|"A scrum of jostling hacks..." Cargo, in Shoreditch|
There's nothing like a Shoreditch nightclub as a venue for a wine tasting. To call Shoreditch trendy is like suggesting the UK Independence Party is nasty – it just doesn't do it justice.
The East London borough is eye-wateringly, not-knowing-where-to-look trendy. Cargo nightclub – where the Artisans of Australian Wine event was held this week – is in the center of a barrio of booming street chic. Every bar or shop is shimmering white, or black, or self-consciously scruffy. There are restaurants in converted shipping containers where beautiful Japanese couples lunch off a bowl of three fries and a lozenge of wasabi for $45; next door you can buy a tee-shirt with a gnomic message for twice that. That's the thing about postcodes east of the City – they might look like a scene from Blade Runner, but they come with a hefty price tag.
Cargo is darkish, sweaty, the toilets reassuringly squalid (with signs warning that drugs are not tolerated). You don't want to touch the walls. At the door, dressed in black, stood Wine Australia's London chief Laura Jewell and her events manager Emma Symington, looking like they were about to ask me to step aside for a frisking. No such luck.
Of course, wine tastings have been held in nightclubs and bars before. There's any number of hip young gunslingers importing artisan wines who wouldn't dream of setting up their tables anywhere else. But it's a measure of the current state of Australian wine that Jewell and her team should choose this particular moment to hold this particular tasting in this particular venue, instead of in the hallowed marble halls of Australia House.
The avant-garde has become mainstream. It is now perfectly normal to find a Barossa Shiraz with less than 13 percent alcohol (Eden Road's wonderfully crunchy 2011 Canberra Shiraz is 12.9 per cent); whole-bunch pressing, carbonic maceration, natural yeasts and weeks on skins are standard practice. Experimentation is everywhere. The "natural", in all its myriad definitions, is celebrated. As Gary Mills of Jamsheed described the vinification of his entry-level Yarra Valley Pepe le Pinot: "We're trying to fuck it up a bit – roughen up the edges."
This is modern Australian winemaking. Read whole article