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Meet the Winemaker

Top Australian winemaker Larry Cherubino rocked up from down under for a wine-tasting at Slurp Leamington Spa.

Larry Cherubino back home at his Margaret River vineyard

Named as one of Australia’s top 10 wine makers, Larry Cherubino, is an incredibly busy man. Last week he was over in the UK on a whirlwind tour of dinners, wine-tastings and food-pairings to showcase his award-winning wines. Destinations included Sky Garden, London; Loki, Birmingham; The Pointer, Brill; Somerset Wine Co in Castle Cary, Park House restaurant, Cardiff and Slurp Leamington Spa (a Warwickshire Muddy Stilettos 2018 finalist – Best Wine Merchants).

The Winemaker

When he’s not talking about his wines, Larry can be found whizzing Easy Rider style on his motorbike through his Margaret River vineyards in Western Australia, where he lives with wife Edwina and their three children. The beautiful Margaret River region lies south of the city Perth on the south-west tip of Australia.

Larry began making wines in his spare room in 2005 with the release of one wine. His collection has since been named Australia’s Winery Of The Year by the country’s top wine critics James Halliday and Matt Skinner, featured in Wine Spectator (the world’s biggest wine and lifestyle magazine with 3m readers) and last month had a write-up in The Sunday Times.

Something of a perfectionist, Larry doesn’t use herbicides, but creates his own compost from seaweed and fish, and told us he spends a lot of time looking for oak barrels in France. He also makes wine under the Laissez Faire label – a range of natural wines, made in small batches from hand-harvested grapes.

Larry Cherubino Tasting Notes – how we rated the six wines (not that we claim to be experts or anything!)

  1. ‘Pedestal’ Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River, 2016, £18.95 – A fresh, lively traditional Western Australian blend – more of a “foodie wine”. It went down very well with Rustic Food Company’s delicious Smoked Salmon Blinis with cream cheese.
  2. Laissez Faire Riesling, Porongorup, 2017, £21.95 – Larry said this dry white works really well with Asian cuisine with lemon and lime sherbet flavours mixed with fabulous acidity and minerality. Two fellow female wine-tasters at the event said this was the real surprise of the evening. Both said it was their personal favourite, describing it as “very slurp-able”! You can’t argue with that…
  3. Ad Hoc Cruel Mistress’ Pinot Noir, Great Southern, 2017, £15.95 – A top-rated complex Pinot Noir with hints of freshly dug beetroot, milk chocolate-laced black cherry and plum fruit.
  4. ‘Ad Hoc Middle of Everywhere’ Shiraz, Frankland River, 2016, £15.95 – In Larry’s words this good value Shiraz is “a bit more European in style” naturally fermented in new French oak barrels.
  5. ‘Cherubino’ Chardonnay, Margaret River, 2016, £33.95 – Apparently Sir David Attenborough went for this barrel-fermented Chardonnay at London’s Australia House for the 2015 premiere of his documentary on the Great Barrier Reef. I wouldn’t normally go for a Chardonnay but it tasted so good, it was the one I bought at the end of the evening, hmm, to save for a special occasion.
  6. ‘Cherubino’ Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015, £42.95 – One of Larry’s personal favourites, a rich, high quality Margaret River wine with orange and chocolate flavours. “I do really enjoy making Cabernet,” he confesses. The 2012 Margaret River Cabernet scored 94 out of 100 in Wine Spectator. This was one of the overall favourites of the evening, but isn’t cheap! “Delightful”, was the verdict of fellow wine-tasters and my husband’s top choice.

The Canapes

These appetising mouthfuls made by Leamington Spa’s own The Rustic Food Company (also a Muddy Stilettos Awards 2018 finalist) not only looked exquisite but OMG, tasted sensational!

Mediterranean Vegetable Bravas Pastries with Yoghurt

Smoked Salmon Blinis with cream cheese

Verdict: Informative and fun. It was interesting to meet the winemaker – described as a “genius” by James Halliday, Australia’s top wine critic – in person. He may have a reputation as “the slightly prickly, arrogant Marco Pierre White of the wine world” (The Sunday Times) but came across as extremely personable and charming, apologetic that he had to rush off to catch his London train. Thanks to Hannah, Simon and the Slurp team for their warm and wonderful hospitality.

What’s coming up?

Buglioni Wine Tasting – Leamington Spa, Fri June 8 

Try a selection of top Veneto wines from the Buglioni range. The Buglioni vineyard started as a small family enterprise in 1993, producing wine for friends and family, and has evolved into a serious contender in the production of excellent Valpolicella wines, 7.30pm – 9pm, £10.

Father’s Day Whisky Tasting, The Angel Hotel, Leamington Spa, Fri June 22

A fab Father’s Day present for whisky-loving dads. Located in one of the highest Scottish Highland villages, Tomintoul whisky distillery, founded in 1965 was primarily designed for providing whisky for blends. But over the last decade has focused more on single malts. You’ll be tasting six whiskeys from the 10-year up to the 21 year, including a sherry-finished and port-finished version, 7.30 – 9.30pm, £15.

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