Wine Hunter

From Rugby to Wine: French Vine is Australia’s French wine curator

french winery with long driveway

In 2016, former Wallaby David Lyons and his wife Justine set out to make their vision a reality. Their aim? To bring a diverse and unique collection of France’s best luxury wines to Australia.

New luxury wine destination, French Vine brings a curation of unique French wines to Australia boasting some of France’s oldest wine houses to it’s most exciting young winemakers. With a focus on respect for the tradition and the environment, this brand has an eye for the future.

It was the five years the Lyons spent living in France that ignited the couple’s passion for wine.

“It was impossible not to be swept away by how passionate French people are about their wine.”

What’s more, the cultural significance of good wine immediately resonated with the family.

“We love that wine is central to most meals in France, savoured every day with family and friends and always accompanied by good food.”

On their return to Australia, the Lyons instinctively searched for their favourite bottles. What they found was that while French wine was certainly available, it lacked variety and was either high-end or supermarket quality. David and Justine seized this gap as an opportunity, and endeavoured to change the market by introducing the wines they fell in love with while in Paris which were new, exciting and affordable for Australian consumers. By showcasing their wines online in a user-friendly and contemporary space, the pair wanted to create a platform where French wine was easily accessible and understood.

“Often consumers are overwhelmed by the labelling of French wine or the pronunciation of the names. We felt that we could help with this disconnect through our website,” says David.

To consistently deliver quality wines, French Vine employ their own sommelier in France who is able to source the best drops and keep the Australian team up to date with new products and producers. David and Justine often travel back to France to discover and taste new wines they feel will work well in the Australian market, something which is important to them for building close and long-lasting relationships with winemakers.

“Having formed relationships with producers while living in France, it’s made it easier for us to access these often hard-to-reach winemakers.”

“We prefer to form long-term relationships with our producers, but we are always searching for new wines that offering something new.

“We strive to keep our curation of wines quite neat as we want customers to navigate around out site discovering new wines without getting lost,” shares David.

So, which bottle should you try first?

Leclerc Briant’s biodynamic Champagne. Image: Supplied

According to David, a bottle of Leclerc Briant’s biodynamic Champagne is a good place to start. “Their Brut Resérve has been so well received in this market and there has been a real shift in the way we drink Champagne. Now it’s recognised for the beautiful sparkling wine that it is and less as a wine reserved for a special occasion. Beautiful hand-crafted wines like this one should be enjoyed every day.”

The majority of French Vine bottles are priced between $20 – $80. Nevertheless, some of their more expensive offerings illuminate France’s most iconic wine-producing regions.

“We truly believe that these are some of the finest French wines in Australia at these price points, but we do also have more expensive wines from some of France’s most famous regions,” says David.

“For a special occasion, it is definitely worth splashing out to try something new. I suggest trying a bottle of La Bastide Saint Dominique Châteauneuf du Pape, a stunning red from the Rhone wine region.”

While we knew it would be tough, we asked French Vine which bottle they’d go for, if they had to choose one.

“This is a hard one, like choosing a favourite child. For Justine, a beautiful Chablis from Burgundy. Try Aegerter Chablis Vielles Vines. For myself, a limited-edition bottle of Leclerc Briant La Croisette biodynamic Champagne. Only 1000 bottles of this stunning Champagne are produced each year.”

And while you might think Wallaby fans are more accustomed to a schooner than a glass of red, you might be surprised by the connection. “Rugby and wine are very closely related all around the world. If you look at the main wine regions of France, South Africa, New Zealand or Argentina you will find that they are also the rugby heartlands of those countries,” says Dave.

To discover some of these quintessentially French wines, head to French Vine online.

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