Matchbox Wine Co. was founded by dynamo wine duo, Nav Singh and Louise Radman – a great combo of winemaker and wine marketer and are beginning to release their first vintages, which I can vouch for. Their Syrah is particularly good and was my favourite (but their Riesling and Malbec were close behind) and is a cracking debut.
I met them recently at a wine tasting in the Coal River Valley, just outside Hobart and decided I had to ask them a few more questions to share here on The Airloom. They are a great couple who produce great wine, I can’t wait to see what the next vintage is like.
Nav is a young winemaker who followed his dream from the streets of Delhi to craft wine in Australia. He graduated with oenology and viticulture qualifications from the University of Adelaide and experience gained throughout Europe and Australia – Mountadam, Domaine Chandon, Domaine de L’Arlot and Chateau Le Pin. Nav was honoured as a Winemaker’s Federation of Australia future leader in 2010 and his wines have been awarded countless accolades and trophies. Louise is a Len Evans scholar and holds a bachelor degree in wine marketing from the University of Adelaide, is the author of Wine SA and a wine writer. Phew…what a busy couple.
It’s a long post but it was all so interesting, nothing hit the cutting room floor! Pour yourself a wine and settle in.
How did you two come to work together?
Matchbox Wine Co. evolved organically out of the things we love. Our whole world revolves around food and wine so working together was a natural progression. After spending many years with wine estates across Australia and overseas, Nav returned to Adelaide and everything just fell into place. We had the opportunity to access amazing vineyards and started toying around with the matchbox concept. As a small start up, it hasn’t been easy but we believe we have created something worthwhile. At the end of the day, it’s incredibly rewarding bringing people together to share good times and conversation over our very own glass of vino.
What makes Matchbox special?
From the outset, we wanted to create something that would fit into our lifestyle. These are the styles of wine we love to drink. They are elegant, fruitful and exciting; exactly the kind of wine we hope to discover at dinner with friends in a great new restaurant or tapas bar.
Our first series, ‘Gentleman’s Athletic Club,’ is inspired by the gamesome gallantry of the quintessential gentleman. The nostalgic retro styling of Matchbox Wine Co. labels harks back to early artwork of the 1920s and 30s. It’s a period in history that holds a curious fascination for us. The roaring twenties and early thirties saw newfound social freedom collide with incredible innovations in technology, aviation, radio and film. The bright young things ruled the world. It was all a well-heeled gentleman could do to keep up with the flappers, the fashion and the politics. The smart set of bons vivants ran at a frenetic pace, embracing the finer things in life with gusto and abandon. It goes without saying that Matchbox wines are centered on quality, but above all we hope they capture that same spirit of carefree youth and genuine bonhomie. They throw down the gauntlet to challenge convention with fresh new styles that are sometimes eccentric, often wild and always ready to play.
Our labels feature whimsical boxing, polo and fencing gentlemen and bring to life an era of sportsmanship, daring and valor at a time when good taste and cultural experimentation were most definitely in. A nod to the days when men were dashing, winners shook hands instead of bumping chests and a healthy moustache afforded one a distinct advantage.
What are your current releases, tell me a little bit about them?
The premier release from Matchbox Wine Co. includes a joven style Malbec, spicy Syrah and textural Riesling off the back of an idyllic 2012 season. All the Matchbox wines hail from single vineyards in South Australia’s Clare Valley.
The region is famous for super-dry Riesling with driving acidity and extraordinary longevity. Matchbox Wine Co. Riesling shows hallmark lime juice expression from the contoured slopes of Skilly hills. It is hand picked, wild fermented and matured on lees to gain an additional element of food worthy texture.
We are enthralled by the perfume and spice of the Malbec grape. While it is one of the longest standing varieties in Clare, unfortunately it most often finds its way into blends with Cabernet Sauvignon. We wanted to bring the great Malbec of the region to light and unearthed a wonderful old vine vineyard to help us do it. Matchbox Wine Co. Malbec is crafted in a ‘joven’ style that celebrates the pure blueberry bliss of the variety. It is open fermented in seasoned French oak puncheons, pressed and released early in the full glory of its fragrant and exuberant youth.
While Riesling usually takes centre stage, Clare Valley is also home to excellent Syrah. At elevations of 500m, the cool nights of the Skilly Hills give rise to a singularly spicy style. Matchbox Wine Co. Syrah is an elegant and fruitful wine with fine tannin structure, moderate alcohol and quintessential Clare Valley character.
The current releases are…
2012 Matchbox Wine Co. Riesling $30
Lime blossom fragrance, explosive lemony punch and fresh mineral drive. Pure, lithe and energetic with winsome charm and effortless balance.
2012 Matchbox Wine Co. Malbec $30
Thrilling violet scent, exuberant spice and plush blueberry palate. Wildly enticing, supple and salacious.
2012 Matchbox Wine Co. Syrah $30 (March 2013 release) ** Steph’s favourite!
Succulent wild raspberry woven with lashings of pepper and whispers of tannin. Style and structure true to exceptionally fine form.
What are your favourite food matches with Matchbox wines?
Our Riesling complements seafood, white meats, pork belly and spicy dishes. Crisp and lemony Riesling paired with freshly shucked oysters is heaven. Anything fresh and zesty, loaded with lemongrass, mint or coriander is a sure-fire bet. Vietnamese or Thai style king prawn and green mango salad, another winning combination. Heirloom tomato and burrata with aromatic basil from the garden, cracked pepper and a drizzle of olive oil is one of our favourite matches.
The Malbec is made for spicy duck, crackling pork and chargrilled dishes. The perfumed and supple red is perfect for grazing on tapas like Spanish jamon, stuffed olives, Manchego cheese and Ortiz anchovies. Tomato based sauces and pastas like arrabbiata also work well.
Our Syrah is a fresh and fruitful style that melts in the mouth with slow cooked dishes like lamb shanks, beef Bourguignon stew, cassoulet and coq au vin. Duck and venison always pair well, but you can’t beat this juicy Syrah with a fantastic steak.
What do you believe are the big trends in the wine industry, both in Australia and abroad at the moment? Do you have any predictions for the future?
‘Industry’ is such mass production term. Wine for us is so much more than that; it is a living, breathing, changing thing that speaks of where it was raised. We think of the world of wine more as a community of people and places bound together by a common thread. In terms of trends, there is definitely a move towards appreciation of artisan craftsmanship and traditional skills, a paring back and embracing of the ways of old. With Matchbox, we bring to life the beauty of vineyards and varieties we love with minimal intervention. We believe medium bodied wines with moderate alcohol and food friendly texture are the way forward. Biodynamic, organic and ‘natural’ wines have a growing presence on the international stage. Green is a concept we should all embrace. If we take respect for the land into our daily lives we will build a sustainable future.
Matchbox Wine Co. is committed to a light footprint with Lean+Green™ lightweight bottles from O-I. Our bottles are 100% recyclable and up to 29% lighter than typical heavyweights. They are substantially more environmentally friendly, saving thousands of tonnes in glass packaging each year and delivering large savings in water, energy, transport and production emissions.
Where do you like to eat/drink/travel?
The Matchbox Wine Co. Gentleman’s Credo:
A gentleman never drinks too much
nor dines too well,
except in excellent company!
Great wine and company with good cheese and a crusty loaf is all we really need. We love rustic, provincial style food that shines a light on quality produce, simply prepared. Nothing beats old school recipes like your Nonna used to make.
Most of our travels take us to wine regions around the world. We always rely on local knowledge to ferret out the best eats and experience regional specialties. We love happening upon great little osteria and tapas bars in hidden laneways.
There are so many wonderful meals with friends imprinted on the fabric of our lives. An Italian luncheon under the huge tree in Cesare’s garden was one of the most striking. We sat in cane chairs at a rose embroidered table perched atop Monforte with an amazing vista of the valley below. There was no menu but bottles of Barolo in plentiful supply and each course of home-grown produce more delightful than the next. Imagine plump peaches and porcini mushrooms followed by fresh ravioli with shaved white tartufo, huge platters of spit roasted goat and warm zabaglione whisked at the table. Restaurant Ma Cuisine in the ancient Burgundian town of Beaune is another favourite haunt. In Sydney, you will find us late-lunching at Kitchen by Mike or propping up the bar at The Apollo, Movida or Ms.G’s.
What do we like to drink? The short answer is most anything with a sense of place. It’s not always about wine; Australian craft beer and cider have never looked better. Right now we are having fun discovering artisan brews from Small Players, Two Metre Tall Company, Dickens and Lost Pippin.
Where to next for Matchbox? And for you both?
We recently put down roots in Tasmania so we are exploring a new landscape of food and wine. We are looking to Asia as the next frontier. It will be a massive thrill to share the Matchbox Wine Co. story in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan this year. Vintage 2013 has begun in Clare Valley and a Tassie wine is in the pipeline. Bringing people together is at the heart of Matchbox Wine Co. We like to challenge ideas and always play up our whimsical streak. No doubt there are many adventures ahead!
Where can readers find your wines?
Online at http://www.matchboxwine.com, top restuarants such as The Apollo, Longrain, Four Fourteen, Luke Nguyen’s Red Lantern, Fix St. James, The Four in Hand Hotel, Otto Ristorante, Palings Kitchen and Bar at Ivy, The Apothecary, Andre’s Cucina, City Wine Shop and fine wine retailers.
Bellevue Hill Bottle Shop
Bottega del Vino
Camperdown Cellars Darlinghurst
Camperdown Cellars Double Bay
Five Way Cellars
Mogo Village Cellars
Summer Hill Wine Shop
Taylor Square Bottle-O
The Australian Wine Centre
Vintage Blue Cellars
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Prince Wine Store
East End Cellars
Melbourne Street Cellars
The Edinburgh Cellars (The Ed)