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The RAFI Drop: Vanguardist Wines

Meet The Maker: Vanguardist Wines

Vanguardist’s ‘V’ Syrah has been hand-selected by Applejack Group Sommelier Amandine Rouviere to be part of The RAFI Drop 005.

We sat down with the team at Vanguardist Wines to discover more about the winemakers, the history of the winery and for a closer insight into the ‘V’ Syrah on offer at RAFI this week.


About The Maker

How did you get started in wine?

I became interested in food and wine in my home province of Hawkes Bay (NZ). My passion for both grew in my late teens, and at 22 I returned to Uni to pursue a Wine Science degree. Since then I’ve travelled to about 15 regions in four different countries to be part of about 30 vintages. It’s been a great ride so far.

Do you have a favourite wine to drink?

My cellar is heavily European-inspired. Whites would be mostly Riesling (Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Mosel) Aligote & Chardonnay from Bourgogne, and Muscadet from Loire. Of course there are textural whites from warmer regions, Grenache Gris is one I’m very fond of. Red would sit mostly medium to full-bodied with lots of tension, acidity, and minerality. Etna Rosso, Langhe Nebbiolo, Cru Beaujolais, St Joseph and Conras are all on heavy rotation. Grenache always plays a roll, often Sierra de Gredos, Priorat, South Africa, SW France. 

About The Winery

What Is The History Of The Vineyard?

As with many great stories, VANGUARDIST was born of humble beginnings. Ideals, harmonised over a table littered with empty bottles. Laughs that rolled late into the evening, not realising the impetus forming; a relentless ‘fire in the belly’ that sent Michael bouncing across the equator, chasing international harvests for most of his adult life. 

While its first release surfaced in the Hunter Valley, VANGUARDIST launched in South Australia in 2014, with two painstakingly-crafted, single vineyard expressions. Two wines made from what Michael deemed to be the best varieties, grown in the best soils in the best sub regions the state had to offer. Herein lies the ‘V’ obsession: an unwavering temperament that now finds VANGUARDIST wines in Australia’s most relevant independent bottle stores, bars, and in the secret arsenals of many a fine-tuned Sommelier. 

Years on, the VANGUARDIST focus has both broadened and deepened, illuminating new sites of intrigue with the same degree of captivation, while LA PETITE VANGUARD reflects the unbound and experimental (but ever-so quaffable) side of Michael’s character.

As of 2021, the VANGUARDIST family seems to have finally settled. Michael and Claire, now live and thrive in the Barossa Valley, where the wines are hand-made, bottled and labelled. Michael’s dear friends and partners, Ali and Edouard, with whom this journey began, now distribute the wines in France and other pockets of Europe, taking the VANGUARDIST story abroad. 

About The Drop Wine

Tell us about the wine you have selected for the RAFI Drop: 

Using Syrah sourced from Ash Ridge Estate, Bridge Pa Triangle, Hawkes Bay New Zealand, this wine represents the epitome of what we are about, pushing the realms of standard winemaking to deliver intrigue, excitement, and utmost quality, without any loss of sense of place. Why Hawkes Bay Syrah? Micheal grew up here, completed 10 vintages, studied here, and has many family and friends in the region – he thought this was a great opportunity to reconnect with where it all started.

Tasting Notes:

Hazelnut and pepper, blueberry and blackberry, with a sort of thyme and lavender perfume. It’s light to medium in body, crisp yet meaty, with something of a cranberry crunch to it, fine peppery tannin, sappy acidity, a garrigue mouth-perfume, lacy and bright, pippy boysenberry/mulberry flavours, and a crisp and spicy finish of good length. Plenty of energy and a meaty/spicy charm. 

What type of dish would you recommend eating alongside the RAFI Drop wine?

Game meats, poultry, salumi. Classic lamb and beef works well, especially paired with middle eastern flavours, and baking spice elements.