“People want to learn about wine in the way they consume it, and that’s socially,” says Dan Sims, organiser of Game of Rhones.
Wine is coming. Game Of Rhones returns to Adelaide on Saturday, May 23, bringing a battle-to-the-death to a goblet near you. Prepare your fur capes and your saga talk, because this is one wine-tasting event for not the faint of heart. Game Of Rhones exposes drinkers and dabblers to the grape varieties of the Rhone Valley, France. These include Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignan, Cinsault, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. This is the second year GoR makes the journey to Adelaide, and the third year of the event in total. This year, it will expand from Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane to include Sydney and Auckland as well. While the Melbourne event is the largest with more than 40 producers involved in the showcase, Adelaide’s 20 are nothing to sniff at. Wine presented on the day will be a mix of local, New Zealand, Victorian and Western Australian labels. Dan Sims, the event organiser, says they always have fantastic support from South Australian winegrowers, but they like to use the event to broaden drinkers’ horizons a little. “We want to celebrate the variety and style of wines, rather than just having all Barossa or all McLaren Vale. We want people to explore the various styles of the Rhone varieties.”
Why the Rhone?
Simply put, Rhone varieties are drinkable varieties. “Our first major event was PinotPalooza, and it was a celebration of Pinot because it’s really cool,” explains Sims. “Then everyone said, ‘Aw, you should do a “ShirazPalooza”’, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, kill me’. Could you imagine? It’d just be a whole bunch of old blokes with red noses – it’d be hilarious, but we don’t really want to do it.” Instead, he says, they broadened the theme to include all the Rhone varieties. And it allowed them freedom to show off Grenache in all its understated glory.
Grenache takes the throne
We shouldn’t be ashamed of our Grenache, says Sims, and Game of Rhones hopes to hammer that message home. “Australia has got the oldest Grenache vines in the world. That’s phenomenal,” he says, “and we should celebrate it! Rather than being all, ‘It’s a blend’, you know, said in whispers, we should be allowed to be loud and proud. These are old-vine Grenache blends and they’re really drinkable and they’re fantastic. They make sense.” Drinkability keys right into the point of the event, and into Australia’s blooming culinary culture. “I think in terms of how food culture has evolved in Australia – and especially in Adelaide, the food and wine scene over here is going from strength to strength. These blends are very food-friendly.” Food this year will be prepared by Publishers Hotel, with spit-roasted lamb, pulled pork and grain salads being served. Vegetarian and gluten-free options will be catered for.
That’s the ticket
Included in the $50+bf ticket price are all your tastings from the 20 producers, plus a beautiful Reidel Overture wine glass. The glass will not be etched. “It’s one of my pet hates whenever I go to one of these events and they use tiny little shitty ISO glasses and they’re etched,” vents Sims. “And you go, ‘Well, you know what, I’m never going to use that again’, because if you’ve got people coming round for dinner, what are you going to do? Have all these mismatched, branded glasses out?” So none of that at the Game.
Rhone bar, deluxe
Outside of your tastings, you have the chance to head to the Rhone Bar, which will give interested drinkers a chance to try some truly magnificent drops. How about the Ferme St Martine Beaumes De Venise Rouge ‘Terres Juenes’ (2013)? Or a Rene Rostaing Cote-Rotie ‘Ampodium’ (2010)? The selection goes on, with nine varieties available to purchase as a tasting or as a glass. Or you could go for a flight of five. “A lot of these wines retail for about $250 a bottle, and we’ve got a whole bunch of Magnums there as well,” says Sims. “Now, to make this more accessible, I mean, we want people to try these, we’ve got some local somms to help out and they’ll do a little wine flight for you for $20. You’ll get two wines from the Northern Rhone, a cheeky little Rosé and two wines from the Southern Rhone, and you can mix and match whichever ones you want to have a look at.”
At the end of the day
The year-on-year growth of Game of Rhones is a great sign that there is an appetite for wine events without the pomp. “Never before have people been more interested in wine, but what they don’t want to do is go to a bloody masterclass and be told what they don’t know by a bunch of old men,” says Dan Sims, event organiser. “People want to learn about wine in the way they consume it, and that’s socially. That’s what we’re trying to do with Game of Rhones and Pinot Palooza. We want people to come along, have fun, bring your friends, have a chat and learn something. “It is possible to go to a wine tasting, learn something and actually enjoy yourself.”
Producers at Adelaide Game of Rhones 2015
Rusty Mutt Giesen Ministry of Clouds Oakdene Yangarra Voyager Estate TarraWarra Estate Tellurian Yalumba Tim Smith Wines Shaw + Smith Seppelt Heathcote Estate Grant Burge Barossa Schild Estate S.C. Pannell Paxton Oliver’s Tarange Vineyards Head Wines of the Barossa Valley d’Arenberg with The B Cider Company Swell Brewing Co
Where and when
Save the date: PinotPalooza
Friends and wine-swillers, if you like the sound of Game Of Rhones, save a space in your drinking diary for August. The crew behind the Game will be bringing their grand event PinotPalooza to Adelaide on August 8. Stay tuned for further details.