“Allowing key expression of the fruit to shine through in the wine
is paramount. I put a part of myself into every wine I make and I want my
wines to reflect that passion,” says Winemaker, Nigel Ludlow.
Who would have thought that a few barrels of Chardonnay made in a backyard garage and fermented in a living room under an air-conditioner would win a Gold Medal at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards? That’s exactly what happened to Evoi Wines founder and winemaker, Nigel Ludlow, who has discovered a winning formula with his ‘no holds barred’ approach to winemaking.
While Nigel is one of a growing band of garagistes earning an enviable reputation for his Evoi wines, it wasn’t until he reached his mid-twenties that he first considered a career in winemaking. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition, Nigel worked as a professional triathlete, surf lifeguard and dive master, before considering his career options. It was a tough choice – a pilot, glass blower, or winemaker. Luckily for the wine community, he settled on the latter as his vocation.
Upon completion of a Graduate Diploma in Oenology and Viticulture at Lincoln University, New Zealand, Nigel’s first foray into the wine world began as a cellar hand at Selaks Drylands winery in New Zealand. It is here where he developed an appreciation for elegantly structured and textured wines. But it wasn’t until he moved overseas to Hungarian winery, Balaton Boglar, that he became truly smitten.
The knowledge he developed during nearly a decade working as a winemaker on vintages in Spain and South Africa helped him secure the role of Senior Winemaker at Nobile Wines, New Zealand. But the shores of Australia were beckoning. After a few vintages spent in Victoria, Nigel moved west to Margaret River. It is here where his love affair with Chardonnay blossomed.
As each vintage passed, Nigel became increasingly interested in producing his own label, but how? During an exhaustive search of the region, he discovered a small vineyard in the Willyabrup sub-region of Margaret River, where a perfect climate and soil type provide ideal conditions for growing exceptional Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignons – hallmark varieties of the region.
In 2007, the EVOI wine label was born. And he did it on a shoestring with a mere two barrels of wine. What Nigel lacked in equipment was compensated for with an unyielding fervour and determination to produce high calibre, small-lot wines.
This passion is inherent in the wine label’s name, EVOI, a Latin term for the ecstatic scream of joy from the female followers of Bacchus, the God of Wine. His Bordeaux blend (The Satyr) is named after the Satyrs, male companions of Bacchus who loved women and wine.
In the words of Decanter: “Taste his wine, and you know a maestro has been at work.”