A whirlwind tour of wine with The Wines Birds
The Wine Birds is a recently established company set up by Christina Pickard and Jo Perry providing independent educational courses and masterclasses. They launched their first masterclass at the Wine Store on 5th June and due to popular demand, set up a second one, this time in Helvetica in Perth, on the 18th June. I couldn’t make the first one as the Lions were in Perth and I’m a loyal rugby fan when it comes to internationals so when I received the email about the second tasting, I booked immediately!
Famous for its whiskies, apparently the largest collection in Perth, the bar has a cosy feel. The decor is a mix of industrial and vintage. The bar upstairs (where we were for the tasting) was a large room that was split into a formal dinning room at the back then at the front there was a bar with an area of low stools and a long table in front of two large wooden doors that overlooked the street below. On Tuesday nights they offer free platters of cheese, chorizo, olives and bread – delicious!
Our tasting area upstairs was set up with 5 glasses of wine alongside which was The Wine Birds notebook and pencil. Also in the room was a projector screen where plenty of photos of vineyards from across the world were shown during the night as well as diagrams explaining the wine making procedures from vineyard to cellar. Jo and Christina explained what happens in the vineyard from harvesting (machine or hand) to crushing, fermentation, maturation and bottling. How to analyse a glass of wine from sight, smell and taste were also explained. We also had a blind tasting where we had to smell a wine that was in a black glass and gues whether it was a white wine or red – good experiment! Jo and Christina took us all on a wine world wind tour and at the end of the night we all received a wine making fact sheet rolled up and tied with a lovely red ribbon, just like the scroll you hold for your degree photo.
Not only did Jo and Christina cover the ‘conventional methods’ of making wine but they also talked about organic, biodynamic and natural wine making. I really enjoy the tastes and flavours found in a natural wine; one that is made with no preservatives, no added sugars, foreign yeasts. It is a step above biodynamic and organic. It’s not to everyone’s tastes but I think if more people knew about them and understood what makes a natural wine, you’d find a few more on wine store shelves due to popular demand.
We tasted the below wines:
Mâcon-Verzé, Lefaive, Chardonny 2009, from Burgundy in northern France, $48
Dandelion Vineyards, Shiraz, from the Barrosa Valley in Australia, $22
Gam-Sutra, Gamay, 2011 from the Loire Valley in France, $36
Cartagena, Gewürztraminer 2012 from the Aconcagua Valley in Chile, $28
Petit Rimauresq, Rosé 2011, from Provence in France, $28
Montefalco, Sangiovese 2009, from Porongurup in Australia, $45
Domain Lucci Orange, Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from the Adelaide Hills in Australia, $26
Cullen, Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2011 from Margaret River in Australia, $41
Battle For Barrosa, La Conquista Tempranillo and Garnacha 2012 from the Barossa Valley in Australia, $25
Stefiano Lubiana, NV from Tasmania in Australia, $43
Each of the wines typified their region and wine making techniques. You could tell the Burgundy was aged on the palate with some wonderful length and complexity. The Barossa Shiraz was big, bold and juicy and delivered at $22. The Gama-Sutra was so interesting; savoury, vegetal, a bit herbaceous, which is what you’d expect from a natural wine made from 100 year old Gamay vines. The label was pretty cool too and I liked the play on words, ‘Gama-Sutra.’
The Gewürztraminer from Chile was so aromatic and fresh. With the ocean over 4 kilmotres from this vineyard, you can start to appreciate the effect of nearby bodies of water – their cooling influence. Add to this, the altitude of the grapes and the varietal characteristics of this grape, you start to understand how location can affect the taste and flavours of a wine.
Living in England, it’s so easy to find a rosé from Provence, they’re spoilt for choice. In WA, it’s another matter. I’ve tried this rosé before and it’s a standard Provençal rosé, dry with slight hints of berry fruit so a good example of its orgin.
In the second flight of the five wines, we started with a Sangiovese from Porongurup, located about 20k east of the town of Mount Barker and 40k north of Albany town centre in the Great Southern. Jo and Christina said it was made in an old world style with no preservatives. I’ve never tried a Sangiovese from this area created in this way and I rather enjoyed it.
Onto a Sauvignong Blanc from Domain Lucci Orange in the Adelaide Hills. Now this was the first white natural wine of the evening. It was actually slighlty orange in colour due to the winemaking style. Who would have thought a Sauvignon Blanc could look so orange with hints of ginger, apricot and herbaceous notes?
The Cullen Cabernet Merlot 2011 from Margaret River had an attractive nose wih aromas of spice, berries and a wonderful soft mouthfeel. Then we were meant to step back into Europe to discover Portugal. When people think of Portugal, they tend to this of Port (see here my recent post about this on Global Travel Hunter). But the wine was corked. This actually was interesting to pass around. It’s important for everyone to know what a corked wines smells like. For me it reminded me of my hideout when I was a kid, a musty old cellar under a road as well as my grandparents’ old furniture – they were regularly smokers. So instead we had the Battle For Barrosa, La Conquista Tempranillo and Garnacha 2012 with its funky label. I agree with Christina and Jo’s comments about it being made in a young fresh style and to drink now. If I hadn’t had to catch my train, I would happily have tried another tasting sample of this wine!
Lastly we had a sparkling wine from Tasmania. Tasmania has the perfect cool conditions for sparking and also Pinot Noir, hence finding lots of lovely Pinots come from here as well as sparklings! Made in the traditional method (the same way as Champagne is produced), this offered a wonderful freshness with high acitidy and lemon peel aromas and a soft roundness to it.