We sat down with Daniel Binet, winemaker at Tatler Wines, and heard his story about how he came to love wine and what he loves about the Hunter Valley.
Tatler Wines is located in the Lovedale region, part of the Hunter Valley.
Hi. My name is Dan Binet. I’m the winemaker at Tatler Wines in the Hunter Valley.
Well, I got into wine after spending some time in France. I finished school and decided to go back to France for a while to see my family and during that time I got a job at picking grapes in Alsace, particularly in a little area called Colmar. And that’s where I discovered the beauty of wine that I’ll say discovered a ‘Gewürztraminer’, which is their main variety. And that really sort of got me thinking about a career in wine.
Well, the Hunter is Australia’s oldest commercial wine region, with the first commercial winery been built by George Wyndham, Wyndham Estate, and that then set the sort of the growth of the Australian wine industry. I think that the thing that really inspires me and attracted me to the Hunter was also the history, the legacy of the founding fathers of the Hunter— the Draytons, the Tyrrells, the Lindemans, Maurice O’Shea. They probably made some of the Australia’s greatest wines. They brought techniques back from Europe. They established vineyards in areas where technically, we shouldn’t grow grapes here and they make wines unique in the world of wine.
So, you can match or put a lineup of wine and have a Chablis, a white Burgundy and a Hunter Valley Semillon and everyone will go, ‘that’s a Hunter Valley Semillon. That’s a Chablis’—it makes us really quite unique and distinctive. Our wines are very distinctive. They’re very regional. They don’t get lost in the world of wine. They kind of stand out. They’re very food friendly.
But also, we’re the only region in Australia that is listed in the top 10 wine regions of the world for the unique character of making Semillon and Shiraz.I’ve been making wines for Tatler now for over ten years and we have built slowly a nice portfolio of really good wines. But particularly, the Dimitris and the Archies Shiraz are two wines that I think stand out in the Tatler portfolio. The vineyards are actually planted East-West, which is a little bit different to a lot of the vineyards in the Hunter. That is to maximize airflow and reduce sun-burning. It was planted thirty years ago. The Chardonnays are quite distinctive of that vineyard and of that period of time as well. And we try to now replicate that as well.
We are going back to a slightly old school style, where we do introduce a little bit of mellow and richness in the Chardonnays, but they have a beautiful underlying minerality because the vineyard is on sandy soil. So there’s that lovely texture that comes from the Chardonnays.
Dimitri Chardonnay is made in the style that put Australian Chardonnays on the map, but we add in a little bit of finesse back to the style, so moving away from the big broad oaky styles but still producing texture and flavour but with nice degree of elegance and femininity and it comes through in that wine.
The Archies Shiraz on the other hand is all about earthiness and robustness. We source fruit from some of the old vineyards in the Hunter on rich heavy clay soils. And that clay produces really rich flavours of earth and wild fruits and it kind of leads that lovely leatheryness that you get in Hunter Shiraz. And particularly it has to come off those heavy red soils that are spotted throughout the Hunter. The reds there tend to be more rich so they get more American oak, they get a little bit of French oak but then that lovely rich style that we used to drink so long ago that we probably lost a little bit, we’re still trying to emulate those ancient styles of red.
So when I saw Secret Bottle, I loved the concept. I thought it was a great idea particularly from a winemaking point of view that allowed me to show to the consumer my whole product without them committing a great deal of funds by buying full bottles of wine. It allowed them to be able to sample my wine in a nice controlled quality and experience the wine range.
But also why I thought the concept was really good is that it allowed people, consumers to compare maybe my wine with other regions’ so I thought that the concept was great. And I think it’s a great idea to get people into wine without committing a lot of money to buying different bottles. You can try a vast range of wines in a controlled sample dose.