Excerpt from How to Drink Australian by Jane Lopes and Jonathan Ross, Two Master Sommeliers
The landscape of Australian wine is cracking with both new energy and historic traditions that make it one of the most exciting (we think the most exciting) wine-producing countries in the world right now.
But the scholarship on Australian wine hasn’t always matched the output. Think of the dozens (hundreds?) of books that exist on France’s Burgundy alone, a region that could fit inside many of Australia’s individual appellations.
Australia hasn’t been afforded the same attention in the world of wine, especially by those living outside its borders, even though the wineries of Australia have truly gotten world class in recent times.
How to Drink Australian
How to Drink Australian is an insider’s and outsider’s guide to Australian wine, both perspectives offering something important to the conversation.
The value of the insider’s view is easy to calculate: this book will provide insight on the culture, nuances and happenings of each wine region – told by the important players themselves.
The history, growing conditions, wines produced and leading personalities are detailed to distinguish what makes each wine region of Australia unique and captivating.
From this perspective, this book will seek to provide a narrative of the regions: not just a timeline, but a digestion and interpretation of the pertinent facts to draw observations on the historical patterns, current events and future developments that make each wine region unique.
While we aim to be as objective as possible, there is some inherent subjectivity, and potential for generalisations, in this process. We find this to be the lesser of two evils; the worst thing an insider’s view can do is not give insight on what’s actually going on.
The value of the outsider’s point of view, on the other hand, is not as obvious. But it does carry one important facet in relaying information: enthusiasm.
One of the greatest things about Australians is their humility, verging on self-deprecation. While this is an endearing trait, it is not always a helpful one in selling premium wine.
Rob Mann, a prominent Western Australian winemaker, said: ‘If you want to be thought of as making the best wine in the world, you’ve got to be able to stand up in front of people and tell them that. And that’s not something we’re particularly good at as a culture, as Australians.’
Michael Hill Smith, of Adelaide Hills’ Shaw+Smith, concurs: ‘The major challenge for Australia, in its entirety, is we need to be better at selling our fine wine.’
He goes on to say, ‘Australian wine has never been so exciting as it is now. I honestly believe we make the very best wines. And if they are truly exciting, we’ll win in the end.’
So, as a partial team of outsiders, we’ll be the ones who stand up for Australia and say: Australian wine deserves to win. They’re making the best wine in the world. Keep reading (and drinking), and you’ll discover why.
About Jane Lopes and Jonathan Ross
Jane Lopes was born in Napa, California and graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Renaissance literature and a love for food, wine, and spirits.
After college, Jane began to pick up shifts at nationally acclaimed cocktail bar, The Violet Hour, and in August of 2011, Jane moved to Nashville to be the opening beverage director at The Catbird Seat.
In 2013, Jane worked as a sommelier at Eleven Madison Park in NY, where she was part of the team that got the restaurant to number one on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best List.
In 2017, she was recruited to run the beverage program at Attica, widely considered Australia’s best restaurant.
In September of 2018, Jane passed the prestigious Master Sommelier exam, becoming the only woman in Australia to do so, and one of only 34 women in the world (and 274 people total since the 1960s).
Jane finally put her literature degree to use in publishing her first book, Vignette: Stories of Life & Wine in 100 Bottles (Hardie Grant, September 2019). In 2020, Jane returned to the United States to start her own wine imports company with her husband, Jonathan Ross.
Jonathan Ross, Master Sommelier
Jonathan Ross is a New Jersey-born wine professional who spent most of his career working in the New York restaurant industry.
Jon’s time in New York was capped off by a 5-year stint as the head sommelier at Eleven Madison Park, which culminated in the restaurant’s rise to the top spot on the San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurant List.
In 2017, Jon moved to Melbourne, Australia where he joined the Rockpool Dining Group as beverage director, overseeing the premium pillar of restaurants and the curation of Qantas Airline’s award-winning wine program. In 2017, he also passed the master sommelier exam.
In 2020, Jon and wife Jane Lopes returned to the US, and launched Legend Imports, bringing the wines they fell in love with while in Australia back to the US.
Jon currently serves as the wine director for the 12/30 Club in Nashville, TN and the Global Ambassador Hotel in Phoenix, AZ.