The spirit of Andries Mostert and Yoko Luscher-Mostert’s Brave New Wine is neatly captured in the name, a venture that joyfully tosses out convention in the aim of making wine that tastes good in surprising new ways, from fermenting grapes with native botanicals to low-alcohol skinsy affairs to fridge-able reds, and much, much more. With the vintage, exemplary parcels of fruit from Western Australia’s Great Southern and their flights of creative fancy the guides, the pair make an ever-changing catalogue of offerings that veer from the engagingly wild to the cheerfully gluggable. Young Gun of Wine finalists in 2016, the pair took out the 2017 Danger Zone with their botanically enhanced 2016 ‘Wonderland’ Riesling.
“We aim to make wines that taste good, and make you feel good,” says Luscher-Mostert. “We hope that our wines can make your day a little better, that they add some fun to your hang-outs with mates. We make about 20 different wines across the spectrum, from pét-nats, to aromatised wines, to skin-contact whites, to flor-aged multi-vintage wines, to light carbonic reds, to weirdo blends, to whole-bunch reds and everything in between.”
Andries Mostert studied both chemistry and architecture in Perth before deflecting to a winemaking degree, while Luscher-Mostert admits to a litany of unfinished qualifications, including “a visual arts degree, archaeology degree, accounting, a dabbling in anthropology and also a cabinetmaking apprenticeship.” Amongst this, she supported herself by working at pubs and cellar doors in the West from a young age ¬– too young, legally that is, she says.
Mostert has worked all over Australia, as well as in Italy and New Zealand – where the pair worked together in Central Otago for a year. His first gig was at Moss Wood, working in the vineyard, followed by a move to Adelaide to study winemaking at Adelaide university, with stints at The Universal and East End Cellars keeping him afloat financially. Work at Brokenwood, Shaw + Smith, Ashton Hills, Picardy (where the duo met amongst the vines), Plantagenet and Howard Park followed, with the idea for Brave New Wine taking shape nearly a decade ago.
“Our first vintage was 2013,” says Luscher-Mostert, “and to be honest, we weren’t really making these wines with a view to sell them, more just for our own benefit and for friends and family. We made a whole-bunch Chardonnay, which became the very first ‘Klusterphunk’ Chardonnay… and we very nearly tipped it down the drain, before we decided we needed to be brave, and trust that if we found it palatable someone else might too! And lo… we got a pretty nice review and we were off.”
While many makers talk about early trials and tribulations, then settle into a more certain path, not so for these two, with constant tightrope walking essential to the soul of Brave New Wine. “Every vintage is exciting, because we never know what’s going to come of it, what new ideas we’ll have to explore,” says Luscher-Mostert. “This year, we’ve made a pét-nat of sorts from vermentino fermented with local botanicals, then sent to bottle with some local honey to go fizzy. We didn’t really plan that one but thought of it on the hop – and we reckon it’s turned out ok! These more experimental batches are what really floats our boat – it kind of keeps things fresh, ya know!”
While the style directions for the wines are decidedly collaborative, Mostert pulls the levers in the winery, while Luscher-Mostert takes the lead on the kaleidoscopic labels (that part-finished visual arts degree coming in handy) that leave the drinker in no doubt that they are entering unchartered territory. For example, the ‘Gewurlitzer’, a skinsy gewürztraminer, sees disco balls replacing gumnuts on eucalypt branches, while the ‘Mates & Lovers’ pét-nat sports a diverse collection of floating, imbibing cartoon nudes, with both labels boldly stamped with the gilt BNW logo.
And while favourites like ‘Gewurlitzer’, ‘Dreamland’, a riesling fermented with native botanicals, ‘Pi’Oui’ pinot noir, ‘Schadenfreude’ shiraz, and ‘Nat Daddy’ pét-nat will likely stay on the roster, what joins them is anyone’s guess. “Who knows where our wines will end up in the future,” says Luscher-Mostert. “Hopefully they’ll be getting better and better!? We are super interested in fermenting all kinds of stuff, though; we recently made a hard lemonade just for ourselves using honey and lemons from our tree and limes from our neighbours. It kicks like a mule but is utterly delicious. We’ll probably be doing more stuff like this in the future.”