22 September 2023

Tumbarumba bounces back with the Tastebuds Wine Festival

| Lucy Ridge
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Two people stand in front of banners while groups sit at long tables

Winemaker Nick O’Leary and wine educator Emma Shaw discussed the qualities of Tumbarumba region wines at the showcase lunch. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Local wine legend Nick O’Leary jokes that travelling to the Tumbarumba wine region “smells like a deodorant commercial”.

The basalt rock, flinty mountain air and crystal clear waters make this region a stellar wine-producing region, but Tumbarumba has flown under the radar when compared to the popularity of other local wine regions. The winemakers and vignerons of Tumbarumba are looking to turn this around and put their wines on the map.

Vase of spring blooms on long table set with wineglasses for tasting

The Tumbarumba Tastebuds festival coincides with the local Spring flower festival. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The Tumbarumba region was hit hard during the 2020 bushfires. Several vineyards were partially burned, homes were lost, and those lucky enough to keep their vines still lost the fruit to smoke damage. No crops were harvested in 2020, and COVID also smashed the region with fewer visitors to cellar doors.

Thanks to a bushfire recovery grant, Tumbarumba is putting on a food and wine festival to celebrate the best that the region has to offer.

A showcase lunch held in Canberra earlier this month gave a sneak preview of what to expect from the festival on 28 and 29 October.

The Tumbarumba region is a cold climate region, making it ideal for producing chardonnay and pinot noir varietals. If chardonnay reminds you of Kath & Kim, let the Tumbarumba winemakers reassure you, chardonnay has changed a lot in the past few years. The sophisticated whites produced these days bear little resemblance to the super-oaked ‘chardys’ your aunt was drinking in the 90s.

Plate of smoked salmon and salad on table with wine glasses

A recent lunch at the Arboretum treated patrons to a tasting of Tumbarumba Wines with a menu of local food. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The wild yeast fermented 2018 Obsession Chardonnay is crisp with a fine flinty taste and well-rounded finish. There’s a touch of French oak, but it doesn’t overwhelm the palate.

Some Tumbarumba chardonnays lean more towards the citrussy end of the spectrum and may convert a few riesling fans. In contrast, others showcase the buttery tones of old-school ‘chardys’ with a modern sensibility.

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Over a lunch of smoked Snowy Mountain trout, local winemakers explained that the ‘tighter’ nature of the chardonnay produced in Tumbarumba makes it ideal for ageing as the natural acidity holds better than other warmer climate chardonnays that tend to be fruitier, sweeter and less complex.

Man holds bottle of wine in front of Coppabella winery banner

The Tastebuds festival will include cellar door tastings from several Tumbarumba region wineries. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The region is also well known for its pinot noir, with well-known brands like Eden Road Wines producing wines using Tumbarumba grapes. Interstate wineries like Penfolds have also been known to buy grapes from the Tumbarumba region, a prestigious vote of confidence in the quality of the area.

Internationally renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson has also judged Tumbarumba wines to be of exceptional quality.

Emma, Nick and Kristy pose for a photo at the Arboretum

Wine expert Emma Shaw, winemaker Nick O’Leary and local Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain at the lunch event. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

With all these accolades, the Tumbarumba Vignerons Association hopes to attract more visitors to their beautiful town in the Snowys. The Tumbarumba Tastebuds Festival on 28 and 29 October will feature cellar door tastings from five local wine producers, a Spring degustation dinner at Nest Cinema Cafe and a Garden Party at Ladbroken Distilling Co.

The Tumbarumba District Garden Club is also hosting the Spring Flower Festival on the same weekend with open gardens and a flower show, so there will be plenty to do in town!

Wooden box with bottles of wine labelled Mt Tumba Vineyard

Tumbarumba region wines are well regarded for their sparkling wines and chardonnay. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Tumbarumba Tastebuds runs on 28 and 29 October at Courabyra Wines, Kosciuszko Wines, Johansen Wines, Mount Tumbarumba Vineyard and Obsession, along with Ladbroken Distilling Co.

Find out more information about the Tastebuds Festival at the Tumbarumba Wine website. Follow Tumbarumba Tastebuds on Facebook and Instagram.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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