Richard Healy is the Wine Director for Rockpool Dining Group in NSW and QLD. After working for a few years in Melbourne, Perth, Toronto (Canada) he has settled in Sydney and is currently torturing himself with an ongoing attempt at the Master Sommelier certification. In his spare time he likes to go to work.

Describe your wine list in a few short sentences.

I work with a few wines lists (and few super colleagues) that range from short, sharp lists - for example at Bar Patron a focus on the wines of the Iberian Peninsula, the Americas, Australia with a good hit of champagnes.

Then the Spice Temple list in Sydney is 100 wines geared to being paired with relatively spicy regional Chinese food; so lots of mid-weight reds, lighter bodied whites and a few off dry styles that go with the food.

Also the big list at Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney has about 3200 references and has something for everyone.

What do you love most about being a sommelier?

The constant evolution of the role and the comraderie within the industry. Also I get to drink really great wines and work really long hours.

What is your favourite wine you’ve ever drunk?

This is not a fair question as we taste so much and so many amazing bottles. I’ve had a few taste of mind blowing burgundies from 1978, tried a few wines from Bordeaux from 1982 recently and I also have been drinking through a bunch of late 1970’s ausleses from the Mosel recently. Truth be told I am currently seeking out a very memorable Mondeuse from the Savoie I tasted with the very talented Meira Harel in London a few years back (with her ne’er do well husband) to list at Spice Temple.

What’s the most exciting wine region in Australia right now and why?

The renaissance of Australian wine is well and truly happening and people need to be aware that as a country we a making some of the most exciting wines in the world currently. Of course South Australia, particularly the Adelaide Hills, has a hot bed of new producers sending out a super diverse and curious array of wines, Tasmania is doing great things, Canberra is killing it but quietly I think that the Great Southern of Western Australia is going to do some amazing things. With established vineyards and established producers from all sides, plus new guys like Express Wine Makers, Lowboi, l’enclos du Tertre and La Violetta are all great examples of the things coming out of the SXSW.

Any funny stories from service involving wine?

Just the standard stich up from a great mate who, when I was a complete rookie, asked me to serve a bottle of Jacquesson champagne to a table of very well dressed ladies who were celebrating and just about to go out for a big night on the town. My friend may have shaken the bottle 1000 (or more likely 3000) times and then asked me to serve it.

I, of course, managed to spray all four women in champagne as he watched with unadulterated joy. Fantastic fun for all…

What’s your wine glass of choice?

I have Riedel at home but if I feel like breaking something expensive I also have Zalto.

How can I get the best out of my sommelier in a restaurant?

Don’t be afraid of asking for what you want and be open about what you want to spend also. If you don’t know what you like to drink wine-wise, then maybe be open to them offering advice. 99% of sommeliers I know never, ever want to force their palates or preferences on to a guest and always have the guests best interest at heart. We genuinely want to make you happy and hopefully leave wanting to come back the next night.


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