We’re featuring the Neighbourhood Event Co. roaming winemaker series Grape To Glass, a series of pop up cellar doors in a ton of different small bars and restaurants around Perth and Fremantle. The series runs every Thursday from the start of July until the end of August and last Thursday we kicked off at Queen Street’s The Flour Factory with Brave New Wine, a Denmark winery owned and run by winemakers Yoko and Andries.
Brave New Wine
Brave New Wine begun as a single barrel of skin contact riesling in 2013. Andries called it a passion project and also an antidote to some of the less inspiring winemaking he was performing in his day job as a commercial winemaker. Yoko and Andries continued making the sort of wine which excited them, and for years they made wine at home for friends, themselves, and family.
“We source organic fruit, we ferment naturally and we don’t add acid, enzymes or yeast, we don’t fine or filter our wines. I understand why big wineries work differently, there’s a lot which can go wrong in low intervention winemaking, but when they don’t you end up with a wine with a real life and vitality” said Andries.
Yoko mentioned that the push to take Brave New Wine to bars and bottleshops actually came sooner than they were expecting. When Andries was made redundant after the commercial winery he was working for was bought out. With two kids and a mortgage, the couple realised it was time to put everything they had into their own wines.
Since selling their first bottle in just January of last year, Yoko and Andries have gone on to win the Danger Zone award from Young Gun of Wine for their Wonderland Botanical Riesling.
Yoko and Andries
Yoko and Andries are unassuming and lovely, they were completely unpretentious about their winemaking process, both in it’s success and challenges— One such challenge being their relative isolation in the world of small batch winemaking. Yoko told me that one of the best benefits to winning a Young Gun of Wine award was the chance to check in with other likeminded winemakers.
During the Grape To Glass event they shared stories about many of the aspects of winemaking which would never occur otherwise: from the practical: that, whilst they are always looking to make the sort of wines which they enjoy, it gets progressively harder to turn off the internal critic when drinking their own wine; to the unexpected: how Andries’ hands go completely black during the harvest season; to the completely unexpected: Yoko asking to smell Andries’ legs during times when he’s come back from lengthy winemaking sessions.
We drank four of Yoko and Andries’ wines during the Grape To Glass event, and afterwards were invited downstairs to try some of this year’s Wonderland botanical riesling, pulled straight from the barrel on their way up.
Brave New Wine wines have a bite to them, there is a huge bouquet of acidity and flavour, which may well take you off guard. After this initial hit, their wines reveal themselves to be quietly beautiful, both easy to drink and fascinating. Several other guests at the night mentioned to me that Yoko and Andries had taken their favourite varietals, and made something completely unique with them. Andries’ use of the word ‘vitality’ certainly comes to mind.
The wines are given names as a statement of intention of sorts, the varietal itself taking second billing. As Yoko and Andries are new wave winemakers, they aren’t bound by any rules which state that a certain varietal must be made to taste a certain way, and with such a variety of winemaking techniques available to them, they felt that a name was a much better indication of how their wines would taste and feel, than simply labelling the varietal.
Nat Daddy, Petillant Naturel — A Petit Naturel or 'Pet Nat' is a wine predating champagne. Rather than adding more sugar and yeast after the first fermentation, this method involves bottling the wine before it has finished it’s first fermentation. This red blend was very much alive. Funky and fruity, with a tart sweetness and bright bubbles. This wine was bottled without any additives of sulphur and the yeast was not extracted, leaving some sediment toward the end of the bottle. This wine felt genuine and funky.
Klusterphunk, skin contact Chardonnay — This chardonnay was an ‘orange wine’, or basically a reverse rose: Where a rose is the product of putting red grapes through a white wine process, orange wine is the product of putting white grapes through a red wine process. In this case, whole bunches of grapes were fermented over a fortnight, then put into a basket press with their stalks. The red wine tannins make this wine heavy and chalky. They used only old oak barrels, leaving none of the chewiness from which Chardonnay has earned a divisive reputation. This wine felt delicate and beautiful, the red wine feel pairs wonderfully with the juicy chardonnay.
Pi Oui, Pinot Noir — From one of Yoko and Andries’ own managed vineyards, named ‘slim pickings’ after its very first vintage was decimated by crows. They call this wine their labour of love, and having spent four days hand plucking grapes off stems in order to fill a barrel with entirely unsquished, perfect grapes, they are certainly correct on the ‘labour’ part. This wine was an absolute crowd favourite, not too sweet, but bright and savoury and complex.
Schadenfreud, Shiraz — In the early days of Brave New Wine Yoko and Andries’ had access to a vineyard producing amazing fruit, but which was being used by it’s owner to make a reasonably unimpressive budget wine. The couple used this fruit to make their much lauded shiraz, and so earned the name ‘schadenfreud’ as a bit of a taunt. They now use grapes from a similarly located vineyard. This wine was the most familiar, it tasted dark, slightly wild, and delicate.
Wonderland, Botanical Riesling — Whilst the addition of native botanicals technically disqualifies this as a ‘wine’ this botanical riesling was like a gin martini in wine form. It felt like it was still lightly sparkling, although that may have been from the acidity. It felt incredibly ripe, bright and busy.
Grape To Glass
This Grape To Glass event was held at The Flour Factory on Queen Street in the Perth CBD. Afterwards the Flour Factory chef offered a paired degustation dinner, and Brave New Wine was made available by the glass and bottle. Their upstairs event space made for a lovely, intimate setting from which to taste and discuss these wonderful new wines.
We tried four great 75ml samples showing a range of Brave New Wine wines. After a brief introduction of themselves and their wine making, Yoko and Andries introduced each wine in what ranged from anecdotes and stories to intricate and interesting descriptions of their winemaking techniques and processes. We met plenty of lovely wine fans over the night, some die hard Brave New Wine followers, and some adventurous drinkers who just wanted to see what it was all about. The wines all showed up wonderfully in Riedel glasses, which we were invited to take home, and we may have gorged ourselves a little as The Flour Factory’s delightful staff came by with beautiful cheeses and snacks.