This year’s Alternative Varieties Tasting demonstrated just how diverse and exciting Australian wine is.
Held at Australia House in London, this was Wine Australia UK’s largest free-pour tasting of the year and it focused entirely on alternative grape varieties.
Alternative varieties may only account for around 4% of Australia’s vineyard area, but they’re grabbing the attention of critics and consumers around the world.
The tasting featured over 120 wines from 50 producers including Alpha Box & Dice, Chalmers, d'Arenberg, Dal Zotto, Jim Barry, Larry Cherubino and Lethbridge. All styles of Australian wine were on show and prices (£RRP) ranged from £5.99 up to £50 a bottle.
Guests explored Mediterranean varieties such as Arneis, Friulano, Dolcetto and Tempranillo as well as more unusual varieties like Assyrtiko, Sagrantino, Taminga and Teroldego. The line-up also included two wines made from Saperavi, a rare Georgian variety produced by less than 20 Australian wineries.
Over 120 visitors from across the UK attended the tasting, including buyers, sommeliers, importers, media and educators. Peter Richards, BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen, summed up the event “a fascinating tasting and it really demonstrated what an exciting time it is for Australian wine”. Ruth Yates, owner of Corks Out, commented “I’m loving how diverse Australia has become, so many changes and lots to explore”.
At the tasting, we ran a vote, encouraging guests to nominate the alternative grape variety that most impressed them. The results highlighted the diversity of Australian wine and that Australia isn’t just about one alternative, emerging grape variety. We received nominations for 18 different varieties and three varieties shared the top spot – Assyrtiko, Nebbiolo and Tempranillo.
This event was a great opportunity for the UK trade to learn more about alternative varieties, taste their unique expression in Australia and discover if this trend is set to continue.