First published on 20 Apr 2011. Updated on 21 Jan 2013.
Sadly for Sydney, Sam Hughes passed away recently. We'll miss you Sam, you suit-wearing trouble-maker - The Time Out Team
A White Bay warehouse may be an unlikely place for a winery, but have you seen the four winemakers? These guys wear hotpants while tending to their natural wines. When they're not in Sydney, the Natural Selection Theory crew oscillate between vineyards in the Hunter Valley and South Australia. Their crowning glory is the ‘Project Egg' Runway 3 Brokeback Semillon 2010 that ferments in nine 44-litre ceramic eggs. The ceramic eggs lie in situ in the Rozelle warehouse, behind a velvet curtain in a room lit by a single lamp shaped in the form of a naked woman. Each egg is buried in three separate soil types and played different sounds based on the soils they are buried in. Yes, they play music to their wine babies! But why eggs? "The eggs are the perfect shape for fermentation," explains Sydney-based winemaker Sam Hughes (pictured). "No hard edges. Barrels, you see, have edges, which stops the natural, circular flow that a fermentation moves in." Your own 900ml ceramic ‘birthing sphere', cork-stoppered with the ‘Body' wine (a blend of the three different eggs), will set you back a cool $161.80. Hughes works in cahoots with his South Australian counterparts Tom Shobbrook, Anton Von Klopper and James Erskine – successful winemakers in their own right. The merry band of wine minstrels is one of the most fascinating things going on in the Australian wine scene at the moment. Hughes is a smart, affable character – part jongleur, part warlock and prone to colourful winemaking ideologies. He says: "We have to move forward with wine." It's all a bit magical, really.
To order an egg, call 0414 936 501 or visit Natural Selection Theory. To try their other natural wines, head to Fix St James, 111 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000. (02 9232 2767). Or Love, Tilly Devine, 91 Crown Ln, Darlinghurst 2010. (02 9326 9297).