Friday, February 08, 2008

Australia Day Tasting

Danny and I went up to Edinburgh over the weekend to attend the Australia Day tasting at Our Dynamic Earth. We spend the sunday night in Glasgow, where I tried to find some of my old haunts (unsuccessfully, most of them it would seem have changed, closed or even been demolished) and ended up a bit pissed in Subway scoffing a 12" meatball sub at about midnight (on a sunday!!!!!). We drove over on monday morning after a quick detour to stock up on Square Sausage (a scottish delicacy!) then proceeded to take nearly twice as long to find the bloody place, once we were in Edinburgh, as it took to drive over from Glasgow!! But eventually we got there and we got down to some tasting.

The new venue was quite good, lots of natural light, plenty of space, and a circular layout which seems to make the place bigger on first impression. We started out with the whites, and managed to taste a few good whites on the Alliance wines stand with Giles their MW. The Tassie rieslings and Pinot Gris' were pretty good and may be worth a few listings. Further round the room we spend a bit of time with Francis from OW Loeb who was there with Phil Sexton from Giant Steps. Phil is an interesting character, a brewer by trade they started making wine in the Margaret River with a winery called Devils Lair and a beer called Little Creatures. When they sold up, they moved over to the Yarra valley where they set up Giant Steps and Innocent Bystander. The two labels share many outstanding qualities but their defining characters would be that Innocent Bystander wines are winemaker wines, whereas Giant Steps wines are Vineyard wines. By that I mean that IB wines are the product of winemaker "manipulation" in the winery to create consistent products - good well made wines that use cultured yeasts to produce certain characteristics in the wines. Whereas the GS wines are the products of the fruit grown in the vineyard. Minimum intervention, wild yeast fermentation, they will show marked differences from vineyard to vineyard, vintage to vintage. For me the two standout wines where the Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay and the Tarraford Vineyard Pinot, both showing really complex layers of flavours, with soft fruits layered with defining earthy characteristics. Then we had the muscat!!! OMFG it was divine!!!!!!! Cheeky little half bottles of heaven - light, slightly sticky, just sweet enough with a hint of petillance. The guests are gonna love this one. Phil and his marketing guy were there telling us the first vintage they made of this they made some 600 cases. It sold out. The second vintage they made about 40000 cases, it also sold out. The next vintage comes of the vines in about three weeks. They are planning on making some 600000 cases of it, and it looks like it is already all sold out. It should be on the shelves about five weeks after the harvest, which is a pretty impressive turnaround.
By now we'd done about all the whites we were interested in and so we cycled round again and hit the reds. We spent some time again with the Giant Steps guys before we moved on over to the Cult and Boutique stall and spend a bit of time there with the guys. They had some fabulous big reds, including a stonking grenache, with a seriously wallet unfriendly price!!! But they had a few wines that Im interested in, so hopefully we will be able to do something with them.

Overall it was quite a productive day, I got to see a few old friends and faces, and despite the dominance of the supermarket brands, there were some great little wines there and I reckon that a few will end up on the list over the next few months. We had several hundred miles to go home, so after a brief dinner at the nearby Pizza Express we headed home. Not a bad little jolly.

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