White Wine Weekend Whine – Hobart, Tasmania

It’s time to vent.

For too long now I’ve been using descriptors such as ‘incredible’, ‘amazing’, ‘perfect’ and ‘excellent’ to describe the more recent follies of these Two Clowns.

No more Mr. Nice Guy!! It’s time for a panning. A caning! A tongue lash even!!  Let me assume the longest face of condemnation as I recount our less than satisfactory experience at Wine South Tasmania‘s ‘White Wine Weekend’.

As with most tragedies, it all started out deceptively well.

Tickets? Check!

Crystal Plumm wine glass for tastings? Check!

Venue? A spectacular mix of rustic exposed brick and modern cantilevered beams inside the IXL Atrium at the Henry Jones Art Hotel.

Conditions? Toasty like the glasshouse it was.

It was all down hill from here…

We had been to previous red and white wine weekends and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, so we had no reason to expect this one to be any different.

The premise is quite simple, invite vignerons from 18 of southern Tasmania’s wineries to come together with a selection of more than 60 of their best white wines, and give the paying punters a chance to sip at their leisure.

While wineries such as Home Hill, Bream Creek, Puddleduck and Frogmore Creek are well known both locally and across Australia, this format also gives some of the lesser known wineries an opportunity to spruik their wares, exposing our palates to something new and (hopefully) exciting!

The atrium was structured logically, with around 8 wines allocated to per trestle table, behind which were stationed two or three representatives from the wineries. Their role? Firstly, to pour the wines, and secondly, to respond to any questions you might have regarding the wines you were tasting.

As you would expect, the tables were ordered in such a way as to guide the increasingly tipsy quaffer through the various wine varieties in a logical manner. Sparklings first, followed by Rieslings (strangely including a few dessert wines), Pinot Grigio/Gris’, then a very broad selection of Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays, and finally, a number of Gewürztraminers and other sweeter style wines.

In theory it should work. In practice, it was a shambles.

Maybe it’s just us and our general lack of tolerance for clueless ignorance, but when you’re standing side by side with your partner in front of a table only 1.5m wide, recently filled wine glass in hand, it should be pretty obvious that no one else standing behind you is going to be able to access the selection of wines until you move your oblivious derrière out of the way!! I lost count of the number of times that these people just refused to get out of the way, treating the whole experience like it was their own private wine tasting session, to the exclusion of the other half a dozen or more people standing in ‘line’ behind them!!

While initially this would seem to be general gripe regarding human nature in general (I see the same behaviour at luggage carousels at airports), in my opinion it actually reflects quite poorly on the layout of the event. The venue did look visually stunning, but it was also relatively compact, resulting in this ridiculous congestion at almost every single table. I’m not sure if a different configuration of the tables would help, or whether a larger venue is required, but either way I suggest that something needs to change!

Our second gripe for the day, and a much more serious criticism, is the temperature at which the wines were served.

If this was a red wine weekend, it wouldn’t have been as much of an issue, but white wines should be served chilled, with a temperature no more than 14°C at most. I totally understand that utilising a venue such as the IXL Atrium has to come with some compromise, particularly considering the greenhouse effect caused by the glass roof, but I swear that 9 out of 10 wines that we tried were lukewarm at best. I’m definitely no snobby wine connoisseur, but a white wine should be treated with at least a modicum of respect, particularly when you’re paying for the privilege! I honestly expected more from Wine South in this regard, as it completely ruined the vast majority of wines that we tried on the day. More ice? Mobile cool room? Again, I’m not sure what the answer is but other options really should be explored.

On the upside, of those that were at a decent temperature, we did manage to discover a few great wines that we hadn’t come across before. In particular (with official tasting notes…not mine, while I can pick a quality wine, I couldn’t tell you the difference between a ‘plum note’ and a ‘supple palate’):

  • Kelvedon Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – Notes of mandarin skin, plus varietal gooseberry and a touch of lime. Rich flavours of tinned peach and green tomato(?!!) and a long finish.
  • Kelvedon Estate Chardonnay 2011 – Aromas of lemon meringue and lime marmalade. The palate is mouth-filling and cleansing as the lemon curd richness meets the wonderful acidity. The finish is both complex and entirely satisfying.
  • Spring Vale Reserve Chardonnay 2011 – Peach, jasmine, aromatic oak on the nose. Mouth-filling texture: minerally acid structure coupled with generous, savoury oak. Fabulous length.

We’ve marked these ones down for a future purchase!

While we still had a good afternoon of wine tasting, it could have been so much more! This is one of the showcase events for Wine South Tasmania, yet both the product they are striving to promote, and their potential market, were treated quite poorly.

I need a glass of red now after all that belly-aching… 🙂