Love pinot noir? You’re in good company. Tasting Australia will celebrate the variety at its most powerful, a masterclass to feature experts including Oregon-based winemaker Leah Adint. A Brave New Pinot World will begin with the benchmark – France – before covering new world nations holding their own in style: Australia, New Zealand and the United States. And it will be a return to familiar soil for Adint, who studied at the University of Adelaide before working worldwide. We caught up with the rising star ahead of her journey Down Under.
Q&A with winemaker Leah Adint
Tell us three things about yourself.
I grew up in Alaska until I left for college. My favorite hobby is snowboarding, you’ll find me at the mountains every weekend. I have two rescue cats – one is from Australia!
You’ve trained and worked in South Australia. How do you remember your time in the state?
I loved my time in South Australia – I love how close the university, AWRI, and the local industry all are with each other. It truly feels like everyone benefits the other, everyone is working together to make greater wine. I also love that everyone is keen to try different things, there isn’t a right way or wrong way to make wine there.
How did your experiences at the University of Adelaide help shape your career in winemaking?
What I think sets University of Adelaide apart from other education is the opportunity to explore so many different paths. With the student vineyard and winery on-site, it really was ‘any experiment or any trial, if you pick it you can make it.’ There were no limits if students were eager to get their hands dirty. And at the same time, incredible research facilities are on the same campus, some of the best research in the world is right there.
Why is a sense of community so important in winemaking?
There is nothing better than sharing ideas, trials, experiments with other winemakers. We’re all looking to make the best wine with what we’ve got, you can learn so much from your neighbors. There are always new coopers, new yeasts, new enological products to try, why not share the results? And when something breaks down, it’s important to have good friends to ask for help.
What sets pinot noir apart from other grape varieties?
Pinot Noir acts more like a white grape than a red grape; it’s thin-skinned, high acid, and reacts so drastically to climate changes, viticulture treatments, and winemaking styles. Pinot Noir can make exceptional sparkling wine, rose wine, cool-climate earth-driven red wine, as well as richer, more structured red wine. Pinot Noirs can age for decades or be perfectly enjoyable while young.
What are your favourite dishes to pair with pinot noir?
As a born-and-raised Alaskan, I have to say fresh salmon has no better pairing than Pinot Noir. The delicate, savory qualities of pan-seared salmon need an equally delicate and nuanced wine. Pinot Noir’s acidity perfectly cuts through the fish oils, while not overtaking the flavors. My other favorite pairing for Pinot Noir is prosciutto and rocket pizza, you really can’t go wrong.
Tell us about your most memorable moment in wine so far.
Oh wow, it’s hard to pin just one. My dad was a wine distributor back in Alaska (how I originally got interested in winemaking). One Christmas, he gave me a bottle of 2006 Domaine de la Romanee Conti. I was 21 at the time and I knew it was special, I had no idea when I would ever find the right moment to open such a bottle. I brought it to Australia with me, just in case. It was Valentines Day one year while I was studying at the University of Adelaide, myself and my flatmates were sitting at our house in Norwood with no plans and very little money, feeling sorry for ourselves. I decided it was the right time, just for us. Creating the moment for a truly special bottle of wine. Our whole evening became about that wine, researching the history and vineyards, watching it open up in the glass, enjoying it with lifelong friends.
Any bars, restaurants, or wineries you hope to visit during your time at the festival?
All of them! It’s been so long since I’ve been to Adelaide, I can’t wait to see how the city has grown, changed, and what still remains the same. I’m definitely taking a trip up to the Adelaide Hills and visiting some winemaker friends. And definitely going to the Central Markets for lunch!
Where you'll find Leah at Tasting Australia
- Masterclass - A Brave New (Pinot) World: Revel in pinot noir at its most powerful. We’ll consider the benchmark – France – and new world nations holding their own in style: Australia, New Zealand and the United States. These are big-ticket wines, each a dazzling expression of pinot noir and worthy of appreciation in its own right. Tasting them together is a rare luxury. Four brackets of two wines will star.