Meet the man behind dappled
Updated: 7 days ago
I first met Shaun Crinon on my first day of high school, Sunshine Beach High, 1993. In fact he was one of the only people I connected with on my first day, being the fact that we both lived opposite the beach and were frothing surfer groms.
Decades later, whilst waiting for my flight back to Brisbane at Cairns airport, I had a call from an unknown number. It was Shaun! It took me several moments to click who I was talking to and when the penny finally dropped, I was in shock as I hadn’t heard or thought about Shaun for about 25 years.
Shaun had seen my name pop up in the wine trade media and decided to give me a buzz for a long overdue catch up. What I learnt during that conversation was that Shaun was a winemaker. He had a brand called ‘Dappled’ and was making wine in the Yarra Valley. I also learnt he was married with kids, still surfed and bizarrely he still sounded exactly the same as he did in high school.
Over the past few years, I’ve been drinking Shaun’s wines to much delight (and so have many of you). The critics can’t get enough of his wines or get over how under priced they are either. Recently Shaun’s entry level wines ‘appellation’ scored ridiculously high points from Campbell Mattinson accompanied by very true words.
Dappled ‘Appellation’ Chardonnay 2019, Yarra Valley
Shaun Crinion of Dappled is under a fair amount of pressure to increase his prices – from various quarters – though he remains committed to keeping them as low as he possibly can. The prices will no doubt have to increase soon but they don’t offer extraordinary value for money by accident; Crinion is determined to keep them as accessible as possible. Personally I wish there were more winemakers like him.
This is another stellar release. It’s a wine of sheer quality, hands down. Flint, matchstick funk, pure nectarine-grapefruit-and-white-peach fruit, a ginger-like note and a smokiness through the finish. It has tremendous length and it feels uncompromised all the way along. Yes it’s flinty/funky but within that style it’s tremendous. And with air it just gets better.
Rated : 95+ Points
Author - Campbell Mattinson (Wine Front).
Dappled ‘Appellation’ Pinot Noir 2019, Yarra Valley
Excellent. Simply excellent. It’s varietal but it has depth, gravitas, an array of flavour, a firmness and an excellent finish. It’s smoky, stewy in a good way, spicy and shows plenty of forest berry and undergrowth, but mostly it presents as itself. It looks left and right and then just goes its own way. It’s a wine of chains, connections and decisions that turned out to be correct. Load up on this while you can still get it at $30. It’s the goods.
Rated : 95 Points
Author - Campbell Mattinson (Wine Front).
I’ve since learned of Shaun’s back story into wine, but I thought it might be fun if I ran a little Q&A here on this space with him so you can get to know him a little more.
James: Hey Mate! So tell me, how did you of all people, get started in the wine business?
Shaun: We all have key moments or experiences in our lives that end up shaping our futures. Back in 1999, I started out on a surf trip to California, but quickly realised I also needed some occasional work to keep funding the trip.
I was lucky enough at that time to have an uncle who was also a winemaker on the central coast of California, so I started doing some work for him. That work experience quickly became a driving passion and after nearly 20 years of work and study, winemaking is well and truly my life.
James: Do you have a degree in winemaking then?
Shaun: Yes. Bachelor of Applied wine science/ viticulture from Charles Stuart Uni.
James: What’s your winemaking style?
Shaun: My philosophy is simple - expression of site and region above all else. Traditional and minimal winemaking and sustainable farming. No two vintages are the same so there is no recipe to my wines.
Dappled has always been about being good value. So many of the best wines around are out of the price reach for the average consumer and I really want to make wines that are the best they can be for the price. I don’t have fancy equipment, I don’t buy expensive amphora or eggs or presses or crushers. I take fruit quality and attention to detail over it all.
James: In the world of wine, who do you most admire and why’? Who influences you?
Shaun: Every winemaker I have ever worked for. My knowledge is thanks to them.
Some of the most influential are:
* John Clark (my uncle) - the most educated and science oriented winemaker I know. He was a task master but taught me so much... I owe my career in wine to him.
*Janice McDonald - she probably hardly remembers me but I absolutely loved her passion and dedication to winemaking and perfection!
*Alex De Montille/Jean Marc Roulot These two people were a pivotal point in my love affair with Chardonnay… I went to Burgundy for Pinot and came back with a love for Chardonnay thanks to them.
*Mac Forbes and Luke Lambert... I never worked directly with Mac or Luke, and really don’t know them well, but I've always looked up to them for their passion and dedication, the wines they make and what they have brought to the Yarra Valley.
James: What’s next for Shaun Crinon?
Shaun: After 20 years of making wine I’m just happy to still be doing it. I’m at ease to see what opportunities arise in the future when they come.
James: When your allowed out of Victoria after all this silliness has passed us, can you come up to The Local Larder and host a Dappled Winemaker dinner with me?
Shaun: Yes mate, I will be there with bells on …COVID free I promise!
All of Shaun’s wines can be found in our shop or on our online shop.