Brix and Mortar

Cork Wine Cafe owners Michelle and Travis Tausend now have every point of the wine industry covered when it comes to boutique biodynamic wines.

With two new ventures, Cork Wine Cafe owners Michelle and Travis Tausend now have every point of the wine industry covered when it comes to boutique biodynamic wines. In late October, Michelle and Travis launched their online wine store Brix, which, like their Gouger Street wine cafe Cork, focusses on sustainable wines from small producers from South Australia and beyond. Aside from Brix, the couple has entered the wine importing game, forming Høst with former Adelaidean James Spreadbury (NOMA’s restaurant manager) to import small European wines to Australia. These ventures along with Cork – and Travis’ own wine label TT Wines – mean the Tausends are now a one-stop shop when it comes to boutique wines in South Australia and Australia. With Brix, the couple taste and approve all the wines they sell. Michelle writes the tasting notes while Travis takes the bottle shots. If they don’t like it, they don’t sell it. “We 100 percent believe in every single wine on there,” Travis says. “You have to do that. I don’t know another way. We 100 percent believe in the people [the winemakers] and what they’re trying to do. It becomes easy after that. You get a feeling in your gut and you go, ‘Let’s put this wine on because it’s delicious and these people have got a great story to tell’.” The couple plans to run their Gouger St wine cafe Cork and their online store Brix side-by-side. “There hasn’t been too much thought whether one would be the focus over the other,” Travis says. “We just want more people to drink delicious wines. Cork only has 30-odd seats available at any give time, there’s a limited amount of people that can taste these sorts of wine. So, we thought, ‘Let’s offer them online, so people can drink them in their homes’. There are differences to the lists. There are some things you can get here [Cork] that you can’t get online, so one’s not taking away from the other.” Brix focuses on small producers who make wines that fall under the grey area of sustainable or natural wines (basically wines with minimal intervention), as well as sherries and tonic syrups. Local wine labels sold through Brix include Ochota Barrels, Switch Wines, Jauma, Frederick Stevenson and this year’s Hot 100 SA Wines winner The Gentle Folk. “We’ve got a lot of people who order from here because a lot of our wines are South Australian, as we know the producers well,” Michelle says. “We work with them a lot; we go and visit them and they come and drink here [Cork], so we have started off a bit South Australian-heavy and I think that’s why we’ve got a lot of local people who are buying from us because they want to support local.” “Some of the most exciting wines in Australia are coming out of South Australia right now,” Travis says. “Our whole thing is to find small producers who are doing exciting things, and it just so happens that a lot of them are in this state right now. Things like the Hot 100 proved that with Gareth [Belton, The Gentle Folk] winning [the Hot 100], but beyond that you’ve got Anton van Klopper from Lucy Margaux, you’ve got Ochota Barrels, you’ve got James Erskine [Jauma], Vanessa Altmann [Switch Wines] – you can just reel the names off. We’re an online store but we have the access to meet all these guys and get allocations that maybe other places can’t get. That’s a good thingfor these guys to get exposure throughout Australia.” Could an online venture such as Brix happened five years ago? “A few things have happened that have allowed it to come about,” Travis says. “The small producer movement, in terms of natural wine, across the world has been pretty prolific in the last 18 months, and Paris before then. People are savvier in terms of what they choose to drink. They are aware of what’s in beverages as much as food. So that’s all helped. People are also getting more comfortable with internet purchases.” To get the best wines from overseas to match the quality of their local wines, they occasionally visit producers in South Africa and France and they have close relationships with selected importers. “The importers are quite small,” Michelle says. “They don’t have huge portfolios. They are not taking over the world, they are just bringing over a few people they believe in and we are just buying the wines and passing on their stories.” Then there’s Høst, their wine importing business with James Spreadbury, who works at Copenhagen’s NOMA (which reclaimed the top spot in this year’s annual The World’s 50 Best Restaurants). “At the moment we’ve got two producers – Alexandre Jouveaux and Andrea Calek. Both of these producers have never been imported and are exclusively imported by us. These wines are super rare, even in France, and are very difficult to come by. We just thought, ‘Well, we buy a lot from importers, let’s just import some ourselves’, which, may I say, renders you completely broke for a long period of time but we are getting there, so it’s exciting. We’ve got another new producer coming on the next shipment and anther two coming on the shipment after that. It’s exciting to import and not only have the wines in your bar, but also available on your online store and selling to restaurants around Australia.” “We’re doing every point,” Michelle says. “Travis makes it. We import it. We retail it and we sell it at the bar. It’s great fun.” brixwinestore.com.au corkwinecafe.com.au hostwineimports.com.au

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