Mental Notes is a stimulating day out for a number of reasons -
not least because it's hosted by Joel Amos (director of natural and
sustainable wine, beer and sake service DRNKS) and his friends Jake
Smyth and Kenny Graham (Mary's, The Unicorn). The wine festival gives
Sydneysiders a chance to savour some very interesting, very
naturally fermented juice - and talk to the producers and importers
while they're at it.
Its second outing is on Saturday 15 October, and the guys are turning it up a notch in size and scope, taking over the Paddington Town Hall for the day. It'll be a full program of tastings, talks, Mary's burgers and even a DRNKS bottle shop, so you can buy any new favourites to take home.
But malolactic ferments, indigenous yeasts, unfined, unfiltered, biodynamic, minimal-intervention and (ye gods) natural wines can be a confusing game. For your ease and elucidation, Amos has provided us with some notes. (And yes, they are mental.)
Gentle Folk, Basket Range, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
"It cost us a fortune but the most famous winemaker in the world is going to get out of bed for us! Gareth Belton's wines are driven by acid and freshness - just like fresh acid."
Patrick Sullivan, Strzelecki Ranges, Gippsland, Victoria
"Try all his new wines for the first time in Sydney. Probably the grapiest juice in the world right now. Also, touch his face."
Xavier, Heathcote, Victoria
"Xavier Goodridge is as chill as an ice-block in Tassie. Now three vintages deep in his own wines, they're just getting better and better."
Unkel Wines, Gippsland, Victoria
"Rob Burley learnt a lot working as Patrick Sullivan's assistant winemaker - particularly about how to create new and tasty fermented fruit from Victoria."
Puncheon Bottles Imports
"What happens when two industry high-flyers, Patrick Sullivan and Christian McCabe of Melbourne's Embla, start an import business? Fireworks. This is the first time that they're showing wines in Sydney. Plus: best name ever."
"It's about time someone found some not-gross wine from South America. Cultivar imports plenty of varieties we're familiar with, but also new styles from one of the oldest parts of the New World. They're currently importing lots of great organic wines from Chile."
Jilly Wines, New England, New South Wales
"Who knew northern New South Wales existed? These guys are making fresh and real booze from this odd part of Oz."
Krinklewood, Broke Fordwich, Hunter Valley, New South Wales
"When Pete Windrim isn't carving deities in the Hunter, he's carving vibes in Paddington. The lord of biodynamics and he only lives a couple of hours north."
Virtuous Vine Imports
"Charles Simpson is the most well-spoken man in Australia. Come and talk to him. He mainly imports wines from the Loire Valley in France and they're really, really good."
"When a wine nerd with a fantastic palate decides to import wine the rest of us may as well quit. Predominantly wines from the south-west of France, but he's also importing one of the best red wines from Jura I've seen. Ask him about it."
Ochota Barrels, Basket Range, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
"Surf's up, dudes. Technically, the wines are about as pure as juice gets. Theoretically, they're made by the loosest unit in the world."
Latta Vino, Coghills Creek, Victoria
"Some of the newest styles of wine from some of the oldest vineyard sites in the country. Heritage winemaking at its youngest and its best."
Manon Wines, Adelaide Hills, South
"Don't be fooled by Tim Webber and Monique Millton's good looks; they're actually just really good-looking. This will be the first time to try wines made with the fruit from the vineyard they purchased together late last year. Get excited."
Andrew Guard Wine Imports
"I wonder how it feels to do it for longer and better than everyone else? Not only does he import wines we can't afford to have at Mental Notes like Ganevat, Pacalet, Overnoy… but he also imports some of the most interesting and accessible wines from Spain, France and the USA."
Smallfry, Barossa Valley, South Australia
"Have you ever consumed organic wine from the Barossa? Wayne Ahrens and Suzi Hilder probably grew the fruit, and now they're making the wine. They'll be showing us their skin-contact whites, their rosé and one of their beautiful light reds."
Chèvre Wines, Otway Ranges, Victoria
"Farmer Jordan Kay desperately needs a wife… and a house… but he does have a beautiful little vineyard with some amazing wine coming off it. This will be your first chance to try them, but move fast - they sell out quickly."
Giorgio De Maria Fun Wines
"He'll be pouring orange wine from magnum, a rare red from the mountains of Piedmont, and Gatti, the best prosecco currently in Australia. What could possibly go wrong?"
Two Metre Tall, Derwent Valley, Tasmania
"Give a warm welcome to the first beer poured at Mental Notes. Ashley and Jane Huntington made true farm-to-bottle products, made using fermented grains from their organic farm in Tassie."
Mental Notes #2, Saturday 15 October, Paddington Town Hall, 249 Oxford St, Paddington, NSW. Tickets are $50 for each tasting session or $90 for both sessions. For tickets visit mentalnotes.co
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