Drinking Victoria: Alex Wilcox

Published on 23 November 2020

Photo: Prince Wine Store's Alex Wilcox

Your guide to what's in the glass from those in the trade.

Law school didn’t stand a chance with Alex Wilcox when a cycling trip through the vineyards of Europe during university drew him into what would become a lifelong career in the world of wine. While doing his honours in agricultural economics at the University of Sydney, with a year spent at California’s UC Davis focusing on the wine trade, Wilcox worked vintages in France, Tuscany and Western Australia. Realising he wasn’t destined to inherit a European vineyard, he followed his future wife to Melbourne where he went on to work across all aspects of the wine trade, including service, retail and importing.

It was during his time working at Phillip Murphy Wine & Spirits in the late ‘90s that Wilcox met future business partner Michael McNamara, and their working relationship was formalised when the two bought into the Prince Wine Store. Over the last 13 years, Wilcox has been instrumental in the growth not just of the group and its breadth of offerings, but of lesser-known, quality wine producers he has worked with McNamara to source and develop. With stores now in Victoria and New South Wales, Alex looks forward to expanding the Prince Wine Store’s customer experience to Sydney and beyond.

The last three delicious things I drank were a barrel sample of yet-to-be released close-planted pinot noir from Bindi (should be out sometime next year), the new release wines from Joshua Cooper – Gourmet Traveller Wine’s very deserving Young Winemaker of the Year – and the fantastic new range from Patrick Sullivan, who is making very good wines with minimal intervention, yet showing great varietal and regional identity.

When someone hands me a wine list in a restaurant, I like to try something new that I haven’t had before.

As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Victoria is the Arbory Afloat bar on the Yarra. This seasonal bar right on the river has a small but well-chosen list and is just a great spot to enjoy the warmer weather, showcasing the best of the city.

The Victorian spirit I’m loving most right now is Patient Wolf Gin. I try others but keep going back.

There’s no better value on wine list or in a bottle-shop in this state than Hoddles Creek chardonnay.

My favourite place to buy booze is Prince Wine Store. We just got listed as one of the top 10 iconic wine stores of the world by Wine Enthusiast magazine; why would I go anywhere else?

I’d love to see us planting more southern-Italian grape varieties in Victoria. They have a natural ability to retain acidity and freshness, and with warmer weather this is becoming even more important.

My guilty pleasure at the bar is Cinq A Sept Rosso vermouth. Not so guilty, really – it makes the best Negroni.

The most important change to the way we drink in Victoria this year has been the move to outdoor dining. It’s going to be a challenge but I can’t wait to see the different creative ways we can get around the issue and I hope that it will lead to a whole new food and wine experience that will last well beyond the current crisis.

For me, the most inspiring people in the Victorian drinks world are all the great customers that we have that are always willing to try something new, always asking questions and willing to take risks. It is what makes the Melbourne wine scene one of the most dynamic and mature wine markets in the world.

Prince Wine Store, 177 Bank St, South Melbourne, (03) 9686 3033, princewinestore.com.au

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