You know you’re in for a treat at winemaker Gwyn Olsen’s dinner when she shows up in a dress from Instagram star @imakestagram. You know the one — it’s tinsel, literally tinsel. And it’s awesome, just like Olsen herself.
The Plus Ones were invited by Cellarmasters for a magnificent three-course meal — paired with four of Olsen’s scrumptious wines — at the revamped Botanic House in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
She got her start in winemaking in France where, thanks to the help of Google Translate, she updated her c.v. into French and landed herself a job — all without speaking the language. That soon changed, and she learned not just the French tongue, but how to make wine the French way.
Armed with centuries of viticultural knowledge, Olsen returned to Australia — and we’re all the better for it. She received the prestigious Gourmet Traveller Wine’s Young Winemaker Medal in 2014, then became Head Winemaker for Peppertree Wines in the Hunter Valley, where she also oversees the entire production of boutique winery Briar Ridge. And now she’s crafting her Gwyn Olsen wines for Cellarmasters.
Under the beautiful dried grass/floral arrangement hanging overhead at Botanic House, lucky attendees were treated to a glass of sparkling on arrival. The first course of our scrumptious meal: crispy pork belly, green papaya salad, and chilli caramel paired with Gwyn Olsen 2019 Preservative-Free Wrattenbully White Field Blend. Tasting Notes: A blend of Fiano, Viognier, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris from the Briar Ridge Wrattonbully vineyard. The wine spent four days on skins before being pressed off and fermented wild. Once dry, the wine was settled and bottled without any additions or fining. Drink now, slightly chilled.
The main was a beef striploin with roast beeteroot, confit eschallot, watercress horseradish, and Red Blend jus, paired with 2019 Wrattonbully Red Field Blend. Tasting Notes: A blend of Merlot, Malbec, Aglianico and Barbera from the Briar Ridge Wrattonbully vineyard. Picked and fermented together, this red was settled in tank once dry and bottled without any further additions. This medium bodied crunchy red is perfect for drinking now, slightly chilled.
There was also the 2018 Hunter Valley Chardonnay. Tasting Notes: Rich stone fruit characters of peach and nectarine on the nose are complemented by hints of nutmeg and clove spice. The palate is long and tight with stone fruit and melon notes finishing with a crunchy nectarine-like acidity. Balanced French oak provides structure and complexity.
Eton Mess with vanilla cream, fresh berries, Gwyn Olsen Rose, lemon myrtle, edible flowers, alongside the 2019 Gwyn Olsen Hunter Valley Rose. Tasting Notes: A fresh, dry delicate style of Rosé made from grapes sourced from the Briar Ridge Hunter Valley vineyard. This wine shows great length with rich guava, strawberries and cream flavours. A wine to be enjoyed now, served chilled.
That Olsen uses field blends — which aren’t particularly common in Australia — shows she’s at the forefront of the wine industry, while also going back to her roots in France. It’s a centuries-old technique of harvesting all the grapes grown in one vineyard, no matter the variety. The terroir, climate, and winemakers’ skills create something altogether magnificent (particularly when you have someone as masterful at their craft as Olsen).
The Gwyn Olsen Rose is simply scrumptious, and I’ll be the first to admit that as a non-Chardonnay drinker, she won me over. No matter which of the Gwyn Olsen wines you pick, and what you pair it with, you’ll be in for a treat. Enjoy!
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Theresa can’t wait to visit Gwyn Olsen’s wineries in the Hunter Valley IRL.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Cellarmasters.
Image credit: Cellarmasters and The Plus Ones.