OUT OF STEP WINE­MAK­ERS DAVE CHATFIELD AND NATHAN REEVES ON SAU­VI­GNON BLANC

Wine­mak­ers Dave Chatfield and Nathan Reeves didn’t set out to be sau­vi­gnon blanc trail­blaz­ers, but af­ter pro­duc­ing sev­eral ren­di­tions, they have ce­mented that rep­u­ta­tion.

Halliday - - Yarra Valley -

Nathan had spent a vin­tage at Stella Bella in Mar­garet River, which makes high-end sau­vi­gnon blanc, and while Dave was scep­ti­cal about mak­ing their own, he says Nathan con­vinced him to do so. “And he was right. Very much so,” Dave says.

The pair be­hind Out of Step made their first sau­vi­gnon blanc in 2012 from the highly sought-af­ter Lusa­tia Park site. “It’s a va­ri­ety un­der-rep­re­sented in the val­ley and Lusa­tia had re­ally amaz­ing old vines,” Dave says. “We only took a bit over a tonne of fruit, but we made some­thing unique. It was stylis­ti­cally very dif­fer­ent to what was com­ing out of New Zealand; ours wasn’t overtly trop­i­cal, there were more savoury el­e­ments and it had in­ter­est­ing tex­ture and re­tained great nat­u­ral acid­ity. Ac­tu­ally, we were just proud we didn’t stuff it up!”

Peo­ple loved the style and it sold out. They made one the fol­low­ing year, and in 2014 added a sec­ond from fruit off Lone Star Creek vine­yard, di­rectly op­po­site Lusa­tia Park. “We hit some­thing the mar­ket wanted – an in­ter­est­ing sau­vi­gnon blanc that was still va­ri­etal enough to keep pun­ters happy, but dif­fer­ent enough to keep som­me­liers ex­cited.”

In 2015, they scored fruit off the pop­u­lar Wil­lowlake vine­yard and have made one ever since, as well as an ex­cel­lent un­sul­phured, skin-con­tact wine called Cat­bird. “I don’t call my­self an ex­pert in any­thing, but I know how to make our sau­vi­gnon blanc,” Dave says. “We are ex­perts in our style, which isn’t overly fruity. We don’t sul­phur the juice, it’s ox­i­dised be­cause we’re look­ing for a savouri­ness and tex­ture. Ev­ery year we learn to do a bit less as we’ve be­come surer.”

A big part of their suc­cess is also af­ford­able pric­ing. “If you need con­vinc­ing that sau­vi­gnon blanc can be more than what most peo­ple per­ceive it to be [sim­ple, trop­i­cal and one-di­men­sional], then for a small pro­ducer, the best way to win peo­ple over is [to en­sure they can] buy a glass and en­joy it with a meal. That’s got to be a good thing.”

“We hit some­thing the mar­ket wanted – an in­ter­est­ing sau­vi­gnon blanc that was still va­ri­etal enough to keep pun­ters happy, but dif­fer­ent enough to keep som­me­liers ex­cited.”

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