We met a lot of winemakers over the course of this Grape To Glass series, and one aspect of winemaking we really came to appreciate the informal and lo-fi approach found in a lot of new boutique winemakers, we found that nobody embodied this aesthetic and philosophy quite like LS Merchants. Started in 2013 and making their official debut in 2015, LS Merchants are a small, young wine label run by winemaker Dylan Arvidson and his partner, marketer and administrator, Taryn Hogan. They put out very small batches, often just a couple of barrels of any release, of wines which are fun, friendly and unpretentious.
Dylan and Taryn even set out to bring a little grounding to tasting notes, the poster for unapproachable wine: They brought along a bag filled with produce, spices and herbs, giving the crowd a tangible example of the aromas Dylan believed he found in their wines. Taryn told us that the first instalment of their aroma kit came during a local ‘battle of the winemakers’ competition in Margaret river where winemakers held side-by-side tastings and sold their wines by the glass at the bar. The couple had just made a rose and they handed out strawberry and cream lollies as a trump card.
LS Merchant’s branding is immediately striking. Their labels manage to be fairly minimal all the while showcasing local artists in a form of collaboration. The LS logo was drawn unprompted by Taryn one evening, and Dylan reports seeing it and immediately deciding that had to go on a bottle. The ‘Merchants’ in LS Merchants represents their faith in those around them, from their ability to source grapes from all manner of different growers, to their collaborative labelling.
Dylan and Taryn
Friendly, down to earth, and prone to giving their wines names like Red Drank and Da Bois, Dylan and Taryn were lovely and fascinating. When they arrived at Grape to Glass, they had spent the day jumping between bars and wine stores, and had been pleasantly surprised by such a unified positive response, and by having sold half of their entire stock of Malbec already that day.
Dylans winemaking journey began as a highschooler in Geelong when he met a winemaker and found himself impressed by the winemaker’s lifestyle. “I thought to myself, I like travel, I like wine.. I like goon”. His ambition was almost cut short however when he snuck his way into a sensory course at seventeen and tried fifteen wines, all of which tasted like lemon and little else. Dylan kept at it, however, travelling extensively throughout his winemaking career and ultimately settling in Margaret River, and exciting prospect not out of the country, but seemingly a world away from his roots back East.
Made in very small batches, often just a barrel or two, LS Merchant wines are boutique, interesting, and often sell out almost as soon as they are produced. We began our evening with the Da Bois. Dylan had made a successful Fumé Blanc in 2014, but when he returned in 2016 he found the Fumé label had gotten a little catchy. He began looking for another french word for his barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, and stumbled upon ‘Bois’, the french translation for wood. This fun little wine is incredibly light, easy summer drinking, as Dylan said “Take it to the park, take it to a nightclub, its Da Bois, it can go anywhere.”
We rounded off the whites with the Vermentino, a similarly smashable, spritsy and citrusy wine, with a little more weight and nuance. The wine had been bottled just two months beforehand, and we couldn’t get enough of the beautiful, crisp wine.
Moving onto the reds, we tried their Malbec, a surprisingly deep and chocolatey wine with liquorice notes. Finishing the official tastings with their 'Red Drank’ red blend, a wine Dylan had blended ‘almost entirely by instinct,’ and which ‘just sort of happened.’ The Touriga Nacional forward Red Drank had us craving Italian food to go with its refined, crunchy flavours.
Taryn and Dylan brought one last wine, their Mataro, an elegant and delicious wine, so delicious we found we’d finished ours almost before we’d written any notes.
Grape To Glass
This Grape To Glass took over the beautiful Young Love Mess Hall, a beautiful little space which floods with natural light during the day, then falls into a cosy warmth during the evening. We took over the entire space, and feasted on delicious cheeses and bites whilst making the most of the charming space with a bunch of lovely people. This beautiful evening was a great way to close out the first series of Grape To Glass. If you’ve come along, we’ve had a great time with you, and if you missed this round, we do hear word of a second series coming along soon.