Q&A with Campbell Mattinson
Award-winning writer, editor and wine-critic, Campbell Mattinson is no stranger to Mount Pleasant. Having authored the critically acclaimed Maurice O’Shea biography Wine Hunter, he enjoys a unique insight into the man behind the legend. We spoke with him about the process of writing the book and what he thinks makes Mount Pleasant so special.
What’s the one thing that amazed you the most while writing the book?
Maurice O’Shea’s dad had a poor relationship with alcohol, let’s say, and it ended up killing him. Given the amount of high-strength alcohol being consumed generally in Australia at the time, I’ve always been struck, and amazed, and inspired by the fact that Maurice’s reaction to this was not to campaign against alcohol or even to personally abstain, but rather to change the narrative entirely, towards “less but better”. That is, he started making moderate-alcohol table wines instead of fortified wine or spirits, so that people might enjoy the wonder of wine and still hold onto their health. From an Australian perspective, from the viewpoint of a remote hillside, he created a better world.
Who did you get to meet while writing the book?
It was my great honour and privilege to meet and get to know Simone Bryce, the daughter of Maurice. A warmer, brighter, more wonderful person you never would meet.
What is it about Mount Pleasant that captivates people so much?
It’s ground zero for fine Australian wine. It’s a hill in a humid valley; it’s almost illogical that it should grow such magnificent wines and yet, almost magically, it does.
What has been your fondest drinking memory of Mount Pleasant? Wine & vintage?
I’ve been lucky enough to share some of Maurice’s wines from the late 1930s and 1940s, which have surpassed just about anything and everything for the outright in-the-glass show that they put on, but in more modern terms the 2014 Mount Pleasant 1965 Vines Rosehill Shiraz is a special wine to say the least.
If you could ask Maurice anything, what would it be?
Is there a secret stash somewhere?