Hopefully you caught my article on Australian wine in the Village Voice this morning. I am featuring a different winemaker on my blog each day this week. Check back to hear from our vintners Down Under.
Tod Dexter of Dexter Wines, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Signature Wines: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I recently blended a wine for Route du Van that is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (54%), Pinot Gris (22%), Viognier (18%) and Chardonnay (6%) and it is only 11.8% alcohol. It is a great summer drink.
Where were you born? Where do you live now? Born in Melbourne, now live in Mornington Peninsula.
How did you get into the wine business? Our family always enjoyed good food and wine. I tried a number of jobs: carpentry, hospitality, outdoor sports retail and ski instructing. But after a ski season in Colorado, when I drove out to the Napa Valley and got my first job in a winery, was when I decided to join the business. That Napa job was with Cakebread cellars in 1979.
What is most and least rewarding about being a winemaker? It is so rewarding in many ways. Being able to grow a crop and change it into such a complex beverage and seeing the pleasure it brings so many people perhaps sums it up. Least rewarding is the challenges faced today in such a competitive market worldwide. The consumer has never had it better in terms of choice and price of great wine!
What are the challenges of making wine in your region? The weather! We can swing from drought years to wet years, it seems, on a more regular basis, which is challenging for any farmer.
Have Australians’ wine preferences changed in the last 10 years? Yes. There is a slow shift from big, high-alcohol wines back towards wines of better balance and lower alcohols. Chardonnay is making a comeback and the love affair with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is slowing down.
Have you been to the U.S.? Do you think Australia gets an unfair reputation in the U.S. for producing unbalanced, fruit bombs? Yes, I have visited the U.S. No, it is not an unfair reputation based on the majority of Australian wine that has been exported to date.
Which wine or grape is the least understood or respected? In Australia, perhaps Italian or Spanish wine. We are only beginning to truly open the door to these regions. The strength of our dollar is helping as imported wines are now cheaper than ever.
What excites you most about Australian wine right now? The swing back to better balanced, more drinkable wines, particularly in Chardonnay.
What do you drink when relaxing at home? Beer, Gin & Tonic and Mojitos! Wine with a meal, of course, and most often Pinot Noir.
What types of food do you like to eat; any special dishes you make/care to share? Fresh pasta, BBQ-anything, locally caught fresh fish. We lean towards Asian influences–Australia is almost part of Asia geographically–but Italy and France also have a strong influence.
What music do you listen to? I guess I lean towards Rock and Blues with a mix of other genres. Depends on the mood. Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, John Butler Trio, Xavier Rudd, The Waifs, Ray Charles and Eilen Jewel.
Which non-Australian wines do you like? Burgundy, Northern Rhone, Alsace, Italian Reds.
Are there any wines you can’t stand to drink? New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and new world Pinot Gris. Of course, there are a few exceptions!
If you could be traveling somewhere else right now, where would you be? Alaska, Kashmir or Mongolia.
Is there a winery dog? Yes. Stella, 5 years old. German Short Hair Pointer.