Drinking Victoria: Andrew Joy, Pyren Vineyard

Published on 30 September 2020

Photo: Pyren Estate co-owner Andrew Joy

Your guide to what’s in the glass from the people in the trade.

A familiar and welcoming face in the Melbourne restaurant scene, Andrew Joy has been involved with the wine/drinks world in some way “since the age of about 15 when I worked for a wine store in my home town of Ballarat running boxes of wine around the shop and generally trying to gain knowledge as I went along”. Since then his involvement in the trade has progressed through a number of different roles: barman, wine buyer, sommelier, restaurant manager (his work at Marion won him Gourmet Traveller’s 2017 Maître d’ of the Year gong), to his current position as co-owner of The Carlton Wine Room and of Pyren Vineyard, a winery in the Pyrenees region, about two and a half hours northwest of Melbourne. 

The last three delicious things I drank were 2018 Pierre Yves Colin Morey Aligoté; ice-cold Peroni Red by the fire at the vineyard; and a Whisky Sour a friend made for me with Caol Ila 12-year-old single-malt (I don't normally drink cocktails, but I was pleasantly surprised).

As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Victoria is yet to be defined as we are all currently stuck at home. But I'm absolutely itching to have a Martini and some oysters at Andrew McConnell’s Gimlet.  

Everything about it speaks of the time we are in: it’s the epitome of hope when all odds are stacked against you, I like the strength in the face of adversity, and the stylistic references to a place without time. 

When someone hands me a wine list in a restaurant, I generally hope there is someone more qualified at the table to make the decisions; I want a journey and I don't always want to steer the ship. 

The Victorian spirit I’m loving most right now is Cinq a Sept Pinot Noir vermouth from Allies, Mornington Peninsula. 

There’s no better value on wine list or in a bottle-shop in this state than Garagiste! Viva la Barney. All good at all levels. 

My favourite place to buy booze is Rathdowne Cellars (it's my local shop) or Blackhearts & Sparrows.

I’d love to see Victoria planting more nebbiolo. I think we have some great microclimates that can support the variety and seeing examples such as Luke Lambert’s has often made me wonder about the ability this it could have if it was planted in the right locations. 

My guilty pleasure in the fridge/drinks cabinet/at the bar is, apart from the choc Ice Magic which I'm pretty sure every one of us is guilty of owning right now, Olek Bondonio Vermouth Rosso from Barbaresco. Ask Giorgio [De Maria of Giorgio De Maria Fun Wines], he has it. 

The most important change to the way we drink in Victoria in recent years has been our willingness to try new things and to go out on a limb and make styles of wine we normally wouldn't make, coupled with a dining scene that has pushed the boundaries both in metropolitan and regional areas. We have some seriously talented people in this state and they should be celebrated. 

For me, the most inspiring person in the Victorian drinks world is Adam Foster from Syrahmi. He has always been there to give me encouragement or feedback (good and bad), share a decent bottle, sometimes raise a little hell. We need characters like Adam in our industry, he shows us what dedication can generate and that having a little fun along the way isn't all bad. 

 Check out Andrew’s wines at Pyren Vineyard pyrenvineyard.com, @pyrenvineyard, follow his further adventures at @joybomb_411 and see him in full flow (as the pandemic permits) at The Carlton Wine Room, thecarltonwineroom.com.au.