My Favourite Wine – Gary Owen


Choosing my favourite wine was a much more difficult task than it first appeared, and not least as at Berrys we have the opportunity to taste some of the greatest wines in the world.

After much deliberation, (and I really mean that!) I have returned to not one, but two wines which have shaped my personal interest, my buying and even my career.

The first wine is 2001 d’Arenburg Dead Arm Shiraz from McLaren Vale. I encountered amongst my first tastings, where it is fair to say that wine and the wine industry were quickly making a big impression. What really astounded me at the time was the sheer weight and density of fruit, combined with total ripeness of fruit. Some might argue that this wine can verge on over-ripeness and occasionally they might be right, but I will always maintain that the 2001 was perfect.

Lessons in wine-making can occasionally be taught by showing particular wines and it is fair to say that d’Arenburg do not under-oak their wines, neither do they leave the winemakers tin of gloss alone – both are well used and in great vintages such as 2001 they match the weight and quality of the vintage.

Simply put this was love at first sight! I still keenly look for wines from McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley which have similar levels of concentration – as my healthy Torbreck and Yarra Yering buying habit demonstrates.

My second wine is without doubt totally different – 1996 Ch. Lafite-Rothschild. As is often when tasting great wines, I was in the right place at the right time. Within weeks of joining Berrys in 2007 several members of the Fine Wine Team decided a 1996 mini-vertical tasting was required and as the fresh faced, über-enthusiastic new boy I was not going to argue!

The wine was entirely beguiling and I will freely admit in some ways I still feel rather unable to exactly how complex it was. The purity and density of fruit with subtle notes of development filled the mouth entirely, but at the same time not over concentrated and kept fresh, elegant and feminine by wonderful multi-layered acidity. The tannins were just something else and, as I now know this is often where young First Growths from great vintages really deliver the goods.

This proved to me quite how enjoyable working in the wine trade could be, how different my new career was (I previously worked in Retail Banking) and how much I really love truly fine wine.

After tasting 1996 Lafite I was certain that fine wine was the route I really wished to pursue and that there was only one place to be……Berrys!

Gary Owen – Fine Wine Team