Wine tastings are curious things.
Chuck a bunch of people in a room with loads of open bottles, a long list, empty glasses and a few water crackers. Wine tasters stay on one side of long trestle tables and wine pourers/winemakers stay on the other.
Wine tastings are neither social settings where most wines are consumed nor the pristine, controlled environment of wine judging and assessment. It’s somewhere right in the middle.
A discreet sign directed me upstairs to the Bibendum tasting at Comme. I grabbed a glass, a booklet and tasting list and slipped inside.
The room was almost full with people swarming around the tasting tables which were pushed right to the edges of the room. It’s intimidating walking into a wine tasting when you don’t know anyone, much like walking into a party. What to taste? Who to talk to?
I chose to start at the busiest table, home to Spinifex wines of the Barossa. Spinifex has a curious winemaking concept, all the wines are blends, which changes depending on the vintage. Lola 2010, for example, was a blend of five varieties: Marsanne, Roussane, Semillon, Viognier and Ugni Blanc.
In some ways this seems much more consumer led winemaking: making wine to a flavour profile rather than the expression of individual vintage and vineyard variations. The antitheses of Mac Forbes.
I approached the Mac Forbes Riesling with a glass stained with Barossa Tempranillo. I hadn’t rinsed. Silly, really.
“Don’t worry,” said Mac. “It can handle it.” Which is a curious thing for a winemaker to say and made me fall instantly in love with Mac’s winemaking philosophy.
It’s hard not to like to Mac: laconic, modest and brutally honest. The Australian wine industry needs to bottle Mac and export his essence to every Wine Australia tasting henceforth. A leader in sub regionality, Mac produces five Pinot Noirs from the Yarra Valley. Exciting stuff.
Two of my faves on the day were:
Spinifex Papillon 2009- fragrant and floral heady nose a reflection of the Grenache dominance in the blend. It’s so delightfully perfumed I’d suggest chilling this for drinking on a hot summer’s night (next year?)
Mac Forbes Riesling 2010- a devastating hailstorm at the Strathbogie vineyard left Mac without Riesling in 2010 until a friend called and offered a parcel from Tasmania. Minerally, citrus and zingy, I fell off my chair when I discovered afterwards this wine carried 20 grams RS.