Tasting Australia’s drinks program has beefed up this year. So much so it’s enrolled wine writer and local booze expert Nick Stock as the festival’s first-ever beverage director. “We no longer just think about wine as something that ‘goes with food’,” he says. “Drinks have their own stories and identities too, which you can really see through the Tasting Australia program.” Here are 12 to seek out over the coming days.
Whether you’re breezing through Town Square for a quick espresso or taking in one of the Glasshouse Kitchen dinners, we have Tony d’Angelo’s coffee brewing all festival long. And if your love of coffee hits geek-level, then check out the Yemeni-American grower, roaster and trader of fine coffee, Mokhtar Alkhanshali, who joins the festival this year and presents a one-off masterclass of rare batch coffees.
Experience the Magical Journey of Coffee From Yemen to Adelaide
Sunday April 7, 2.30pm – Town Square
Rare Museum Vintages
The wine museum at Yalumba is a liquid treasure trove, and this year we’re fortunate to have the opportunity to taste rare and aged bottles from the vault. The Yalumba Museum and Blending Experience masterclass is an opportunity to blend young wines and taste museum bottles dating back almost 30 years.
Yalumba Museum and Blending Experience
Sunday April 7, 12.30pm – Town Square
There’s no more cultishly coveted name in South Australian wine than Wendouree. Collectors the world over seek these wines out wherever they can find them. This enigmatic producer of very old vine wines in the Clare Valley is featured among the selections served at the Legends in Clare Valley lunch. From the winery reserves they’ll pour the 2012 Cabernet Malbec, arguably their most distinctive wine, from an exceptional vintage.
Legends in Clare Valley
Sunday April 13, 1pm – Slate Restaurant, Pikes Winery
Japan’s rice-based national drink has risen to high regard via the world’s greatest restaurants, and award-winning Sydney sommelier Tim Watkins brings a selection of the absolute best to Tasting Australia this year. The flavours are soothing and complex and the traditions of production are extraordinary. The special styles on show at Tasting Australia will be a revelation for your palate.
Friday April 12, 5pm – Town Square
The Adelaide Hills is now firmly established as one of Australia’s great pinot noir regions and we have much on show from “up the hill” at this year’s festival. But in addition to showcasing some of Australia’s best pinot-making talent, we’re shining a spotlight on some international varieties. Join Burgundy-based Australian Jane Eyre and pinot poster child Bill Downie at the Pinot Pioneers masterclass to learn about their winemaking journeys (there'll be a tasting too), or taste the best local and overseas drops at the International Pinot Noir Tasting.
Pinot Pioneers: Jane Eyre & William Downie
Thursday April 11, 7pm – Town Square
International Pinot Noir Tasting
Friday April 12, 5.30pm – Town Square
World’s Oldest Vines
This special tasting experience brings together a suite of 10 wines that are all made from vineyards more than 100 years old. Old vines have a unique heritage and pedigree – and many of them can be found right here in South Australia. Taste Hewitson’s Old Garden (a wine from the oldest Mourvèdre vineyard on the planet), as well as wines from Tyrrell’s HVD Vineyard, which has some of the oldest chardonnay vines in Australia. Yalumba, Cirillo, Ox Hardy, Langmeil and more will be available at this rare tasting experience.
1000 Years of Wine
Saturday April 13, 3.30pm – Town Square
The quality of Australian distilling is big news at this year’s festival, and the Tasting Australia Spirit Awards party provides an opportunity to meet the best distillers and taste their wares. One of the highlights of the awards was discovering an excellent rum from Canefire Distillery, the Canefire No. 9. Check it out at the party and look out for it in the bars at Town Square.
Tasting Australia Spirit Awards
Saturday April 6, 8.30pm – Town Square
One of the focuses of this year’s festival is delivering exceptional international beverage talent. Champagne Bollinger is our headline act. It joins Tasting Australia Airlines in Coffin Bay and returns to Town Square for a soirée where three different champagnes will be showcased alongside chef Simon Bryant’s bespoke canapés.
Saturday Soirée with Champagne Bollinger
Saturday April 6, 5.30pm – Town Square
If you don’t know this wine that’s okay: it’s arguably the world’s most sought after white wine and – as the late, great Anthony Bourdain would say – I’d gladly slit my best friend’s throat for a bottle of this. We’ve rounded up a baker’s dozen of the world’s finest chardonnays (including Coche) for a world-class comparative chardonnay tasting where the best of Australia takes on the best of Burgundy. Be prepared for a few surprises as the wines are revealed.
International Chardonnay Tasting
Sunday April 7, 3.30pm – Town Square
Henschke Hill of Grace
The Henschke family are custodians of some incredible terroir and great old vines. This year, they’re inviting festival-goers to a dinner to taste a number of rare wines and vintages, including the world famous Hill of Grace Shiraz. Hill of Grace 2002 and 2014 will feature from the museum, and you'll be the first to taste the new vintage 2019 edition in the making. Many more wines from their family museum will also be served. This is a never-to-be-repeated night hosted by the Henschke family at home.
The Great Henschke Vintage Dinner
Friday April 12, 6.30pm – Henschke Cellars, Kyneton
Two of South Australia’s most famous rieslings will be poured side-by-side at our Titans of Riesling masterclass headlined by Jeffrey Grossett from the Clare Valley and Louisa Rose from Pewsey Vale. They'll be joined by importer Randall Pollard, who’ll present a suite of wines from Germany’s Klaus-Peter Keller, that country’s most highly-regarded maker of dry riesling. If riesling’s your thing, don’t miss this tasting.
Titans of Riesling
Saturday April 6, 1.30pm – Town Square
We’ve all tasted it, but have you ever made your own? Kangaroo Island Spirits (KIS) are bringing the blending bench to Tasting Australia and offering punters the chance to craft their own gin according to their preferences under the watchful eye of a KIS expert. Your G&T will never be the same again.
Blend Your Own Gin with KIS Spirits
Multiple sessions Saturday April 6 and Sunday 7 – Town Square