Sydney Bound - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Sydney Bound

The sidewalks of Fifth Avenue and 50th Street at lunchtime are jammed with New Yorkers, just as densely packed with people as a peak-hour train platform in Hong Kong. The streets of Sydney’s Kings Cross were nearly as crowded at four a.m. when I left Michael Engelmann and a group of our Best New Sommeliers to escape back to the hotel for some sleep. That was back in 2010, when James Gosper of Wine Australia and I had organized a tour for the somms, including a day in Melbourne tasting cool-climate wines from Victoria, which local somms helped select and present to us. One of those sommeliers was a little less local, Sophie Otton from Rockpool Bar & Grill, Neil Perry’s art deco, multi storied-bank-building-turned-restaurant in Sydney. She and Engelmann hit it off, and he ended up accepting a job at the restaurant.

Though I don’t think of Engelmann as a party animal, he was consistently one of the last somms standing whenever we’d hit a latenight bar on that trip. So when our W&S team considered the best possible guide to the burgeoning wine scene in Sydney, Engelmann’s name was at the top of the list. He’s assembled his favorite wine hangouts in town, including a number of places to try the sort of peculiarly elegant wines that may change the way you think about Australia’s vineyards forever. Engelmann, now a Master Sommelier, has also included several shops where you can pick up these bottles to bring home. You’ll find his photos and his insider’s guide on page 24.

On an equally mind-bending trip to another zona austral, our man in Santiago, Patricio Tapia, followed some of his favorite winegrowers south, through the Lake Country and Malleco into the near-Antarctic chill of Chile Chico. Get out your globe and you’ll see this is one parallel south of New Zealand’s Central Otago, which itself is pretty far south for vines. These austral extremities are now matched in Argentina, where Giorgio Benedetti tracked down the most southerly vineyard projects in Patagonia. Sometime soon, you may be drinking a pinot noir from the 46th parallel.

This story appears in the print issue of February 2013.
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