The Great Australian Wine Experience

Following the success of last year’s event, the annual Australia Day tasting, previously only open to members of the trade, will once again open its doors to the wine-loving public, with a special offer for Square Meal readers of two tickets for £35 (a saving of £10).

Taking place in the Emirates Stadium on the evening (6-9pm)of Wednesday 30 January 2008, visitors will not only be able to sample a vast array of Australian wines but will also have the opportunity to meet a large selection of winemakers face to face.

In addition to tasting your way through the wines, you will be able to join a number of well-known ‘wine walkers’ including Olly Smith (TV presenter & wine expert, pictured above right), Paul Green (head sommelier at Fifteen), Christine Austin (educator and presenter), Sarah Ahmed (The Wine Detective) and Joe Fattorini (wine critic & presenter) who will be leading personal themed tours around the show at no extra cost.

For holders of premium ‘Food and Wine Lover’ tickets, there will also be an entertaining and informative food and wine matching seminar, hosted by Matthew Jukes (presenter, wine writer for the Daily Mail and author of Australia’s 100 Best). Hurry for this class of ticket, as there are now only a few left.

What's included:
Just Love the Wine Ticket (£35 for two for Square Meal readers, or £22.50 for a single ticket, plus booking fee)
Includes a souvenir tasting glass, wine walks, nibbles and tastings.

Food & Wine Lovers Ticket ***ONLY 8 TICKETS REMAINING*** (standard price £28.50 per ticket, plus booking fee)
All of the above, plus an exclusive food and wine matching seminar with Matthew Jukes. Strictly limited places. Last few tickets available now.

Australia's wine regions simplified
Australia is a huge country with more than 60 official wine regions, from the island of Tasmania – with its cool climate ideal for making sparkling wine – to Coonawarra, whose terra rossa soil produces Cabernets respected the world over. Australian winemakers are also some of the most innovative, travelling the globe and experimenting with what they have learned when they get back home. It all results in one of the most exciting range of wine styles on offer anywhere. Here is our selection of the dozen regions you will most want to know about.

Barossa Valley, South Australia
Cooler than you think, particularly at higher altitudes, the region is low in humidity and rainfall and high in sunshine: ideal for full-bodied reds, fortified wines and robust whites. The Shiraz ‘bush vines’ make the finest wines, Grenache and Mourvèdre also thrive, while Chardonnay and Semillon are the country’s fattest and most buttery.

Eden Valley, South Australia
Eden Valley’s best known wine is its Riesling. A cool climate makes for purity and refinement.

Clare Valley, South Australia
Clare Valley is also famous for Rieslings, but they are richer and more powerful than the Eden Valley’s, and young bottles can be tantalisingly limey and sweetly tangy when late-harvested. Look out, too, for buttery, refined Chardonnay, strong, spicy Shiraz and powerful, berryish Cabernet Sauvignon.

McLaren Vale, South Australia
Reds dominate here, so watch out for the ripe, sweet chocolatey flavours of Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot. The cooler sites suit Sauvignon Blanc, some blended to good effect with Semillon. Look out for Viognier, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and Verdelho, too.

Adelaide Hills, South Australia
This is a region of fast-growing importance in the production of super-premium table and sparkling wine. Expect zesty, sherbet, citrus expressions of Sauvignon Blanc and pure-fruited Pinot Noir.

Coonawarra & Padthaway, South Australia
Both regions are known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, but the grape particularly thrives in Coonawarra’s famous red soil (terra rossa) to produce one of Australia’s classic wines that also stands the test of time. Nearby Padthaway offers similar Cabernets but adds zesty Chardonnays and grassy Sauvignons into the equation.

Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Semillon and Shiraz are the stars here. Semillon, often lean and mean when young, turns into a rich butter-bomb in the right hands. Despite its tasting tag of ‘sweaty saddles’, Shiraz produces gutsy, earthy and beguilingly baked-fruit wines. It gets hot here, producing tropical Chardonnays.

Yarra Valley, Victoria
Located near Melbourne, this wide, green valley is one of Australia’s much coveted vineyard areas. Its cool climate preserves all the delicate flavours of Pinot Noir and helps create elegant Chardonnay and fine sparkling wine.

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
This cool coastal haven is the perfect place for planting Pinot Noir. But look out for Mornington’s lightly oaked versions of Chardonnay and Pinot Gris as well.

Rutherglen, Victoria
Rutherglen’s soaring summer temperatures ripen its famous Muscats. Early settlers here came in search of gold but also turned their hand to making these fabulously rich, honeyed, amber-coloured dessert wines.

Margaret River, Western Australia
In terms of warmth, the strong maritime climate here is similar to that of Pomerol and St-Emilion in a dry vintage – hence the quality of its Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other grapes. In most vintages, the region blends Sauvignon Blanc with Semillion like nowhere else, giving Semillon and even Chenin Blanc pleasantly herbal, grassy overtones. Such intensity and elegance results in wines that are seldom less than distinguished.

As the coolest of the Aussie regions, it is suited to producing light, elegant wines, mainly from Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Riesling and Pinot Noir grapes. Marginal climates like this often yield the finest wines, and are ideal for producing sparkling varieties.