Imported by the wonderful husband and wife team Jane Lopes and Jon Ross. Jane was the opening sommelier of Catbird Seat in Nashville, as well as working at Violet Hour in Chicago and Eleven Madison Park in New York. In 2018, Jane passed the Master Sommelier exam, becoming one of only 35 women in the world to do so. Her first book, an educational and personal guide to the world of wine, was published in September of 2019. Jon was a member of the award-winning wine team at Eleven Madison Park starting in 2012, and held the title of Head Sommelier from 2015. After moving to Australia, he took on the role of Beverage Director for the premium restaurants of the world-renowned Rockpool Group. In 2017, Jon passed the prestigious Master Sommelier exam.
After working as sommeliers in New York, Jane and Jon moved to Australia and worked at several prestigious restaurants before deciding to move back to the United States and start Legend Imports, which specializes in importing and representing small, high quality, artisanal Australian wines to the United States. We recently sat down and tasted with Jane and were blown away by the quality and thoughtfulness of all of the wines represented in their portfolio.
Patrick Sullivan has often been aligned with the natural wine movement in Australia, a label he feels doesn’t get to the heart of his philosophy. Patrick studied viticulture in school, rather than oenology. The point was always to focus on the fruit. “Minimal intervention is in the eye of the beholder,” he says. “What I try and do is be as honest as I can to the vineyard… So that’s maximum intervention in the vineyard.
Pruning, leaf thinning, being out in the vineyard all the time… What I’m trying to do is be as reflective of the site as possible at that time and at that place.”
Out of school, Patrick worked with the iconic viticulturalist Stuart Proud at Thousand Candles in the Yarra Valley, who instilled in Patrick his fastidious approach toward the vineyard. At Thousand Candles, Patrick met Bill Downie, who had at that point already become one of the most prominent winemakers in Australia. When a property near Bill’s place opened up in 2016, Patrick and his wife Megan jumped on the opportunity, and the three of them (along with Bill’s accomplished cheesemaking wife Rachel) have been sharing resources and building the bounty of their land ever since.
The land itself is stunning: little rivers and creeks carve their way over the Strezleki ranges of basalt, sandstone, and volcanic soils. Bill and Patrick are out in their vineyards everyday. Patrick’s wines are a diverse set: the goal is always to express something unique about the land. Sometimes this takes form in a clean, lithe single-site chardonnay. Sometimes it’s a skin contact blend of sauvignon blanc, semillon, and cabernet sauvignon, or a light, juicy co-fermented pinot gris and cabernet franc. The only thing ever added is a small amount of sulfur. Yes,” he says, “what I do fits the bill of what people say is natural. But really all I want to do is make really good wine."