The National Wine Centre of Australi
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Andres Aragon 

Blaq at The Kyah Boutique Hotel, Blue Mountains, NSW 

After working at some of Sydney’s most famed restaurants, sommelier Andres Aragon has headed to the country, to craft the drinks list at the Blue Mountain’s Blaq Restaurant at The Kyah Boutique Hotel. Aragon’s selection at Blaq is focused on showcasing the best of New South Wales, with all the wines, spirits, beers and anything else drinkable hailing from different areas across the state. He says he was inspired to craft a NSW-centric list after noticing how other venues in states like South Australia and Western Australia never shy away from focusing on products from their own states.

“Our aim is to highlight some of the best producers [in New South Wales], balancing well-known regions like the Hunter Valley and Mudgee with emerging ones such as Gundagai and Tumbarumba,” says Aragon. “We’re guided by quality, complemented with sustainable viticulture and seasoned with interesting varietals to encourage our guests to try something new and different from our home state.”

Aragon’s wine list features drops from local producers who excite him. “I personally admire what Nick Spencer is doing and how he is embracing regionality in the lesser-known Gundagai and Tumbarumba regions,” says Aragon, with his favourite being Spencer’s Light Dry Red (a blend of pinot noir, sangiovese and shiraz). Aragon also features Simon Robertson of Tumblong Hills. These are wines he warns not to miss by those who are “looking for something different and value for your buck”.

The spirits, beer and cider takes the locality theme further, honing in on the Blue Mountains area. “The main philosophy is letting nature lead, and to pay homage to some of our wonderful distillers and suppliers that are on our doorstep here in the Blue Mountains,” says Aragon. “Mountain Culture Beer Co in Katoomba and Hillbilly Cider at Bilpin are constantly pushing the boundaries, while Karu Gin Distillery has won several global awards. [We] are very pleased to be involved with these brands and showcase what the Blue Mountains has to offer.”