Justin Leith – Sommelier, Harvest Cafe, NSW, Australia
Justin Leith
Chef Sommelier - Harvest Cafe, Newrybar, NSW, Australia

NAME: Justin Leith

POSITION: Chef Sommelier - Harvest Cafe, Newrybar, NSW, Australia

MOST MEMORABLE WINE:

FAVOURITE MOMENT:

BEST VARIETAL/REGION:

LOVING RIGHT NOW:

FAVOURITE RED VARIETY: Pinot Noir

FAVOURITE WHITE VARIETY: Alsace

MEMBERS' TIP-OFF: 2010 La Raia Gavi DOCG, from Italy's Piedmont

The trouble with sommelier Justin Leith’s currently most loved wine is that it’s a hell of a mouthful to say! Byron Shire-based Justin – who describes himself as a passionate hospitality professional with an insatiable appetite for good food and wine – accords that status to the 2010 Dominio Do Bibei ‘Lapola’ 70% Godello 20% Albarino 10% Dona Blanca Ribeiro Alta. This Spanish number, he says, “vibrates with snappy tension and nerve, fresh red grapefruit with piercing floral, saline/mineral components that provide ample texture and amazing mouthfeel.” Furthermore, retailing as it does at $58, it “fits the bill”, according to Justin, of being both delicious and affordable.

He may be loving this wine, but when pressed to name a favourite variety his reply is : “How can you have a favourite variety? Do you have a favourite child?” – a not uncommon reply amongst sommeliers, and perfectly understandable at that. “Riesling and Pinot”, he goes on to say, “are my most loved children, but don’t tell Bordeaux as I find right and left bank varietals delicious. Tempranillo and Nebbiolo
and of course Chardonnay etc etc…” Yes Justin, we get the idea!

He doesn’t hesitate, however, in naming Alsace as his favourite white wine region and Burgundy as his favourite red wine one. Specifically in the whites he suggests anything from Domaine Zumhumbrecht (Alsace). These, he says, are “wines that are real and without bullshit, with a line of purity that is second to none when they are great.”

It’s the 2007 Dominio de Pingus, Pingus Tempranillo D.O Ribero del Duero from Spain which is presently exciting him as far as red wines go. “This is the kind of wine that is driving Tempranillo as the new red wine experience. WOW!”

For Justin, his memorable wine moment would consist of consuming a bottle of NV Egly Oriet Champagne on Wategos Beach (Byron Bay) eating fish and chips and watching the full moon rise. The Egly Oriet Champagnes, he says, are utterly worth seeking out for fans of Champagne; grown and produced in Ambonnay, they are Pinot-dominated blends “with great wine characters as well as fine Champagne
finesse.” He adds the importance of bringing along someone you love as well!

The wine he recommends other Code 38 members try is, however, the 2010 La Raia Gavi DOCG, from Italy’s Piedmont. It is, he says, “very floral with some nice almond nut notes and citrus. (The) really beautifully poised natural acid in this wine…keeps you coming back for more of this lovely green lime with some savoury notes and crisp refreshing finish.” To eat with it he suggests a tuna Nicoise salad or a ‘fish pasta dish native to the region.” Any fine wine retailer should stock its and it sells for around $28.

And what, I always want to know, does he love most about his Code38? (I’ve already established that the most exciting wine he has opened with it was a bottle of 2008 DRC Echezeaux for Nick Stock and friends. “It was exciting because I got to taste it and you don’t get to taste DRC wines very often…iron fist in the velvet glove. Length of palate astronomical.”) Justin’s Code38 was in fact one of the very first
off the production line (“a privilege in itself’) so he is now greatly looking forward to a new edition. But meanwhile “it looks and feels amazing! Like a stealth bomber vibrating in your hand…” Wow again.


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