After the sell-out success of last year’s Pinot Palooza, Bottle Shop Concepts are back, but this year they’re taking their event on the road, covering three major Australian cities in a space of eight days.
The first rule of Pinot Palooza, according to wine guru and Palooza creator Dan Sims, is that there will be no mention of baumé, TA levels or clones at Pinot Palooza. “If you do, you’ll get a yellow card,” Dan jokes (kind of). “Instead we want producers to tell their story – why they’re there; why they made the wine; what style they’re trying to create. Not give consumers a whole bunch of stats.”
Kicking off in Melbourne on October 5, Palooza heads to Sydney on the 7th, finishing in Brisbane on the 13th. “We learnt a lot from our inaugural Palooza, firstly that it was well received.” So much so that it’s moved to St Kilda Town Hall, a venue double the size of its predecessor. The bigger space will, however, showcase fewer producers than the 2012 event.
“Last year we had just under 70 producers, this year we’ll have around 55,” says Sims. “That’s 55 producers in a bigger space so people can actually get around to everyone and sample their pinots.”
Only one session is offered, as opposed to last year’s two (where Dan felt attendees were rushed to squeeze in their tastings), and with over 150 wines to taste it would be remiss not to serve food, which is where Smith Street favourites Huxtable and Rockwell & Sons come into play (the latter with southern fried chicken, the former with the likes of duck and mushroom sausage rolls, oxtail and pinot pies, and pork rolls).
Another addition is the Burgundy Bar, a break-out area manned by each state’s promising sommeliers (Grossi Group & Coda in Melbourne) where instead of paying premium price, enthusiasts can chill and sip a glass of Burgundy at cost price from the hourly changing wine list.
If merely sipping isn’t enough, head to the Green Room, an inner sanctum cheekily housed in the Council Chambers, for a 45 minute Masterclass on Pinot Noir or Burgundy. “The masterclasses are a snapshot for those who want to take their wine knowledge to the next level,” Sims says. “The floor at Palooza is about fun and engagement, and tasting a great range. This is a bit more of a focused thing; the geeky stuff.”
Before attending Pinot Palooza be sure to download the free app (available on iPhone and Android platforms) with all producers listed so you can write your own tasting notes, rate their wines, add to favourites and even purchase at cellar door prices, with free home delivery through the Prince Wine Store.
“Pinot Noir is my personal favourite,” Sims says. “It’s the grape variety that excites me the most and disappoints me the most. When it’s good, it’s great. When it’s bad, it’s just expensive.”
Saturday 5 October
St Kilda Town Hall
99a Carlisle Street, St Kilda
$60 (+ booking fee). Entry includes a Riedel ‘Heart to Heart’ glass and the latest edition of Wine Companion Magazine. Master class bookings are $50 per session on top of the ticket price.