Simão & Co. Wines
With a range that covers significant territory, from the Alpine and King Valleys to Beechworth, Glenrowan and Rutherglen, Simon makes wine from all five of the North-East’s regions.
Hailing from Cape Province, South Africa, Remi Guise came to Margaret River in 2007 to visit, and hasn’t, as yet, made it back. The following year, he took on an entry-level role with Naturaliste Vintners, and is now the Senior Winemaker under Margaret River legend Bruce Dukes. And as fine an operation as that is, it’s what Remi does in his spare time that interests us most.
It’s not unusual for a winemaker with a senior role to have the urge to step outside the lines a little, to explore the margins, unfettered by other obligations. But Guise was also somewhat fed up with what he saw as a monopolisation of the accessibly priced market with boring wines, especially from Western Australia: “As a winemaker, I’ve spent a great deal of time tasting purified juices and the purified wines that are made from them.”
So, in 2013, Guise launched his own label, tripe.Iscariot – a conflation that carries with it the polarising nature of tripe as a food and Judas Iscariot, who he describes as the ultimate black sheep. While Guise’s reference to Judas Iscariot is a bit more cryptic, leading his brand with possibly the most maligned part – tripe – of a maligned category – offal – actually resonates quite meaningfully with his philosophy: “I’ve also spent a great deal of time chewing on skins, cracking seeds between my teeth and sucking on stalks, forcing me to ask: ‘Why are we getting rid of all this flavour?’”
Thus, Remi’s passion for nose-to-tail eating helped inform his approach to winemaking: “‘Berry to Stalk’ winemaking, using ‘The Whole Beast’ and crafting wines which seek to challenge and change the status quo.” And no, this is not a prescriptive all-in policy of whole-bunch fermentation, not at all. Rather, Guise’s wines are built with palate feel and structure as a cornerstone: “Part of what was missing from so many wines was texture, and the flavor that came along with the primary source of texture, solids.” So, his approach is far from prescriptive, but his underlying mantra remains intractable, to make “wines that I wanted to drink, and to never make one that somebody else wanted me to make simply because it would sell or was easy to market.” Bravo, we say.
And Remi’s tripe.Iscariot wines struck a chord with his peers – at the 2019 YGOW Awards, he was announced as the “Winemaker’s Choice”, as voted by the other 11 winemaker finalists. As Remi says, “Winemaker’s Choice is one of those furiously coveted awards – it is the respect of your peers, all of whom are as critical and exacting as you are. To have the caliber of winemakers, who all make wines of such esteem and sense of place, elect me as a favourite is truly amazing and humbling.”