Mel­bourne wine con­sul­tant Mark Protheroe on his most mem­o­rable wines

“These wines are about the peo­ple who’ve helped me along the way and pro­vided that ‘light bulb’ mo­ment. It’s the peo­ple who pro­vide the ex­tra lay­ers to the wine ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Halliday - - Contents -

01 1990 Cham­pagne Pol Roger

This was the first wine that kick-started my love for Cham­pagne, par­tic­u­larly those that have a lit­tle bot­tle age on them. This wine was the first Cham­pagne I’d tasted that showed so much flavour, in­ter­est, depth and com­plex­ity. It was also a wine that was stocked in a bot­tle shop near me in the early 2000s, and I used to drink it with my wife in the early parts of our re­la­tion­ship, so it has very happy mem­o­ries. After this wine, I looked for Cham­pagne that gives you a level of rich­ness and age. It gave me an early feel for that style.

02 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semil­lon

An early men­tor was Rus­sell Green, who had worked at Brown Brothers for a long time.

I’d moved to Beech­worth as a 17-year-old from Al­bury and worked with his son, and I’d go for a Mon­day roast at his house with his fam­ily. It was al­ways a wine les­son for me – Rus­sell no­ticed my in­ter­est in wine and en­cour­aged it as much as he could. He’d pull out older semil­lon and ries­ling, and younger ones too. We had a lot of Vat 1 from the 1970s, which led me to fall in love with aged Hunter semil­lon. Flavours seemed to come out of nowhere in those bot­tles. I saw how well Aus­tralian whites aged and the world of wine opened up to me.

03 Sor­ren­berg Ga­may

Sor­ren­berg’s Barry Morey was an­other big in­flu­ence on me while I was work­ing at a one-hat­ted venue [Par­lour and Pantry] in Beech­worth. I’d of­ten spend the day work­ing with him, learn­ing about wine pro­duc­tion. It was a no-holds-barred ap­proach – I could ask him any­thing. Grow­ing up on an or­ange farm in Lee­ton [in the NSW Rive­rina], I was fa­mil­iar with agri­cul­ture, but this in­tro­duced me to wine­mak­ing. His Ga­may was a wine we had fun with at the restau­rant. Peo­ple had heard of pinot noir, but not re­ally ga­may at that stage. It was com­pletely new and a rev­e­la­tory ex­pe­ri­ence for me.

04 La Spinetta Bar­baresco Cru Gal­lina

This was the first wine I splashed out on from Italy and it started my love af­fair with Ital­ian wines [Mark was for­merly group som­me­lier for

Guy Grossi’s venues]. I bought three wines from this pro­ducer, from the same ap­pel­la­tion and same year, and it was a ‘light bulb’ mo­ment. I was blown away by the fact you could have three blocks of land so close to each other and each wine could taste so in­cred­i­bly dif­fer­ent. This wine stood out be­cause it had the el­e­gance and per­fume of some of the Bur­gundies I’d seen, but im­mense tan­nin struc­ture and mouth­feel with a savouri­ness to it.

05 Dr Loosen Wehlener Son­nenuhr Ries­ling Kabi­nett

When I was work­ing in Ed­in­burgh, I did a tast­ing with Ernie [Loosen].

I’d al­ready been ex­posed to his wines, but at this tast­ing, he talked about the red and blue slate of the two wines [the drier-style Red Slate and fruit-driven Blue Slate] and that was the first mo­ment for me where I could see the ac­tual im­pact of soil on the flavour pro­file of the wines. It made me want to fur­ther ex­plore how soil can have a mas­sive im­pact in this way, and I think ries­ling is the ul­ti­mate con­duit of where it’s grown.

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