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.
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.”