One of the Hunter Valley’s rising winemaker stars, Gwyn Olsen, set the agenda at the launch of her signature range of wines for Cellarmasters: “challenge your senses”.
Olsen, making quite a splash in a dazzling multi-coloured dress made of tinsel and tulle, presented her new range of white, rosé and red wines at the recently refurbished Botanic House in Sydney’s spectacular Botanic Gardens, paired with a three-course dinner from celebrated restaurateur and chef Luke Nguyen.
She asked attendees to let go of their wine preconceptions and long-held beliefs in wine etiquette, such as red with meat and white with seafood.
Two of her wines, the 2019 Preservative Free Wrattonbully White Field Blend and the the 2019 Preservative free Wrattonbully Red Field Blend, are preservative-free – a challenge for winemakers, she said – vegan friendly and low intervention, in line with changing tastes for wines that match vegan and vegetarian diets. The range also includes a chardonnay and rosé, both of which were made using conventional winemaking methods.
“Preservative-free is a new style of wine that has come into focus in the last couple of years, as people look for alternative and minimal interference drinks.” – Winemaker Gwyn Olsen
“PF wines do not contain any preservatives, primarily sulphur dioxide, whereas conventional wines do,” she said.
Olsen suggests that preservative-free wines should be consumed within a couple of years of bottling. “While the wine contains some natural preservatives, like the alcohol itself, tannins and acidity, it’s not necessarily going to have the same longevity as a wine containing preservatives.”
The two Field Blend wines are also vegan with Bentonite as a fining agent. Despite their vegan-friendliness, the wines were paired with meaty entrées – the White Field Blend wine with pork belly, green papaya salad and chilli caramel, and the Red Field Blend, served lightly chilled, with beef striploin with roast beetroot, confit eschallot, watercress and horseradish.
Also served was a 2018 Hunter Valley Chardonnay with the main course of beef to challenge assumptions again – and a 2019 Hunter Valley Rosé with a dessert of Eton mess with vanilla cream, fresh berries, lemon myrtle and edible flowers.
The White Field Blend wine combines Fiano, Viognier, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris grapes from Briar Ridge’s Wrattonbully vineyard near Coonawarra in South Australia, while the Red Field Blend includes Merlot, Malbec, Aglianico and Barbera from the same vineyard.
“These field blends are artistic expressions of my winemaking, and a great opportunity to showcase what we can do with the areas that we source fruit from,” Olsen said.
Olsen is an award-winning winemaker now based at Peppertree Wines in the Hunter Valley. She studied Oenology at Roseworthy University in Adelaide and graduated in 2005, when she made the move to work in the famous Languedoc, St Emillion and Burgundy winemaking regions of France. She then headed to New Zealand for six years, and eventually became Operations Manager at Villa Maria.
In 2015, Olsen moved to the Hunter Valley as Head Winemaker for Peppertree Wines, overseeing production of boutique winery Briar Ridge. She is also a wine judge at six wine shows, including the Melbourne and Adelaide National Wine Shows.
The Gwyn Olsen range of wines is available exclusively through Cellarmasters.