Yesterday I attended the Wine Australia Festival at Cipriani on Wall Street in New York City. Hundreds of wines were available to taste from all areas of Australia. As it has the last few years, this event sold out in advance. This is no surprise since it's been a consistently good and fun event to attend. One would have a hard time getting to half the wine, let alone all of it. My strategy was to taste some whites early in the day and then walk around cherry picking between favorite producers I was already familiar with and unfamiliar ones that sounded interesting.
I'm happy to report coming across several wineries I was previously unfamiliar with that impressed. In general there are some terrific wines emanating from some of the burgeoning cooler climate areas of Australia. Yarra Valley is amongst these areas. Several Pinot Noir's I had from this area as well as Chardonnays were particularly noteworthy. Amongst them was Giant Steps. Successive vintages of their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were standouts. Both were true to their varietals and made in an old world style. They were also well balanced and built for food. Overall the number of wines I tasted yesterday made in this style was impressive.
Another noteworthy producer was Boggy Creek Vineyards. Several of their wines were quite tasty but my favorite was a Cabernet-Shiraz blend. It was full bodied, loaded with ripe dark fruit, but not overwhelming, or overly alcoholic.
Naturally there was a lot of great Shiraz to be had. Regardless of what style you like your Shiraz, you were bound to find numerous examples to tempt your palate at the Wine Australia Festival. Additionally there were a multitude of different blends, both red and white which were impressive. Some of them were standard types of blends such as the Cabernet-Shiraz I mentioned above. But in other cases they were slightly more unorthodox. One was a Chardonnay-Viogner blend that just knocked me out. It only had a small amount of Viogner in it but it lifted the nose to stratospheric heights. This wine was by Hungerford Hill. It's in their Fishcage Series. The retail is around $12.00 and it over-delivers at that price.
These are really just a few examples of what was a lot of good and interesting wine. There was also plenty of food placed strategically throughout the room to munch on. Water was also readily available so everyone could make sure they stayed properly hydrated. I've attended the Wine Australia event several times now. If you're a fan of Australian Wine this is a great way to taste quite a few of them and likely come away with some new favorites. If you are new to Australian Wine this tasting is a good way to familiarize yourself with the wide array of wines and styles they're producing. The Shiraz tends to get all the hype, and it's deserved as it is their signature grape. But Australia is doing so much more than that with their wines these days it's really a very worthwhile country for wine-lovers to delve into and explore.
The event itself was well organized and thought out. In addition to the normal tables where wineries, distributors and importers poured their wares there were also "Regional Heroes" tents. They would pull standout wine from one area and varietal to taste side by side. This was a good idea and a terrific way to compare wines to their counterparts.
The Wine Australia Festival takes place in New York City every January with tickets going on-sale the previous fall. If you missed it in 2008, keep your eyes open for when tickets go on-sale for the 2009 version. It's well worth the time and ticket price, which was $70.00.