Wine Australia held a wine tasting event for Press and Trade in London last Friday (September 12th, 2014) entitled “Inspired Tasting“. Given the number of tastings that are being held in London this month, never mind this year, you could be forgiven for thinking that this would not have been particularly remarkable. Yet amidst a crowded tasting calendar, this event shone brightly. Here’s why.
1. Australia’s Winemakers Have Upped Their Game
Changes that have been implemented in the Australian wine industry over the past 5-10 years are now becoming evident in bottle. In the vineyard, more widespread Precision Viticulture, attention to choice of clones, and better water management are some of the changes which have lead to improved fruit quality. Meanwhile, in the winery, changes have been made to fermentation temperatures with less racking and a reduction in the use of new oak barriques. The combination is producing some outstanding vibrant and complex wines which show more typicity of cultivar and place. Still on the wish list? More earlier picking for those of us who find a bottle of 14.5% abv heavy going over dinner.
2. Every Wine Has A Tale To Tell
The Inspired Tasting event was first held in 2013, with the twist that each of the wines was chosen not by Wine Australia, but by a member of the Trade who had visited Australia. Not only that, but attached to each wine was a label with comments from the nominator as to why they had selected that particular wine. This approach, repeated this year, serves to present wine in its totality, with many nominators speaking not so much of the tannins and acidity but rather of the the sun, the food, and the people that they encountered at the winery. Whatever wine educators may say, wine isn’t just about its composition. The stories behind the wine are all important.
3. There Were Only A Hundred Wines
Wine tasting is hard work. Swirl, sniff, sip, repeat. Oh, and try to think about the wine, how it compares to others, make a judgement and record some legible, meaningful, notes. Spend, say, 3 minutes on a wine (not terribly long as any Diploma student will tell you) and 100 wines is already 5 hours of steady work. So big tastings can be a nightmare. The Beautiful South Tasting at Olympia had many, many, good points this year, but the sheer number of wines on show was overwhelming for many attendees.
4. Top Rate Masterclasses
Masterclasses are a great opportunity for promotional organisations to educate consumers about aspects of their wines. Yet all too often it’s an opportunity lost. Too frequently we hear something like, “the vines are grown on limestone soil, which is why the wines have retained such crisp acidity”, or similar nonsense. Fortunately, Justin Knock, really knows about Australian wine, the changes taking place in the industry, and has the ability to put across his knowledge in a clear, no-nonsense, manner. Other promotional organisations, please take note!
5. Location, Location
Australia House is centrally located and, for many people, an easier venue to reach than, say, the ExCeL Centre or even Olympia. It’s a building with a grand interior, and also spacious relative to the number of attendees. At the tasting there was room to breathe and not to be constantly jostled by others. The Masterclasses were held in a separate room which was quiet, spacious and with plenty of natural light. How fortunate are Wine Australia to have such facilities at their disposal.
6. Use Of Social Media
Social media isn’t for everyone, but many wine experts and consumers have found Twitter to be a particularly convenient way to share thoughts, recommendations, facts and ideas. The hastag #InspiredTasting used for this event was clearly publicised and gave anyone interested an opportunity to share their thoughts while the tasting was still taking place. And @Wine_Australia was interacting with the posted comments. Hardly rocket science for 2014, but another attention to detail that helped make the event such a success.