Through a glass lightly


I don't imagine many wineries have a disco ball hanging over the bottling line. But Chris Derrez and Lucy Maddox of Madrez Wine Services are like that. They hold discos for their daughter in the barrel room, they love dress up parties and they are two of the best winemakers around. 

We used to be neighbours with these guys and over the years have enjoyed some really memorable meals at their table. Since the family moved a couple of years ago, to the foot of Mt Canobolas, we, regrettably, see them somewhat less. So any chance to catch up is welcome. 

The Madrez family and their winemaking business has settled itself comfortably into an old orchard and packing shed on Canobolas Road; their comfy, funky house is just metres from the winery and I love the whole set up. Lucy and recently met at the winery over tea and coconut cake (recipe below) and because I was too busy eating and taking photos to take notes, we followed up with a little e-interview. Here t'is!

Lucy, can you tell me a little bit about what you guys do here at Madrez Wine Services?

Madrez Wine Services is a contract winemaking and packaging facility.  Chris & I like to think of ourselves as ghost writers for the wine industry.  Our clients have vineyards, cellar doors and wine brands, we fill the gap, making and bottling the wines they desire from their grapes.  We also make a range of fruit wines and ciders for our clients.  We just love to make wine. 

Can you give me a bit of your background? How you came to be a winemaker?

Chris is a crazy Burgundian, he was born with cool climate winemaking in his blood.  I studied Chemistry but fell in love with the magical transition grapes to wine whilst making bucket sized batches of wine from viticulture trials for the Department of Agriculture in WA.  I studied winemaking at Roseworthy, then set out to travel and make wine.

You've made wine all over the world, why settle and set up shop in Orange?

When Chris & I left Switzerland in 2001 we were looking for an Australian home cool enough to make the delicate Northern European wine styles we love (think Alsace, Burgundy, Champagne), somewhere still a little wild frontier, somewhere with a lot of winemaking potential.

What do you love about it? What kinds of wines do you particularly love making?

What do I love about wine?  Grapes are a snap shot of the conditions they grow in, you only get the one chance to make the wine of that particular time and place.  I particularly like Nebbiolo.  It was created to vex winemakers with its delicate perfume and massive tannins.  And I love making sparkling wine and delicate Riesling and long lived Chardonnays and port and …

Your home and winery is in one of my favourite parts of NSW, the foot of Mt Canobolas in the Nashdale valley, can you tell me what you love about living here?

Proper seasons - autumn leaves, real snow, apple blossom and cherries like Christmas decorations.  The Towac Valley is a beautiful place. The clouds, the mist, the mountain.  It’s a little bit of Europe.

Your local tips? Favourite places to eat, drink and play in your neck of the woods?

Walking to Fiorini’s restaurant for  lunch, bottle of wine in hand, when the weather is frosty.  Meeting friends to share cake and coffee at Lake Canobolas or walking the loop around the Lake when the autumn leaves are falling.  The view from the Pinnacle …

And finally, the one wine you make for yourselves (at this stage!) is the Sparkling of Orange - can you describe this one for us? And what do you think is the best way to enjoy your bubbles this Christmas!?

Never say no to a glass of bubbles! My New Year’s resolution was to drink more Sparkling wine, so Chris made one!

Chris loves to serve it as an aperitif with a dash of crème d cassis, Kir Royal, how very Burgundian of him!  The black currants will be ripe shortly.  So to make the crème d cassis – pick your black currants and crush them lightly just to burst the berries.  Put them into a large glass jar and cover with Vodka.  Seal, shake to mix and place in a cool dark place for a month. Strain though a fine sieve twice and add as much sugar as liquid. Place a teaspoon of crème d cassis in the bottom of a flute and top with sparkling wine.

Lucy's CWA special (coconut cake) 

Lucy is a fantastic baker and doesn't let a small thing like vintage or stop her from making something for morning tea on most days. This is her go-to recipe for a quick treat and actually, having tasted and tried it myself - think it might be mine too. This is the easiest and quickest recipe I've ever posted here and yes, it's delicious!

1 cup SR flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup milk
1 egg
½ cup sugar

Preheat oven to 180c and line a loaf tin with baking paper. Mix everything together (mixture will be runny), then pour into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes.

Ice with icing sugar and lemon or lime juice to your preferred drizzle consistency. So easy, never fail.


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