It’s a good time to be drinking wine in Western Australia. In addition to industry veterans such as Cullen, Vasse Felix, Millbrook and Lamont’s going from strength to strength, a growing number of maverick winemakers are making their mark with vibrant, outré wines that resonate with today’s drinkers: think “orange” and skin-contact wines – white wines made like red wines to produce rich, deeply textured drinks – and spritzy, naturally fermented sparkling wines known as pét-nats.
Many of these firebrands will be pouring and talking about their handiwork at Perth’s inaugural Young Gun of Wine Uncut lunch at Il Lido. While many are looking forward to the event, Il Lido partner and awarded sommelier Dan Wegener (his CV includes time at Quay in Sydney and Print Hall in Perth) might well be the most excited.
“The thought of us hosting Young Gun of Wine for the first time in Western Australia has us punching at stars,” says Wegener. “Young Gun is uncovering the freshest new faces of the Australian wine industry and, finally in year 11 of the awards, Perth will show all that talent.”
The line-up for the maiden Perth event has a strong local flavour with winemakers from labels such as Brave New Wine, Les Sauvages, Tripe Iscariot and Ipso Facto making the trip to Cottesloe. All in all, guests at the tasting will be able to meet and taste wines from 20 Australian producers thinking outside the (goon) box. What inspired this ground swell? For Ryan O’Meara of Express Winemakers in the Great Southern, it was the combination of travel and necessity that led him down his unconventional winemaking path (among the things he produces: a super refreshing beer-and-wine hybrid called Chardonnale).
“I couldn’t find wines that I wanted to drink at a decent price so it started from there,” says O’Meara. “There were plenty of winemakers that had seen things outside of Western Australia and saw the potential to build on that. We’re a bit limited in terms of grape varieties but you make do with what you’ve got. I’ve been to London and seen what the market could be like. Things have changed a lot here, but there’s still room for plenty of movement.”
Young Gun of Wine Uncut Perth runs from 1pm to 4pm at Il Lido on Friday December 2. Tickets to the stand-up lunch are $70 and available online and include a Riedel wine glass and antipasti, pasta and cheese served canape style.