Wine importers and online wine store, Popsy & JJ recently celebrated their 1st birthday! But who are Popsy & JJ and how did they come to be in the wine business? These questions and more are answered in our interview with Jonathon, the JJ component of Popsy & JJ.
How did you both meet?
Our paths first crossed in 2004, both working at medical giant ResMed. At that time, Popsy [Paul] was General Manger (Australia) and employed me to head up sales for Victoria. A few years later, I was promoted to National Sales Manager. During almost 6 years working together, we became great friends and have remained close to this day.
How did you both decide to get into wine?
We both had a love of wine from an early age, mainly through parental influence, and our passion and wanting to know more and try more has continued. We are both home cooks, so food and wine are just part of our lives.
What were your day jobs before you decided to set up Popsy & JJ?
Popsy had recently sold his company ResSleep, a national network of sleep apnoea clinics, and JJ had been heading up sales for Hill-Rom Australia.
How did you decide which wineries to visit on your 2019 Italian and French wine tasting trip? How does the palate stay fresh when you’re tasting wines all day every day!?
We visited several wineries however we found an efficient way to supplement these visits were to attend some French and Italian wine trade expos enabling us to sample 1000’s of wines from all over Europe. Our targets were always the smaller family owned wineries. We also made sure we had plenty of bread and water on hand to keep our palates fresh!
Why do you choose small, artisan, historic growers? Is it difficult to get access to their wines given they often make smaller batches?
Amazing tasting wine was always the number one priority. It was just never negotiable. But with this we also wanted the story behind the wine and the people who produced it. The passion and the family history are part of the wine itself. Often bookings were required to visit wineries. We did on a few occasions buy the last stocks of a producer’s vintage for particular wines!
How do your wine tastes differ? Have you ever been in strong disagreement about a wine?
Popsy and I have very similar palates. We always debate the wine and we taste or smell different flavours in wines. We rarely, if ever sit down to a meal and a bottle of wine and strongly disagree. For all our wines, the agreement was that we both had to love them. For every single wine we both loved and selected, we were able to reach an agreement with the producers. We got a strong feeling the French and Italians like dealing with Aussies or at least they seemed to like us.
What made you decide to start an online wine business together?
Our passion for wine and the lack of access to top quality wines of the world was the driving force. Also, to impart some knowledge and history to Aussie wine lovers on some iconic wine growing regions, and describe what is in each bottle and what food matches well with it, in a way that is fun and non-threating.
Why haven’t Aussies had any proper access to global wines until recently, despite the fact that 95% of the world’s wines are made outside of Australia?
Aussies are very proud and parochial about this great country as we are! We both have hundreds of bottles of Australian wine in our own cellars but we know that great wine is made all over the world not just in Australia. If you were a beer lover, would you only drink Australian beer? No way. The same way wine lovers want great access to wines of the world from historic and world-renowned regions.
Your written and video reviews are engaging and at times amusing. Are you writers or wine lovers first and foremost?
Our reviews are all about the wine, the people behind it and the food. The banter is real and the discussions we have are not for the camera only. If you were out to a meal with us you would see exactly what you see on camera.
You say your minds are at their imaginative best when you’re enjoying long lunches and even longer dinners. Do you find some of the best ideas come from a few glasses of wine?
We do believe that wine does stimulate the right side of the brain, the creative side, and many a long lunch has developed ideas for our business. The idea of producing video reviews and also having access to these via a QR code on the back of every bottle came from a long lazy lunch at the Stokehouse in St.Kilda.
What are your favourite wines and favourite champagnes? Do you have a favourite region? What is it and why?
Like all good artists, they have certain brushes for certain aspects of the picture. We love trying wines from all over the world. Our Charles Mignon Champagne is a superb bubbles. It has won over 150 international awards and for an artisan winery that is unbelievable. But the difference is, the brother and sister that operate the house were chasing each other around the vineyards as kids. You can’t get more artisan than that. A very prestigious bubbles with a special story behind it. But all our wines are our babies and are very special in their own way. We would not have chosen them otherwise!
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
We would hope to add some more wines to our collection from other parts of the world while offering our customers the high level of quality and service they have become accustomed to. We have a very exciting wine gifting program coming soon, so you will be able to send wine to your family and friends with a special video message!
Apart from your generous offer to your clients of 2 bonus bottles with their orders, how are you both celebrating the 1st birthday of Popsy & JJ?
We had a virtual lunch on our Birthday due to the lockdown and being in different cities. We matched some oysters with our Charles Mignon Premium Brut Champagne, our 2016 Ruhlmann Granit ‘S’ Riesling with a seafood medley and some lamb cutlets and Paris mash with our 2015 Château La Lauzette from left bank Bordeaux. Just a dream meal!
So you each live in different cities, who has the wine warehouse?!
Paul lives in Sydney and me in Melbourne permanently. Our warehouse is based in Sydney.
How does Popsy & JJ differ from other online wine retailers?
Our video reviews and food matching is a fresh approach and we hope to assist busy people where they don’t need decide what to cook that night. And we cooked all our matched meals ourselves. Making life easier in this hectic paced world is always helpful. When our customers spend their hard earned money on our wines we want them to get the best flavours out of the bottle and to sit with family and friends and enjoy the moment.
When we are allowed to travel again, which wine regions do you plan to explore?
We have plans to travel to South Africa, South America, Spain and we would of course head back to Italy and France.
Check out Popsy & JJ’s website at https://popsyandjj.com.au/
Meet Popsy & JJ via their intro video below:
If you could start a business with your best friend, what would it be? Which wine regions would you like to travel to?
If you like French wine, you may also like to read our articles about the various wine days: