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Paul Boulden, Margaret River, WA
Name: Paul Boulden
Place of birth: Adelaide, South Australia
Professional qualifications: B.App.Sc (Oenology – University of Adelaide). RN (Cert. Intensive Care)
Professional experience: Since 2001 I have been chief winemaker at Sandalford Wines in Western Australia. From 1997 to 2000 I worked as general manager and winemaker of Killerby Wines in the Geographe region of WA. Prior to this I spent four years as a winemaker for Yalumba in the Barossa Valley. Just before starting with Yalumba I spent the 1993 vintage working for Hugh Ryman Wines in Bordeaux (Ch. Monbaziallac) and Barcelona (Tarragona region). Before all of this I spent 10 years working as a registered nurse mainly in the Royal Perth Hospital Intensive Care Unit. Not a great deal of difference between pumping blood through the human body and pumping red wine around the winery.
Current job title, winery & region: Chief winemaker, Sandalford Wines, Margaret River.
Tell us about your most memorable wine-tasting experience:
Dining upstairs of the Universal Bar in Adelaide (when Michael Hill-Smith was owner) as part of the judge's dinner for the Royal Adelaide Wine Show. James Halliday was presiding and the entire night was one incredible wine after another. I remember James asking me half way through the evening if I would like to stand and comment on the three Latours we had so far enjoyed and that I could have 30 seconds to think about it. It was a sink or swim moment. I swam for some two minutes and sat down. James looked up, smiled and said, 'thank you Mr Boulden'.
What is the most important piece of equipment in your winery?
The pump. Without the pump, life is static (whether it be the heart or a positive displacement type). Gravity can only take you so far these days.
What styles or varieties do you see dominating wine production in Australia over the next 10 years?
Any winemaker who is prepared to answer this question has a crystal ball clearly larger than the one used by Nostradamus! Even though I'm an Australian, I'll plead the Fifth Amendment. If it tastes good and you enjoy it then great. If not, then keep trying other wines until you do find a style or variety you like.
What main varieties do you think your region will be known for over the coming years?
Margaret River will always be a great home for Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blends. If people become serious again about drinking good Chardonnay then this should develop further. I think Shiraz is a real sleeper out of Margaret River, the dark horse if you like.
Which non-traditional varieties interest you and why?
We have had incredible success with our Margaret River Verdelho. It is an alternative which still maintains some of the great attributes of good white wine and even more so given Australia's warm climate, as it has an excellent high natural acidity.
What do you like to do when you're not making wine?
Perhaps my wife should answer this. I am obsessed with our garden and in particular the growing of food such as fruits and vegetables for the home table. I make quince jelly every year in memory of my grandmother whom I used to make this with as a boy. However, the number one item when not making wine is spending time with my three girls, wife Kate and daughters Daisy and Lottie (both under 4 yrs) and Sir Les the family Border Collie.
If money was no object, where would you choose to set up a vineyard and winery?
This is a tough question because most of the world's wine regions are in some of the prettiest places available. In Australia, Margaret River. Elsewhere I would be hard-pressed to go past St Emilon. This would have to be one of the most special winemaking villages in the world.
What do you like to drink when you're not drinking wine?
P J Charteris of Brokenwood fame introduced me to the world of the Caprioska in a salubrious St Kilda hotel a number of years ago. I've been an addict ever since and yes there is a difference between Vodkas. Coopers Pale Ale which is a winemaker's standard and one I like to share with my daughters, Corona, with a slice of lemon.
If you weren't a winemaker, how would you be making a living?
A fighter pilot rock star that cooks with Maggie Beer and Nigella Lawson and gardens with Jamie Oliver and Peter Cundall.
Wild yeast or inoculated ferment?
Depends upon where you are, the vineyard, the history and what you want to achieve or make. I'll sit on the fence with this one.
Cork or screwcap?
I think we have enough four letter words in the world, screwcap.
Which area of current wine or vine research do you think is most beneficial to the industry?
Tannins because they relate to the mouthfeel of wines and given that wine is a drink you'd have to argue that mouthfeel is pretty important.
Is there an area of research towards which you would like to see more resources directed?
Billy Connolly once asked this rhetorical question, 'why is there no mouse-flavoured cat food?' Wine is a sensory product but unlike cat food it has one of the most complex profiles known to mankind which current research is constantly trying to unravel. I would ask then that we keep some elements of wine a mystery and tend to the environment from where the grapes come from as a research priority. This is where our resources should be directed. If we look after this, then we are on the way in continuing to make great wine, sustainably.
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