Meet the winemaker: Jim Chatto, Mount Pleasant Wines
Mount Pleasant Wines relatively new team member, Jim Chatto, this year became the vineyard’s fourth-ever chief winemaker since Maurice O’Shea established the winery back in 1921.
Joining from just down the road at Pepper Tree Wines, Jim brings with him a number of awards and exceptional passion for the purity of Hunter Valley wines.
Here, the very excited Wine Pig is lucky enough to find out what drives one of the region’s most loved winemakers.
Why did you decide to become a winemaker?
I started out in hospitality. The hours and thus lifestyle weren’t for me. However, it was through hospitality, I grew to love wine and the vitality of the folk involved. I was strong at science, yet fancied myself as an artist – winemaking kind of ticks both boxes.
What attracted you to the Hunter Valley wine region in particular?
I fell in love with the 1984 Lovedale Semillon tasted at university. I was keen to learn about such a unique style of wine.
Can you describe your winemaking style, and how it differs to your peers in the region?
I keep it simple, and don’t try to fight nature. Site and season make a great wine. The winemaker is there to guide it through the stages, and ultimately realise potential that was on the vine. I’m not sure this is particularly unique.
Which of your wines are you most proud of and why?
2014 Mount Pleasant Rosehill Vineyard 1965 Vines’ Shiraz. Possibly the best wine I will ever make.
What most surprises people about you or the wines you produce?
Might have to ask some ‘people’? Maybe that; I am pretty ‘down to earth’ about what I do and how I approach things; this is reflected in the wines I make.
What are you drinking now, and what are you cellaring?
It’s still pretty warm in the Hunter. I am mostly drinking fresh young whites and medium bodied reds. I am cellaring everything I can get from the 2014 in the Hunter Valley. It’s a once in a lifetime vintage that is guaranteed to reward cellaring.
If you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would that be?
1978 DRC La Tache, Oh and Comtes de Champagne from Taittinger :)
What is the most exciting thing coming up for both you and the business over the next 12 months?
The release of the Mount Pleasant 2014 Reds. Feedback so far from critics and consumers alike has been overwhelming.