Andrew Nugent, Bird in Hand Winery, SA

Andrew Nugent, Bird in Hand Winery, SA

Name: Andrew Nugent
Place of birth: Adelaide, South Australia
Professional qualifications: Bachelor of Applied Science Agriculture
Professional experience: Alambie Wine Company 1993-1995, Tatachilla Winery 1995-2000, Bird in Hand Winery 2000-Present
Current job title, winery & region: Managing director, Bird in Hand Winery, Adelaide Hills

Which of your wines do you most enjoy making, and why?
I like creating new wines such as our barrel fermented Semillon and our Spatlese Riesling that we are currently developing this vintage.

What is the most important piece of equipment in your winery?
We place enormous value on our staff and very little on equipment.

What made you become a winemaker?
More by circumstance and necessity more than anything else. I do not consider myself a winemaker in a conventional sense.

Why did you choose the Adelaide Hills for Bird in Hand?
It has the greatest diversity of varieties that it can produce outstanding wines from (Sav Blanc, Semillon, Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot, and Sparkling Wine). However it is in Chardonnay and Shiraz, my favourite varieties, that it can compete at the very top echelon with the worlds greatest wines.

What is the best piece of advice you could offer someone in their last year of winemaking study?
Study is very important but after finishing it is perhaps more important to keep an open mind, observe for yourself and formulate your own opinions.

Who has inspired you during the course of your career?
Kym Milne MW

What is your favourite thing about the Australian wine industry?
It provided me with an outstanding opportunity to be creative, raise a family in an Idyllic way and to remain inspired by my job. I am really grateful for this.

Tell us about your most memorable wine-tasting experience…
The first tasting of an important parcel of our 05 Shiraz was really special for me. We knew we had something really special and due to the circumstances in the vineyard where we had to really trust our instincts and take a great leap of faith it was extremely satisfying. The wine went on to perform extremely well, and was an important breakthrough for us.

What do you like to do when you're not making wine?
Most of my time is spent on family commitments. I like creating our garden with Susie my wife (I dig the holes and she creates the garden!), going out to dinner, watching the Sydney Swans. Running the family winery has become my passion and takes up most of my time.

The world is about to flood and a specially-designed ark is being built to preserve the world's best wines. You've been asked to recommend a red and a white to save, what do you choose?
It is very hard to say. Probably a White Burgundy and a Shiraz from the Northern Rhone.

What do you like to drink when you're not drinking wine?
I like to try different beers from around the world and local micro breweries.

If you weren't a winemaker, how would you like to be making a living?
Farming - or in some form of agricultural enterprise.

Do you have any pet hates?
Housing developments.

What keeps you awake at night?
Full Moons.

Wild yeast or inoculated ferment?
Most of our wines are inoculated ferments except for our Chardonnay where we use a combination of wild barrel ferments and inoculated tank ferments.

What's your theory on oak use?
Lead with fruit and use the tightest French oak possible.

What are your thoughts on the bottle closures?
Screw caps are the best closure. Simple as that - time to move on. The quicker the better.

Is there an area of wine or vine research towards which you would like to see more resources directed?
Why French vineyards are able to reach ripeness at much lower Baumés than we can achieve here in Australia. Yes, the common response will be that it is a different climate, hemisphere and soils, but I think it may be due to the canopy management and the dominance of young leaves late in the season that are much more efficient at ripening fruit. No one has ever given me a satisfactory answer so it leads me to think that there is something there.

Where do you think the future lies for the Australian wine industry?
Our focus is on making better and better wine and clarifying our thoughts re styles that we think can compete at the very top echelon. I think we need to make tighter, more elegant red wine styles that will cellar well and are food-friendly.

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