I lucked out today. Supplier relationship manager Michelle’s hurt her foot at kick boxing over the weekend, and I’m asked to step up to the plate to attend a wine and beer tasting tour at late notice. I looked at sober Aisling who’s gone dry for July, and I know I’ll be taking one for the team tonight.
Who am I kidding? Had I have known able-footed Michelle had this gig teed up tonight I would have seen to it that her foot got caught in the copier or run over by a rogue chair in the office, just to get a look-in to this tour tonight. I love my wine. Four years in the industry taught me that I still know nothing about it, so I’d better keep drinking. And beer – aah, cleansing and refreshing, best out of a microbrewery; light and fruity enough for Sunday sessions under a searing Aussie sun, and too floral for drunks. Yep, I’m totally sucked in by a fancy brew.
(Aisling, it’s probably best to stop here, and start reading again on 1 August.)
I’m out of the office faster than you can say “extended maceration on skins”, and Renee and I head down to Walsh Bay, where we’re met by our guide Janet. There’s more excitement packed into Janet than you’ll find in the whole cast of Glee (two seasons, not just the one). We instantly like her energy, because it’s clear she’s as keen to get into the tour as we are. What begins is some excellent cheese and gris tasting at the Firefly wine bar. I’m taken back to cool climate wine country, sipping a rounded well-balanced Tassie white, followed by a Clair Valley basket press Shiraz with more mulberry and ripe plum on the nose than should be legal on a Tuesday night. My thoughts cast back to our sober Aisling, but I push her out of my mind before the guilt can leave a bitter taste on the palate.
The glasses empty and soon we’re on foot again. Janet lets us in on a few of Sydney’s secrets; we learn of the six o’clock swill, the currency of rum in old Sydney town, and the history of the first vines that were brought to New South Wales. We wander through Argyle Cut towards Wine Odyssey, Sydney’s newest wine appreciation mecca. Its aroma room, the only one of its kind in Australia, and tastings for purchase impressed me the most. It’s the only way I can see myself tasting Grange any time soon, at $28/30mL taster! A highlight here for me is a Cullen cab merlot, a biodynamic beauty from Margaret River (but sorry, not as tops as a stunning little version of the same wine from Cape Jaffa, in SA – shameless plug for mates back home), and a mataro. I don’t even remember the name of it, just that mataro is my new favorite grape. There’s many a discovery to be had at Wine Odyssey – there’s no doubt Lynette and Angela have truly poured their heart and souls into the place.
We head towards our final stop, Harts Pub (corner of Essex & Gloucester St, The Rocks), where a boutique beer tasting is on the agenda. Renee tells me that she doesn’t drink beer and will probably hand over her tastings to me. This is what I love about teamwork. Instead what ensues is a barrage of some of the most exotic beers I have ever heard of, let alone tasted. Renee quickly forgets her promise as she downs a 50mL swig of pear cider and ginger beer respectively. Yes – actual alcoholic ginger beer, with a bouquet that hits you immediately and reminds me of ginger snaps, and a light, refreshing palate with just a hint of sweetness, at 4% alc/vol. I think I’m in love, but that’s until our host James really gets into his spiel about some of their finer brews. A vivacious, exceptionally good looking guy that believes beer is for savoring and not swilling. A halo of light appears around his head and a chorus of angels start singing, and I wonder if I’m intoxicated by his musings or the Australian ale I’m holding in my hand.
Janet and her secrets of Sydney were facinating for me as a newbie to Sydders, but Renee as a local also gets a lot out of tonight’s tour. All in all it’s provided a great Tuesday night out for us. If you’re looking to get to know Sydney a little better, this is the tour for you. And now, Tuesday nights are sorted for us as we know we’ll be back to Harts pub for Tuesday trivia night and a scrumptous meal from their amazing menu – and your phone number, James.
This tasty little Sydney sojourn is available for booking right here.