Paul Grieco on the Next Big Thing

When Paul Grieco uncorks, people listen. I recently sat down with him, partner and wine director at restaurant Hearth, the four Terroir wine bars and the man behind the Summer of Riesling. I asked him one question: what’s the next “it” wine?

He warmed up by by clearing his throat, tipping his proverbial hat at the undiscovered wines of Portugal and Central Europe. But then he got rolling. Below are excerpts from our chat.

“Australia is the most exciting new world wine country on the planet.

“Earlier this year, I went to Izakaya Den, an incredible restaurant in Melbourne. They had fifty domestic wines from small producers on the list that I didn’t even recognize.

“Australia is fucking exciting. Old vines aren’t the guarantee: There are 80-odd wineries in Tasmania alone! The Yarra Valley is huge and dynamic can grow everything well. I would love to see Australia as the next big thing. Oh, and the most exciting grape? Chardonnay.

“Yes, there’s shite, and they ship it to us. For the small producers, we’re too big a country for them to deal with. What Australia needs is a Terry Theise, to take them by the hand and introduce them to America. There are importers who do a good job today but Terry is an evangelist: look what he did with Gruner Veltliner and the revival of Riesling. This person should focus on five US markets and target somms. Each group of sommms looks to differentiate themselves from the previous generation.

“We have access to so many wines here: There’s no excuse for having a bad wine list in NYC.”

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11 Responses to “Paul Grieco on the Next Big Thing”

  1. Very Interesting. Explains why I can never get into Aussie wines. Have found some decent and one or two very good ones, but never found enough to convince me that Australia can compete with Europe, South America or the USA.

  2. […] Paul Grieco on the Next Big Thing […]

  3. The landscape for Aussie wine is def changing in US. Just this week (in prep for our Next Chapter Aussie Wine event in SF), we were listing out new small producer brands that are coming into the US market. There is a growing collection of groovy, boutique brands that are finding homes with importers and testing out 1 or 2 key markets in US (NY & CA). A lot more diversity on offer and more coming over the next year+.

  4. I believe there are too many “followers” out there that because they have been “told” Australia makes XYZ style and told that Australian wines are not selling therefore I shouldn’t buy/sell the wines.

    Overall many (primarily bulk and South Australia) wines went after a globalized or God forbid “Americanized” palate, that is a fact. Winemakers/vignerons became complacent in their ways.

    That said the majority of the great classic wines have not changed. Great wines are produced everywhere in the world and poor wine is produced everywhere in the world.

    @Joeshico – Compete with is interesting what do you mean by that? I found that many consumers who consumed a fair amount of inexpensive Australian fruit-driven wines bought into the negativity toward Oz by many retailers and the press and the overnight rise of Argentina was coinciding with this trend. Interesting wines everywhere and nonsense the same.

  5. Good to see Paul recognizing what Australia has been doing so well for so long. It’s incredible to think that the excellence of the country’s viticulture and winemaking skills have been overlooked by so many in the trade in their rush to stereotype the country’s wines. It’s also good to finally see the end of the constant harping and bashing of the country’s wines. Such ignorance has frankly grated my grits…. for far too long.

  6. Try Paso Robles, CA wines for new exciting Rhone blends…white and red…innovative winemakers young and older

  7. It’s a continent…..lest anyone wonder if there might be something good there. Herd mentality in this case allows the discerning to find even greater value.

  8. […] love to see Australia as the next big thing. Oh, and the most exciting grape? Chardonnay.” Tyler Colman asks Paul Grieco to predict the next “it” […]

  9. Bravo. I’ve always found it ridiculous that I’m applauded for placing a Corton Charlemagne on the dinner table and questioned when a bottle of Giaconda is there.

    Hand made wines. Small batch. Old vines. From any country in the world, it’s a recipe for deliciousness.

    Trust yourself. Taste for yourself. Quit being lemmings.

    Great article Paul.

  10. […] strong currency does provide a significant obstacle to Australian estate wines becoming the Next Big Thing. Permalink | Comments (0) | | Australian wine This entry was posted on Tuesday, […]

  11. […] But in recent years at Hearth and the Terroirs, he has become known for putting together the fearsomely independent wine lists that serve as part drinks list, part manifesto, and part education, complete with punchy, page-long essays. The wines of the Jura, the wines of Chateau Musar in Lebanon and other food-friendly wines from off-the-beaten path dominate his lists. He’s so convinced of the virtues of sherry that he gives away free glasses before 7 PM at the Terroir wine bars. He was a key early adapter of keg wine/wine on tap. Late last year he told me that he thinks Australian wines will be the next big thing. […]


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