Fuelled by an Instagram tip-off from Denton Wines, I rocked up to my first industry wine tasting. Our lecturers had also suggested that we try to get to such events to begin making contacts in the industry, in preparation for industry placements for vintage 2018.
Out of my depth?
I must admit, at first I felt so out of my depth. However, it felt good to say for the first time, ‘Andrea Roberts-Davison from Classtoglass.com.’
Holding my glass and price list tightly, I stood and stared for a moment – taking it all in. The event had taken over the bar Meat Fish Wine in Melbourne CBD. Wine importers and wineries had tables set up around the room featuring the best of their wines. The aim was to attract buyers from the hospitality industries as well as a few enthusiasts boosting their personal collections.
Imbibo is a Melbourne based wine agency with a collection of wines, mostly from Australia and New Zealand but also featuring European wines. Many of the wineries featured produce small quantities of high quality wines with minimal intervention.
So many tables, so many wines. I had no idea where to start and I am sure that to the well trained eyes surrounding me, that was obvious. Some tasters went straight for the wines they were most interested in, they were clearly already familiar with the range. Others were tasting in full flights.
I decided to make this a learning experience. First I made a beeline to wine makers I had heard of, then regions that I was curious about. At each station, I used the opportunity to chat to the winemakers about their techniques and inspirations. The warmth and enthusiasm with which many of them described their wines was inspirational, and after the first couple of tables I had the confidence to ask more questions. There were too many to mention individually so I have listed my highlights below.
- Georgio De Maria Fun Wines – Fun indeed! This importer has a really special range of wines with interesting stories, from fermentation in concrete eggs, to reclusive winemakers deep in the Italian countryside. All were well chosen and delicious. My favourite: The Barraco Grillo 2015 from Sicily.
- France-Soir Wine Selections – Another importer with some stunning French numbers. My favourites: 2015 Domaine Servin Chablis Premier Cru, Montee De Tonnerre. So complex; a delight on the nose with lifted florals and stone fruits; long lasting on the palate. 2015 Domaine Charnonard Fleurie; a Beaujoulais with a lush mouthfeel and hints of liquorice.
- Pyramid Valley Vineyards – Raising the bar for biodynamic wines in NZ, making four stunning wines. My favourite: 2015 Grower’s Collection ‘Rose’ Reisling, Marlborough.
- Express Winemakers, Great Southern – An inspirational young winemaker producing some stunning blends. My favourites: 2016 Rose, Margaret River; a floral and fruity blend of Grenache and Mouvedre. 2016 Drinking Wine Red. 95% Grenache with an inspired hint of Malbec; juicy, savoury, delicious. 2016 Deep South Syrah, Mount Barker. Deeply lush!
- Dormilona, Margaret River – Without doubt my stand out selection of the event. Gorgeously presented bottles of incredible wine made traditionally, some in clay amphora imported from Europe. I had the privilege of meeting the winemaker, Josephine Perry, whose enthusiasm for her work was infectious. My favourites: 2016 Chardonnay – A lemon fruit explosion in your mouth! 2015 Clayface Cabernet Sauvignon. Fermented on skins in a clay amphora for ages, the boldness of flavour was unreal. Unfortunately I am not the first to think so and the 2015 vintage is completely sold out.
- Hochkirch and Tarrington Vineyards – A warm and welcoming winemaker from Henty. My favourite: 2016 Chardonnay, made with no sulphur dioxide, but just the right amount of oak and success.
A wonderful afternoon
I learnt so much at this industry wine tasting. It is easy to see why we are being encouraged to attend them. Engaging the inspirational winemakers in conversations about their passions was great. I even felt like I was able to hold my own when discussing wine making techniques. The wine industry is so vast, yet at the same time a very close knit community. I am so keen to be part of it.