Australia Trade Tasting
The Australia Trade Tasting Wine Event was an informative session in Sydney for people in the industry
Recently, thanks to my involvement with TravelWineFood.com and our Wine Education Services, as well as our plan to open a wine bar, we were eligible to attend the Australia Trade Tasting event in Sydney.
This was an amazing event and well worth the admission. Only being able to spare a couple of hours, we had to be a bit choosy as to which wine stalls to visit, and then which wines to try, so some minutes were spent reading the brochure, checking out the tables and going around the hall a couple of times before choosing just 7 of them.
With over 50 exhibitors bringing at least 6 wines each we’d be in hospital if we had attempted to try them all. What we were most impressed about though was exactly how many wineries offered quality wines for us to try.
This wasn’t some massive festival for house wine. This was a showcase of the very best, the award winners, the $100+ bottles and more. Many were talking about their 94+ James Halliday ratings, their awards, the lengths of times on the lees/in the barrels/in the planks/with the chips, or the litres produced, the amounts exported and more. It was fascinating to talk with these producers and hear their stories.
The 7 we chose were very different from each other and are highly recommended.
The first was actually #4 on our list as the charming lady greeted us and helped us get to know the nice people behind Paragon, distributed by Inglewood Wine Merchants. We decided to start there and was impressed with the quality of their shiraz viognier 2010 and their cabernet sauvignon. I was especially taken aback as I had always believed that only the Coonawarra region could produce good cab sav, but here was the Adelaide Hills region creating something particularly appealing.
We then circled back to Australia Kensington Wines, a part of the Chinese Wine Association of Australia. We were curious as to the types of wines they sold and found that the wines that were popular for export to China were light, rich, fruity and sweet. A good example of this was the Organic Marquis Shiraz. We loved the label and could see it had a great potential for export. The ones we were interested in were the stronger, more complex varieties, so Kandy gave us tastes of the Goulburn Valley Reserve Shiraz (14.8%!!!) and the King Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I was impressed with the Shiraz and my assistant was overwhelmed by the Cab Sav. Quite amazing.
(I guess I’m a bit behind the times but I actually had no idea there was wine coming out of Goulburn Valley!)
Our next stop was the Geoff Hardy stall with a completely new series not yet available in shops. The plan for our wine bar is that it will showcase affordable styles never before seen in wine bars in Australia before. Even if other wine bars start up with the same idea, there are thousands of varietals out there that it is impossible for someone to try all of them in their life time. We plan to focus on serving 10 rare varietals among our standard wines and were looking for a place to start. Geoff Hardy’s range ticks all the boxes.
Check out the picture!
Richard, the General Manager of Wines by Geoff Hardy initially offered me a Gruner Veltliner 2015. As it was a white and I was concerned that if I drank too much from each stall I wouldn’t get to stall 7, I was tempted to politely decline. However, I was very glad to try it and was surprised that it was very similar to a light Gewürztraminer. Richard confirmed that the climate and grapes were similar.
We then moved onto the Graciano which had some interesting characteristics and was definitely a wine I could see myself enjoying into the night. I was surprised by the aroma of pink peppercorns and whiff of potpurri (so much so I had to look it up!) and really enjoyed the subtle plums and slightly sour cherries.
However, my main reason for visiting the stall was to try the Teroldego. The label suggested something a lot thicker but the rhubarb and sweet blueberry notes were certainly another surprise for me, though the wine itself was a little thin. I am not a big fan of red licorice, though there was only a touch of that. This one needed a slightly lower room temperature to really bring out the flavours. Definitely worth tasting again!
We also tried the Lagrein which was a nicely complex style with, amongst other flavours, a touch of dark mocha and spice. We definitely wanted to try the others but, as mentioned before, we were limited by time and health! Wines by Geoff Hardy is now on our must have list!
Unlike the 20-30mls that other exhibitors of more public wine festivals served as tastes, these producers were quite happy to splash about 50-80mls into a glass each time. They also then offered the next bottle quite quickly, so a full glass of wine could be gulped in under ten minutes. I’m sure we had the equivalent of 3 glasses of wine in under an hour! (I’m not the one to spit or tip but, by the time the first hour was up, I had already started tipping the extra wine out. A waste, but necessary.)
After these tastes we were able to go and check out the available food. A bed of salad including cheese stuffed baby tomatoes, slices of a variety of meats, some dried pumpkin, eggplant, tomatoes and other vegetables, along with some other things, including nuts in separate metal bowls. The funny thing was that every time they brought the platters out, the meat would disappear in minutes, and we’d get over to find that everything else was still there, except the meat! Definitely a lot of guys drinking reds that day!
Our next stop was Welshman’s Wines. I was very impressed with their Merlot which was strong and medium bodied. Definitely not a wimpy Merlot. The slight cedar box aroma, with pepper and spice shiraz won my heart too. My assistant enjoyed the cabernet sauvignon with the blackcurrant bouquet. We were exploring their older range and, while the flavours and aromas stood out to some degree, at this point I was starting to have a bit of trouble tasting all the finer details. Still, I could tell these wines had a lot of potential and they were definitely worth checking out with food.
There was one wine I wanted to try that I had seen in our original scout but hadn’t been able to find in successive circuits. This time we went slowly and both found it at the same time, now that the crowds had dispersed. The Totino Estate Shiraz. We could tell this one was going to be amazing and we weren’t disappointed.
This was one of those stand-out shiraz with a velvety taste and a rich and supple flavour. A delicious and tasty shiraz it was one that would be able to be drunk by itself, due to its lighter nature. The cab sav, on the other hand, was much more our style as a food wine. The savoury oak and mint flavours were noticeable and certainly made this cab sav one to watch. Both are now on our want list.
The Collective Wine Company
Our final stop (so we thought) was at one table run by Scott of The Collective Wine Company. We were particularly impressed by the Artiste labels of what he had as they would look quite fine above the bar. We weren’t sure about tasting some 2014 wines, though Scott was able to convince us to start with a viognier.
The apricot in the viognier was such a delight I felt refreshed from my recent red experience and ready to try some more. Some very nice stone fruit aromas and floral notes. Scott was sure we’d be able to taste the very faint almond flavour, but I did struggle to. I may have but perhaps I imagined it. It didn’t help that I was having trouble remembering what almond tasted like. But there was a slight wedding cake almond icing taste as I swallowed, so I’m guessing that’s what he meant.
He called over one of the other guys who had a table of high quality spirits. He brought over a cap of gin for us to smell. Scott wanted us to pick up on a particular aroma and asked us to sniff the gin. He then said, “So, do you think that smells like freshly shucked oysters?” For a moment then both our minds whirred like DVDS on a turntable trying to find the correct scene, and then we got it. OMG, it does! Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit the spirits table but we were very grateful that we had been able to have that experience.
We then requested the shiraz and the cabernet sauvignon. Both of those wines blew us away. The 2014 shiraz was silky, fruity and very drinkable. It was a bit lighter than I was expecting but the red berry fruit and plum flavours definitely made it onto my must drink list.
The Collective Wine Company have a fantastic upcoming release from Mudgee. It’s under wraps at the moment but the labels are amazing and the styles are attractive. As soon as they hit the market you’ll definitely see reviews here. I’m excited to see this new series come out. Stay tuned!
After we bid goodbye to Scott we knew we couldn’t go to the spirits stall, or any of the other stalls in that room… as there was the Spain section to go to!
Wine from Spain
The wines from Spain were many and varied but we discovered on approach that there was also a section for those wine producers that couldn’t have a stall.
Self-service wine tasting!
We’re very glad we didn’t discover this section on the way in. We wouldn’t have been able to continue! There were so many wines there that it would have taken all day to taste them all.
Surprisingly, while exploring this area, we were met by a producer who did pineapple cider and he convinced us to try some. It was amazing. He confirmed that there wasn’t any apple in it and that it was marketed to cider lovers. As our wine bar will be selling things that no one else has, I’ve definitely made a note of the pineapple cider! I believe Michael is planning to bring out other ‘ciders’ in the future so we’ll keep an eye out for his releases.
I was pleased to see Aramis was still out and about. One of my favourite Shiraz as recommended by a connoisseur at The Wine Society a few years ago. My assistant was very impressed with this style. We also tried quite a few others but this time we were tipping out most of them. Some of these were not at the standard of the ones we had tried in the hall.
Then it was on to the Spain section and we tried the Campos Reales Cabernet Sauvignon. This was quite a light cab sav with some fruity characteristics. Spanish wine tends to be light, with a reflection of tempranillo styles. We had a look at the other stalls and saw a lot of tempranillo. Even some verticals! It’s possible everyone had drunk everything else and there was only the tempranillo left by the time we got there, though I suspect tempranillo is simply the red wine flagship of Spain, much like shiraz is of Australia and pinot noir of New Zealand.
One supplier was also offering a selection of cheeses which my assistant said were quite tasty.
This was one of the best trade events we’ve been to and I thoroughly recommend it. If you’re in the wine trade, manage a wine education service, or simply run a restaurant or bar, definitely check out the next one. (I believe the next one is in 2017. Find out more at the Australia Trade Tasting website here
Quick video below.