Sommelier Scavenger Hunt 2015: Australia
Wine & Spirits Magazine
by Joshua Greene
Venture to Australia and the commercial impression we have of Aussie wine soon falls away. Fruit-forward Shiraz and red blends with critter labels turn out to be a lot of noise in the market. Drink local in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide or Perth and the wine lists reveal a completely different reality: the 20 percent of the industry made up of hundreds of small producers, many turning out wines that capture their vineyards in distinctive ways.
Recently, we’ve begun to see more of those wines on our shores, and as we considered where to hold our second annual Sommelier Scavenger Hunt, we felt the time was ripe to send 15 sommeliers to Australia, setting them loose to investigate five regions in depth, completely unrestricted by any politics, lighting out to find wines that speak most clearly of where they are grown. Some of those wines would likely be imported already, others might not.
While the sommeliers we reached out to weren’t generally on intimate terms with Aussie wines, they knew enough about Australia’s winegrowing history and recent stylistic shifts to be intrigued. When we contacted Jared Hooper of LA’s Faith and Flower about leading a team, he gained clearance from his restaurant and assembled a full team within five hours of receiving our invitation. Hooper, a longtime fan of the Yarra Yering wines, decided to lead his team to the Yarra Valley in search of Pinot Noir.