Q&A with Halliday

In conversation with Justin Dry

By Halliday Promotion

17 Feb, 2022

Justin Dry co-founded online wine retailer Vinomofo in 2011, but wine has always been in his blood. Here, he tells us about some of the most exciting wines in his cellar, and what he's drinking in celebration of Open That Bottle Night (OTBN).

Justin Dry

H. How did you come to work in wine?
It’s in my DNA it seems, some of my relatives settled in the Barossa Valley and planted some of the early vines and since then many have worked in the industry. My immediate family are all pretty serious wine lovers too and it’s probably no surprise that by the time I was 18, I was completely in love. I went on to study wine marketing at Adelaide Uni before working in the industry, from wine shops to hosting tastings on behalf of wineries. I then had a small break from the industry in my late 20s, but soon returned to launch my first online wine business Qwoff in 2006. Over the next five years, I launched four online wine businesses, the last being Vinomofo in 2011 – which is what I’ve been working on ever since.

H. Tell us about some of the unique wines in your cellar.
JD. I have a lot of weird and wonderful wines in my cellar, along with the usual suspects – the collectable cult Aussie wines and Champagne, Burgundy and Barbaresco and Barolo – but the ones that are most special to me are those connected to people and moments in my life. I put aside 50 bottles of my wedding wines, so my wife Ash and I could open one every year on our anniversary. Over the first few years we have focused on the less age worthy wines and have left those that had plenty of life ahead of them for later... but I’m always super tempted to crack those too.  

H. Do you buy wine to enjoy now, or to cellar, why? 
JD. Both, but not many last in the cellar to be honest. 

H. Which wines will you be drinking to celebrate Open That Bottle Night?
JD. I literally love each of these wines, which makes it a bit hard to choose just one, but I do have a real soft spot for the secret deal Black Market Margaret River Cabernet Blend – so that'll probably be the one.

H. Who will you be sharing them with, and how will you be celebrating? 
JD. With a few close mates over dinner at our place. We might get the occasional envious glance from my amazing and very understanding pregnant wife.

H. What are your tips to opening a bottle that’s been awaiting that ‘someday’ date or occasion? 
JD. If it’s got a little age, stand it up for a few hours before opening so the sediment can settle to the bottom and then carefully pour into a decanter to separate it from the good stuff. If it’s younger, splash it around in a decanter before drinking to give it a bit of extra life.

H. What’s your process for serving a wine that’s been cellaring for a few years? 
JD. I love the whole ceremony or process of pulling out one of my big, beautiful Riedel decanters (I collect them) and then serving the wine in stunning glassware.  

H. Do you have any tips on knowing when bottles in the cellar are nearing their best? 
JD. Outside of reading recent reviews to see where they are sitting more broadly, I like to buy between three and six bottles of each wine so I can try them over time. And once mine have hit the delicious pocket, they are fair game.

H. What’s the most sentimental bottle in your cellar? 
JD. Outside of my wedding wines, I still have a bottle of the 1999 Clarendon Hills Liandra Mclaren Vale Shiraz, which was one of the first deals we ever did on Vinomofo. It became a regular feature during late night catch-ups with my two best mates, and so now it reminds me of these times which were a bunch of fun. 

H. When will you drink it? 
JD. Probably at our next ridiculously long lunch at T-Chow in Adelaide.

H. Which bottle in your cellar has the best story? Tell us about it.
JD. That’s a tough call, but maybe the 1998 Tyrrell's Vat 1 Hunter Semillon. Outside of it being the most awarded Australian white wine in history, it was also featured in one of the first episodes, “Vat 1 Vertical”, of an online wine show we created back in 2010 called Road to Vino. During the show we travelled around the country in a Kombi visiting wine regions, meeting great producers and tasting their wines. Lots of fun was had and great relationships built. This particular wine changed my world and introduced me to how incredible Hunter Valley semillon can be. 

H. What is the oldest wine in your cellar?
JD. Domaine Huet Le Mont Moelleux 1989.

H. What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing? 
JD. Oysters and chablis.

H. For those who are just starting to build their collection, which wines do you recommend they acquire first?
JD. A good rule of thumb is to stick to wines with varietal regional matches and a proven ability to age well, for example Clare Valley riesling or Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon.

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Top image credit: Vinomofo