Timo Mayer is as natural and engaging as the wines he makes; it is rare to see him without a smile planted across his face, and his eyes are the window to his playful yet caring soul. He describes himself as "just a farmer", believing that "wines are made in the vineyard", and so his winemaking method is one of minimal intervention.
Despite a family history in German winemaking stretching some 400 years in the Württemburg region, a young Timo left Stuttgart to travel the world. Fate would find him an Australian wife in America, and though his tradition-breaking path was never to be as the crow flies, his wunderlust would bring him eventually to study winemaking in the "place of many crows" (the local Wiradjuri name we know as Wagga Wagga).
It follows though that Timo's winemaking was never going to be straight and conventional.
His ethos is to "bring back the funk".
All of Timo's wines are unfined and unfiltered, so as not to remove any flavour or texture from the finished products. His signature whole-bunch ferment adds structure and gives a herbaceousness that will satisfy the Camapari aperitivo fans out there. But fear not, those optimists amongst you who prefer to live la dolce vita rather than the bitter-sweet symphony that's life: Timo plays with a little carbonic maceration in his ferments to balance any overpowering stalkiness with complex and delicious juicy fruit.
Timo is best known for his Yarra Valley Pinot Noir, grown both "doctored" and "close-planted" on the steep slopes of his "Bloody Hill"; the name of the hill also the wine label of the new Australian chapter of Mayer family winemaking tradition with Timo's son Rivar taking the reins. His Syrah however is equally cult-status, and his Nebbiolo is intoxicatingly perfumed whilst his Merlot will reinvigorate your love for the varietal. Bring back the funk here!
Domaine de la Cras
Timo Mayer is not the only one who likes to shake tradition.
In 2013, the historical, tradition-steeped city of Dijon, capital of Burgundy and of mustard purchased an old winery with the aim to find a young winemaker to take over the winemaking; one who would farm the 160ha of vineyards organically and one with no existing family vineyards. The third criteria was that the young winemaker must open the Domaine to the public for educational visits.
And so the city found Marc Soyard.
Marc grew up in the Jura, but surprisingly not from a winemaking family. He did however find his own way into the traditional industry, working as chef de culture (vineyard manager) for Domaine Bizot in the prestigious Vosne-Romanée. During his six years managing the vineyards, Marc managed to also work closely with Jean-Yves Bizot to learn how to make wine, particularly learning from Bizot his natural winemaking techniques. These techniques Marc has employed at Domaine de la Cras, such as using natural yeasts, minimising the addition of sulfur and experimentation with different woods for his barrels, such as oak from different forests, and utilising chestnut or acacia.
Marc has been given free reign to run the Domaine and produce the wines as he sees fit; his only "tax" is giving 2000 bottles a year back to the city of Dijon. We are so excited that the city could share two of Marc's Bourgogne Blancs with us here in Annandale. Such impressive, complex, flinty Chardonnays that, despite Marc not having winemaking in his bloodlines, hint that perhaps the Jura runs deep in his blood. Find it here.