Drinking Victoria: Dorian Guillon and Carlos Simoes Santos

Published on 29 June 2022

Photo: Master Sommeliers Dorian Guillon and Carlos Simoes Santos.

Your guide to what’s in the glass from the people in the trade.

There are sommeliers, and then there are Master Sommeliers: those who have achieved the title through the most exacting test of wine service knowledge. Carlos Simoes Santos and Dorian Guillon have both earned this highly esteemed title, a feat that fewer than 300 people have achieved worldwide. Both hailing from parts of Europe that are famous for their vineyards – Simoes Santos from Portugal and Guillon from the Loire Valley – these two gents have wine in their veins. They’ve spent their careers working the floors of Michelin-starred restaurants around the globe, and it was during their time together at Vue de Monde that the pair hatched plans for their latest endeavour, My Sommeliers Wine Club. This monthly wine subscription service lets you harness this dynamic duo's expertise and brings the world’s best small-production wines to your doorstep. Here Simoes Santos and Guillon let us know what they think is drinking well in Victoria. 

The last delicious thing I drank was...
Dorian Guillon: a 2021 Cooper Pinot Meunier from Henty. Made by Josh Cooper and my good friend and fellow Master Sommelier, Sebastian Crowther. I love the relationship that western Victoria has had over the years with pinot meunier; it’s unique, I remembered very well the first time I tried the Old Vine pinot meunier from Best’s, I was blown away at how well those wines could age and the complexity and finesse that came out of it. For their first vintage, Josh and Seb made an impressive wine that keeps you coming back: subtle and perfumed with a lovely purity on the nose. The bottle didn’t last long.

The Victorian spirit I’m loving most right now is…
Carlos Simoes Santos:
It’s not a spirit but I will have to mention the fantastic vermouths of Castagna in Beechworth. I love them both, the dry and the bianco. They’re made by Adam Castagna, Julian Castagna’s son, with more than 30 botanicals, which makes them very fragrant, with the right amount of bitterness and spice.

As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Victoria is…
DG: There’s so many great options but if I have to choose one, it has to be France-Soir. It always delivers a great meal and service, it’s old fashioned and the wine list is varied and well-priced.

My favourite place to buy booze is…
CSS: Of course, I’ll have to mention our own online wine shop at MS Wine Club. We’re working hard on our selection and are obsessive over small producers that deliver tremendous quality. The selection is growing and evolving constantly. 

When someone hands me a wine list in a restaurant…
 I order a drink straight away, most likely a glass of Champagne. I’ll usually stop talking and become unsociable (a bad habit, I know). More seriously, I will generally ask the somm to pick something for the table.

I’d love to see us making more...
apple and pear spirits. We are making a ton of great cider here in Victoria and have great quality in the fruit we produce. It feels like a logical next step to start distilling our amazing apples and pears.

My guilty pleasure in the fridge is…
I love sour beers and I always have some in my fridge, but my guilty pleasure is an apricot liqueur from Burgundy – L’Apricot de Jean-Marc Roulot. It takes me back to my home country; it’s fantastic, with the right amount of intensity and sweetness.

The best or most important change to the way we drink in Victoria in recent years has been…
Melbourne was the most locked-down city in the world, which offered plenty of time for people to educate themselves about wine. It feels like more people are interested in exploring and trying new varieties and wines from regions they’ve never heard of before. Whether it’s Australia or from other wine regions around the world, it’s an exciting time to be a drinker.

For me, the most inspiring person in the Victorian drinks world is… 
DG: There are a lot that deserve to be mentioned, but I will always remember my first encounter with Phillip Jones from Bass Philip. I was in Australia for just a few months and was eager to discover new wines. I'd heard of Phillip Jones but never tried the wines and never met the man himself. From my first visit, the winery just blew my mind. The idea that you could make wine of that quality in the middle of nowhere in the farmland of Gippsland, combined with the eccentric and genius character of Mr Jones himself. From the first sip I was hooked and it totally changed my mind as to what I should expect to find in the way I look at Australia's wines in general.

My Sommeliers Wine Club, ms-wineclub.com

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