A Belgian sommelier turned natural winemaker isn’t that far-fetched, but you would probably find said person in the Jura, Beaujolais and certainly Etna (Frank Cornelissen has already done that). Now trek nearly 10,000 miles from Flemish, Belgium to the South Australia and you would find Koen Janssens continuing his dream and experimenting away.
The journey started as a sommelier at La Ferme in Montmin, Savoie. After the restaurant shut down for the season he randomly met two French guys who said they were headed to Australia for a bit and Koen said, “f-it…I’m single, 35, and have a bit of money set aside,” and went on that journey. The story continues as the French guys didn’t’ make the trip due to visa issues so Koen went at it alone.
Koen landed in Sydney and lived there for six months. He worked at a restaurant called Bloodwood in 2012 and that’s where he was first exposed to the supernatural side of Australia. He had known a bit about Australian wines from his time in Europe but was centered on Penfold’s, Mollydooker, Charlie Melton, etc. His first month on the job he met James Erskine (Jauma), Tom Shobbrook, and Anton Van Klopper (Lucy Margaux). This was a true eye-opening experience and he reached out to James and worked harvest in 2013. It was a lovely encounter with his now wife, Emma, while working at Jauma that left the lasting legacy of a wife, kids and being now fully entrenched in Australian winemaking.
From his time working at Jauma, and then Lucy Margaux the following vintage, Koen went to work with the highly respected Pete Schell at Spinifex in the Barossa from 2015-2017 and it was here that he met his winemaking soulmate, Dave Geyer. In the 2016 vintage the dynamic duo conspired to create Yetti & the Kokonut and the rest was history. Two vintages later Schell told Koen that “every vintage gives you an opportunity to make wine and if you don’t do that a full year is lost.” Koen took that and in 2018 started his own label focused on the wines that he wanted to make and drink but didn’t fit the Y&K ethos – what is today known as Bink.
Bink is a moniker given to the locals in Turnhout, Belgium, which is the town where Koen grew up. The “B” on the label pays homage to the old car stickers on Belgian cars during the cold war. The translation of turnhout is old lookout tower and it was that mentality of always searching that drove Koen to Australia and that journey continues today.