DIRECTOR – WINE & STEAK BRANDS
As a career sommelier and ‘wine guy’ Chris has worked at some of the most respected restaurants in Australia, and has become one of Australia’s renowned wine communicators through his work in restaurants, media and wine education.
In 2006 Chris was named the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Sommelier of the Year, regarded as one of his professions highest accolades. In 2006 he was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial held annually in the Hunter Valley, which legendary wine writer James Halliday refers to as the “most exclusive wine school in the world”.
The same year Chris completed the Advanced Wine assessment course at Roseworthy Agricultural College paving the way for him to work as a Judge on the Australian Wine Show circuit where he has worked at a regional and national level. For a number of years Chris also served on the judging panel for the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Wine List of the Year award and Sommelier of the Year award.
In 2007 Chris took a break from the restaurant world to work with renowned wine personality Stuart Gregor at Liquid Ideas, a public relations company specialising in wine, travel and leisure and in 2008 Chris joined the team at Pernod Ricard Australia as their first National Wine Ambassador and later became Premium Wine Brands’ Global Wine Ambassador in 2011. His role was as a representative of Australian wines to both media and trade internationally.
Chris returned to work with mentor Guillaume Brahimi at Guillaume at Bennelong as group head sommelier in 2013 to work across his three restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. In 2015 he was appointed as Wine Director for The Keystone Group and now works across the group’s 25 venues and is responsible for growth and creative direction for one of Australia’s largest on premise wine programs.
You can follow Chris on instagram @thewinebite
SENIOR HEAD CHEF – HOTELS & BARS
Our Senior Head Chef, Sam Bull came from humble beginnings in Newcastle, fishing for hair-tail and river eel, and picking veggies from his grandma’s backyard.
With a natural love of food, he started his chef apprenticeship with Jarrod Ingosol, Tony Pappas at Bayswater Brasserie in Kings X and completed it under Paul Eason at Centennial Hotel in Woollahra.
He got married, moved to Melbourne and opened GAS, which in turn led to a Sous Chef position back in Sydney at the famous Icebergs restaurant. He was soon after appointed as Head Chef at North Bondi Italian in 2011 where he led that venue through its peak.
He then joined The Keystone Group family as Head Chef and launched The Stables Sydney, a private Member’s club at Royal Randwick Racecourse. After a few seasons there, Sam took over the kitchen at The Winery in Surry Hills and put his signature flavours into the menu while keeping some of the beloved classics.
He has now come full circle and is back in the Cross putting a whole lot of love into the GAZEBO wine garden, taking inspiration from his career and a love for great product done simple.
He says about the new Gazebo menu:
“It will give you plenty of options to do your own food matching to your wine, no matter what the occasion is. It works from lunch to dinner to late into the night, from sit down or nibbles to share – it has it all – its not tricky but quality products that speak for themselves. You can build your own cheese board or select a single serve of your favourite cheese. Smash a large main or walk in and order the feast menu.
I hope people come back to get through the whole menu as it is impossible to get through it in one sitting. Trust me as we have tried!!!”
You can follow Sam on instagram
SECRETS OF THE SOMMELIER
Chris Morrison, Wine Director, The Keystone Group
Find out more about Chris here
Follow Chris on Instagram @thewinebite
Most wine is made today to be drunk young. The idea of ‘collecting ‘wine is deflected by new wine drinkers seeking a ‘hit’ of sweetness and alcohol. Growth in both diversity and quality of food and dining has led food and restaurant lovers to reassess what constitutes ‘quality’ in wine. The characters in wine they value include savouriness, acidity, less oak, less sweetness and are tastes and textures that are not only more compatible with food but are also incredibly responsive and easy to modify with oxygen.
Most of the history of decanting involved separating a wine from sediment but with modern winemaking practice and wine consumers seeking more complexity and texture in flavour and aroma, more of the rough parts of wine like skins, stalks and lees are left in contact with a wine for longer periods and filtered out prior to bottling, which is why decanting’s real purpose is to expose a wine to oxygen in a rapid manner and to allow these hidden nuggets of texture and taste to reveal themselves. I like a decanter with a narrow neck and wider base which comfortably fits in the palm of my hand. Remember the wider the base, the more of the wine is exposed to air. This can accelerate the effects that oxygen will have on the wine. All wines benefit from decanting. Be they sparkling, white, pink, orange or red.
‘Lees’ or dead yeast cells are also used to add character and texture to wines. When yeasts finish their job of converting sugar into alcohol (alcoholic fermentation is Sugar + Yeast = Heat, Co2 and alcohol) the dead yeast cells fall to the bottom of the vessel in which the fermentation took place. It could be an oak barrel, a stainless steel tank or even the wine bottle itself. As they accumulate the take the form of a milky substance known as ‘lees’. Lees have become a handy tool for winemakers looking to add texture, mouth feel and complexity without have to risk overdosing a wine on oak. The amount of lees character in a wine will largely depend on the amount of time the wine spends in contact with the yeast lees prior to final bottling, and how often you stir the lees or agitating the sediment, turning the wine cloudy for a brief moment but in doing so imparts more lees character on the wine itself. Lees are also an anti-oxidant and help preserve wines freshness during its maturation phase. This is why I love lees in wine; they add structure and texture without the need to add oak and it’s a natural part of the winemaking process.
TIP ‘Back lighting’ is a tool you can use as a ‘safety’ for sediment when decanting. Pouring a wine into a decanter with the neck of the bottle hovering over a lit candle or any direct light helps you catch any bits and pieces that may get into your glass.
TIP Decanting can act like a flashlight on wine faults. If you think there is potential fault with a wine in the form of an unpleasant aroma, taste or texture, exposing the wine to oxygen by decanting will reveal the character, good or bad, quicker than if simply tasting in it a glass.
TIP How many times have you heard someone say ‘I will just open it to let it breathe’. The only part of the wine exposed to oxygen is about the size of a small coin. It’s like asking someone to breathe through a straw. You need to get the whole wine exposed to air, decanting does the trick.