“This is a story of unions formed through separations, shared visions stretched across oceans and a few bloody fingers scattered across a winery floor. This is the story of Vanguardist.
Burgundy-born Edouard Maurisset-Latour was working at a winery in New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay when an unfortunate accident with a basket press led to a colleague losing all the fingers on one hand.
Maurisset-Latour remembers being the only one, amid the panic and chaos, to think about retrieving the digits. He put them in the cool room alongside some just picked chardonnay, but the resulting wine proved more successful than efforts to reattach the fingers.
One of consequences of the accident was the forced absence of the only bloke in the winery qualified to operate a particular piece of equipment. Michael Corbett, a local contract winemaker, was called in to help cover for the injured man and he and Maurisset-Latour struck up a friendship.
Needing a third to complete the set up when they would walk into a bar after work, the Kiwi and the Frenchman were joined by Australian colleague Alexandra McCarthy.
She and Maurisset-Latour eventually married — and this period where one man found a wife was facilitated by the fact another man was losing one.
“I’d been going through a divorce around that time, so we gave the cellar a fair hammering,” explains Corbett. “We spent many nights drinking many great wines and talking for hours about what we might want to do when the time came to go out and make our own wines,” adds Maurisset-Latour.
“We promised ourselves if the chance ever came up for us to do something together we would jump at it.”
That something eventually became Vanguardist. It’s a label that does things a little differently. Traditional styles are a starting point for the wines, which are then taken somewhere new; the subtle spin invites us to look at the familiar in a different light.
So while the labels may offer conventional concepts such as “Clare Valley riesling” or “Adelaide Hills chardonnay”, what lurks inside the bottles wrong-foots preconception in delicious ways.
If Dr McCoy were a wine critic, one might have heard him saying to Captain Kirk: “It’s wine, Jim, but not as we know it.”
The business does things a little differently too.
Maurisset-Latour and McCarthy are based in Burgundy with a newborn baby, while Corbett is on the ground in Australia, keeping an obsessive eye on the wines in tank and barrel as well as the vineyards that give rise to them.
Corbett is a serious talent, one of those perpetually restless types who don’t make their wines, they inhabit them. The French contingent makes several trips to Australia each year, as a family and individually, for the harvest and key points in the wine’s maturation. And now they’ve taken some home, too.”
With two pallets safely ashore in France, Edouard & Alexandra are embarking on a new-fangled challenge of selling Vanguardist wines in France and well, the rest of Europe.
If any of them can change some of those outdated and inaccurate misconceptions the French have about Australian wines, it will be these."
Words written by Nick Ryan for The Australian.
OUR WINES AND THEIR VINES
RIESLING // CHURINGA VINEYARD // WATERVALE // CLARE VALLEY
Churinga is one of the great Riesling Vineyards of the Clare Valley, situated in the heart of Watervale. We are very pleased to be working with Dean, Leon and their 70-year-old dry-grown, contour-planted Riesling vines from 2017 onwards. We have two parcels, the east facing site taking the morning sun with afternoon cover, on a very slate based soil. The western facing aspect are dry grown and sit on slightly heavier, more nutrient rich soil. We work side by side with all of our growers, implementing organic and biodynamic preparations.
2017 La Petite Vanguard Riesling
GRENACHE // SILVER SANDS VINEYARD // BLEWITT SPRINGS // MCLAREN VALE //
A hidden gem of sorts, the high ‘Silver Sands’ vineyard was planted by Robert Rende and his father 49 years ago. This incredible vineyard has always been dry grown. Its topsoil is all made up of wind-blown Maslin sands, below this there is residual alluvial sands, generally over ironstone and clay. The sand is up to 8m deep in parts of the vineyard, allowing roots to penetrate very deep. Robert has nurtured these bush vines and we are now implementing organic practices in the vineyard.
CHARDONNAY & SEMILLON // BOWE-LEES AND LOVEYS VINEYARD // WOODSIDE // ADELAIDE HILLS
There are some wickedly good wines been made from the notable vineyards of Bowe-Lees and Loveys Vineyards in Woodside, Adelaide Hills. Lying 390 metres above sea level in the Monty Lofty region of Adelaide Hills these chillier parts of Adelaide are what make it a top notch spot for Chardonnay and Semillon. These vines are grown on clay loam soils on an east-facing slope that’s well protected from hot afternoon sun.