Walsh & Sons
When I asked Ryan Walsh whether he was Walsh or Sons, he told me it wasn’t quite that simple. Ryan has a few sons of his own, several brothers, and he sources his fruit from a vineyard planted and worked by his father and another owned by his wife’s family. It's perhaps better to think of it as Walsh & Family, but the lines blur even then.
Growing up in a farm, Ryan was exposed first hand to the same manner of organic agriculture which would come to define his winemaking and viticulture. The combination of seeing organic, low intervention farming alongside the growing Walsh family caused Ryan to realise, “The wines I was producing were as interesting as the personalities growing up around me.” A sentiment he pays homage to by naming his wines after his children, nieces and nephews.
Ryan’s family had moved from farming to "vines and olives" in 1994 and Ryan, now more than a little familiar with grapes and wines, set off to travel and study viticulture and winemaking, picking up different philosophies as he went.
The Walsh & Sons label would first came out in 2013 with a Syrah, followed by his first Red Blend in 2014. The label has sold primarily direct to wholesale as Ryan does not find himself up in the city all that often. A fact which made our chance to meet him and try his wines all the more special.
We found Ryan to be unassuming and lovely. We asked if he subscribed to minimal intervention winemaking and he joked “Yes, but that might just be me being lazy”.
The Walsh & Sons wines were subtle and delicious. We were amazed at the butteriness of the first wine of the night, the Little Poppet semillon chardonnay blend, Ryan told us the butteriness came from the reduction of skin contact with the grape juice during fermentation. With this in mind we were even more surprised to find the full Burnside Chardonnay to be so subtle and refined. The chardonnay definitely stole the night for us, which Ryan suggested was, “Crisp enough to cut through the butter,” and we couldn’t have agreed more.
Onto reds, we tasted the Felix Syrah. Syrah is the name which Shiraz grapes go by throughout the rest of the world, and some contemporary winemakers have eschewed the Australia specific ’Shiraz’ in order to reflect a lower alcohol, subtler and more acidic style of wine. Ryan told us that “Finding the most possible texture at the lowest possible alcohol is the struggle for every winemaker”. We found the Syrah chalky, subtle, and vibrant. We finished the official tasting with the Roi Cabernet Sauvignon, a warm and beautiful wine named after Ryan’s oldest son.
As is becoming Grape to Glass tradition, Ryan brought a fifth wine for sampling, this time the Lola Red Blend, a beautiful blend of syrah, cabernet and grenache which we found lovely and left us hungry for something to eat alongside it.
Grape To Glass
We love the Gordon Street Garage and it was lovely to be there for a Grape To Glass. We took over the upstairs function area which made for a lovely little tuck-away. By now there are a few familiar faces amongst the many new ones, and we were delighted to have a chance to drink fine wine with lovely people, and to have Ryan right there with us to help us fall even more in love with the wines.
Next in Neighbourhood Event Co.'s Grape To Glass series is Ministry of Clouts at Helvetica on August 31st followed by LS Merchants at Young Love Mess Hall on September 21st.
See the rest of our coverage of Grape To Glass.
Josephine Perry was managing a winery in Spain and made a habit of waking up early to go surfing, snowboarding and "being generally Australian". Only to arrive home once the remainder of her workplace were rising from their siesta. Finding her always exhausted at night, her coworkers nicknamed her Lazy Bones, Sleepy Head or in Spanish Dormilona.
Josephine came back home to Margaret River after having her first child and started her winemaking consultancy company Perryscope and her winery Dormilona. Despite early instalment difficulties: being warned against using a skull and cross bones in her marketing, and enduring having her business referred to as ‘Jo’s hobby’, Dormilona wines now stand amongst the most highly lauded in Margaret River. They earned Josephine an award as the Young Gun of Wine for 2016, and have helped put West Australian natural wines on the map.
Jo was thoroughly engaging, and clever and informal enough to elicit a lot of laughter from the crowd. She called her house wines “Light, fruity, in and out wines to just smash every day”. She also credits the beginning of her winemaking journey to her Grandfather, a brewer at Swan Brewery, asking her to write down what she wanted out of life, and discerning that winemaker was the position which best suited her desires for freedom, travel and spontaneity.
Jo’s grandfather hit the nail on the head, and after an encouraging start fermenting a successful and swiftly confiscated apricot wine as a high school science project, She began her wine journey.
Josephine studied by correspondence, sitting exams in Paris, Milan, Sicily and San Francisco. Her studies followed by a long international tenure which included California, New Zealand, Germany, France and then seven years managing wineries in the Canary Islands before her return home to Western Australia.
We were just amazed by the wines we tasted from Dormilona, they were bold but refined, clever, easy, and just funky enough for us to find them really exciting.
We began with the Rosato Rose, bottled only a month ago. The tempranillo rose made with hand picked whole bunches was not intended to be ongoing, but production has continued upon her husband's insistence. “I make it in magnums because he just knocks it back,” said Josephine. We’re on side with Josephine’s husband, it is indeed delicious.
We moved onto the Blanco and Tinto, Dormilona’s low alcohol, easy drinking house wines. The wines certainly punched above their weight. In the Blanco we tasted a melony brightness which was exciting and moreish. In the Tinto we found a warmth like a throw rug. In both we tasted a bright acidic tickle at the start followed by a pleasant ashiness.
We moved onto her Chardonnay and to Josephine, the love of her life: "Chardonnay is something you can build or something you can let it do its thing.” Said Josephine, who rather than constructing this wine, has tried to capture the fruit and "just let it shine." We loved the Chardonnay which was crisp and beautiful.
We finished the official wines for this Grape To Glass with the Cabernet Sauvignon. We’d had a bit of wine at this point— being a Chardonnay drinker occasionally means the responsibility of finishing your friends’ glasses— and after drinking the Cabarnet Sauvignon, we loved it so much that we stopped taking notes, assuming that we would vividly remember the taste by the time of writing this article,. We didn’t. But we do recall loving this wine, which was not a major deviation from a quintessential Margaret River cabernet, but was as beautiful and delicious as the best we've had.
In addition to her five wines, Josephine brought her ‘Clayface’ wines, a magnum each of the Chardonnay and Cabernet, this time aged in amphorae. Amphorae are clay pots which are buried in the ground. Clay breathes in a way similar to an oak barrel but doesn't impart oak flavours on the wine. Josephine “truly respects it,” and her process involves using organic fruit with no additions. Tasting the Clayface manifestations of wines we had tried previously made for a fascinating comparison, and we fell in love immediately with these beautiful wines made in an old world style.
Grape To Glass
Hunkered down in the converted cellar event space of Young George, the dim lights and jovial atmosphere made this Grape to Glass event feel timeless and whimsical. Jo, Josh from Neighbourhood Events roamed around filling glasses as the lovely Young George staff offered bites to eat, making the small, friendly space feel warm and wonderful.
Next in Neighbourhood Event Co.'s Grape To Glass series is Walsh & Sons at Gordon St Garage on August 24th followed by Ministry of Clouts at Helvetica on August 31st
See the rest of our coverage of Grape To Glass.
Every morning at 6am Carly comes into their laboratory, prepares a large vat of crème anglaise, and loads batches into a machine which churns and freezes. All the while she adds fruit purees she has prepared, cookies she has made and produce she has sourced from around WA. She’s a Pharmacist by background, which has been useful in her role as the ‘architect' for their flavours. Everything which can be made from scratch, has been made from scratch, and she weighs out ingredients, melts and crushes in a blender, and prepares flavours until just before 12pm when the unassuming little gelato store opens for trade.
Carly is one half of the couple behind Chicho, Northbridge’s first artisan gelato store. Carly and her husband Chez champion a local, produce driven and constantly in-motion approach to traditional gelato.
What’s the Difference Between Gelato and Ice-cream?
When I asked Chez what the difference was between gelato and ice cream, he wanted to explain the difference not only between the two, but between the bulk of the gelato Perth had seen before, and their own approach.
In short, gelato is churned slower and warmer than ice-cream, and with a lower cream content. The result is that gelato has less air than ice cream, so a scoop of gelato will weigh more than a scoop of ice cream. It is also easier to discern complex flavours in gelato, as it is not so cold as to shock the tongue.
New Wave Gelato
The differences between ‘Commercial Gelato' and the 'New Wave Gelato' which Chez and Carly make at Chicho are just as significant: “You can buy ‘gelato flavour pastes and semi-finished products’, where you just read the recipe and throw it all in.” Says Chez, “But I think the purer you can make it, the better”. Alongside their commitment to make everything they can from whole, local ingredients, Chez and Carly do not add colour or preservatives to their gelato. The practice necessitates storing their gelato in traditional stainless steel tubs, which do not allow either the staff or customer to see their gelato until it is being scooped. Chez and his staff navigate these tubs entirely by memory, learning the placement of their ever changing flavours each night. That their gelato, usually a very visual product, cannot be seen from the street level, they combat using their social media presence and the aesthetic of the store.
Chez and Carly have stuck to their guns and continue to pursue the best product they can produce, and this distinction has resonated with their customers, “We were worried about people not getting it, not seeing the product was a bold move, which nobody else has done in Perth. Even in italy it is rare to find the pozzetti except in the north.” But their approach has resonated with the people in Perth, and they’re one of few ice-cream places which can claim to have regulars.
“The feedback we get is that our product is quite light, it doesn’t leave you feeling stuffed because there’s a realness to it” Says Chez.
Constantly Changing Flavours
The new wave gelato at Chicho is in constant flux and draws inspiration from seasonal produce and from collaborations with local Chefs. “During the chef collabs a chef tells us what flavours they want, and we provide the skill set.” Says Carly. “Everyone who’s done it so far has really enjoyed it”
When I mentioned to Carly that, for all my love of what they were doing, I was really a die hard vanilla fan, she was quick to mention that they were in no way above the staples, “you’ve got to make sure that your vanilla is great. If your vanilla isn’t right, nothing is going to be right.”
"There are a few obligatory flavours like vanilla and chocolate, but we always want to keep it fresh and new.” Says Carly, "some of the flavours we started with are still there, we’ll never get rid of the malted milk cornflake, we can’t take it off. Popcorn too. So many people come in for it.”
The spark of inspiration which became Chicho came to Chez as the couple were living in East London, Chez was working a corporate job and Carly as a pharmacist. “The East London food scene has gone crazy over the last five years with owner-operators, young entrepreneurs, and Chefs coming over from Europe for the better economic conditions…We were living and breathing the food scene every day and I was pretty despondent in a corporate position. We decided that food, being our passion, could be an avenue for a brand, and a business idea”
The couple had always intended to come back home to Perth, and decided to come home via Italy and the Americas. Chez had found out about a gelato course in Bologna and thought the worst which could come of it was a new education for himself and Carly. The course resonated with the couple, and encouraged them to continue their travels "collecting ideas along the way”
Carly and Chez came home to Perth after six months of travels. Setting up a commercial kitchen in their garage and bringing their product to farmers markets around Perth in a gelato cart. They named their business Chicho after the term "eh ciccio!”, an Italian term of endearment meaning ‘Cheeky Kid’. The couple slowly dialed their jobs back as they spent more and more time on their gelato business and in January of 2016 established their William Street store.
When I asked what was next for Chicho, and for Carly and Chez, they laughed and replied “A holiday. Ask us after that.” They had mentioned previously that a semblance of work-life balance was the next mountain for the couple to summit.
“If you’re here 24/7, it’s easy to lose passion for what you’re doing. The first two years in any business are always a challenge, but we’re trying to keep people on long term so we can challenge them and bring out the best in them"
They are intent on holding everything they do to their own high standards, and although they mention plans for pop-up ventures and expansions, they won’t do so until they can be certain that they can continue using the best ingredients and practices.
Chicho are open at 180 William Street, from 12-10pm Sun-Wed and 12-11pm Thurs-Sat. Check them out on Facebook and Instagram
The Pawn Wine Co.
After a tenure growing grapes and selling to commercial winemakers, Tom Keelan found himself disenfranchised to see his efforts blended down into uninspiring wines bearing no reference to the Adelaide Hills on their labels. This dissatisfaction culminated in Tom and vigneron David Blows making their own wine as a ‘one off’ in 2002. The wine struck a chord with Tom and David as well as the community surrounding them, and they have been producing small batch wine using their estate grown grapes and old world methods ever since.
The name The Pawn Wine Co. came from a cellar hand writing ‘Pawn Star’ across each of the barrels of their first vintage. The idea of the pawn as the overlooked piece in a chess board, but the one which, unified with the other pawns, can turn the tide of the game, resonated with Tom. The resulting company celebrates being small, accessible, and free spirited, and believe that boutique winemakers are pawns of their own game: often overlooked by bigger producers but as a unified force, powerful and able to turn the tide of the game.
The Pawn Wine Co. grow the grapes for every wine that they make, a process which allows them to start their winemaking "in the vineyard". Tom freely admits to additives of sulphur and small amounts of acid in his wines, but still he will only pick grapes which he knows will make for excellent wine. Tom told us that he recently went to a larger winery and was able to taste ten years of vintages of a certain variety “I can’t do that,” he said, “If the grapes won’t make for a vintage I’m proud of, I have no trouble leaving them.”
When I mentioned to Tom that his wines were surprisingly cheap considering their circumstances, he confidently replied that he "has been told often that his wines are too cheap, but never that they are too expensive" and that his current prices are "enough to sustain me and my family, but low enough that anybody who wants them can access them— I don’t need much more than that”
Whilst his wines are sophisticated and thoughtful, Tom does not shy away from informality, calling his Desperado red blend an attempt to make a “great pizza wine,” and having started his desperado range in 2011 when terrible weather meant only a Rosé came up to his standards. The name Desperado comes from a chess move which involves sacrificing your remaining pieces in a last ditch effort to win the game.
Tom called his wines "true to their variety”, and indeed there were no wild diversions or esoteric winemaking terminologies but rather straight-forward and delicious, approachable wines.
Our night began with his Austraian Attack Grüner Veltliner, a lesser known but fascinating variety. The Grüner is an Austrian grape, the original climate of which very closely resembles that of the Adelaide Hills. The Pawn Wine Co. were amongst the first three wineries in the Adelaide Hills to plant the increasingly popular grape. Now planted in over 30 wineries. Tom suggests the variety is unique in flavour hitting you not as a pinpoint but as a wide splash.
We drank the aforementioned Desperado Rosé, which employed a neat trick of technology: showing in the label a rose when kept at the right temperature, fading into a skull when too warm or too cold. Following the Rosé, we drank The Gambit Sangiovese, a light but warm wine, and one of the original plantings from the vineyard. Finishing the event on a bold and luxurious En Passant Tempranillo which Tom called "like a chesterfield lounge”.
Tom brought one last, bonus wine, the Desperado red blend. Tom was quick to pre-emptively dismiss accusations that blends were made from inferior grapes, and said that this was always the first wine of the vintage. The “get home from work” wine was comfortable, homey, and deep.
Grape To Glass
This week Grape To Glass took over the Rockefeller Deli, a midcentury inspired diner serving beautiful food, and great coffee until late into the night. We were delighted by the great service and friendly staff, and loved sitting amongst groovy, comfy retro upholstery and sipping The Pawn Wine Co.’s wines.
Complete with a brief geography lesson on South Australia’s wine regions, the chance to drink wine in the presence of the winemaker left a special impression on the wines and brought out the best in both the wine and the night.
Next in Neighbourhood Event Co.'s Grape To Glass series is Dormilona at Young George on August 10th followed by Walsh & Sons at Gordon St Garage on August 24th.
See the rest of our coverage of Grape To Glass.
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 saw us at The Shorehouse with amazing wine by the Adelaide Hills winery, Vinteloper.
With the French word for wine prefixed over the word interloper. The Vinteloper brand is a pledge to stand out from everything pretentious and inaccessible about the world of wine. Following the motto ‘Fun on the outside, serious in the bottle.’ Vinteloper’s founder and winemaker David Bowley and his wife Sharon Fong have built a winery which is as much about the situations and people drinking as it is about the wine, which so happens to be brilliant.
Besides its labels, which are beautiful hand drawn illustrations by Sharon, Vinteloper is perhaps most famous for their yearly Urban Winery Project. The project sees David bringing fermenters, a basket press, and a load of barrels into the city for a community driven winemaking adventure. The project runs every year during the harvest, “probably the most difficult time it could happen,” but David says the reason they run the project is because “After being a part of making the wine, for those two hundred people. every glass they drink for the rest of their lives tastes a little bit better."
After a tenure in commercial winemaking David began working for Wine Australia, and was able to drink “Thousands of wines, from almost every winery in Australia.” In tasting so many wines from so many different regions, David discovered that the region which most resonated with him was that from the Adelaide Hills, the area he grew up in. He eventually began Vinterloper in 2008, and while still working at Wine Australia, steadily grew until "The biggest risk would have been not taking the risk" and left his job in order to put all of his facilities into his brand.
David is quick to reject any pretentiousness or inaccessibility related to wine, and for him this includes wordy tasting notes, Instead choosing to introduce his wines with vivid imagery and experiences. He likened his Pinot Gris to the moment of throwing your head under the water at the beach on the first day of summer, an experience, he asserts, we’ve all had before. When one attendee at Grape To Glass complimented the Pinot Gris, saying it was very good, he replied ‘what do you like about it?’ and throughout the night he emphasised that he didn’t want to tell people what they want, he wanted to ask people what they wanted.
David tells us that in addition to the grapes he grows himself he buys from the same growers each vintage, saying that in everything he does he is forever trying to improve just a little bit from last time.
David’s wines are refined and intricate, but there is nothing daunting about them. Treated delicately throughout his winemaking process, Vinteloper wines perfectly embody the convivial atmosphere they hope to facilitate.
Our tastings began with a Pinot Gris, usually not a personal favourite, but this particular one was moreish, with a crisp and lemony finish, which David said "leaves you wanting just a little bit more”. We progressed immediately onto reds, with an elegant Pinot Noir which David likened to having “The same analogue warmth of a vinyl record”.
We moved on to a remarkable, refined Shiraz which David believed had been “turned down from 11 compared to most shiraz”, and a Touriga Nacional. Touriga, the primary grape in Port, is a bit of a rarity in Australia. It made for a huge, powerful wine, a bit like a starburst in drinkable form. We finished the night with a lovely red from the most recent Urban Winery Project.
Grape To Glass
With ominous clouds rolling in over the beach, we could think of no better time to be indoors drinking wine. Even in stormy weather the staff of the Shorehouse were lovely, and between the jovial atmosphere and beautiful wines we had no problem forgetting the dreariness outside.