Q&A with Halliday

In conversation with Jordan Lewis

By Amelia Ball

14 Oct, 2020

Jordan Lewis, formerly of the Melbourne Demons and four-time premiership player for Hawthorn, is head over heels for wine – so much so he now has his own label, DML Vin. Ahead, Jordan tells us about his journey with wine so far.

AFL player Jordan Lewis
AFL footballer and wine enthusiast, Jordan Lewis.

H. Was there a particular wine or moment that reeled you into a love for wine?
J. For me, it was the first winery I visited on my honeymoon in Italy. It was an Antinori vineyard in Chianti Classico, and I was blown away by how beautiful it was. From the barrel room to the tasting table, I was hooked.

H. Can you tell us how DML Vin came about with Franco d’Anna of Hoddles Creek Estate and Sam Middleton of Mount Mary?
J. On return to Australia from our honeymoon, I wanted to learn more. I subscribed to the Halliday magazine and read a comment James had written about the 1er Pinot Noir from Hoddles Creek, saying that if you can find it, buy as much as you can. I couldn’t find any, so I got in contact with Franco via Twitter and our friendship was born.

H. What’s your favourite part of the winemaking process?
J. Barrel tasting and seeing how the wine can change from week to week, or how the same wine tastes from a new barrel compared to an aged one.

H. Are there unexpected similarities between winemaking and footy?
J. I see a lot of parallels between the two. The winemaking process is a lot like an AFL pre-season, where most of what we do is done away from prying eyes. Then once the wine is released, or when the AFL season comes around, the critics have their say.

H. What are your favourite wine regions?
J. At home, I stick to the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Macedon Ranges, Tasmania and Hunter Valley. Overseas, I like Oregon, Chablis, Burgundy and lighter styles from Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

H. How would you describe your wine collection?
J. It’s very Australian dominant. I’m starting to buy more pinot from Oregon as I’ve found a few producers that don’t come to Australia, but make delicious wines. I’ve also started to buy some Burgundy. A lot of it is out of my price range, so you have to read and find the producers that have good holdings, but not the exorbitant price tags.

H. Have you had any cellaring disasters?
J. Not yet, thankfully. My biggest fear is that my wife Lucy will grab one of my prized possessions – like a bottle of Raveneau – to casually open with her girlfriends while I’m away!

H. Which wine regions are on your bucket list to visit one day?
J. For me, it’s Burgundy and Champagne.

H. What drinks or wine styles are you loving right now?
J. Grower Champagnes like Selosse, F&R Miniere and Eric Rodez, and also Chablis. Apart from the likes of Raveneau, Chablis still seems underpriced, but no doubt that will change.

H. Is there a particular wine or style that you would crack for the big wins?
J. You can’t go past Champagne, closely followed by pinot.

H. Do you have any special wine traditions?
J. Not really, but I do love it when wines are served blind. Not only is it great to see experts get it wrong, but it’s also great fun.

H. What’s the oldest wine you’ve tried?
J. It was a 1969 Best’s Great Western Pinot Meunier. It was still holding on, too!

H. What’s your best-ever bargain wine?
J. Hoddles Creek Estate, made by my good mates the d’Anna boys.

H. Your all-time favourite food and wine match?
J. Grower Champagne with oysters – there’s not much more you could want in a combo. Except perhaps for corn chips and pinot!

H. Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to wine or drinks?
J. Well, sometimes I might choose a few cans of Peroni Red over a couple of glasses of Champagne.

H. Is there a wine that isn’t great, but you love anyway?
J. After being involved in the winemaking process, I know how hard it is to make great wine. You can do everything right and even then you’re not guaranteed of success. So even if I try a wine that I don’t like or is not to my taste, I’ll still drink it and appreciate the effort it took to get that wine into the bottle and on the table in front of us.

H. Are there any wines you never used to like, but now love?
J. Plenty. When I first started drinking wine, I preferred the bigger styles like Barossa shiraz and didn’t fully understand the nuances of wines like pinot noir. Today, it’s the opposite. It’s the perfume, complexity and structure of pinot that I really love. While I still like drinking bigger styles, they’re not what I gravitate to on a regular basis. And if I do want to drink those styles, I save that for my mate Roughy [former Hawthorn teammate Jarryd Roughead], whose palate is still stuck in the dark ages!

H. Has there been a wine that’s taught you a lesson?
J. Any wine that makes you think teaches you a lesson. Wine is one big journey of learning and it’s by drinking bottles that challenge you that you learn the most. Probably my biggest recent lesson was a bottle of CNP Rayas at [Melbourne restaurant] France Soir. Who would have thought grenache could reach the quality levels that Rayas achieves? It taught me not to write off a variety.

This story first appeared in issue #48 of Halliday Magazine – current issue on sale now.