Natalie Fryar, Winemaker, Jansz Tasmania

Name: Natalie Fryar
Place of birth: Adelaide, South Australia
Professional qualifications: RBOE – the Bachelor of Applied Science in Oenology from Roseworthy
Professional experience: I’ve been here at Jansz for 7 years, and before that I was 5 years with Seppelts, 3 years with Lindemans, and other short term contracts
Current job title, winery & region: Jansz Winemaker, Tasmania

Which of your wines do you most enjoy making, and why?
We have 5 wines in the Jansz portfolio: the NV Cuvee, NV Rose, Vintage Cuvee, Vintage Rose and Late Disgorged. They're all great to make but just for pure enjoyment and winemaking pleasure I think the Vintage Rose is my favourite. It generally just comes from one small block of Pinot, and because it's so small and so unique there's a lot I can do with it like 100% barrel fermentation, different ferment regime. It's unique, it represents what was happening in those 20 rows of Pinot that year.

Tell us about your most memorable wine-tasting experience…
There are many, but I remember the first time that I tasted 1988 Krug, and it was with Henri Krug. That's a stunning wine, I'd never seen a sparkling wine or Champagne with a nose like that.

As a winemaker, what could you not do without - besides grapes, of course?
Good coffee, my red kelpie dog, Bob, and a superb range of shoes.

What is the most important piece of equipment in your winery?
A really good gentle press, it's essential for sparkling.

What do you particularly enjoy about making sparkling wine?
Well it's really challenging, you have a long life with your wine. When you're making a wine like the late disgorged you make the base wine and then put it down for tirage, and it's at least 7 years. You get to know your wines because you're thinking about them a lot. And I love drinking sparkling wine and Champagne.

What is the best piece of advice you could offer someone in their last year of winemaking study?
I would really recommend spending time not being in the wine industry. Seeing how wine is used and how people not in the industry drink it, and what they think about wine. You need to get some perspective about how important it is in the wider community. It's important, but at the same time it's just wine, it's not going to bring peace to the Middle East.
Also, I learned so much in my first years with large commercial companies that's just stuck with me, and a sound basis in winemaking like that gives you the ability to do some more creative stuff.

Why did you become a winemaker?
Well I was 12 when I decided. I grew up in Reynella, and wine was part of living there. A friend's father was a winemaker and one day I asked him to take me round the winery, and I instantly thought, 'that's what I want to do.' It's a great job because it's science but creative, indoors but outdoors, and I've stuck with it.

Who has inspired you during the course of your career?
Where I first worked when I was 16 I was with Peter Taylor, Mike Farmilo and Steve Chapman. Those three really inspired me to pursue winemaking because they were just great people who had a passion for what they were doing. And I saw how much fun they had, and how much they enjoyed what they were doing.

What is your favourite thing about the Australian wine industry?
Definitely how collaborative it is. You can be proud of your neighbour's success, and the way knowledge is shared is just astounding.

How important is food and wine matching to you?
Very. And I think it will become more important generally as the culture of drinking wine grow in Australia.

Can you recall an unconventional, yet successful, food and wine match you've tasted?
We recently had Jansz NV Rose with King Island fillet steak, homemade beetroot relish, hand cut chips and English mustard ice cream! It was basically a deconstructed burger, I was a bit sceptical to start with but it really worked.

What do you like to do when you're not making wine?
I'm actually studying to get a graduate diploma and masters degree in Art History at the moment, and I love travelling.

If money was no object, where would you choose to set up a vineyard and winery?
It sounds a bit tragic, but here! I love it here, the scenery and weather are spectacular.

The world is about to flood and a specially-designed, temperature-controlled ark is being built to preserve the world's best wines. You've been asked to recommend a red and a white for the ark, what do you choose?
That would have to be great Champagne, and Burgundy. It's all Chardonnay and Pinot!

What do you like to drink when you're not drinking wine?
I love Belgian beer, and great coffee.

If you weren't a winemaker, how would you be making a living?
It would be something in the arts, I'm very passionate about the creative life. It wouldn't be quite as good as what I'm doing now though.

What keeps you awake at night?
Botrytis! And not having enough fruit. Also I live in a vineyard so the gas guns and frost fans that people forget to turn off are pretty noisy at night too.

Wild yeast or inoculated ferment?
For table wine, wild, but for sparkling wine I use prise de mousse because it's just such a different way of making wine.

Have you trialled any closures other than natural cork for your sparkling wines?
Yes, that's ongoing. All our wines are held under crown seal during tirage anyway. It's a big challenge for us, wine does develop under natural cork in a really attractive way, but the biggest problem for us is if the cork isn't elastic enough then the wine can end up going flat. If we get negative feedback, 70% of the time it relates to flat wine.

Which area of wine or vine research would you like to see more resources directed to?
I think there should be more research into the relationship between clones, rootstock and site, how they work together.
Also I'd like to see more investigation into ways to replicate hand harvesting, it's a huge struggle for us to get the fruit off each year.

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