Wine Australia had the greatest idea to invite 50 of the world’s most upcoming sommeliers to a wine trip which they named Somms of the World to coincide with the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards held in Melbourne in April 2017.
It was a wine jaunt, a junket, a trip of a lifetime with some inspirational people who didn’t cease to amaze me during this 10-day trip. Somms from over the world including from the world’s 50 Best restaurants were invited to drink and talk wine with other Food and Wine professionals around various regions of the beautiful landscape of Australia, I mean, really… It’s the best way to learn!
I was very honoured to be picked amongst the ten Australia-based sommeliers to make it amongst the 50 World’s best, it was an opportunity to show to the world how good Australian wines are. It’s hands on research and this is why we chose this industry. We work for it, it doesn’t just happen. Hospitality is extremely rewarding, for it helps you connect with a huge network of people in no time, and it’s a playground where you make friends for life.
But also, finding wine in hospitality takes you to another level. It’s all about the senses. It’s about learning to let your senses guide you, and to listen to your intuition when tasting wine… finding stories in a glass and making poetry out of it.
You can normally find me on Instagram at @berrypopps for more fun snippets and videos.
Chef and personality Lyndey Milan invited us for a home made feast at her penthouse apartment in Sydney. We had the best view of Sydney Harbour. The theme was about women in wine, featuring wines like Stargazer from Tassie, Eliza Pinot Noir(recently rated very highly by Halliday) by Charlotte Dalton based in the Adelaide Hills, and Oliver’s Taranga from the Vale.
Lyndey’s food is very much terroir driven and was delicious. Some of the winemakers were also present. She is a strong woman, a leader for women in Hospitality and a special character. I really enjoyed her company. We all sat around her table and discussed our personal growth. She is really inspirational. Food on the table:
After a 9am Shiraz/Syrah blind assessment tasting at Intercontinental Hotel, we had lunch at Stokehouse St Kilda. We also had the pleasure of meeting one of Australia’s Master Sommelier who is also the wine buyer for the Rockpool group, Sebastian Crowther MS. Lunch was tasty and the view of the beach was ideal.
We then returned to our hotel and sat for a back vintage tasting of the First Wine Families of Australia, including likes of DeBortoli and Henschke. And finally… for those that persisted through with the evening, we finished with a blind taste contest at amazing Bar Liberty in Fitzroy. I highly recommend this place, created by Banjo Harris, one of Australia’s best sommeliers.
Dan Sims(Game of Rhones), our host with the most, took us around the city to the hippest bars and restaurants to meet a few of the best local sommeliers who all brought 2 of their favourite wines to talk about. Was great to engage with Melbourne somms and discuss how the wines in Australia are really interesting to work with at the moment.
Then… We met some of Beechworth’s wine producers including the one who makes my favourite Australian Gamay, Sorrenberg.
Finish at Project 49 for gin and tonics and for those who persisted with the evening, Mezcal, pasta and a bunch more wines at Traveller Coffee to meet Georgio, the legend who started Rootstock Festival with Mike Bennie. I could definitely live here again. ❤
3 hours later – next day and we are heading to Mornington Peninsula.
After a self inflicted 3 hour sleep, the morning freshness of Mornington Peninsula and Moorooduc’s Pinot Gris on skins assisted in chakra alignment for another full on day.
We saw some of the best representations of the region’s specialties in Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir alongside Kate McIntyre MW. Moorooduc, Kooyong, Yabby Lake, Ten Minutes by Tractor, Crittenden, Quealy, Stonier, Ocean Eight and Port Phillip. Lunch was at Paringa Estate and it was just exquisite!
Most interesting discovery for me was the Vin Jaune style from Crittenden Estate, the Cri de Coeur, Savagnin Sous Voile. Bottled after 4 years under flor. Impressive, really really good. Port Phillip Estate hosted a regional Pinot Noir Masterclass and had the most stunning views.
Before heading to the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards at the Royal Exhibition Building, we hung out with Franck Moreau MS and tasted some Aussie sparkling. Méthode Traditionelle Arras 2007 from Tasmania was the highlight. New York’s Eleven Madison Park won the World’s Best and it was pretty cool that their sommelier was actually with us on the trip. .
After the grand night of the Worlds 50 Best, the next morning was a bit of a struggle but we are getting used to this now. We headed to a much needed Bloody Mary Session (and another wine tasting – oh dear) at Melbourne’s first urban-based winery, Noisy Ritual!
Steve rolled up with his Burn City Smokers, a serious mobile meat-smoking machine and offered buns of juicy brisket, flavour packed spice-rubbed black pudding with heaps of sides. Funny, Steve was my bar manager 10 years ago when I was working at the Blue Diamond Cocktail and Jazz bar in Melbourne.
This is when we all had to say goodbye.
Small groups of us are embarking on regional trips that will see us scattered around Australia’s most interesting viticultural paths.
My crew is heading to WA! ☀️
Dinner at Rockpool Perth was a great start. And finally a night of more than 3 hours of sleep. Watch out Margaret River and Great Southern!
Western Australia lives up to its reputation of great weather and incredible sunsets. We were showered with warm sunlight on crisp mornings and dawns were filled with golden hues from sunsets glistening over the horizon.
We did a few random things. We explored a 37m-deep cave, where our guide played a Didjeridoo. It was nature’s most accurate acoustic chamber. The sound was transcending.
Then we went on brief Cape-to-Cape walks gorged with breathtaking views of the coast and the woods.
After several tastings around the classics including blends of Sauvignon/Semillon and Chardonnays, we had a fun dinner with the next-generation winemakers. That was definitely very necessary! After so many tastings, my palate was craving flavoursome fresh wine.
We saw some other interesting varietals like a Trousseau and a Teroldego from Amato Vino, a Marsanne from Churchview, a Nebbiolo from Mr Barval. 👌🏽
It’s important to acknowledge that Western Australia can be a little conservative as a region and I appreciate to see some winemakers doing things differently here.
(So many of these wines aren’t in South Australia yet but you can taste some at the next Fruitful Pursuit event on the 27th of May at The Henry Austin in Adelaide)
We headed to Howard Park Wines at 10am for a Great Southern tasting. (I didn’t realise there was a subregion called Denmark in Western Australia)
The main wines: Riesling, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. There were great examples of Rieslings actually, with the highlight being Frankland Estate Poison Hill Riesling 2015.
We then headed to Vasse Felix’s stunning property for lunch before an intense WA Cabernet tasting.
24 wines at one sitting!
24 chewy and teeth sticking Cabernets!!
What do you do after such thorough red wine tasting?
Gin. Giniversity hosted a gin making and tasting class where we distilled our own crazy Somm concoction of spices and botanicals. It actually worked!
After a refreshing ale (and some Ochota Barrels), we headed to newly established Amelia Park Wines for dinner and met the winemakers of Domaine Naturaliste and Voyager Estate.
Honestly, I am blown away by the beauty of the estates in Margaret River. Such a remote place, full of splendour.
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