Friday, 21 February 2014

Rootstock Sydney 2014 - 3 wine highlights

Rootstock 2014 - 3 wine highlights

Oh yes, it was busy
Rootstock is Australia's first minimal intervention wine show, first held last year and now ramped up again for it's second iteration (for a further context you can have a read of my report from last year's festival).

Now held in the historic Carriageworks facility (a set of old railway yards and buildings, now converted into an arts and entertainment complex), Rootstock has taken on a much bigger personality from the cramped and rather sweaty persona of last year, with some 13,351 people attending the event.

High fives all round, particularly for Mike Bennie (wine penman extraordinaire - works too hard), Georgio de Maria (Sommelier at 121BC, wine importer - man with excellent hair) James Hird (Wine Library, Vincent, Buzo - loves West Ham United) Linda Wiss & Matt Young (Black Market Sake, 12 William St - their Sake is awesome) and the rest of the volunteers, who clearly didn't get much sleep before, during and even after the event.

Sadly I only got to spend one day at this years festival*, though that was still plenty of time to discover a few genuine wine highlights. Here is just three:

Cloudburst Chardonnay 2011
As Lili Von Shtupp said in Blazing Saddles 'Oh its twue. It's twue. It's twue. It's twue!'.

I'm happy to report that Margaret River's unicorn wine is just as good as expected. Sure, it's $200 a bottle. Sure, you can't buy any. Sure, the whole operation is shrouded in mystery and subterfuge, Regardless, this is a near perfect Margaret River Chardonnay, carefully balancing varietal grapefruit and melon Margaret River Chard characters with a wonderfully rocky, gravelly texture. Acid, power, lees weight - everything perfect. Wow...

I didn't feel the same way about the 2011 Cabernet (just a bit too oaky and warm without the same precision) but this Chardonnay is well worth tracking down,

Hiedler Thal Gruner Veltliner 2011
Not hard to like a Gruner like this - concentrated, powerful, perfumed, textural... In the groove (sorry, I had to say it). This was so pure, so achingly varietal, so... smashable. That sounds like an elegant way to describe a delicious wine, but I could drink so much of this lovely wine. In contrast to some of the wines here, this looked quite conventional. Yet perfectly so.

Olek Bondonio Barbera 2012 and Barbaresco 2010
After tasting this duo I'm not ashamed to say that I immediately went on an internet wine shop search to purchase some. What inspired my search was simple - these are simply perfect wines. Modestly priced, modestly packaged, modest wines that I wanted to just drink and drink. The Barbera carefully matches Langhe Barbera's natural high acid with impressive fruit intensity, real tannins and a beauty that was unmistakeable. A joyous wine.

Similarly, the unfined, unfiltered, naturally clarified (the tanks get left outside over winter) Barberesco illustrated the gentle, long skin contact and big barrels 'classic' style of Piedmonte Nebbiolo, the wine driven by ultra fine shapely tannins and that same sense of energy. Burgundy meets Barbaresco. For less than 30 euros a bottle in Italy, this is bloody cheap in context too - half the price of similar old vine (this comes off a low cropping vineyard planted in 1979) Barberesco and will no doubt live forever. Wonderful.

*it would have been more but I cooked myself during a Rogaine on the Sunday. 35C heat + 37km run without enough eloctrolytes = serious heatstroke.


  1. Hi Andrew

    Sounds a great event. Where did you find the Bondonios?


    1. Have ended up getting a friend to buy them who is bringing them over from the UK. Apparently Giorgio might be bringing some in too, so 121BC in Sydney might be next best option.


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