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Wine

Talking wine with sommelier Sebastian Crowther

Selector recently had the pleasure of catching up with Sebastian Crowther, Master Sommelier with Sydney’s Rockpool group.

Sebastian’s love of wine grew from a realisation that it was a topic that offers so much to explore. As he explains,  " I was just so oblivious to how big and how interesting the world of wine was and I think it was that moment of realisation that wow, there’s so much more to this than what I actually know.”

Today, having attained the title of Master Sommelier, his love of wine extends to the origins, people, stories and passion that are poured into every bottle and he loves communicating that message to his restaurant guests and presenting them with beautifully complementary food and wine matches.

“Food and wine matching is something that we have a focus on,” he says, “We look at the protein, we also look at the sauces that are accompanying it, whether they’re salty, sweet or have heavy umami characteristics, we try to find wines that complement these and really integrate into the flavours that the dishes have.”

Of course, a wine is only as good as the glass that it’s served in and Sebastian believes he’s discovered the best. “I must admit, I’m a self-confessed Riedel glassware freak, not only in the way they enhance the aroma and flavours of the wine, but also this beautiful tactile feel that they give.”

About Riedel

For 250 years, the Riedel name has stood for the high art of glassmaking.  However it was Claus Riedel’s 1950s discovery that the shape of your glass impacts the aroma, flavour, and overall profile of wine, which revolutionized the industry.  His masterpiece series “Sommeliers was the first ever stemware line to provide wine drinkers with an instrument designed to enhance the enjoyment of wine. 

His creation of ‘wine friendly’ stemware led to the production of varietal-specific glassware by his son Georg, 10th generation.  Working with experienced tasters and winemakers, he designed his ground-break Vinum series through sensory workshops, whereby the glass’ bowl shape is determined only by sensory perception, rather than on a drawing board.

Maximilian Riedel, 11th generation, now sits at the helm of the company after taking over from his father in 2014.  His introduction of the O Series, varietal-specific wine tumblers, as well as his imaginative series of snake decanters, continue to drive the company forward. 

Maximilian further strengthened Riedel’s commitment to the hospitality industry with the introduction of the Riedel Restaurant lines.  The Restaurant series allows on-premise access to the Riedel portfolio and “Grape Varietal Specific” philosophy, at a lower cost and with greater durability.

Visit Riedel for more details.

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Natural Wine
Words by Nick Ryan on 9 Aug 2016
Natural wine is the hottest thing in the world of wine right now, the boozy buzzword from Brooklyn to Bondi and all licensed points in between. The term ‘natural’ wine is problematic, more on that later, but in essence we’re talking about a winemaking movement that seeks to produce wines with the bare minimum of human intervention. That means no additions, no adjustments, no filtration or fining. Basically we’re talking about removing human intervention in the winemaking process from everything that happens between the picking of the fruit from the vine and crushing it to get the juice through to getting the resultant wine into the bottle. The juice begins to ferment not through the addition of commercially packaged yeast, but rather through the naturally occurring yeasts floating around in the vineyard and winery. The various options winemakers have to fill the gaps that the vagaries of vintage can create are also shunned, which means no added acid, enzyme, nutrient or tannin. Manic organics Any discussion of ‘natural’ wine will invariably touch on organic and bio-dynamic practices and while they’re intertwined, they’re not indivisibly so. When we talk about organic or bio-dynamic wines, we’re referring primarily to the farming practices in the vineyard, while most of the requirements for classifying a wine as ‘natural’ occur, or more accurately, don’t occur, within the winery. So any ‘natural’ wine worthy of the name will come from organic or bio-dynamic vineyards, but there will be wines produced from similarly certified vineyards that can’t be considered ‘natural’ because the winemakers responsible for them choose to be a little more ‘hands on’ when it comes to helping them along the journey from grape to glass. That’s just part of the difficulty with such absolutist terminology. Also tied up in this milieu are the wines that proclaim themselves ‘Orange’, not because they come from the central New South Wales wine region, but rather because they range in colour from the bruised umber of a hobo’s urine to a turbid tangerine akin to flat Fanta. Thrill or spill In essence, Orange wines are white wines made as if they were reds, meaning the juice is kept in contact with skins, often in oxidative environments, to allow the extraction of tannin, phenolic compounds and colour. This can make for some intriguing wines, but anyone expecting them to behave like conventional white wines might be seriously weirded out by the step up in texture and weight. Advocates for natural wine will say that the removal of winemaking fingerprints from these wines allows for the purest expression of terroir, a wine’s ability to express the true nature of the place from which it comes. In theory, this should be right, but experience tells me that’s not always the case. I’ve had natural wines that have thrilled me utterly and I’ve had natural wines that have made me wonder if I should rip my tongue from my mouth and wipe my arse with it rather than subject it to another drop. That’s part of the pleasure, and part of the problem, too. A natural division There is a political statement inherent in the whole ‘natural’ wine movement that makes me a little uncomfortable, an unfair juxtaposition that banishes all other wines that don’t fit the criteria into a bin implied to be ‘unnatural.’ I prefer the term ‘ low-fi’ that some of the best exponents use. It also has to be accepted that a more open-minded attitude to winemaking faults is required to enjoy a lot of these wines and I’m cool with that. There is beauty in the flawed as well as the perfect. But there is a worrying trend amongst the loudest advocates of natural wine to treat any criticism as simply the old-fashioned windbaggery of an old guard who just don’t get it and I think that’s wrong. A natural wine isn’t good just because it’s been made in line with the philosophies and methods that define the movement. A natural wine is good, just as any wine is, when it’s simply a delicious liquid you want to put in your mouth. The world of natural wine is one well worth exploring and some real thrills await those who seek them. Just remember, the best guide is always your own palate and a wine with nothing but a philosophy to commend it will always leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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