On a cold and wintery night in Adelaide in late August, I braved the weather to head to the Hyatt Regency Ballroom for the Adelaide Hills Regional Tasting. After dodging a couple of light showers and parking my car for the night, I met friend and fellow wine lover Richie in the Hyatt foyer.
A NERVOUS START, A RANT AND SOME HIDEOUS DECOR
As always with these kind of events I was a bit nervous. Nervous you may ask? Well, these events can be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes life-affirming and joyful occasions with great wines, food and personalities to discover and engage with… Sometimes boring (wines available everywhere), repetitive (sales reps not winemakers/viticulturists/owners extolling the virtues of whatever will help them reach the month’s sales target), soulless (poor venue/no food/excess numbers of depressed looking wine wankers) and depressing (oh, you’ve run out of your only decent wine 10 minutes into the event? Didn’t expect that to happen did you?)…
Upon arriving at the sales desk the signs weren’t good. $20 entry fee, no problem at all… Ah, they have Riedel tasting glasses, very nice… But no, the Riedel glasses were only for members of the trade and established wine industry folk. Oh well, at least it reminded me of my place within the wine industry (ie. no place just yet, but you wait, just you wait!)
I found that the smaller XL5 glasses were better suited to the white wines (at least 60% of the total) on tasting… They are also better suited to anyone getting slightly intoxicated as it’s much harder to spill wine out of an XL5!
But I digress. Upon entry to the Ballroom the first thing you notice is the decor. Luckily for the Hyatt accountants the 80s are back in fashion. It’s bought them at least two more years before they have to renovate this room. But the venue was laid out well, with plenty of room to move and a good mix of food and wine stands. I really loved the way they had a food stand after every four or five wine stands. This allowed for a well needed respite from the frantic tasting pace and a great chance to grab a bite while discussing the highlights and lowlights of the previous producers. So kudos to the organisers of this events and a heads up to those who organise similar ones.
ABOUT BLOODY TIME YOU GOT TO THE WINE TASTING PART
Now onto the tasting, with 30 or so stands to visit, time is of the essence. Whites were first and the quality was a mixed bag. While the Adelaide Hills have built their reputation on whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, there were some disappointments. There were many Pinot Gris/Grigio on offer but only one really shone.
2008 Henschke Littlehampton Innes Vineyard Pinot Gris
Price :: $25-30
Cellar Potential :: Great Drinking Now but will develop over 5 years
Score :: 92
Music Match :: Best thing to come out of Littlehampton since the bricks and pavers, put on Lionel Ritchie’s funkiest moment with the Commodores, “Brick House” to make this wine come alive.
Summary :: One of the few good examples of this wine and style in this country. Extended time and stirring on lees has given this wine a whole lot of character and a whole lot of class. Tropical fruits and honey on the nose, luscious white peach and honeydew melon on the palate with great mouthfeel and lingering finish.
Moving right along now to the variety everyone loves to hate, Chardonnay. Up until about six months ago I despised Chardonnay more than the English Cricket Team, Manchester United and Collingwood. Now after a solid effort to seek out some quality examples, i’m falling in love. And as the Adelaide Hills have some of the countries finest examples, I found some crackingly good wines.
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO (tentatively titled SOME CHARDY, A TROLLI and SOME SHUCKING GOOD SEAFOOD)