Australia is the second largest wine supplier to Hong Kong in terms of quantity and therefore most of us should be familiar with the wine. These are probably the most common words that average wine-drinkers associate with Australian wine – 'full-bodied', 'powerful', 'Shiraz', 'GSM', 'Barossa'.
However, there is actually another side to Australian wine that is quite different from the mainstream offerings. I recently came across Oz Terroirs, a small wine shop tucked away on Mee Lun Street between Hollywood Road and Gough Street in Central, that only stocks non-mainstream Australian wine.
The Latta Vino Pinot Noir from Pyrenees in Victoria caught my eye and with the encouragement of Emmanuel, the Frenchman who owns Oz Terroirs, I eventually bought a bottle. The wine was wild-fermented with extended skin contact, unfined, unfiltered and bottled with minimum sulphite added. It has pure fruit aromas, a savoury note, and fresh acidity. The 13.5% alcohol content is not noticeable at all because of its ample fruit concentration.
Some people may think that non-mainstream wines are biodynamic and natural. While such wines are certainly featured at Oz Terroirs, there are also wines made with minimum intervention and traditional methods.
A strong advocate of terroir, Emmanuel believes that great wine should tell a story with a sense of place. He meets the people behind the wines, gets to know them, listens to their stories, and tries to understand their philosophies and visions. He only works with small producers who may produce only a few hundred cases each year, and only selects wines that are delicious and exciting.
Oz Terroirs represents 28 wineries, mostly from Victoria with a few exceptions from Tasmania, Western Australia, Southern Australia and Canberra. All are from cool climate regions so 'full-bodied' and 'powerful' are not the words used to describe these wines. What’s more, most wineries, such as Latta Vino, like to push boundaries and experiment with different grape varieties and wine styles; therefore, think 'authentic', 'individual', 'pure', 'fresh' and 'fun'.
Like-minded people tend to flock together. Maybe this is the reason why most of the wines at Oz Terroirs have distinctive labels that reflect the personalities and passions of the people behind them. Emmanuel is equally passionate and loves what he does. We wine-lovers are lucky that he pulls all these individual wines together for us.