Wines of Australia: Far From Ordinary
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From grassy plains, to red clay soils and an ocean breeze, this event took you through the Australian terrain, transporting guests far from New York City.
The entry to the event begins in a mossy area, dimly lit and full of nature sounds. The food passed presented the flavors of the earth, with mushrooms and salad decorated to look like something you could pick off the ground and eat.
Most of the wines on display in this area were crisp whites, and vibrant bubbles, with one of my favorites being a Brut Rose from Tasmania. Some of the winemakers were on site as well, giving a bit of insight into how their wines were made and why certain techniques were used over others.
I had an interesting conversation with winemaker, Sam Berketa, of Alpha Dice & Box Winery in McLaren Vale. Berketa was showing Zaptung Prosecco, which sparked my interest with a normal bottle cap top. It’s a very versatile wine, recommended in a cocktail, bellini me, or by itself, bottoms up!
On to the rich red clay that helps to produce some of Australia’s iconic red wines. In this area there was a huge brush set up with so you could take photo like you were in the field (see below)! There were also great displays of different clays and a scent section, where you could sniff some typical notes individually, helping to recognize them in the wines. The sounds in this section were set up to a wonderful pianist in the corner crooning us as we drank our way through.
When people think Australian wine, they most likely think Shiraz, and unfortunately (no offense) a bottle of Yellowtail. Nothing wrong with that but I’m here to help you level up your drinking and expand your palate.
While the Shiraz that we tried were fabulous, I had 2 surprising favorites in this area, one was a Grenache and the other, hold your judgement, a Pink Moscato. I know what you’re thinking, are you 18 drinking a Moscato? I thought the same thing, as did Michael, until we tried it and we each went back 2-3 times to have more.
Innocent Bystander Victoria Pink Moscato is a beautiful wine. We drank a 2018 and were blown away by the taste. There is a bit of CO2 which provides some bubbles with a rich flavor of blackcurrant, watermelon and a hint of musk. I would highly suggest finding it around town and bringing it to your next wine & cheese night. It’s very affordable, around $10-$12 and pairs well with a gorgonzola or blue stilton.
The Grenache on the other hand was from Barossa Valley, Cirillo 2015 Survivor Vine The Vincent. It’s a little more expensive, around $35 per bottle so take it to someone you like! The flavor profile is a typical Grenache: strawberries and cherries, with a little floral and white pepper. I think for me, the gameyness and smoke of the wine with the white pepper and red fruit was really delicious.
Last but certainly not least, Australian wines have a huge influence from their proximity to the ocean. With coastal breezes from both the Pacific and Indian Oceans, there are some great flavor profiles. In the last area of the exhibit there was a moving image of the ocean, the lights were set blue, and you could hear the waves and feel the breeze of the sea. I had multiple Marilyn moments over here and learned quickly to never wear a wrap skirt where there may be a breeze!
Again there were multiple winemakers but the one I spoke with the most was Duncan Kennedy of Kay Brothers, who makes their Basket Pressed Grenache. It’s a family owned winery and Kennedy is the Senior Winemaker. His Grenache shows rose and dark cherry on the nose, and red fruits in the flavor profile.
The exhibit, Far From Ordinary, toured around the US targeting our millennial market and between the IG-worthy set ups, the friendly Aussies, and amazing wines, I would call it a success. I’ve since ran straight to the Australian section of my wine store to see what they offer and am continuing to grow my Oz collection!