Food and Drink
Posted by Duncan Wilcox
06. Dec, 2011
Adam Foster is not normal, but that’s great because if he was normal then his wines might be too, which would be a bloody shame.
Adam entered the wine world via the food door as a chef for a number of years, working with the likes of Jeremy Strode at Adelphi (now of Sydney Bistrode fame) and with Alla Wolf-Tasker in the early years of the Lake House in Daylesford. And if you are involved with great food then wine is never too far from your lips, which led him to a stint at Melbourne’s Walters Wine Bar & back to the Lakehouse as Food & Beverage manager.
And then he did what some normal folks would call insane: he gave it all up and became a cellar rat (an affectionate wine term) for Dave Powell at Torbreck in the Barossa Valley.
More fevered acts of irrationality followed with stints in France at the famed house of Chapoutier in the Rhone Valley — a Mecca for anyone who truly seeks the secrets of the Syrah (Shiraz) grape. He garnered his first French nickname ‘Monsieur Interrogation’ for the relentless questions he kept firing off, but was eventually saddled with the moniker L’Imposteur as an Aussie trying to be French, which became the name of his French made Grenache wine.
The birth of his Syrahmi label (a combination of Syrah and the French word for friend ‘ami’) came in 2004 when he was offered some fruit and he took the plunge. Adam says ‘I always knew I would make wine’ and he strives to make wine from a place of passion, a ‘wine of interest’ versus a primarily technically good wine. He believes in a ‘single piece of dirt, a single vineyard and a single grape’ and he follows the motto of the late French winemaker Jacques Reynaud of Chateau Rayas fame: ‘to make great wine, do not take much out of the earth’.
He adamantly claims he is not a winemaker, at least not a jack-of-all-trades one who attempts to understand all facets of wine from A to Z. To that end, he seeks out others who can do what he feels he does not do well. Hence, his great relationship with Mark Walpole of the Greenstone Vineyard who supplies him with his key ingredient – the best Heathcote grapes he can buy.
Despite accusations by his friends that he makes Syrahmi for the lifestyle, he says he does it because he simply loves doing it. At this stage, Syrahmi & L’Imposteur have an annual production that nudges the 1,000 case level, which suits him just fine – add in the 3,000 cases of Foster e Rocco wines (with sommelier mate Lincoln Riley) and he is a very busy boy.
And as much as Adam is barrel-deep into his wines, he keeps a hand in the food business with his Syrahmi salamis, which he started after the 2007 vintage. And like his wines, he is a wee bit unorthodox in his approach, marinating the meat in a dozen or more bottles of his Syrahmi wines which his small goods butcher partner thought was pure madness.
Well, now he knows Adam Foster …
Learn more about Adam Foster and his produce at adamfoster.com.au
All photos courtesy of Matt Whitehurst