Passion, a perfect start DiscoverVin

When TML was launched in NY in 2009 our first published editorial spoke about our admiration for, and desire to write about, what we saw as the key attributes of any magnificent brand, service or experience.

Heritage, Craftsmanship, Rarity and Integrity.

As you can see from our Classic Editions (in the archives down the bottom on the right) we have found plenty of those qualities in enterprises great and small.

DiscoverVin This Magnificent Life
The countryside of south west France

Over the years we’ve found another characteristic, an emotion really, that comes up time and again, especially in the newer smaller start-ups.

It’s Enthusiasm.

Passion, if you like.

Fine wines from France

One of our favourite companies in Australia flies under most radars but brings enormous pleasure to those in the know. Their passion for particular wines drives them to identify and deliver bottlesful of delight to Aussie enthusiasts.

Discovervin was launched in 2009. Founded by Craig and Helen Underhill and Mary Harrington. After an extended sabbatical living and travelling through France they decided to bring wines known to French connoisseurs but little travelled outside that country to an Australian clientele.

DiscoverVin This Magnificent Life
A lineup you won’t find in most bottle shops.

They describe themselves as Australia’s premier source of well made and value for money wines from Bordeaux, Champagne, Rhone, Provence and the southwest of France.

Their wines are not available through other suppliers in Australia.

We asked Helen about her passions
DiscoverVin This Magnificent Life
Helen and friends

My parents were keen wine-drinkers and were regular visitors to wineries. I hated the visits as they seemed to go on forever, but I loved the smell of the cellars and tasting rooms, earthy and wholesome. But it wasn’t until I went to London and worked in a “Shampers” bar I got to taste wines from all over the world. I particularly loved the excitement of Beaujolais Day.

DiscoverVin This Magnificent Life
Vineyards with a view of the Pyrenees

In 2009 I tasted my first really good Margaux, a Chateau Prière-Lichine. So round, soft, feminine and delicious. Unlike anything I had tasted before. We lived in Bordeaux for a while, our kids went to school there. France absorbed us.

When we returned to Australia we found many of the lesser known, great value wines of the French southwest like Jurançon, Cahors and Madiran were not available here. So DiscoverVin was born.

Where do you sell?

Our business philosophy has always been to demystify French wine, provide good value for money French wine and introduce unknown varieties from little known regions.

We sell wholesale to restaurants and bottle-shops and we also have an online wine store, and a wine club (Bordeaux Bespoke). To promote our wines we do several festivals a year – Paris to Provence, Alliance Francaise Brisbane French Festival and Melbourne Christmas Market – plus several other smaller markets.   We have also been involved with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival events at various restaurants including Stokehouse. And from time to time we have French dinners at restaurants such as Bathers Pavilion and Fix St James in Sydney, the Universal Table in Adelaide, C’est Bon in Brisbane and Bistro Vue in Melbourne. We we’re recently at Montrachet Restaurant in Brisbane doing a Champagne dinner and presenting our new range of Jeeper Champagnes.

Helen’s Top 3 wines

Champagne Jeeper Grand Reserve – this is a new product that we have just introduced to Australia – it’s a non vintage 100% chardonnay – just delicious.

DiscoverVin This Magnificent Life
Jeeper, the champagnes with the stirring story behind the name

An all time favourite is Chateau la Rayre, Bergerac rosé – we have been selling this wine for the last 6 years. Perfect with a BBQ on a hot day – it has a bit of extra fruit that gives it body and means it can carry the meat but has no sweetness.

DiscoverVin This Magnificent Life
One of her favourite rosés

My favourite red at the moment is Chateau Crabitey, Graves Rouge 2012 Merlot/Cabernet – a new arrival from a producer who is stunning everyone with his excellent wines. Lovely aromas and a powerful mouthful of lovely rich fruit and silky tannins.

What are your new wines and places to discover?

We are constantly on the lookout to add to our portfolio. We started DiscoverVin with wines from the southwest of France and Bordeaux only. Since then we have added excellent and value for money wines from other regions such as the Rhone Valley, Champagne and Provence. More recently we’ve added products from Burgundy and the Loire Valley. We travelled to Corsica a few years ago to catch Le Tour de France. We had some fantastic Corsican rosé but due to the added freight costs they are just out of reach – but we’ll keep looking!

As for new places – we are pretty content returning to Bordeaux for work each year – it’s not a bad place to have an office!

Should we be drinking imports? TML’s thoughts

You may insist that Down Under Loyalty demands we drink only wines from Down Here. We constantly devote our throats to support our local industry, but we believe a desirable knowledge of the world involves experiencing the world. Do we know how good our wines are if we don’t compare? There is no single ‘best’ wine. The world has far too many for anyone to know them all intimately, year by year. Yes there are benchmarks, but there are always surprises to be tasted. We should be happy to challenge the best from other countries. It helps to settles debates about our own champions.

To read more about DiscoverVin and maybe discover some delicious secrets from France please go to www.discovervin.com.au

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Ian MacTavish

Mr MacTavish is a celebrated writer and one of Australia’s more respected Wine reviewers, appearing regularly in national magazines, in print and on line. So far, he has never been heard to say ‘no’ to a wee dram.

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