Drinking Victoria: Gary Mills

Published on 22 June 2021

Photo: Gary Mills, winemaker at Jamsheed Wines (credit: John Laurie)

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

Wine wasn't always the main thing on Gary Mills's mind. In a previous life, his BA in Literature was being put to use as he taught English in Japan. He returned to Australia fluent in Japanesse, but his stint as a Japanese-speaking tour guide in Queensland was short lived, and he headed west to work in the vineyards of Margaret River. After a five-week vintage at Ridge Vineyards in California turned into a two-year full-time position under the tutelage of winemaker Paul Draper, Mills returned again to Australia and Jamsheed was born.

With a focus on single-vineyard syrahs and aromatic whites from unique sites across the state, Mills has a passion for bringing out the best of Victoria’s terroir. Jamsheed opened the doors to its urban winery and restaurant Josie in late 2019, where you can polish off a glass of fizzy-pink pét-nat with a plate of char-grilled lamb skewers.

The last three delicious things I drank were Ulysse Collin Les Perriéres Blanc de Blancs, 2014 Domaine du Collier rouge and 2018 Fedellos do Couto Bastarda.

As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Victoria is Neighbourhood Wine. The list is deep and varied with some well-aged bottles. The staff are always great and the music is banging, creating an awesome vibe.

When someone hands me a wine list in a restaurant, I don't talk for a while.

The Victorian spirit I’m loving most right now is Gospel Solera Rye. Andrew Fitzgerald has made the first ever Australian brown spirit that has character, depth, tension and drinks like the real thing.

There’s no better value on a wine list or in a bottle-shop in this state than Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet, described to me once as Chablis on a uni-student budget.

My favourite place to buy booze is… well, I usually go directly to importers. Andrew Guard, Vivant Selections and Alimentaria are some of my favourites.

I’d love to see us planting more weird and wonderful varieties; poulsard, mencía, grenache gris/blanc, clairette. We’re still exploring the terroir of this region and our boundaries require further expansion.

My guilty pleasure in the fridge/drinks cabinet/at the bar is an Abbotsford Invalid stout.

The best or most important change to the way we drink in Victoria in recent years has been a better investigation and appreciation of winemaking methods; transparency is vital for our industry and our customers.

For me, the most inspiring person in the Victorian drinks world is the team at Chalmers vineyard in Heathcote. They’re the pioneers of the kooky Italian varieties providing a breadth of flavour here in Victoria. Chalmers are helping to change the landscape of what has been the traditional grape varieties in the region, grown exceptionally well.

Jamsheed Winery, 4 Albert St, Preston, jamsheed.com.au. Browse the latest wine selections online or visit your local independent booze retailer. Keep up with the latest releases over at @jamsheedwines.

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