Our pick of the Tasting Australia masterclasses

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Tasting Australia kicks off in Adelaide tomorrow night and will take our palettes on an epicurean journey over 10 days.  As I mentioned in the 7 must attend events at Tasting Australia article, East End Cellars will be hosting a number of masterclasses. I spoke with Michael of East End Cellars about 3 of those masterclasses.

You can look at the full programme of Tasting Australia events here.


Sparkling Wine and Champagne Darling: Salon Style Tasting

It’s for the opening event, the highlight event for the opening of the festival so, we’ve put a lot into this one. We’ve got the Darling Kate Laurie from Adelaide Hills making some very good sparkling wine in South Australia. From Deviation Road, Kate Laurie, learnt her craft in France, came from a West Australian background and married a local whose name is Hamish Laurie, they have 3 beautiful girls and live in the Adelaide Hills and make some of the best sparkling wine in the country.


And then together tee’d up with Ed Carr who’s House of Arras. Ed Carr is probably the most awarded sparkling maker in the country. And well-regarded, well-admired and makes some phenomenal wine with great complexity and balance. So they’re the two South Australians representing the tasting, and then of course we’ll put in a few Grandes Marques Champagnes in, which of course include the Dom Perignons, the Krugs and the Ruinarts of the world. And then a few smaller ones, that we are bringing in to the country Jose Dhont and Michel Genet so it’s a real mixture of Aussie – it’s entry point single vineyard grand cru blanc de blancs up to the Grandes Marques Krug and Dom Perignon. It’s a really casual tasting, it’s not a formal masterclass where you sit down and get talked at or talked to for an hour and a half.


This is a sort of salon tasting, so it’s more of a cocktail party tasting and you walk in there and you receive a glass of lovely bubbles and have a chat and mingle round for half an hour and half an hour of talking. So, it sort of not really a full-on masterclass, it’s just a fun, a fun event. A masterclass to open up Tasting Australia with.



The Chardonnay one, is run by Michael Hill-Smith, who’s a master of wine and he will have Nick Stock at the desk. Nick Stock’s a well-renowned wine writer and they’ll just go through different Chardonnays from South Australian, Tasmanian and French. And that’s a more in-depth look at the variety and more concentrated tasting for someone who wants to learn all about that great variety of Chardonnay. And that runs for an hour and a half. I think there’s 12 wines and I think it’s good value for money for the wines we’re showing. For $120 we’re showing some world-class wines there, some expensive wines.


Do you have a favourite Chardonnay?

I love a chardonnay variety. I drink a lot of Mersault and Petit Mersault and you know, a lot of French stuff.

I love a good Chardonnay. Do I pick one particular maker? No I don’t, I like wines from the area. I won’t pick one wine, I drink a lot of white Burgundy… and Red Burgundy haha yeah.

Michael Hill-Smith’s a good speaker. It’ll be a very informative, very entertaining, very witty, hour and half show.

It’s like a Fringe Act with wine, it’s entertaining.


The Glory of Grenache Mk. II

The Grenache masterclass is all about the grape variety, Grenache. This famous, Chateauneuf-du-Pape been grown in Australia, suiting our conditions are really well and we’re producing fantastic Grenache. It’s an Australian take on the Grenache from France. Anyway that’s the best way to look at that.

And that to me, is the probably the best tasting of the whole lot.


Why’s that?

It’s called Mark II because we did it last year.

But Robert Hill Smith and Nick Ryan from McLaren Vale and then Chester Osborn and Stephen Pannell works in McLaren Vale, and Nick Stock mediating so I’ve got 5 characters on stage, and Robert Hill Smith is the funniest man I’ve met, he’s so witty, so clever. Together with Nick Ryan. He’s a fantastic Journo. So he’s up there as well, Nick Stock, Chester, Chester’s just loose, loose as a goose. Stephen Pannell puts things in a way that makes the most complex things look very simple. So that’s a lovely thing, it’s a lovely, lovely tasting.


Are the tastings being done at Tasting Australia in Victoria Square or down at East End Cellars?

Yeah all in Victoria Square. The whole, so we’ve got our own tasting pavilion.

There’s 16 food vendors in Town Square. Same set-up this year, but it’s slightly larger. So there’s plenty of food, plenty of drinks, plenty of bars.

You can come for a tasting and then come back out and enjoy the atmosphere outside.


What’s your favourite wine variety? Will you be attending any of the masterclasses or other Tasting Australia events?

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