Stuart Pym is a name that I was not familiar with, but I should have been. Stuart Pym is a Western Australian Winemaking Superstar!
Born in Perth, Western Australia, Stuart is a rare local figure in the multicultural Margaret River wine world. Pym’s winemaking odyssey has involved stints at prestigious brands, including Vasse Felix, Voyager Estate and Devil’s Lair. Behind the scenes of their day jobs, Stuart and his partner Janice McDonald took over a local vineyard and started two independent wine brands – Suckfizzle in 1997, and Stella Bella in 2000. Initially a weekend hobby, the Stella Bella offering quickly grew to being one of WA’s most popular wine brands. Pym transitioned to full time work with Stella Bella in 2008. Until recently at Stella Bella Pym has been responsible for all vineyard and winery operations, wine styles and quality. 2014 witnessed a change of direction, with a phasing out of Stella Bella and the pursuit of fresh independent opportunities with Naked Wines.
I have long been a fan of Stella Bella along with the other wineries that Stuart has been involved with! So I was fairly excited to try Stuart’s wines made in partnership with Naked Wines.
I also didn’t know much about Naked Wine, so it was great to learn a little more about them too….
Naked Wines is the world’s only crowd funded wine business that connects wine loving Angel investors with independent Australian winemakers. Luke Jecks, Naked Wines Managing Director, commented; “for over twenty years, Stuart Pym has made some of Margaret Rivers most renowned wines, it’s the consistency of the wines that make him a legend in the industry. He takes the same raw materials as everyone else in the area, but creates a caliber of wine that most can only dream of achieving. This is an extremely exciting new partnership for Naked Wines.”
Stuart Pym will be creating several different wines under the Naked Wines label, from quaffers to special occasion vinos. Two current products he has created are the Hearts and Bones Margaret River 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and the Hearts and Bones Margaret River Chardonnay 2012. A benefit of the crowd funding model is that while these wines may have historically sold for over $50, through Naked Wines they are available for $25!
Pym’s range for Naked Wines is called ‘Hearts and Bones’ – ‘hearts’ represents the passion and creativity that goes into the winemaking process, and ‘bones’ communicates the structures that facilitate it. Thus the brand symbolises the juxtaposition of mind versus matter – the creative brilliance of winemaking framed against the technical mastery of the trade.
I was sent a bottle of the Hearts and Bones Margaret River 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and also the Hearts and Bones Margaret River Chardonnay 2012. While I would never profess to be any sort of wine aficionado I am definitely a wine enthuasist and thought it would be fun to cook up some meals that would pair well with these wines.
First up was the Cab Sav so red meat was on the menu. I had recently watched an episode of French Food Safari and I got it in my head that I wanted to try making Beef Wellington. So I bought a nice piece of beef fillet and decided that I would prefer a mushroom duxelles instead of pate (never been a big pate fan, such a strong, distinct flavour). So I blitzed up some mushrooms along with salt, pepper and fresh thyme and a dash of olive oil. First up I seared the outside of the fillet and let it cool. I then took a piece of puff pastry, because while they might have made it on the show, I did not have days up my sleeve to be rolling pastry! So Pampas was going to have to do (and it does go alright). So I laid out my piece of pastry and layered on some slices of prosciutto, before spreading on the mushroom duxelles. I then placed the fillet on and did my best to wrap it all up like a little parcel. It took a bit of fiddling, but we got there and with a little brushed on egg wash it was time for the oven. We left it in there until the pastry had puffed and was a lovely golden brown. We served it with rustic mashed spud. I say rustic, but let this literally translate to “too lazy to peel them” and also broccolini and a little gravy that I thankfully had frozen in the freezer from a previous roast.
For a first go I was very pleased with how it worked out. Not quite as pretty as the show, but I think the flavours were there. And it did pair very nicely with the Hearts and Bones Margaret River 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m not a big red wine drinker, but I enjoyed it and found it pleasantly fruity and lighter on the tannins, which worked for me. GG who is a more seasoned drinker of all things vino noir also gave it two thumbs up. While easy drinking, it had some structure and was well matched with the beef.
The following evening it was time for the white. I had asked whether the Naked Wines team had any suggestions for what dish they would make to go with this chardonnay. They sent me a really tasty sounding slow cooked pork roast recipe, so that seemed like a winner. In their version it was cooked in a smoker, which I unfortunately don’t have, but I figured the oven would do the trick. I loosely followed their recipe but ended up going a little freestyle on the spice front. I was also really glad I decided to blitz up a whole fresh pineapple in the marinade to cover some of the heat. The marinade ended up being a fiery mix of bbq sauce, tomato sauce, smoked paprika, chilli flakes, a little cayenne, a splash of worcestershire sauce and the pineapple. I lathered a pork shoulder with this mixture and popped it into a 120 degree oven for like 8 hours.
The meat did shred apart nicely after this quality time in the temperate oven. We had it with red cabbage, coriander and lime slaw in wheat tortillas. The bold flavours of the pork dish went well with the Hearts and Bones Margaret River Chardonnay 2012. It was quite a classic Margaret River style chardonnay with enough oakiness to keep me happy. I am mad for a chardonnay with some depth and this spicy dish really needed it. Was lovely to have a glass of the Hearts and Bones chardy in hand 🙂
So we’d liked both wines and enjoyed the opportunity for a weekend of at home, do it yourself food and wine tasting. Thank you to Naked Wines for being our weekend’s wine sponsor 🙂 and well done to Stuart Pym on this great new range.
If you’d like to try these wines, then Naked Wines had kindly provided me with a special link, found here that will give you $50 off a case. Lovely! (Please note there is a minimum of 6 bottles required for this special. A great opportunity to try some quality Margaret River wines at an exceptionally reasonable price.
Cheers to Naked Wines 🙂