Meet James Boden, National Wine Centre Wine Coordinator, resident wine expert and Champagne aficionado.
Based in the Barossa, James makes the hefty commute every day to Adelaide for his job, a decision he says is all about passion –for his local community, and for the South Aussie wine industry.
We had a chat to James ahead of this weekend’s Champagne Fest at the National Wine Centre, about all that bubbles, fizzes and sparkles and that all-important France-Australia rivalry. Because however you say it – fizz, bubbles or champers – it’s reason for celebration.
“We have so much good food that goes with Champagne and always lots to celebrate living in SA!”
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I have been in the wine industry for about eight years and prior to that I was a middle-distance runner. It is a great balance of drinking wine and then running it off but it keeps me on my toes.
Can you tell us about your role at the Wine Centre now?
I am the Wine Coordinator which involves all things wine, from education and hosting to sourcing the best wines across all of Australia and making our functions packages representative of what people want for their special event.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
Having customers come in and discover a wine for the first time and then instantly love it.
What keeps you living in the Barossa?
Everything! The markets, the food and wine and coming home to peace and quiet with the ability to sit outside and just take it all in.
What do you love about the Barossa?
The small things from the amazing bakeries and butchers that have the German heritage and seeing all the amazing family-owned wineries tell their stories!
What are your thoughts on the Australian sparkling wine industry?
Believe it or not, some parts of Australia are cold and suit Sparkling wine. We now have amazing winemakers aiming to produce high-quality Sparkling wine in the Adelaide Hills, Tasmania and other cool climate regions. It helps that people are happy to drink it too.
What are your thoughts on the naming controversy – Champagne vs. Sparkling wine?
Australians are pretty relaxed and call Sparkling wine Champagne, champers, fizz etc…so we can sometimes paint all sparkling wine with the same brush. I think most Australians only think ‘premium’ with a couple of big brands and then the rest are the same. They need some education so they can venture outside of the ‘Mo-ey’.
What are your favourite Champagnes or Sparkling wines?
Champagne – Agrapart et Fils Mineral – super dry, great with food and to share with friends and family.
Australian – Stefano Lubiana – a great, premium Australian sparkling wine that you can contemplate over but also enjoy for any occasion.
Who do you think is making exceptional South Aussie Sparkling?
Lambrook Estate has a fantastic top end Sparkling Wine with their Emerson Reserve Sparkling Pinot Noir. I think they are doing some great things out of the Adelaide Hills.
What makes a good Sparkling wine or Champagne in your opinion?
Character – it should display the region or style of the winemaker, just like any other wine.
Tell us about Champagne Fest?
A day to explore the world of Sparkling wine, eat great food and listen to some solid tunes. We have selected the wines for people to easily move out of their comfort zone but still find some wines that hopefully become their new favourites.
What are you most looking forward to?
Trying all the wines, obviously, and the masterclasses – we have a great panel with Kate (Deviation Road), Kerri (Wines by KT) and Jane (Honeymoon Vineyard) so it is going to be amazing!
What are your favourite South Australian sparklings? Or do you have a favourite French Champagne? Let us know in the comments.