riesling & Gewurztraminer as well as Logan Sauvignon Blanc wines on their skins as an orange or amber wine. We then blend this parcel back with the tank and barrel ferments to add complexity and texture to the end wine. In 2016 we bottled our first fully skin contact orange wine, the Clementine Pinot Gris. We also use wild yeasts for almost all our ferments.
In the vineyard we employ a system called Integrated Pest Management where you utilise both organic and conventional techniques, specifically timed to have a minimal impact on the soil and ecosystem while protecting the vines and fruit.
Favourite grape variety?
Too tough to say - Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Grenache, Carignan, Bobal, Picpoul... I like any good wine. Am yet to taste a good Pinotage though, but happy to be convinced.
Favourite food and wine match?
Peeling a bucket of prawns with a racy, young, limey Riesling.
Most memorable piece of wine advice you've received, and who gave it?
Don't be afraid of oxygen pre-ferment in non-aromatic whites, from a learned Mudgee neighbour Simon Gilbert.
Greatest wine experience you've had?
Drinking ‘09 Salvioni Brunello di Montalcino from plastic cups on the Shinkasen from Tokyo to Osaka with a Bento Box accompanied by the Salvioni viticulturist and our Japanese importer. Top wine & great chat.
What has travelling the world, marketing and selling your wines taught you about life?
To be organised but relaxed. There's good and bad food, coffee, wine, people, everything… everywhere… so hunt out and stick to the good ones. Don't rely too heavily on others, if something's important then take responsibility yourself.
You have mentioned to us previously that your mates have nicknamed you "Google," we pride ourselves on knowing wine so tell us something we don't know about wine?
My mates are possibly not the smartest so they are not really a guide, but here goes - did you know that Australia only makes 4% of the world’s wine... and this is likely to drop as vines are removed from lesser quality areas of Australia and as Chinese and possibly Indian production increases.
Who would play you in the story of your life?
A young Steve Macqueen would do. Cheers!