1. What drew you to the world of wine?
From being in the hospitality industry, what drew me to wine is that there is so much to learn and the landscape is ever changing. It’s a fascinating topic that keeps you constantly engaged which is why I’m currently studying for my Master of Wine (Stage 2).
2. A lesser known wine you’re excited about currently?
I think the recent emergence and the quality of Nebbiolo in Australia at the moment is particularly exciting. The last couple of releases from Domenica, Luke Lambert and Steve Pannell have really raised the bar and I think the variety is going to reach incredible heights in the next ten years.
3. Favourite travel experience?
I made a trip to the wine regions of California last year and it was really incredible. Napa Valley and Sonoma are really iconic but it was Santa Barbara area that really blew me away. The cooler climate there can produce exceptional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and the wines offer incredible value. Luckily, we are able to list some of the wines I tasted at NOMAD!
4. You’ve recently made some big changes to the wine list at NOMAD. Want to tell us a bit about this?
I wanted to expand the offering while still maintaining what had been so successful for the past five years with a focus on small Australian producers. By making the wine program substantially bigger, we have been able to achieve that. The core of the list still represents the very best of the Australian industry, and the lesser-known, great value wines are still there. What we have added is some of the countries more premium wines and some icon bottles, as well as our pick of the best imported wines that are available in the country. There is more choice than ever on the list, and the feedback from guests has been fantastic. Logistically, it represented some challenges to grow from less than 100 wines to over 300, but it was definitely worth it.
5. What are you most excited about for the wine program for 2020?
For sure that would be our wine dinners. We collaborated with some top producers last year and we have some great ones planned already for 2020. We will have an amazing private dining room when we return home to Foster Street that will give us even more flexibility and allow us to host even more dinners.
6. Speaking of wine dinners, your first for the line up this year is Hans Herzog from New Zealand. Tell us a bit about them.
So this will be our first collaboration with an overseas producer and we are delighted to be working with Hans and Therese. When people think of Marlborough they will immediately think of commercial Sauvignon Blanc and whilst that is an important part of the industry it’s far from the whole story. Producers like the Herzogs have committed to making premium cool climate wines and the results show that their faith in the region is well placed. All the wines have incredible finesse and structure and I am sure our guests will love them.
Typically January to April is a no go for wine dinners as the producers are all working vintage, but the harvest starts later in New Zealand, so we are delighted to be able to host a dinner so early in the year.
7. Favourite part of your job at NOMAD?
The great thing about working for a small independent restaurant company is the freedom to run an exciting beverage program. We aren’t straddled with big commercial contracts and a lot of our listings are purchased direct from the winemakers. Working directly with winemakers is incredibly rewarding and it keeps you grounded about the industry and just how much hard work goes into making the incredible wines we all enjoy.
8. Favourite NOMAD dish?
The eggplant dish that Jacqui created for the new NOMAD *up the road menu. It’s so fresh and vibrant, a perfect summer dish.
9. What wine would you pair it with?
The ‘Lieu Dit’ Melon de Bourgogne from Santa Barbara is a perfect match. It was one of the wines I tasted when I was in California. The guys have taken a less favoured variety and created a mineral driven, crisp and delicious wine that is great with a cold vegetable dish.
10. What do you like to do when not working with wine?
Try to burn off the calories from all the wine I drink! I box a couple of days a week and somehow allowed my partner to convince me to join Barry’s Bootcamp in Surry Hills. I’m regretting it already.
We try to take one non-wine focused trip a year, typically somewhere we can do some scuba diving as that is our favourite way to disconnect from the non stop nature of Sydney.