At last spring is here. The weather is ...
Simon Black has been honing his craft as winemaker at Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove in the Mornington Peninsula since 2009. In his words "A number of things are really important to me; my family and friends, travel, music and nature. And, of course, wine. It’s an integral part of my life."
Here's what else he had to say.
What made you want to become a winemaker?
My father owned restaurants when I was young and I grew up immersed in the culture of food and wine. Creating something from raw ingredients appealed to me enormously and as I entered my teenage years, wine became an integral part of this fascination. The endless possibilities to create flavours and textures on a balanced framework seemed an opportunity too good to pass up. Despite initially studying Sports Science at Canberra University, it was my interest in wine that eventually won out and I transferred across to CSU to study Oenology.
Which winemakers do you most look up to and why?
Winemakers who challenge themselves to discover the undiscovered with their unique sites through creative and innovative winemaking. On a more specific level, Jean Pierre de Smet, former winemaker at Domaine de l’Arlot, has been an inspiring force. Jean-Pierre’s knowledge, wisdom and passion influenced my view of wine on a holistic level; a view that embraces excellence across all aspects of life in a sustainable way.
What, if anything, do you find stressful about your job?
The fear of failure. Each year the quality bar gets higher and maintaining high standards is an ongoing challenge particularly in an environment where the goal posts are always shifting.
What wine are you proudest of?
I’m most proud of the wines where I have improved wine quality, intensity, complexity and balance through creative and innovative practices. A good example of this is the utilisation of carbonic maceration and aged lees add-backs to generate character and complexity in our Chardonnay blends. Also, with some inventive techniques with whole-bunches in our Pinot Noir production.
What is your favourite wine and why? What do you drink it with?
It’s a day to day proposition – Many factors influence my choice of wine to drink including mood, weather and company, and of course food. All influence the way I look at wine and what I might feel like drinking at a particular moment. There are life changing wines which have shaped my career that pop up every so often and make you reassess your way of thinking and recalibrate your view of wine and winemaking. A few that spring to mind include a 1945 Seppelts Hock, 1976 JJ Prum Spatlese and a 1947 Camuzet Vosne Romanee.
With so many regions, varieties, vintages and styles, it is the undiscovered wine that drives me most to my next bottle.