Nebbiolo, Damien Ringrose & the Market Wine Store

Nebbiolo, Damien Ringrose & the Market Wine Store

Damien Ringrose - Market Wine Store

Residents of the Sunshine Coast are blessed with more than just sun, sand and a fabulous lifestyle; they are also the beneficiaries of a burgeoning restaurant scene as new venues grace the local dining landscape on almost a monthly basis. From the glamour of Noosa to the chic of Caloundra, there’s a hospitality venue for every taste and budget.

And while there are plenty of big names in the booming industry, you’d have been living under a rock if the name “Tony Kelly” was unfamiliar or if you hadn’t been to at least one of his venues.  From the Eudlo General Store to the uber popular Riceboi or Spero at the Mooloolaba Wharf, to the Asian inspired Giddy Geisha, the funky Market Bistro or his latest incursion into Italian cuisine, Bocca Italian on the Bokarina beachside. Tony’s eating houses criss-cross the Coast and cover almost every imaginable price point and cuisine. It may be the food that fills the seats, but it’s the wine lists that seal the deal and bring diners back. And with that in mind, earlier this year Tony appointed a General Manager of Wine to craft the artisan cartes des vins across the group – including the Market Wine Store at Maroochydore.

I reckon he’s probably got the best job in the region, but the new “Grand Poobah” of all things wine, Damien Ringrose, takes it all in his stride. Damien was born into the wine game, as his father was a salesman for Samuel Smith & Sons and introduced Damien to wine from an early age. Damien started working in the industry straight out of school with his first gig being one as cellarman at the then top Brisbane restaurant, Michaels Riverside.  After cutting his teeth in venues around Brisbane, Damien left to pursue wine at a higher level, working in the Barossa for Peter Lehmann Wines and then heading to Europe to work in restaurants around Dublin and London. Once back in Australia, Damien started his sales career with the iconic Tyrrells of the Hunter Valley until moving on to bigger and better roles in the industry.

A Sunshine Coast resident since 2016, Damien has brought with him a wealth of knowledge on wines from both old and new world regions – he’s always keen to talk all things oenology (though I reckon that occasionally he’s unsure of when to stop!).  When I caught up with him recently, he confessed to currently being infatuated with Nebbiolo as his favourite style – a grape which put Piedmont and their Barolo on the vinicultural map. It’s a style that has taken the world by storm but this Italian icon usually sells at a lofty price tag of well over $100 a bottle though, according to Damien, there are some terrific Australian examples that sell at a fraction of the Barolo price. He lists the 2019 Saturnus Nebbiolo from Longview as one of his picks, “think liquorice and dark cherry with nuances of violets and roses. Spicy and delicious!”. And it certainly was when I tried it earlier this year with its maker, Peter Saturno.

The other value buy, according to Damien, is the Amato Vino Nebbiolo from Margaret River. “It’s a little more restrained with bright red fruits and a savoury spiciness. Violets, rhubarb and liquorice. Great acidity that makes it perfect with food”, he says. Having tried both, I couldn’t say that one was better than the other. The Saturnus will set you back about $50 a bottle, while the 2021 edition of the Amato is perhaps closer to $55. I love the brightness of both wines, and their spice-laden conclusion!  Both are outstanding wines to serve with Italian fare and you’ll find them at the Market Wine Store at Maroochydore or at Tony’s latest venture, Bocca Italian at Bokarina Beach.

Nebbiolo might not be a varietal that frequently graces our dining room tables, but with more and more Australian examples of the style appearing on the bottle shop shelves, Damien’s favourite grape will surely soon become another household name.

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