After a pretty brutal 25+ hour slog from (delayed) New York to (delayed) LA to Sydney, I made it to Australia and quickly met one of my fellow travelers, Doug, a Master of Wine based in Kansas City. We went to our very lovely hotel downtown and then met the rest of our group so we could head out for a wine tasting and lunch.
It was totally bizarre to step off the plane into 75 degrees, sun, and Christmas trees. I’ll blame the lack of sleep, but I really had to stop and pause to figure out what country and month I was in.
The weather was absolutely perfect for a water taxi across the harbor to Ripples.
As annoying and expensive it was to break my phone, I’m pretty chuffed with how much better the camera is on the iPhone 7. How sharp is that!? Above is Ken Helm who is a 4th generation winemaker for Helm in Canberra. He was a total character and obviously very passionate and knowledgable about Riesling in Canberra. Some of his Rieslings hail from century + old James Busby clones, and all proved really balanced, bright, and totally age worthy. Hallmarks: lime, passionfruit, low alcohol (all <12%), and dry.
Hunter Valley Semillon and oysters blew my mind. Move over Muscadet; these iconic Aussie wines, although totally weird and definitely not mainstream, really are the perfect quaffer to the fat and brine local oysters, which is another point that’s really been driven home over the past 2 days. Australian winemakers are finally waking up to the idea of making wines that go with their local food.
Brandon, shrimps on the barbie (kind of). Again, really delicious with the super dry, saline, low alcohol Semillons from Tyrell’s and Brokenwood. The 2005 Brokenwood and 2009 Tyrell’s were my favorites with all their oiliness, where I could see the younger wines appealing to a smaller audience. The oiliness and nutty character needs time to develop!
This, though, was the wine of the afternoon. Totally delicious with flowers, a slight funkiness, and a mineral zing on the finish. This is a New World that Old World drinkers can definitely get on board with.
Chocolate and orange mousse.
Post lunch we had a few minutes to putz around. Doug (Kansas City), Gary (New York and pictured above) and I popped into the Contemporary Art Museum.
Gary and I continued on to a cool natural wine bar in Surrey, Dolphin Free, for a funky Chenin before meeting the group again for more food. A recurring theme of wine travel- you’re never hungry.
Dinner was amusing. We had a pint and then decided upon Lotus, a modern Chinese restaurant. Fiona got delayed in her travel, spent all day trying to get to us, finally did and we had Chinese. She’s from Beijing. I think she was less than amused, but the rest of thought it was kind of funny. The Xiao Long Bao was legit.
A quick sleep and then up at 5 to fly down to Adelaide…
Who needs sleep?