In summer we set Wine Australia’s alumni - members of the UK/EU wine trade that have visited Australia over the last few years - a tricky task. We challenged them to nominate an Australian wine that ignited a love for the country’s wines or with special significance. Their nominations were revealed at this free-pour tasting in London’s Australia House.
The line-up featured 50 wines, with retail prices ranging from £7.99 to £450, and producers included Arras, Jauma, BK Wines, Larry Cherubino, Ten Minutes by Tractor and Penfolds. Each wine was presented with a hand-written note explaining why the wine was nominated.
Over 80 sommeliers, educators and wine media attended the tasting to sample the trade’s Aussie picks. Guests were wowed by the eclectic range of wines on show, covering a mix of regions, grape varieties and styles.
Robert Joseph, wine writer and consultant, said:
‘A really fascinating tasting that reflected the range of wines now being produced in Australia. I loved seeing big, familiar names like Grange, Yalumba and McWilliams playing on the same pitch as Mac Forbes, Steve Pannell, Ochota Barrels and Tolpuddle. I defy anyone who attended to say that they couldn't find wines they'd fall for and want to take home with them.’
Ines Salpico, sommelier and wine writer, said:
‘It was indeed an inspiring tasting. I was not surprised given that Australia has long established itself as a source of diverse and well-crafted wines. Australian winemakers are increasingly focusing on quality and experimentation, producing wines that are complex and full of character.’
Paul Medder, Group Wine Analyst at Conviviality PLC and WSET Educator, said:
‘A really inspired tasting showcasing some great classics alongside the funkier new school. There was no shortage of highlights. Very difficult to choose, but my wine of the day was Castagna La Chiave Sangiovese.’
Guests at the Inspired Tasting were encouraged to nominate the wine which inspired them most. Out of the 50 wines on show, there were nominations for 24 different wines. The wines with the most votes:
Glaetzer ‘Amon Ra’ Shiraz 2014, Barossa Valley
Selected for the Inspired Tasting by Roger Jones, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn:
‘I have followed Ben for many years, we have even made a wine together. I was enticed into Australian Shiraz by his father Colin (Black Pepper Shiraz) but Ben’s recent vintages of Amon-Ra have hit the big time. The 2009 after two difficult vintages brought this wine back to super star status, the 2010 is equally inciting, both are drinking well now and have a very controlled rich complexity, but with an unrivalled purity and precision.’
BK Wines ‘One Ball’ Chardonnay 2016, Adelaide Hills
Selected for the Inspired Tasting by Barbara Drew, Berry Brothers and Rudd:
‘As well as the witty name, I love the style of the wine. Complex, but not rich, crisp without being lean it is just perfectly balanced in every way. It helps that I first tasted it at one of the finest barbecues I've ever attended, at Brendan's beautiful house up in the hills of course!’
Tolpuddle Chardonnay 2015, Coal River Valley
Selected for the Inspired Tasting by Sarah Ahmed, wine writer:
‘My mouth waters at the memory of this racy, mineral Riesling-like Chardonnay from a vineyard Michael Hill-Smith describes as “one of the great single vineyards of Australia.” Eileen Hardy, Arras and Stargazer's Sam Connew have sourced Chardonnay from this striking Coal River Valley vineyard.’
Tolpuddle Pinot Noir 2015, Tasmania
Selected for the Inspired Tasting by John Wilson, wine writer:
‘The perfect riposte to anyone who still thinks Oz can't produce subtle wines. Supremely elegant precise pure Pinot Noir.’
Castagna ‘La Chiave’ Sangiovese 2014, Victoria
Selected for the Inspired Tasting by Orsi Szentkiralyi, wine writer:
‘I loved the purity, effortlessness and balance in the wine, which was as much of a statement from the winemaker as a tribute to the grape variety's old world classiness. I wish I owned a couple of cases!’
The tasting booklet can be viewed here.