In this edition of the Cellar Sanctuary Series we visited the cellar of Darren Lockyer, the legendary former NRL Brisbane Broncos, Queensland State of Origin and Australian Captain. Darren has been a Cellar One member for many years and knows his way around the field of wine!
Darren's cellar was built as part of a new house build around four years ago and is very functional in its design with shelving designed to allow for the stacking of bottles individually or in cases. Originally Darren's plan was to build a subterranean cellar, but he uses it too often and wasn't enthralled by the prospect of having to descend a steep set of stairs each time he wanted to visit his sanctuary!
How many bottles does it hold?
He's never counted, but it is fair to say that from time to time it's a little difficult moving around in the cellar! He has a large number of wines that are ready to drink which have been cellared for over 10 years. There are others that are ready to drink now that were only put down only 6 months ago. And, of course, there are also some very special bottles that have been sitting for 20 years, around the time he started his illustrious league career.
When did you first get into wine?
A trip to the Napa Valley in the US in the 90's with his wife-to-be was a memorable experience and one of the catalysts for Darren getting into wine. At that particular time, they were drinking a lot of white wines and some of the heavier reds, but over time their taste has evolved significantly as Darren has become a true Pinot Noir lover.
Darren had a Eurocave installed when he designed the cellar to take care of some serious quality big bottles of red...living in QLD it's critical to have a climate controlled cellar. He likes to drink his Pinot chilled, especially coming into summer in QLD.
Most prized possession
He loves the Petaluma Chardonnay and Stonier Pinot Noir. The first Pinot he ever tasted was Stonier and reckons you don't get a better drop or better value for money (strangely, we agree!). In fact, the Stonier Pinot Noir was really the wine that inspired Darren to branch out from the XXXX beer he'd been delighting in with his Queensland footy mates for years, into the wonderful world of wine.
The oldest wine in the cellar
For Darren it's not so much about specific wines but more about specific years. He keeps quality bottles from many wineries from years in which something significant happened in his league career and he tends to share the bottles with friends who were part of those successes... a 1995 bottle from the year he made his league debut, bottles from years like Grand Final 1997, 1998, 2000 and a cracking 2006 all take pride of place in the cellar.
What they drink
Darren's wife is definitely a Rosé and Pinot Noir girl, but she also likes her Chardonnay. They mainly drink Pinot Noir in winter, but in the summer the Rosé, Chardonnay and bubbles come back. And Aperol Spritz - Mrs Lockyer apparently makes a great one!
How often do you visit your cellar?
Pretty regularly! About every second day. There is a mixture of big wines that are aging that he keeps for special moments and quaffers that he's often pulling out to put in the fridge so he always has something cold and ready to go.
Advice for the budding cellarist
The journey of learning about wine is actually really just about going on that journey, not about any particular destination. Darren believes you learn as you go, but his main piece of advice is to really find the region you like. Experiment outside of the region but know where you like wine to come from and make sure you always have plenty on hand!
Stories from the cellar
When he was young and new to wine he invited some footy mates back to his place after the pub. That night he learnt a lesson – don’t open one of your most prized bottles at 3:30am in the morning with a bunch of 20 year old beer drinking team mates who have no idea about, nor appreciation for, wine.