2012 SMH Sommelier of the Year Stuart Knox is owner of, and Sommelier at, Fix St James in Sydney. The last wine he opened with his Code38 was, he tells me, at the tail-end of a very busy lunch, a bottle of Josmeyer Les Perriet Riesling 1997, from Alsace in France. Riesling, it turns out, is the wine he is most loving at the moment, and his current favourite variety. “I’m in the midst of a summer of Riesling”, he tells me. Despite that, his favourite wine region is the Loire Valley in France.
As for his fave red, he nominates a Cabernet Franc. But back to that Code38! Stuart thinks that the most exciting wine he has opened with it is probably the Gravner Amphora 2005from Friuli in Italy – although his most memorable wine moment was getting to open – and taste – a 1942 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Echezeaux. So what makes the Gravner so exciting, I wonder? According to Stuart, it’s made from white grapes fermented on skins like red wine. Winemaker Josko ferments his in large clay amphora buried in the ground, then ages it on old oak until bottling. So on the palate you have an extraordinary complexity of both red and white characters. It is “one of the longest palates I’ve seen in a wine for years and truly opens, changes and develops after being opened for a long time…”, he says.
And when asked which wine he would recommend to other Code38 members, he offers the Dario Princic Pinot Grigio 2009 from Friuli. (Not a Riesling then!) Its skin-contact results in a deep red colour; it has lovely aromatics with tannins and acidity. And it goes beautifully with spice-rubbed spatchcock, fresh peas and ‘nduja.
Stuart’s final comment on his Code38 is that it’s “a great piece of kit. Sturdy and strong, engineered so no cork is too tricky to get out, yet stylish to look at. It copes with the lumps and bumps of a busy wine bar service without issue. Having used one constantly for over a year I’ve never had even the slightest issue with it.”