An Englishman, making wine in Australia and living in Scotland...
- Giles spent the first 25 years of his career selling wine in the UK, before he took the plunge and headed to Australia to try his hand at winemaking.
- Turns out Giles was a natural. He knows exactly what UK wine drinkers like to drink, so his small-scale wines are made with passion and gut instinct, rather than following instructions, formulas or recipes.
- Giles, who is based in Edinburgh (he travels to Australia a few times a year to work his magic) is one of only 409 people in the world to hold the illustrious 'Master of Wine' qualification, the ultimate accolade in wine.
Giles Cooke's Story
I have spent much of my life based in the UK, working in the wine business, predominantly in sales, marketing and wine buying. My first loves were Spain and Australia where I also spent a lot of time travelling. Since 2011, more and more of my time is spent working in Australia, doing what I love.
I've always loved making things. When i was a kid, I wanted to be a farmer and later on I grew to love cooking and it's that combination of nurturing and creating that I find so fulfilling. Much like my cooking, my winemaking is not done from a recipe - it's more intuitive and based on what i see and taste.
I've been involved in lots of winemaking projects over the years but I started making wine in Australia in 2011 - which sadly coincided with one of the worst vintages in history!
I am so lucky to work with some of the best grape growers in Australia and i love working with them to preserve their vineyards. They've quickly discovered that I spend more time in their vineyards during vintage than they do!When the adrenaline of vintage if coursing there's nothing better than sitting on top of a hill in Barossa's Eden Valley and watching the sun rise.
My process is that I start with great fruit. And then i spend a lot of time in the vineyard understanding the fruit profile and ripening pattern. I like to create wines with freshness and energy and so it's really important to pick the grapes as they are on their way up rather than their way down. I want the fruit to arrive in the winery embued with energy from the site. My approach in the winery is to coax the fruit along rather than bludgeon it into shape. Spontaneous fermentations and varying amounts of whole bunch inclusion ensures that the wines have a gentle polish and drinkability.
I grew up with Shiraz and though it might not as fashionable to say so, a bold Barossa Shiraz still takes a lot of beating! Aside from that, I'm also known for championing the cause of old vine Grenache, which when i started, was unloved and in need of help.
Every vintage has tales of joy and sorrow.I work on the basis that if nothing has gone wrong during vintage I haven't been trying hard enough! Proably the biggest disaster was the first year i was working with ferments in a concrete pyramid. The fermenter arrived the day before it was needed with no valves on it. We hurriedly arranged for some valves to be fitted and the next day we started filling it. It was past midnight and tempers were stretched - moreso when we realised that juice was pouring out the bolt holes of the valves! I stood with my fingers in the holes for about 30 minutes until we worked out a way to stem the tide. Funnily enough, that wine went on to win the trophy for best Grenache in Australia!
Winning a trophy for best Grenache in Australia is right up there in a short winemaking history. But, to be honest, i often have to pinch myself that I'm lucky enough to do what i do!
Barossa is the most premium region of Barossa and as such, land and fruit are very expensive and firmly guarded. Having the support of Angels will give me a little more clout to wrangle the best fruit for my wines....