Tasting wonderful wines in a grotty city laneway
This is what the promoters promised:
A fabulous street fair focussed on wine tasting and meeting winemakers from around the country. Around 300 punters are anticipated this year. They’ll sip their way through all the Riesling they can handle, feast on street food, and generally enjoy the awesomeness that is summer in Sydney. This is wine tasting the way it was meant to be.
And this is what they delivered:
A grotty, overcrowded laneway behind the Oak Barrel where winemakers and punters stood in the gutter much of the time - Nithsdale lane. The covered area was about the length of a semi trailer, and full of people. 400, it turned out. You couldn’t move in there, you couldn’t see or find the wines you wanted to taste, you got pushed and jostled by others trying to squeeze past – it was about as comfortable as standing on a Sydney bus during peak hour. Even taking photo in there took the flexibility of a Houdini.
Got lucky with this one. Met young winemaker Jonathan Holgate, raved about his Pinot Noir 2009, told him Reg reckons he made the best Riesling he ever had, and enjoyed these Rieslings going back to 2006. Southern Highlands! Tasted lovely Riesling from Orange as well – Cargo Road – and some from New Zealand and Alsace.
This wasn’t the place for serious wine tasting, but a chance to taste a few appetisers from new sources. It was also a chance to confirm what a great vintage 2012 was for Riesling in South Australia.
There was a food bar at one end of the lane, and a band at the other. The guys calmed down after they realised that the narrow laneway enclosed by concrete walls acted like a giant amp.
The good part of this summerofriesling event was the quality of the wines and the no-limit $25 tickets. When I sent out a tweet on Monday morning summing up my feelings in 140 characters, I got a smart response from the summerofriesling organisers saying the other 399 punters loved the venue. They weren’t the ones we talked to, clearly. A winemaker we chatted with said the cost for him was much more reasonable at this event than at the upcoming NSW Wine and Food Fair in Hyde Park. There you go.