A Group Of Green Leaves And Green Leaves

The COMO Conversation


Conversation 4 minute read

Our award-winning sommelier Emma Farrelly shares what sparked her passion, reveals her secrets to a great wine pairing, and explains why Perth is a great wine city. 

A Woman Smiling For The Camera

With State of Wine – a festival of grapes designed by COMO The Treasury’s Director of Wine, Emma Farrelly – returning to the State Buildings this July, it’s the perfect time for a COMO Conversation on Australian wines. Farrelly is an award-winning and passionate sommelier, who draws on 20 years in the industry to curate unique wine lists, events and experiences for our guests in Western Australia. She is also one of only 12 Australian recipients of the Len Evans Tutorial, considered the 'greatest wine school on earth'.

What makes Perth a great city for wine?

Perth is quite a sprawling city, so we find there have been plenty of neighbourhood wine bars popping up in various suburbs over the past few years. The city itself has plenty of sophisticated wine offerings, alongside Fremantle – the nearby coastal town – which definitely has a more relaxed, laid-back energy to it, and is a great place to spend lazy weekends.

I think because Perth is a very isolated city, the people that live here travel often and are open to drinking wine from various parts of the globe. It makes for an informed audience to share some great producers with.

Tell us how you got into wine and how it became a career for you?

I have always worked in hospitality and decided to take a more wine-oriented path when I was about 21. I quickly fell in love with the role of the sommelier – being the conduit between producer and consumer is a really important role that involves a lot of storytelling, which I love. It’s also a very energetic and passionate environment to work in. I love describing wine to people in a way that can help them understand how it can be such an enjoyable drink, I don’t think it should just be a ‘shopping list’ of flavours. The way a wine feels on your palate is so important; tannin, acid and alcohol play a role that will determine the overall reaction you have when you drink it. Wine is provoking, thoughtful and inspiring.

A Group Of Bottles Of Alcohol

What makes an interesting Australian wine? Do you feel they are on par with Old World wines?

The Australian wine landscape is incredibly dynamic and always evolving. As we do not have the same restrictions in regard to vineyard management and winemaking, we are able to experiment a little more freely. Even though we are a relatively young winemaking country, over time this has resulted in an industry full of very passionate producers and thoughtful wines, which pay respect to the land and the environment. I believe Australian wines are going to become increasingly more popular internationally very soon.

A Close-up Of Some Pens
A Glass Of Red Wine

What would you recommend drinking for a casual lunch, easy aperitivo, special dinners?

For a casual lunch, something local: Chardonnay from Karridale (southern Margaret River) for the beautiful saline freshness and textural intensity we get from the region, or a light chilled red, perfect for our warm weather.

For an easy aperitivo, I would most likely look towards a refreshing white wine from Italy – Lugana or Verdicchio, something full of minerality and crunch. For a special dinner perhaps a beautiful Pinot Noir or Barolo. I would always start with Champagne though – Taittinger, of course! 

What do you wish more people knew about wine?

The labour and dedication required to produce good wine. So much hard work goes into it. 

A Close Up Of Some Leaves

What’s the best part of your job?

The people and the travel. I have been fortunate to visit some amazing parts of the world due to the industry I work in. But undoubtedly, the friends and families I have met along the way are a huge highlight. I've just come back from the Champagne region in France and also tasting Barolo's in Tuscany...the nuances that I've gathered simply from being around the people who live and breath the wine culture is simply astounding.

What is your favourite tipple (not necessarily wine)?

It is most definitely wine! It’s very hard to choose a favourite, but I do love both Chardonnay and Nebbiolo. Although sometimes it’s hard to beat a salty margarita on a hot day.

Discover your new favourite wine at COMO The Treasury, your home from home in the heart of Perth.