Sorry Thanks I Love You
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Introducing Master Sommelier Sebastian Crowther for Sorry Thanks I Love You

Introducing Master Sommelier Sebastian Crowther for Sorry Thanks I Love You

A couple of weeks ago he was having lunch with Heston Blumenthal and Alice Waters at a Tourism Australia event at MONA, this weekend he was at the Royal National Park having a beach session with his mates.

For someone who holds one of the most coveted positions in the industry, a prestigious qualification that marks him as a world-renowned expert, and a directorship in his own importing company, 29 year old Master Sommelier Sebastian Crowther is pretty chilled out. 

One of only three Australians to hold the Master Sommelier title, Sebastian’s full time gig is as Head Sommelier at Rockpool, Sydney’s award-winning, hatted restaurant that has carefully maintained its reputation as having the wine list of all wine lists for the past 20 years.

But he’s also a teacher, an importer, an ambassador for the industry and, most recently, private adviser for Sorry Thanks I Love You.

Today we’re launching our new wine range, which consists of a rotating series of small batch wines chosen exclusively for us by Sebastian Crowther.  We’re taking the same approach to our wine as we do to the rest of our range – so the emphasis is on high quality, unique wines with an interesting story to tell.

For Seb, this means sourcing artisanal wines from emerging vineyards around the world, like Martin and Anna Arndorfer’s ‘Vorgeschmack’ – made from a mix of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling grown on the banks of the Danube in Austria.

“Martin and Anna Arndorfer are producing some of the most exciting wine in Austria and although Gruner Veltliner, the main grape used in this wine, is not on everyone’s radar, it will be soon,” says Seb. 

Like all true tragics, Sebastian’s enthusiasm for his field is devoid of all wanky-ness. 

“This is a dry wine with energy. It gives you energy to drink,” he says. “These wines are refreshing and lively - and I guess that is how they are as people too.”

Seb says that Martin and Anna aren’t terribly vocal about the fact that they farm using organic practices – mainly because they couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.

Similarly, the viticulturalist at Crawford River in Victoria’s Western Districts, Belinda Thomson, is quietly introducing biodynamic practices into her family’s wine making. 

“Crawford River has a unique soil profile and is affected by its proximity to the Southern Ocean, which makes this a cool climate wine growing region, perfect for growing grapes,” says Seb.

The Thomsons planted vines on their sheep and cattle station in 1975 and, in Seb’s opinion, have been producing some of the great wine in Australia ever since. 

This wine has everything you would want from the classic blend of Cabernet and Merlot,” says Seb. “Rich, ripe blackcurrant and cassis just from the glass with a hint of spice and eucalyptus.”

Seb’s first true exposure to wine and winemaking was at a vineyard outside of Canberra ten years ago, then as a bartender working in Sydney. When a job came up in the bar’s wine team, Sebastian took it.

“I started a year long sommelier course and while doing this I landed a job as an Assistant Sommelier at the Shangri La Hotel,” says Seb. “That year was very exciting for me - I was on a journey and had found something I truly loved.”

A road trip around every major (and some minor) wine regions France followed, including a stint working a vintage in Domaine de la Baume.  When he came home, Sebastian was snapped up by the Merivale group and mentored by none other than Franck Moreau – the first ever Australian Master Sommelier.  It was then that he began what would become five solid years of study, training and tasting in order to qualify for the title himself.

In the mean time, Seb landed a job at The Royal Mail Hotel in regional Dunkeld at the foot of the Grampians national park, where he was awarded the Judy Hirst award for Australia’s wine list of the year. 

“We had a great team, with staff from all over the world, an incredible environment for learning and a place to create an amazing experience for our guests,” says Seb.

“Our weekends, Monday, Tuesdays were spent either driving to Melbourne to eat and drink or going to each others house to have lavish dinners and cook ups.”

All the while, Seb was preparing for his Master Sommelier course.  The MS exams are notoriously difficult and have a pass rate of less than ten percent.  Among other things, students are required to identify six different wines from around the world in a blind 25 minute tasting.  

In 2013, Seb flew to London to undertake the intense four-stage course and sit the exams. He passed first try and became a MS at the tender age of 29.

While we only have limited quantities available of our first two wines, we’re probably in the best possible hands to find some more of the best (though perhaps least known) wine in the world. 

Our range will rotate according to demand, season and whim.  The best thing is, neither Seb, nor we, quite know what’s coming next.

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Crawford River’s 2009 Cabernet Merlot is available here.  

Martin and Anna Arndorfer’s Vorgeschmack is available here. 

With help from Rockpool.