The thing that I love about January is the Australia Day Tastings. Now I havent been for a few years - since I moved down to Chester actually, but this year Im going to both tastings. Ive usually just gone to the Edinburgh tastings held at Prestonfield House in the huge round stable building in the grounds of the hotel. The last time I went there was a bunch of us from Gleneagles and we went for a jolly for the day. The wife and I got the train over from Glasgow and the guys met us there having got the train down from Auchterarder.
The event is one of the biggest tastings of the calender, and the Edinburgh event is the biggest tasting held in Scotland. There are usually about eighty stands each carrying about a dozen or more wines from some of the best companies and wineries in Australia. Thats a hell of a lot of wine to get through. Usually I take it in two parts. In the morning I scoot around and taste the white wines. Then I break for about an hour and a half for lunch to try and sober up a bit and give the palate a bit of a rest. Then in the afternoon I go back and start on the roses, then the reds until you cant taste anything else. You know it is time to quit when a big bad barossa shiraz starts to smell and taste like an oaky hunter semillon!! You have to be a bit prepared for the tastings, cause there is a lot of chaff, volume driven supermarket wines that I want to avoid. There are certain stands that it is essential to visit, the Villeneuve wines stand is one of those. Kenny, Alistair, Naird and the gang have one of the finest selections of Aussie wines in Scotland, including the wines of Charles Melton. In fact it was Kenny who introduced me to Charlies wines.
Im looking forward to the Edinburgh tastings because Im hoping to catch up with my friends still at Gleneagles while Im there. It will also be good to catch up with some contacts from up that way too.
The Edinburgh tastings, while big, are nowt compared to the London tasting. Ive not had the chance to go to the London tastings yet, but this year will be my first time. Apparently it is huge! A lot of the guys show stuff that doesnt get up to Scotland because they dont rate it as a significant market (they are so wrong!), and there are usually many more winemakers at the London event than Edinburgh. It runs for two days, during the day I believe it is open to trade and journalists, and the evening is a ticketed event for the general public. Im looking forward to going as it will be a new experience, and as a kind of new years resolution Im going to make more of a concerted effort to get to more of the important tastings. After all it is an excellent opportunity to taste some stonking wines, meet up with winemakers and reps from the various wineries and agencies and get some networking done.