Drinking Victoria: Jasmine Wakely

Published on 29 July 2020

Photo: Le Timbre winemaker Jasmine Wakely

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

Jasmine Wakely loves eating and drinking “everything: wine, seafood, sake, cheese, beer, coffee, and not necessarily in that order”. A Melbourne local who has worked in wine bars, restaurants, bottle shops, wineries and vineyards, she now studies regenerative agriculture and makes small-batch wines under the Le Timbre label in a shed surrounded by an acre of vines in Keilor with her partner, Yuri Zinenko, from Calyx Wine.

Le Timbre’s wines are made with “minimal additions, emphasising purity of fruit, lively acidity and bright, ripe texture achieved by the use of oxygen and lees contact”. Movements are made by gravity and everything is wild fermented, unfiltered and unfined. The dream, Jasmine says, is to have a regenerative mixed farm with a small vineyard from which all Le Timbre’s fruit is sourced and vinified. “Also, a nice seat to have a glass of something tasty.”

Here’s some of the tasty things she has encountered lately.

The last three delicious things I drank were…

One: A sour lambic beer from Belgium called 3 Fonteinen Cuvée Armand and Gaston Oude Geuze. We have a deal that if we see this beer, we have to get it. The bottling date on this one was 11/01/18, and its best before date is 26/10/38: unlike some beers, these get better with age. This batch currently has the flint and texture that you find in really good chardonnay and is great with food – roast chicken, say, with tarragon. It’s also great by itself, as we enjoyed it, at home, making a mix on our very amateur DJ set-up. We picked this up from Purvis Beer in Richmond.

Two: the 2017 Derain La Combe Bourgogne Chardonnay from Saint-Aubin in Burgundy. I was lucky enough to visit Dominique when I was in France in 2017 and tried this from barrel. It was delicious then, and it’s delicious now. I think what I find beautiful about this wine is its balance between natty and classic. Classic acid, structure and flinty reduction, yet relaxed in style with velvety cashews everywhere. I got this gem from Winona Wine in Manly earlier this year.

Three: 2014 Podere Pradarolo Vej 270 Brut Malvasia di Candia Aromatica from Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy. I love these wines. This was the first time, though, that I’d tasted their traditional-method sparkling. There’s so much detail from the use of skin contact and fine lees work; it’s a really standout, complex wine. Rhubarb, guava, tangelos, mango chutney and sunshine. I was buzzing off it for days. We bought it direct from the importer, Godot Wines, and had it with homemade kimchi veggie burgers.

We've been on a bit of a Euro-bender this past month, as you can see, but we drink a lot of local wine too. I’ve also really enjoyed Yugen 2018 Flor gewurztraminer, Dappled 2018 Les Verges chardonnay and Combes 2019 Willow Lake pinot noir.

As far as I’m concerned, the defining places to get a drink in Melbourne are Neighbourhood Wine and Old Palm Liquor. They've always got something delicious and interesting open by the glass. The beer is fresh. The food is dialled. Plus the environment is always relaxed and cosy.

When someone hands me a wine list in a restaurant, I get groovy with the white wine section. I love everything acid. I'll most likely start by drowning myself in oysters so give me dry Sherry, riesling, chenin blanc, savagnin or chardonnay. Or a refreshing beer.

The Victorian spirit I’m loving most right now is Loch Classic Dry Gin. Lovely people, spirits and beer. Gippsland is great.

There’s no better value on a wine list or in a bottle-shop in this state than Terrason Wines. I haven’t had a bad bottle from Marc, whether it be his cab franc, gamay, aligoté or fizz. The wines are about $30, $35 a bottle retail and always overdeliver for the price.

My favourite place to buy booze is Blackhearts & Sparrows. They always have a really honest and delicious snapshot of the drinks industry. Also, Cult of the Vine in the north, Mr West in the west and Winespeake if you’re up in Daylesford.

I’d love to see us planting more acid-driven grape varieties, native crops and more mixed farms in Victoria. Times are changing and for agriculture and viticulture to become more resilient, we need to strengthen our soils and start working with this land and its people, not against it. Let's work towards bringing agriculture and conservation closer together. And let's recognise and celebrate this land’s fruitful agricultural past under the management of the First Australians and traditional custodians of the land.

My guilty pleasure in the drinks cabinet is Royal Jamaican ginger beer. My partner and I love it. It's spicy and super-refreshing.

The best or most important change to the way we drink in Victoria in recent years has been to support small producers. You can be sure to find mindfully grown, unique and delicious food and beverage. This bottom-up approach can make a significant impact in reducing agriculture’s negative environmental impacts. Farmers markets, yes! Small independent beverage producers, yes!

For me, the most inspiring people in the Victorian drinks world would have to be James Audas from Arc Wines and Lo-Fi Wines, his life partner, Jess Martin, and business partner Tom Sheer. They're just a big bunch of cool. Arc is planning to plant its permaculture-inspired mixed vineyard in Gippsland with fruit trees and other plants. And Lo-Fi imports some of the best wines from all over the world that we love to drink. Very underrated and good people who will continue to do great things.

Order Le Timbre wines direct or find a stockist at letimbre.com.au, and follow Jasmine and the winery’s further adventures via Instagram at @letimbrewine.

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