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Nicolas Peterkin L.A.S. Vino

Nic Peterkin’s L.A.S. Vino was created in 2013, sandwiched between some pretty serious periods of study and travel. Today, it is one of Margaret River’s keenest of cutting-edge labels, mining the region for vineyard sites of singular interest, with a focus on sustainable and mostly organic viticulture. The wines are often built around experimental techniques, but Peterkin does so without alienating, with them being as delicious as they are thoughtful. Peterkin was a Young Gun finalist in 2018.

Nic Peterkin is the son of one of Margaret River wine’s great pioneers. Dr Mike Peterkin planted the family’s Pierro vineyard in the golden zone of Willyabrup in 1980, and he did so in a fairly unconventional way, favouring greater density than most at the time and a north south row orientation. He was similarly unconventional in approaches to water management and winemaking, for example, with a determined streak to follow his own path. That attitude has more than rubbed off on his son.

Nic Peterkin had grown up on that family vineyard and spent school holidays largely amongst the vines. When he finished high school, a full vintage at Pierro was followed by a vintage in Portugal at Herdade do Esporão. But that didn’t propel Peterkin into a career in wine.

“I floated between study, travel, the vineyard and winery for six years,” he says, “doing an undergrad in science and commerce at UWA, majoring in biochemistry and microbiology and finance/marketing. The finance degree was pretty useless when I graduated in 2008.”

With the GFC sideling any immediate hopes of a career in finance, Peterkin drifted through a few more vintages, both here and overseas, before doing a masters in oenology at the University of Adelaide. “It was pretty transformative. I went from wine being this thing that I did to make money to travel to wine being my life. All we talked about in Adelaide was wine.”

More travel peppered Peterkin’s studies. “Towards the end of the degree I went to Mexico and worked at a winery called Casa Madero in the Parras Valley, which was established in 1597 (apparently the oldest winery in the Americas). Then I did vintage at a US winery called Truchard. They gave me a 1980s Buick and I lived in the cellar of the Texan owner’s house. I did vintage during the day and was finishing two subjects externally at night.”

Those trips and the wrapping up of his study inspired Peterkin to launch his L.A.S. Vino label, with the aim of making wine inspired by all he had seen, and to make styles new to Margaret River. Normally, that’s where the story unfolds down a linear path. Not so for Peterkin. With the first wines in barrel, Peterkin decided to embark on an MBA at UWA, which he completed in London while studying politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. A vintage at London Cru, London’s first urban winery, which receives grapes from across Europe and vinifies them in their Fulham facility, steered Peterkin back to wine.

“What guides us is the beauty and awe of discovery, whether that be through site, method or flavour. Our ethos is to use luck, art and science (L.A.S.) to create absolutely delicious, unique wines. Wines that make you feel. …I am happy with the wines I am making, but always learning, appreciating the little things and gradually getting better.”

Those first wines made under the L.A.S. banner in 2013 were a wild-ferment chardonnay, a biodynamic chenin blanc and ‘Pirate Blend’ of Portuguese red varieties. And they’re still made today, along with a somewhat emblematic rosé, ‘Albino PNO’ made from pinot noir and chardonnay, a biodynamic cabernet left on skins for a full year and a whole bunch grenache.

For Peterkin, employing different techniques is a means to uncover expressions that a conventional mindset would never unveil. But, most importantly, the process is not about being conspicuously clever, but rather to let curiosity lead to deliciousness.

“What guides us is the beauty and awe of discovery, whether that be through site, method or flavour. Our ethos is to use luck, art and science (L.A.S.) to create absolutely delicious, unique wines. Wines that make you feel. …I am happy with the wines I am making, but always learning, appreciating the little things and gradually getting better.”

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