Damien and I went to Wine Australia today, a rather large boozefest at Darling Harbour and it was a really enjoyable experience on many levels. It wasn’t too crowded, no one was too drunk, and there was enough of a variety of things to do to make it a really enjoyable experience.
While Damien concentrated on getting to know a few regions, I was keen to try a few of the newer varieties being grown in Australia, including some of the Italian varieties including Pinot Grigio and Nebiolo as well as varieties like Riesling & Rose.
Highlights included the Pinot Gris by Ten Minutes By Tractor (tasty, though we thought their range was generally over-priced), the Buller Tokay (like toffee before it turns hard), and the Castagna Rose (just gorgeous, very drinkable). Also, Simon Gilbert from Mudgee has a new cheaper range under the label Acrobat which was quite good.
In addition, we were also impressed by Ravensworth, a company run by one of the winemakers at Clonakilla, near Canberra. He’s also doing non-traditional varieties including Marsanne and Sangiovese, which I think is a good thing. It was also nice to chat with him about our experiences visiting Canberra region wineries (including Clonakilla before it became famous!).
One of the highlights was running into a work colleague who gave me some “inside information” about a currently available (and relatively cheap) wine made from grapes normally supplied to the makers of Grange.
The wine, the 2004 Pillar Box Red Padthaway (Cab/Shiraz/Merlot) currently retails for about $10 or $11. It probably doesn’t stand out all that much, but when you go searching on the internet you find reviews like this one by the renowned critic, Robert Parker…
90 points Robert Parker: “A fabulous value, this 20,000 case blend assembled by renowned Barossa winemaker Chris Ringland, is composed of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Shiraz and 11% Merlot, primaraly from young vines. Ringland has rarely worked with such huge quantities, but he has kept the wine in tank with a little exposure to American and French oak, bottled it unfined and unfiltered, and finished it with a screw cap. It boasts luscious black currant fruit intermixed with smoke, herbs, and cedar. Richly fruity, opulent, and medium to full-bodied, it is one of the great wine bargains of the world.”
So there you go…
I also ran into the brother of a friend from Perth, looking at him with some recognition, and then looking at the nametag ahead of saying… “are you so and so’s brother”.
Nice day. Note for next time though, get a Platinum Pass. For $150 you get entry to a range of things as well as 6 bottles of wine up to the value of $25 each. What a bargain.