James Scarcebrook runs the blog The Intrepid Wino, which is about his travels to different wineries and wine regions around the world. He has worked in the wine industry since 2004, and is an expert in finding, tasting and, most importantly, drinking good wines.
James, what gave you the idea to start the blog?
I was embarking on a world trip to visit wineries and vineyards across three continents, and I was encouraged to blog about my experiences. I wrote about every wine producer I visited and shared my impressions about them, and once I returned I continued the blog as well as launching a podcast and YouTube channel.
What kinds of wine do you prefer to drink?
Italian wines and Australian wines made from Italian grape varieties. I like their freshness, lightness and drinkability, but they also can show some interesting savoury texture as well. Honest every day wines appeal to me most, the kind that anyone can enjoy and not the super-rich.
Were there any areas that surprised you with the quality of wine they produce?
Portugal really surprised me not just with the quality but the uniqueness of their wines, and their respect of tradition and authenticity. I’m always amazed at how good Sicilian wines get every year, blessed with more stable climates and diversity of terrain.
The Great Southern region in Western Australia is still a very under-appreciated region in my estimation, and I’ve recently found the some of the biodynamic wines from Styria in Southern Austria quite charming.
Did you find that the reputations of traditional wine making countries like France, Italy and Spain were well founded?
They are certainly very well founded but there are always exceptions that prove the rule. Like anywhere there are better known regions than others that tend to have higher calibre producers but subsequently demand a higher price tag, and as such there can be great value to be found in regions that are not held in as high esteem, providing you are willing to do some research and find the good winegrowers.
Moving closer to home, do you have a favourite Australian wine region?
I’m fairly biased towards Victorian regions having lived almost my entire life in Melbourne, which helps when you have access to the wineries on day trips. Though the Yarra Valley was the first region I visited and I worked there for a number of years, the Mornington Peninsula will probably always be my favourite, as it’s where I had the first opportunity to taste some of the finest Pinot Noirs in Australia, a favourite variety of mine.
Since you’ve completed your tour you have focussed more on your podcasts – can you tell us what they are about?
While I was travelling on my own I craved some form of company so immersed myself in podcasts while driving, and this was when I conceived of a podcast about wine. I researched for about six months and launched The Vincast five years ago to be a casual conversation between myself and a different guest from the industry each episode.
Through essentially eavesdropping in on my own discovery of someone’s background and influences I hoped that the audience would be able to gain some insights about wine and how it relates to life and community, then seek out more information about a guest or a topic that they found particularly interesting.
I also started opening Australian and New Zealand wines on camera for my YouTube channel and Facebook page, merely sharing my first impressions and what I did or didn’t like about a wine.
Are there any surprising facts about wine making or drinking that more people should know about?
Technically there is no such thing as Preservative Free wine. A by-product of alcoholic fermentation is the creation of trace amounts of sulphur dioxide (SO2), which is a preservative. Hence all wines that contain sulphites must declare them on the label. The more accurate term is no preservative ADDED.
Thank you James for sharing your thoughts with us.
You can follow up with James Scarcebrook at https://intrepidwino.com