Sunday 30th April we kicked off Day 1 of Tasting Australia! Town Square opened at 11am and the sun was out to greet us. There was a fantastic turn out, plenty of vendors with a host of incredible food, and good vibes to get the party started.
Sunday was also the date for the Great Wine Voyage, which Maddie has been planning with Jimmy Hopkins from the Fruitful Pursuit. The aim of the game is to visit nine venues in Adelaide’s East and West End; blind taste two different wines at each venue; one South Australian and the other internationally produced; and guess which of the two, the SA brew is. At the end of the journey, guests submitted their votes on line at The Great Wine Voyage, and two winners were selected to win two amazing prizes: all nine bottles of SA wine OR all nine bottles of International wine (some of which were magnums!).
This event was created in celebration of Adelaide becoming a Great Wine Capital of the world; and is now named alongside previous international recipients such as Mendoza, Argentina; Bordeaux, France; Mainz Rheinhessen, Germany; and Verona, Italy. It was sponsored by Primary Industries and Resources South Australia, organised by Fruitful Pursuits, and managed by Events SA. Our SATC team consisted of Maddie (Event Coordinator), Anne-Marie (Sponsorship Services Manager), Cassie (Sponsorship Account Manager), Ashley (Sponsorship Services Placement Student), and myself.
The SATC team left the Event Office at 1:00pm to meet at Lindes Lane, in Rundle Mall, where we held a debriefing with the volunteers and hosts of each nine venues. Jimmy had organised nine of his closest contacts and professionals in the hospitality industry, some of which were wine makers and sommeliers themselves. We handed out the volunteer kits, shirts, and looked through the run sheet, going over the specifics of the event. Particularly; all 110 guests had been given a starting point in either Adelaide’s East or West End; this event would start at 4pm in both the East and West End; no host is to reveal the identity of any wine; no volunteer is to pour wine; guests consumption is to be monitored; guests are to be encouraged to move through all nine wineries; food will be served at six venues; transport facilities were available; guests should be encouraged to vote for their wine section; this event would end at 8pm; and guests would be encouraged to attend the after party at Victoria Square to see the wine identities revealed and prize winners announced.
After the briefing I took four volunteers down to the East End, past their respective venues. These were; Iberia representing Portugal; Mr Goodbar representing South Africa; Mother Vine representing Germany; and East End Cellars representing Italy. Over in the West End, the five venues were; Lindes Lane representing Argentina; Alfred’s Bar representing USA; Udaberri Pintxos Y Vino representing Spain; Apothecary representing France; and Haines & Co representing Chile. We met Maddie at East End Cellars and began setting up the registration area for 55 guests including: gift bags, a wine glass each, and a Great Wine Voyage lanyard with a scorecard on the back. We then moved onto each venue to set up the tasting areas.
Guests started to arrive at 3:30pm. Check-in went very smoothly, run by two volunteers (Elizabeth and Lydia) and myself. All guests were keen to participate, and curious about the sequence of events; it provided an exciting buzz amongst the team. Vibrant, gorgeous and engaging sommelier, Liina, addressed the group with the event particulars and the created excitement for the blind tastings. She mentioned the score card on the lanyard and encouraged everyone to catch the bus back for Town Square before 8pm for the after party and reveal. We then broke the group up into 4, and each volunteer took their guests to their venues: the game had begun! As guests blind-tasted the wine at each venue, our volunteers stood outside each venue with a small flag representing the international country featured, and gave attendees general information and directions.
As the crowd dispersed, Maddie informed me there was someone who has checked in to the West End, when they were registered for the East End, therefore they were without a wine glass, lanyard, and gift bag. So I grabbed the goods, and legged it through Rundle Mall over to Peel Street. I also did it in 7 minutes, when Google Maps told me it would take 15. Boom. Take that satellites. Owned ya. I hi-fived Emma, who was waving a USA flag, and headed back to the East End.
By this time people were starting to move around, and each volunteer was mingling with guests and chatting about their thoughts on the tastings. I popped into East End Cellars first, where a white wine was being compared, and found the guests in a spirited mood, all eager to share their thoughts on the tastings and debate which they glass they preferred. Evidently, the consensus was, the wine they liked most was clearly the South Australian produced. Interesting theories. Having no idea which was which, I decided to play devil’s advocate and give questioning glances every time someone proudly named their selection between Wine 1 and 2. I was met with shocked faces, and expressions of disbelief, leading the guests to turn away and begin analysing their choices with their companions. Great fun!
I moved on to Mother Vine and chatted with Jessica, the venue was empty at this stage, so I didn’t stay for long. She reported the guests were excited to compare the wine which was a red variety. Many expressed it was difficult to determine any differences between the two, therefore both were favoured as the SA blend.
Not having visited Mr Goodbar before, I skipped over past the Belgian Beer Cafe to see Lydia proudly waving two South African flags and chatting to guests entering the venue. Inside, a heavy debate was going on between the guests, and the host who was taunting each person with their choices and recommending pairings with the delicious boards of charcuterie, pickled vegetables, cheese, and olives, being passed around. I met Ben, the Bar Manager, who informed me the evening was proceeding very smoothly. . I stayed for 15 minutes to chat and taunt the guests a little. Particularly I was amused by two husband and wife couples who were playing an interesting sport of retaliation; for every comment the females made about the wine flavours, aroma, and body, the gentlemen counteracted with the entirely opposite thought. It was hilarious to watch. This was clearly a regular game between these couples; the men certainly didn’t miss a beat, chiming in with their opposing responses immediately.
Overall the feel of the event was very jovial and pleasurable. Guests were thoroughly enjoying themselves with guessing the wine and choosing their next destination. The feature of volunteers at each entrance with a flag, welcoming the guests into a different country was also delightfully received. Each location was a new destination and adventure to be discovered, giving the atmosphere a buzz of excitement and intrigue.
It was sad to begin to wrap things up at 7:45, and encourage guests to move onto Town Square. The volunteers and I began to pack up the tasting areas and collect any leftover items. We thanked each venue and moved onto Town Square for the after party and reveal of the wines. Arriving at 8:20pm we were delighted to see the majority of guests seated and patiently awaiting the reveal. Liina and Jimmy took to the stage in an entertaining manner discussing their selections and origins of their favourite drops, as well as sharing the lively history of their friendship.
Feeling the weight of the day, I was off to grab some dinner. Navigating through charred, there was a great selection of culinary dishes. These included Coal Cellar + Grill, MBC Foods, Ragini Dey, Gelista, Pizzateca, Cafe Chennai, Little Adelaide Catering, La Boca, Brett & Alex, Andrew Fielke, The Henry Austin, and fabulous festival star Analiese Gregory. Mouth-watering and unable to decide, I heard someone call out to me from a booth; “Hot balls! Come grab our hot balls!” Bursting into a fit of laughter, I had to ask the outspoken gentleman, how on earth did he expect to get guests over with a line like that? Smirking, he replied that it had worked, as I was now there. I looked up at the signage and decided to order my meal from Coriole; they served up three delicious hot meatballs covered in home made tomato sauce, and an indulgent kranksy made by their talented team. After a long day running around, I did not feel the slightest bit guilty digging into this hot comfort meal.
I joined Maddie and the team at the after party tent, which had begun to break up. Jimmy and Liina cheerfully headed off to enjoy the remaining wine from the tastings and we proceeded with pack down. Ashley joined us and we exchanged our stories from the event. By the time 10pm had arrived, we were feeling the chill but still glowing from the euphoric feel of the day. Overall, this was a very successful first event, and will most likely feature in the future. For me, this was a knock-out start to Tasting Australia
For eight days, Town Square will be buzzing with activity including cooking demonstrations from some of Australia’s best chefs, the Taste Buds kids kitchen, chargrilled meals, chef and winemaker ‘meet and greet’ sessions, DJ’s and beverage masterclasses. With FREE entry every day, make sure you drop in for a quick bite or stay into the evening to enjoy a beverage in front of the firepits.
For those interested, here are links to each venue featured at the Great Wine Voyage, as well as the wines on tasting. All drops can be purchased from East End Cellars. Salute xo
BORDEAUX / FRANCE
2016 Charlotte Dalton ‘ÆRCHANGEL’ Semillon (SA)
Peybonehomme Les Tours ‘Le Blanc Bonhomme’
SAN FRANCISCO, NAPA VALLEY / USA
2015 Matthiasson ‘Linda Vista’ Chardonnay
2015 BK ‘Swaby’ Chardonnay (SA)
East End Cellars
VERONA / ITALY
2015 Giovanni Armani Giorgio ‘Bianco Superiore’ (AKA ‘GAG White’) (SA)
2014 Pra ‘Monte Grande’ Soave Classico
Hains & Co
VALPARAÌSO, CASABLANCA VALLEY / CHILE
2014 Refugio Pinot Noir
2015 CRFT ‘Chapel Valley’ Pinot Noir (SA)
2011 Quinta Do Alaíde
2012 Coates Touriga Nacional (SA)
MENDOZA / ARGENTINA
2015 Karatta ’12 Mile Vineyard’ Malbec (SA)
2014 La Posta ‘Paulucci’ Malbec
2016 ARTIS Riesling (SA)
2015 Juwel Trocken Riesling
CAPE TOWN, CAPE WINELANDS / SOUTH AFRICA
2015 Natte Valley Cinsault
2015 Vanguardist MVG (SA)
RIOJA, BILBAO / SPAIN
2011 Laderas de Cabama
2015 SC Pannell Temperanillo (SA)