Although we are now in New Zealand, i'm writing a back dated blogg of our Tours of the Wine regions of Australia.
One of the main reasons for this epic journey was to see as many Wine regions in the world as the budget would allow and as many as the Liver could handle. Currently to date, we have tasted approx 400-500 different wines not all at once and not together. We have been so far to the following areas;
France; Loire,Burgundy,Rhone,Languedoc,Minervois,Madiran and Jurancon.
Spain; Albarino, Rioja,Navarra and Priorato
Asia (Vietnam); Delat... that is all i'm saying about this region, its got a long way to go!!!
Australia; Mornington, Geelong,Coonawarra, Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley,Barossa and Mclaren Vale.
New Zealand( so far); Nelson.
To experience Australian Wines and to really understand the regional differences between a Shiraz grape for example produced in say, Hunter Valley and Barossa i thought it would be best to find out from some people who truly knew.
Having worked in Restaurants for the past 5 years and working some pretty unsociable hours i thought Sydney although a great deal to offer as a Sommelier i thought it best to see the wine trade from a different perspective. So I went lookng for employment in a wine merchants or as other wise known to the locals a "Bottle Shop" they call it how it is over here!
First i worked in a place called Kemeneys, which was a family run business run out of sunny Bondi, which worked on the same principle as "Majestic Wine Merchants" back in the UK. It however was a one shop operation with a reasonable turnover of $11 million but 70% of its sales were through its email and phone, not surprising considering it has only one outlet. My time here was short lived (3 weeks) as i realised that the range was better than most (supermarkets) but there was a serious lack of management and the staff morale was pretty low and the knowledge of staff was rock bottom. seeing that i was not going to learn much here i moved on
I stumbled across a little gem of a place around the corner from were we lived. I knew it was there but hadn't as yet been to have a mooch. But after reading an article in the "Gourmet Traveller Wine " mag i saw an article all about the top places to buy wine in each city of Australia, and under the Sydney section was "Five Way Cellars" a little family operation run by Ian Cook. After finishing my notice at Kemeney"s I started the next day as Assistant Manager at Five Way Cellars.
Ian had been there 20 years and his shop was basically a a home converted into a wine shop, with a small downstairs and an even smaller upstairs. Th is was a very modest business which doubled as Ian's obsession for wine and the shop resembled an Aladin's cave of wine. I worked for Ian for 3 months but learnt an awful lot in a short space of time. After a couple of weeks it soon became apparant that Five Way Cellars was a Sydney institution and that Ian Cook himself was known by the Ozzy and New Zealand trade for being a no nonsense but highly respected individual.