If you were asked to describe the current Australian wine scene, you’d probably start thinking about how our country’s industry has gone in a really interesting direction in recent years. The monolithic, world-dominating mega wineries might still be out there, but for those who actually love drinking and exploring wines, it’s now all about the raw, the low-intervention, the quirky, and the unique… and Australia has no shortage of wineries and winemakers flying the flag for those values and approaches.

One of our favourite producers right now is Payten & Jones, a Yarra Valley operation run by old schoolmates Behn Payten and Troy Jones, with a bit of help from Behn’s dad every now and then. Their passion for winemaking and exploring different varietals is totally palpable (Behn recently stated in an interview that getting into winemaking was a bit like seeing a band live for the first time, after years of only listening to their records… and that’s a description we totally loved!), and they’ve built up a powerful reputation for massively characterful vino made with simple, direct, and terroir-driven methods.

Behn and Troy have always been keen to put across that, despite the fact they’re known for experimental wines with unusual varietals and blends, they’ll always primarily make wines aimed at being drunk and enjoyed among friends. They say they make the kind of wines they’d love to drink themselves… and that sense of friendliness and approachability really comes across in the bottle.

The fact that it’s often bolstered by an unusual flavour, and previously unexplored grape varietal, or a textural quality that makes you sit up and take notice is just a bonus their fans have come to really love. We could go on and on about how Yarra Valley’s unique soils and microclimates make this sort of experimentation possible, but the bottom line really is that Payten & Jones are riding the new wave of Australian winemaking, and are doing it with irresistible panache and passion. To that, we say: cheers lads, and keep up all the good work!

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