Winter is coming… and with it comes wine.
Game of Rhones presented by Bottle Shop Concepts was an epic mash up of wine fuelled, cosplay like festivities. What started as a joke between friends in Melbourne three years ago has now grown in popularity and is held in five Australian and two New Zealand cities annually. This is the first year that it has been incorporated into the Tasting Australia program, and we think it’s by far the most fun-filled event on the lineup.
Game of Rhones in its essence is a wine show focussing on Rhone varietals from Australia and New Zealand with a Game of Thrones theme. Think more fabulous costumes, frivolities and feasts rather than bloodshed and incest though. Fortunately you won’t find any of that there. By having a fun and youthful theme, Game of Rhones aims to make wine shows less stuffy and not marketed specifically to the older generation.
Located at the Published Arthouse on Cannon Street, the warehouse was a maze of stalls staffed with knights and ladys waiting to fill our complimentary plumm glasses (or BYO horn/goblet). Some familiar varietals like Grenache and Shiraz were a safe bet, but for the more adventurous and curious patron obscure varietals like Viognier and Roussanne were on offer to sample. Most of the stalls were manned by the actual winemakers so it was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the brands and the passion is required to produce such magical wines. There was also a fabulous and very informative Rhone bar where you pay a reasonable price to taste some French wines and compare those to the Australian interpretations.
Food was created was provided by Africola, who were recently accredited in The Australian’s Top 100 Restaurants. It’s not hard to see why they are highly acclaimed as the food was full of flavour, presented theatrically and devoid from subtly. Our favourite was the tacos filled with meat cooked on a rotisserie right there in the venue and topped with kimchi. The rotisserie added a very Game of Thrones element to the decor, especially with the billowing smoke pouring out of it! At many wine events the food is simply a necessity required to soak up the alcohol consumed, however Africola presented such a lovely spread it encouraged patrons to immerse yourself in this entirely different element of Game of Rhones.
After having the very difficult job of sampling so many wines, here are Jaimie’s winery picks for the day!
This Barossa Valley winery has undergone some revamping in the last few years with new winemaker Josh Pfeiffer at the helm. Try their next gen range, with kitschy labels, pun-filled names and damn good wine to boot. The Get in My Belly Grenache was tasty drop, and the name speaks for itself.
A Mclaren Vale-based winery where big personalities sell bold wines. Owner Brad Higgins ran us though the wines on offer and with his American drawl and obvious passion it is hard not to get caught up in the brand. On a side note, the stall was also manned by Max Mason of the soon to open Henry Austin. He let slip that in a collaborative effort the Henry Austin’s house wines will be provided by Brash Higgins. Gone are the days where house wines come out of goon sacks!
This small owner/operated winery had the Rhoniest of the Rhone varietals we tried all day; all fresh, soft and lush with beautiful subtle nose. The Viognier is outstanding and award-winning.
Game of Rhones has set itself apart from other such events by having a real sense of casualness and accessibility about it. If you don’t know much about wine, people are more than happy to help you learn rather than snob you off. If you don’t like wine and was dragged along by a fanatical friend it’s totally okay to down a few beers instead. If you feel like wear a suit of armour and drinking out of a horn, someone will come along and top you up. By encouraging a casual atmosphere Game of Rhones has created welcoming space where anyone can go and have fun.
If your thoughts are currently ‘I can’t wait until next year’s Game of Rhones!’ then you will be relieved to know that the organisers have another event called Pinot Palooza coming up. It is the same deal with a music festival theme around it, meaning flower crowns are encouraged and there will probably be a few shirtless clowns running around.
In this Game of Rhones it turns out we are all winners and no one dies… although I am sure we felt like we were going to the next day.