Tips and trends from Wine Ambassador Kristy Farrell.
We unearth the secrets of a good drop of wine with Pernod Ricard Wine Ambassador Kristy.
Kristy’s wine philosophy starts with story-telling. Simplifying its origins, she believes wine needn’t be intimidating but shared and enjoyed by all. Originally from the Yarra Valley, Kristy started her career in the wine industry as cellar door and social media manager in 2016. Since then she has worked in The Napa Valley, completed her WSET Level 2, become a Wine Ambassador with Pernod Ricard Winemakers and visited over 12 wine regions around the world.
1. What shaped your passion for wine?
Think about the last time you had a glass of wine. It was probably with friends or family and that's what I love about it. People coming together, catching up, connecting and celebrating.
This passion began when I started in the industry 4 years ago. I was a cellar door and social media manager for a Yarra Valley brand, Rob Dolan Wines. The cellar door had only just opened, so the team and I needed to raise awareness. We created a community of wine loving locals that saw the cellar door as a central place to catch up with friends and family.
Fast forward a few more years, I was a successful applicant to become a Wine Ambassador for Pernod Ricard Winemakers, the world’s second largest wine producer. Here my passion for the wine industry grew further. I’m lucky to work with so many talented people who I am constantly learning from. I also get to work with some top brands including Jacob’s Creek, Campo Viejo, Brancott Estate and Stoneleigh.
2. Which are your top 3 wine regions?
Rioja For its wine and people. I visited Rioja in 2019 and met some of the kindest people who were so passionate about wine, the region and sustainability. I was working at Campo Viejo which is an incredible winery built into the side of a mountain, it’s 25 meters underground and was the first winery in Spain to become carbon neutral. Tempranillo from the region is incredible, Campo Viejo’s is bright, juicy and full of flavour, a definite favourite drop of mine.
Barossa An iconic Aussie wine region. Its history dates back to 1847 when the first vines were planted. The Barossa is so versatile with big bold reds from the valley floor to more elegant styles in the Eden Valley. I spent a month working at the Jacob’s Creek winery in 2019 and it was a great experience. If you’re visiting, I recommend visiting the Jacob’s Creek cellar door and trying their limited release range, they are small batch, cellar door only wines and they are exceptional. I also recommend South East Asian dining at FermentAsian.
Douro Valley For its history and breathtaking views. Wine has been produced in this region for over 2000 years, in fact the region is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The vineyards are on such steep mountains with breathtaking vistas everywhere you look. I stayed near Peso da Régua and ate at Xanoca which served simple but good food and it was definitely one of my favourite dining experiences of the trip. I also recommend a wine shop called Pecados do Vinho. The owner shared his passion and knowledge of the region - making it simple to select the perfect wine.
3. What are the trending wine regions in Australia?
Canberra District is one to keep an eye on. They are making some interesting alternative varieties in innovative ways. Not too long ago I had a great Gruner Veltliner that’s suited to the cool climate of Canberra.
4. What are the top considerations when buying a bottle of wine?
The brand is my first consideration. Wine is such a saturated market and there are a lot of great wines out there, so it can be daunting trying to choose your next drop. Brands have unique stories, history, and resource to create delicious wine. Secondly I think about the occasion and if food will be part of that. Thirdly, the weather plays an important role too - you're unlikely to want a heavy red on a hot summer's day.
5. Which senses should you be using for a truly immersive experience?
Smell and taste. Of the five senses smell is the most accurate and is approximately 1000 times more sensitive than taste. As a result, what is termed flavour is influenced by roughly 80% smell and 20% taste. Ever notice how food seems to taste bland when your nose is blocked? That’s because smell is important for us to taste!
6. What is the biggest wine trend right now?
The health and well-being trends are booming across the retail sector and the alcohol industry is no different. We’re seeing low or zero alcohol wine starting to become more popular, where previously it has predominantly been a focus for beers and ciders. Jacob’s Creek Better by Half range speaks to this trend delivering great wine with half the alcohol and half the calories compared to other Jacob’s Creek products of the same variety. The wines are 5.5% alcohol and only 36 calories per 100ml serve, they are light, crisp and refreshing.
7. What is your go-to comfort food and which wine would you pair with it?
Pizza and Pinot. Love pizza, love Pinot Noir, the flavours tend to go well together too. Or I do love fish and chips with Riesling. The oily chips coat the mouth and the Riesling freshens the palate.
8. How does a regions climate impact grape harvesting?
Climate creates the style for the region and determines picking time. Generally speaking, if the climate is warmer, the grapes will be picked earlier than in a cool climate. The Barossa Valley for example is lower in altitude and has a warmer climate. The Eden Valley is a sub-region of the Barossa and has a higher altitude and a cooler climate. Shiraz out of these regions are different in flavour and style. Shiraz from the Barossa is full-bodied, bold and powerful with black fruit flavours. Shiraz from the Eden Valley is more elegant with a medium body, vibrant with red fruit flavours and pepper.
9. Do you think cellar door experiences will evolve? If so, how?
Yes, and it is already happening. Many cellar doors offer more than just wine tasting these days. Jacob’s Creek for example offer a food and wine masterclass where the talented staff guide you through pairing different flavours to your wine. Campo Viejo, in Spain, also do an awesome experience where they taste the wine with different light and sound to see how that changes our perception of wine. Brands are becoming more innovative with how people experience and taste wine, it’s very exciting!
If you want to see and hear more from Kristy, you can follow her experiences, tips and videos on Instagram.