Jimmy Durante once warbled about seeing people in them, the Sammy Hagar led Van Halen belted out about what they were made of. Elvis Presley, Fleetwood Mac, The Moody Blues, Coldplay even Taylor Swift have sang about them.
Dreams, we all have them, some of us sit back and think about them, fantasise about following them. Others get up, work bloody hard and make those dreams happen.
Winemaker Nina Stocker falls very firmly into that latter category. About three years ago the extremely talented winemaker fulfilled her dream of having her own label and hasn’t looked back since.
Born and raised in a Flueh, a small town on the border of the Alsace wine region of Switzerland, it was her parents involvement in the local vineyards around her village that possibly paved the way, at the very least sparking an interest in her future career. When she was 7 her family packed up and moved to Australia, and the family involvement in winemaking increased. Her family worked in the city during the week and weekends were kept for setting up the new family hobby, Brave Goose Vineyard in Goulbourn.
Not that Nina ever thought those early life experiences would lead to a life in wine. She completed a bachelor of science as well as a bachelor of arts at Monash University. But it was the encouragement of her friends and family that convinced her to work a vintage with the very brilliant team at Wirra Wirra, learning the ins and outs of winemaking. That experience sparked her desire to take it further and led Nina into studying a postgrad diploma in Oenology.
Upon graduating, that desire to achieve her dreams burned even stronger, and wanting more practical experience she leaped at the opportunity to work unpaid at a family owned winery in Piedmont, Italy. Five months later she was back in Australia working at Giant Steps in the Yarra Valley, working her way up from cellar hand to assistant winemaker over the three years she was there. But it was while she was working in Portugal that she was approached about a move to New Zealand to make wines for Endeavour Vineyards, the owners of Catalina Sounds, Crowded House and the Nanny Goat Vineyard labels.
Again, following her dreams, Nina packed up and moved. Within her first year at Catalina Sounds, Nina was hitting her straps and created a bit of a stir when she walked away with the coveted sauvignon blanc trophy at the Air New Zealand wine awards with her 2009 Catalina Sounds Sauvignon Blanc. In fact I remember that when I first tried that vintage it made me rethink my views on NZ sauv blanc. No longer were they syrupy sweet passionfruit and gooseberries, this was a wine that wasn’t overbearing, but dry and nervy, with a citrus zing and a stony minerality to it.
Fast forward to 2013 and Nina, now back in Australia decided to once again follow her dreams and, along with friend and fellow winemaker Callie Jemmeson, set up their own boutique wine label “In Dreams” (along with making wine for “pacha mama”). There are two wines in the range a chardy and a pinot noir with some of the most striking labels I’ve seen on a bottle in a while.
Now, as mentioned, Nina has seen a winery or two over the years, but so too has Callie. Originally qualifying as a chef, the lure of the vines was so strong she is now studying winemaking at Charles Sturt University having worked at some A-list wineries in the meantime. In fact if you were to colour in the countries on a map that either of the two have worked in, it would start to look like a successful invasion plan. Collectively they worked in Australia’s Yarra Valley, France’s Rhone Valley, Italy’s Barolo and Emilia-Romagna, Portugal’s Alentejo, California and NZ to name a few. The fruit for the In Dreams wines are predominantly from low-yielding upper Yarra Valley vineyards, handpicked and small batch fermented, with the winemaking magic taking place in a micro winery in Yarra Glen.
The wines themselves are a great reflection of what Yarra Valley fruit can do, wines with elegance but show a restrained complexity, a great balance between acid, fruit and the oak work. They can be a little hard to find locally, best bet is your local independent bottleshop.
In Dreams Chardonnay 2013 – great fruit with a brilliant chalky dryness. Soft stone fruit, pear, spice on the nose. It’s got melon and ripe stone fruit with a great texture on the tongue and a striking minerality after it airs for a while. Interesting wine, really enjoyable too and usually a lot less than its $23.99 RRP.
In Dreams Pinot Noir 2013 – took a little time to open in the glass, will benefit from a quick decant if you want to start slurping away immediately. Cherry and plum fruit aromas and notes on the tongue with a nice chewy tannin finish. Tried this first a year ago and again recently, it’s really found itself in that time. Its complex without being complicated. RRP $26