Sunday, 11 April 2021

Explore the Australian coast on the the world's largest sailing ship


The largest sailing ship ever built will make its Australian debut next southern summer.

The spectacular SV Golden Horizon is a steel-hulled five-masted barque rigged tall ship, whose design is based on France, a famous French five-mast cargo windjammer built in 1911.

Australians are being offered a Rail and Sail package combining a cruise on the Golden Horizon and a journey on the iconic Indian Pacific tr
ain. 

Golden Horizon - operated by Tradewind Voyages - will arrive in Australia for the first time in December. The Croatian built, Malta-registered ship can carry 272 passengers and a crew of up to 139.

Cruise Traveller’s 16-night ‘Rail and Sail Remote Southwestern Australia’ package begins in Sydney on January 19, 2022, with an overnight journey aboard the legendary Indian Pacific train to Adelaide with onboard meals and drinks included along with an excursion in Broken Hill. 

Two nights in an Adelaide hotel follow before guests board the majestic, 272-guest tall ship, Golden Horizon, for a 13-night voyage to Perth.

The voyage from Adelaide to Perth aboard the 162-metre ship will feature eight destinations along Australia’s southern coast, including small and remote places not visited by larger ships, including wildlife-rich Kangaroo Island, oyster capital Coffin Bay, and Head of Bight - a spectacular bay in the Great Australian Bight lined by the longest stretch of uninterrupted sea cliffs in the world, the Bunda Cliffs. 

The voyage also features Esperance – home to some of Australia’s whitest beaches - the rugged beauty of Israelite Bay, the fishing village of Bremer Bay, the pretty coastal town of Albany and Busselton – gateway to the famous Margaret River wine region.

The holiday ends in Perth with a flight back to Sydney. The special 16-night rail and sail package is available from $10,575 per person, twin-share, ex Sydney, including transfers and beer and wine with lunch and dinner aboard the ship.


The vessel has a fine dining room, three pools, gym, library, spa sanctuary, four bars, a marina platform and a collection of kayaks and wakeboards for guests to use. 

All 140 cabins will offer ocean views.

During her inaugural visit to Australia this summer, Golden Horizon will circumnavigate the continent between December and next February, with Cruise Traveller offering a range of sectors from 14 to 73 nights. 

Call Cruise Traveller on 1800 507 777 or visit www.cruisetraveller.com.au


Saturday, 10 April 2021

Chef pops up in Tasmanian gourmet hotspot


The Old Bank is a delightful bed and breakfast in the charming southern Tasmanian town of Cygnet.

It serves breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas seven days a week to an appreciative audience.

At night, however, its kitchen largely sits unused.

Enter Huon Valley local chef Tim Ditcham, who has just launched a series of pop-up degustation dinners at the Old Bank.

Ditcham has previously run popular spots like Bistro 31 at Ranelagh General Store and Jam and Bread.

Say When Bistro will open for three consecutive nights each month, with the second stint to run from May 13-15.

Dinner comprises a seven-course menu with a choice of desserts.

The opening menu featured standouts including oysters mignonette with pomegranate seeds; duck liver pate with tracklements, pickles and delicious brioche-style bread; gemfish "Diana" with peas, capers and hollandaise and rosemary panna cotta with lemon, bay and cape gooseberry.

Perhaps my favourite, however, was a delicate but flavoursome pasta dish with pecorino, egg, speck, parsley and lemon (below). Just divine.


Ditcham is a talented chef and the menu is well worth $85 per head. Drinks can be purchased from the Old Bank list or diners can BYO wine for a ridiculously reasonable $3 per person. Service was very helpful and our server even knew which boat had landed the gemfish.

We attended the second night and there were a couple of minor issues; slightly under-seasoned cauliflower soup; beef fillet served with a Yorkshire pudding that madly needed some Viagra, and no water bottle on the table.

All easily fixed, however. A dinner well worth a trip and an overnight stay in Cygnet, where you can also sample Matthew Evans' Fat Pig Farm, the ever-popular Red Velvet Lounge; Port Cygnet Cannery, Cygnet Japanese Diner and Ashcraig Thai, as well as popular cafes in Jacky's, The Porthole and the Lovett, as well as two pubs.

Here' are images of the rest of the dishes. 









For bookings and inquiries email: saywhenbistro@gmail.com 
#The writer paid his own way.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Calling all pinotphiles - it's time to party


Pinot Palooza was the biggest pinot noir party in Australia and New Zealand until along came miserable old Covid-19.

A nightmare period for events organisers like Dan Sims and has team at Revel Global meant no events in 2020 - a soul-destroying scenario.

But in 2021, Government jab jibbering or not, live wine events are back baby.

"After 12-month hiatus we are so looking forward to returning to Pinot normal," says ringmaster Sims.

Revel Global has unveiled a list of venues and dates for wine lovers keen for a pinot party.

They include: Queen's Wharf in Auckland on August 6-7, Sydney on October 1-2, Melbourne on October 8-9 and Brisbane on October 15-16.

All cities will feature tastings on Friday evenings and Saturdays with limited capacity sessions for each. Friday sessions will run from 4.30pm till 8.30pm and Saturdays 11am-3pm and 4pm-8pm.

The Melbourne festival will mark the 10th anniversary of the event.

In Auckland, featured wineries will include Ata Rangi, Burn Cottage, Dog Point, Grasshopper Rock, Mount Edward, Rippon, Quartz Reef and Valli, while Australian participants have yet to be revealed, but will include the cream of pinot producers.

For details and bookings visit www.pinotpalooza.com.au/ Auckland tickets are on sale now, Australian tickets from May 4. 

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Former AFL star kicking goals with indigenous flavours

Former AFL football star and indigenous food and beverage promoter Daniel Motlop is the man behind Seven Seasons spirits and their new Bush Apple Gin.

Motlop is working with independent craft drinks collective Mighty Craft to take Seven Seasons products to the world. 

Bush Apple Gin is powered by native Australian botanicals and is promoted as being "perfect for a pink-hued G&T or for mixing in a negroni". 

Larrakia man Daniel Motlop started with Green Ant Gin while a third release, Native Yam Vodka, is planned for May. 

“It was a dream of mine to create a company that celebrated the learning, culture and ingredients from the Top End,” says Motlop, who who played a total of 130 senior games for North Melbourne and Port Adelaide in the AFL.

“After the success of Green Ant Gin, a product I’d always wanted to make, it’s a natural progression to develop these new flavours and showcase what else my people have to offer.” 

The Larrakia people believe there are seven seasons, each one marked by monsoonal rain, the arrival of dragonflies, the fruiting of native cherries or other natural cycles. 

Bush Apple Gin is a product of monsoon season, when the heavy rain starts, crocodiles lay their eggs and barramundi are flourishing. It’s also the time the fruit of the bush apple is ready to be picked from the trees. 

Each year, more than three tonnes of fresh native ingredients – the green ants, bush apples and native yams – are bought direct from communities throughout the Northern Territory to be used in the spirits. 

“Our Larrakia family started harvesting the green ants three or four years ago and created the gin,” says Motlop, whose brother Shannon runs the harvesting operations throughout the Top End. 

“By employing local harvesters, we have been able to create sustainable jobs for hundreds of Aboriginal people and their payments flow back into supporting their communities, which is really what is important. 

“For instance, people never had a place to sell their bush apples, so we created a market for them with some restaurants, but the volumes have been very small. Now, with the creation of our new Bush Apple Gin, we’ve been able to include them in a commercial product and commit to buying a substantial amount from them every year.” 

Mighty Craft CEO Mark Haysman is excited about the potential of Seven Seasons, saying: “Seven Seasons is one of our fastest-growing brands, and the release of Bush Apple Gin and Native Yam Vodka will further accelerate its growth and brand awareness. 

"With extensive distribution throughout Australia already in place, we have our sights firmly set on taking Daniel’s spirits around the world to shine a light on the incredible Australian native ingredients we’re able to source. 

“With more ingredients becoming abundant at different points during the Larrakia seven seasons, the potential is there to formulate a full range of distilled spirits.” 

Seven Seasons Bush Apple Gin is now available. It can be purchased online and from all major national and independent retailers for $100 (700ml). 

See www.seven-seasons.com.au


Major expansion for Tasmanian cellar door

Tasmanian vineyard Devil’s Corner will begin a significant expansion on its award-winning east coast cellar door from late April 2021. 

A popular stop along the Great Eastern Drive, the expansion will offer locals and travellers a year-round destination with greater space and shelter to enjoy enhanced wine and food experiences overlooking the site’s spectacular views.

Tasmanian architects Cumulus Studio have been re-engaged to ensure the originality and aesthetic of the current site remains while Anstie Constructions will manage the build.

Cumulus Studio director Peter Walker says the team are extremely proud of the new project and are looking forward to continuing the environmentally conscious strategies put in place from the beginning.

“Cumulus are very excited to see the next stage of Devil’s Corner start construction," Walker said. 

"It is highly satisfying as designers to see a place that we helped to create become so used and loved by visitors and locals alike. With increasing awareness of the role buildings play in our environment, we felt it was important to continue many of the environmentally sustainable practices that we initiated at the beginning of the project - from material selection to prefabrication techniques.” 

Devil’s Corner marketing manager Will Adkins says the expansion will aim to cater for all seasons. 

“Calm autumns, wild winters or warm summers, we have no control over the weather," Adkins said. "But with the new site expansion, we will be able to ensure visitors can experience the very best of Devil’s Corner no matter the season. 

"New and improved shelter areas as well as more casual spaces will help accommodate the increasing number of consumers visiting the cellar door each year.”

A new cellar door tasting area will be dedicated to immersive wine experiences while an underground cellar will be the home of wine and food masterclasses, private functions and events. 

Long-term food partners The Fishers and Tombolo will continue to feed locals and travellers with fresh seafood and wood fired pizzas, expanding the food offering from their new and improved on-site kitchens.

During construction ‘The Little Devil Cellar Door’ will act as a temporary pop-up for wine sales, open seven days a week from April to September 2021. See www.devilscorner.com.au

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Calabria swoops to buy McWilliam's Wines

Riverina and Barossa Valley winemaker Calabria Family Wines has acquired a piece of Australian wine history with the purchase of McWilliam’s Wines. 


The sale, set to be complete by April 30, was announced today by KPMG and selling agent Colliers International. It will see the Griffith-based Calabria family take ownership of the McWilliam’s brands, intellectual property, and stock holdings as well as the Hanwood vineyard, winery and cellar door. 


Mount Pleasant in the Hunter Valley was sold to developers Medich Family. That could prove contentious. 

 

“It is a great honour for our family to become the proud custodians of Australian winemaking history with the purchase of McWilliam’s Wines," said third-generation general manager Michael Calabria. "Despite recent challenges, we know the McWilliam’s name carries a long and prestigious reputation as one of Australia’s oldest wine producers.” 



Calabria Family patriarch Bill Calabria

McWilliam’s was established in 1877 and has become one of Australia's leading family-owned wineries. With six consecutive generations of winemakers and over 140 years of experience, McWilliam’s has established a range of premium vineyard holdings across the Riverina and New South Wales. It had been in administration.

 

“Local members of the McWilliam family are pleased that the Hanwood winery and the McWilliam’s Wines business will continue under the control of the Calabria family and that their passion for the local region, brands and history of the company will continue under their family ownership," said fifth-generation Greg McWilliams. 


 We have had a close and enduring relationship over many years and look forward to working with the Calabria family in the future.” 


For further information about Calabria Family Wines visit www.calabriawines.com.au. 

Global recognition for Henschke family

Eden Valley/Adelaide Hills family wine producer Henschke has been named the No.4 Most Admired Wine Brand in the world. 

The honour was bestowed by Drinks International with Henschke the top-ranked Australian winery on the list.

The winners were revealed over the Easter long weekend and voted on by wine industry professionals including buyers, sommeliers, wholesalers, bar owners, Masters of Wine, writers and educators from 48 different countries. 

Drinks International editor Martin Green said: “The Most Admired Wine Brands 2021 highlights the most iconic, exciting and innovative producers in the world.

“To win a place on this prestigious list is a tremendous achievement. There are thousands of wine brands vying for attention around the world, but just 50 elite icons have made the cut.

 

“Congratulations to all of the brands featured this year. They have earned the respect of hundreds of wine professionals and experts spread across the globe, and they have now gained the ultimate stamp of quality.”

 

This is the 11th year in which Drinks International has compiled its definitive guide to the World’s Most Admired Wine Brands.

 

Stephen Henschke, owner and chief winemaker, said: “We are thrilled that our 150-year-old, sixth-generation family-owned winery has been voted in at No.4 of the Top 50 World’s Most Admired Wine Brands for 2021, up 14 places from last year, and our second inclusion in this prestigious list.

 

“We are grateful to receive this accolade from the Drinks International voting academy. This is an achievement that can be shared by our hard-working team and representatives across the world.

 

“Our philosophy has always been to be ‘better’ rather than ‘bigger’. My father Cyril, fourth-generation Henschke winemaker, was a pioneer of single-varietal and single-vineyard table wines in Australia, with his greatest legacy being the creation of Mount Edelstone and Hill of Grace in the 1950s; shiraz wines from the Eden Valley that have become an integral part of our country's fine wine story.”


Familia Torres from Spain topped the list ahead of  Catena from Argentina and Vega Sicilia from Spain. Penfolds was sixth with Felton Road from New Zealand 14th, Villa Maria 15th and Yalumba 16th.


Henschke finished ahead of brands including Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Antinori and Guigal. 


Fifth-generation Stephen Henschke and his viticulturist wife Prue are assisted by their winemaker son Johann, and daughter Justine in marketing, representing the sixth generation. 


The 2016 vintage of the Henschke family’s most prestigious single-vineyard shiraz wines from the Eden Valley; Hill of Grace, Hill of Roses and Mount Edelstone will be released on May 5. 


Henschke, one of Australia’s oldest family owned wineries, celebrated 150 years of winemaking in 2018. See www.henschke.com.au

Which cities are the most vegetarian-friendly?

London is the most vegetarian-friendly city in the world according to a new rankings list. 

Nestpick's Vegetarian Cities Index puts London at the top of the tree for non-meat eaters, followed by German cities Berlin and Munich. Then came Vienna, Glasgow, Zurich and Palma de Mallorca.


London got a perfect 100 score (100 scores are always dubious in my opinion) thanks to its plethora of vegetarian restaurants, vegetarian festivals, and affordability of fruit, vegetables and plant-based protein. 

The US, with a lot of high-profile vegetarians and vegans, saw Los Angeles come in eighth in the list of 75 global cities, followed by San Francisco in 10th and New York in 12th place. 

Paris was well down in 61st place while the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo came in last.

In Asia, Chiang Mai in Thailand came in at 36th position - and was named cheapest city for veggie dishes - and Bangkok 73rd. Other Asian cities in the list were Singapore (62nd) and Ubud (67th).

On-demand housing platform Nestpick created the ranking as a way to help people discover cities that best cater to vegetarians. 

"While there are undoubtedly countless cities that are incredible for vegetarians around the world, which do not feature in this index due to a lack of available data, we believe that this shortlist offers an excellent springboard for vegetarians looking to move abroad,” said Omer Kucukdere, founder and chief executive at Nestpick.

I say to Mr Kucukdere that he needs to broaden his horizons to places like India. which India has more vegetarians than the rest of the world put together. Around 38% of all Indians are vegetarians. 

Monday, 5 April 2021

Chardonnay shines in Orange terroir

Chardonnay is one of the most popular white wine grapes in the world - and also one of the most versatile. 

The variety originated in the Burgundy region of eastern France but is now grown all over the globe. 

In Australia, it tends to shine in cooler regions like Tasmania, southern Victoria and Orange in the Central West of New South Wales, where it can resemble the mineral-influenced wines of Chablis. 

The Orange region’s Patina Wines has just released its duo of benchmark chardonnays that are well worth a look for lovers of the cool-climate style: the 2019 Patina Chardonnay ($40) and 2018 Patina Reserve Chardonnay ($60).

The Patina vineyard was planted 22 years ago on the eastern foothills of Mount Canobolas and their quality fruit confirms founder Gerald Naef 's belief in the site. 

“It’s not something you can change readily; choosing where to plant your vines is the foundation for your entire wine growing," Naef says. 

“Grapes tend to hold their acid and fruit character better when ripening occurs in cool weather. Fine tuning and narrowing the varieties down to the best for a particular site or even for a few rows is quite precise and can take a bit of trial and error.

“The high elevation (from 600 metres to 1100 metres) in Orange gives us an edge in grape growing as many varieties do well here. Certain varieties, however, such as chardonnay, do particularly well.”

Another benefit of high elevation vineyards is the high difference in day-night temperature. 

“I’ve said previously that I don’t believe there is another region in the world that necessarily produces better chardonnay than Orange - there are just stylistic differences,” Naef said.
 

The Patina cellar door and gardens (above) are now open five days a week post-Covid and picnic hampers are available for purchase. 

Both new release wines are outstanding with the 2019 slightly leaner and classically citrusy/minerally (92/100), while 2018 Reserve is a tad more complex and rich, but still unmistakably classic cool-climate chardonnay with lovely balance (94/100).  

For details see www.patinawines.com.au

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Meet the Japanese castle that many locals believe is divinely protected

There are few countries more fascinating to visit than Japan; with its history, vibrant culture, exciting cuisine and welcoming vibe. 

Japan is certainly high on my list of places to re-visit as soon as the world returns to normal - and I find its small towns, many off the beaten track, particularly fascinating. 


Take Himeji, a smallish city located in the Hyogo Prefecture that is twinned with Adelaide in South Australia. 

Himeji is probably best known for Himeji Castle, which is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical wooden Japanese castle architecture, comprising a network of 83 rooms with advanced defensive systems from the feudal period. 


The castle is frequently known as Hakuro-jō or Shirasagi-jō ("White Egret Castle" or "White Heron Castle") because of its brilliant white exterior and supposed resemblance to a bird taking flight.

Himeji Castle dates to 1333, when it was a fort. The fort was dismantled and rebuilt as Himeyama Castle in 1346, and then remodeled into Himeji Castle two centuries later. 


It is the largest and most visited castle in Japan, and it was registered in 1993 as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country. 

Himeji was heavily bombed in 1945, at the end of World War II, and although most of the surrounding area was burned to the ground, the castle survived intact. 

In 1995, the city of Himeji was substantially damaged by the Great Hanshin Earthquake but Himeji Castle again survived virtually undamaged. It has also survived several typhoons.

Many Himeji residents believe that the castle is divinely protected. 

From 2010 it underwent restoration work for several years and reopened to the public in 2015. I visited in 2018. Tours in English are available.

The city of Himeji, with a population of just over half a million people, is in the Kansai region of Honshu - between Kyoto and Osaka - and easily reachable via JR Rail (a JR Rail Pass is one of the easiest ways to travel around Japan).


Kokoen garden (above) was opened in 1992 and consists of nine large and small gardens using divides of the ruins of Himeji Castle west mansion, It is often used for filming historical dramas because it looks like you have time traveled to the Edo period. The tea ceremony experience in the tea room is popular.

Also check out  Himeji City Museum of Art and the Harimanokunisosha temple.

Be sure to make time for lunch or dinner at Omotenashi Dining Fukutei, which specialises in regional seafood, including sashimi, charcoal-grilled fish and rice dishes cooked in an earthen pot. Conger eel (anago) is a speciality here. 

Nadagiku Kappa-tei is a local sake brewery runs that serves dishes that pair well with sake.







Saturday, 3 April 2021

Celebrity chef's local flavours shine in Tasmania

Hotel dining can be a mixed blessing. At its best you get to sample local flavours in the same building in which you are sleeping. 

At its worst you get to taste food ordered in bulk by a hotel chain's head office. 

Fortunately, the menu at Grain of the Silos (top) - the signature eatery of Launceston's Peppers Silo Hotel, is curated with care and attention by celebrity chef Massimo Mele (above). 

Mele says he has fallen even more in love with Tasmania and its produce during the Covid-19 lockdown. 

On my recent visit I opted for a simple dinner of grilled king prawns (above) followed by a thick, juicy and crispy pork chop. Mele graciously sends over a few extra flavours about to make it onto the menu for me to try. 

I'd arrived too late for the garfish from Low Head - there were only a dozen portions available and they were quickly snapped up. 

I do, however, get to sample some super-fresh George's Bay clams; padron peppers from Mele's own garden, and stunning charcuterie from Boucherie Tasmania and Fork It Farm (below). 

There's also a little taste of sardines with super-sweet Tasmanian tomatoes.

With some Sinapius 2018 Gruner Veltliner and Holm Oak 2020 Protege Pinot Noir, my simple supper turned into a gourmet treat. 

"The quality of Tasmanian gourmet produce is improving all the time - and it is fabulous to be able to showcase it to both Tasmanians and visitors alike," says Mele. "I'm constantly making new discoveries." 

The open kitchen showcases Cape Grim beef, Bruny Island cheese and other Tasmanian standouts.

Grain occupies a sunny corner of the Silos; four towers originally built side by side on the banks of the Tamar River in the 1960s to house wheat. 

The Silos sat empty for years - despite their stunning setting - until local developer Errol Stewart turned them into a luxury waterfront destination in 2018. 


It is certainly worth combining dinner with an overnight stay. The staff have grasped the meaning of hospitality and you'll be well looked after from reception to the restaurant. 

Dog lovers missing their own pets might want to take Archie, the canine concierge, for a walk.
 

The 10-level hotel features 108 guest rooms with a boutique vibe, including 52 inside the barrels of the former silos, undercover car parking, conference facilities and an integrated lobby and reception space.The restaurant turns café for lighter snacks during the day. 

Amenities on-site include a gym, day spa, child-minding facilities, hairdressing salon, function centre and private dining rooms.


The hotel overlooks the nearby Seaport; Royal Park with its barbecue area, play space, skate park and outdoor exercise equipment, boardwalks and sealed paths; the Tamar River Basin and Cataract Gorge. It is also just a short stroll to the footbridge that links to the city centre. 

Peppers Silo is located at 89-91 Lindsay Street, Invermay, Launceston.

www.peppers.com.au/silowww.grainofthesilos.com.au(03) 6700 0688.

# The writer was a guest of Peppers Silo Hotel 

# Images: Adam Gibson and Winsor Dobbin   

      

    

Friday, 2 April 2021

Head off road to get on the right track

Team building exercises are all the rage right now as workers return to offices post-Covid19. 

OzBuggy Tours, an off-road adventure tourism company, has launched a corporate retreat program in Queensland to allow groups of workers to enjoy a team building challenge that is also meant to be fun. 

"Businesses need to ensure that their employees take time to align themselves with their company's key business values and connect with their colleagues after so much time apart, " says the blurb, which is marketing speak 101.

"The boost will help them think critically, work in teams and energise everyone to return to their offices with refreshed goals and attitudes to execute."

The idea itself sounds fun, however. 

OzBuggy Tours corporate retreats see colleagues and employees twisting and turning through the heritage-listed Scenic Rim rainforest on  4x4 buggies, ending their day in a luxurious bush glamping set up.

"OzBuggy Tours corporate retreats can accommodate both small and large teams," says Pip Jewson, founder of OzBuggy Tours. 

"Adventure tours are the ideal escape for corporates to help foster and build new relationships within the team

"Giving employees the opportunity to attend retreats geared toward leadership and adventure also allows for natural leaders to emerge in the group. They get to re-ignite their creative juices after a long year of lockdowns and home office setups." 

Any fully licensed driver from the age of 17 can participate. 

Some of the locations are normally only accessible by experienced drivers with 4x4 setups, but these trips allow access to river crossings, rocky tracks and spectacular waterfalls in a guided tour that will test driving skills to the max. 

More information about corporate retreats here: https://ozbuggy.tours/corporate-bookings

GUEST POST: The Hills are Alive: South Australia's local wine revival

IMG_20210314_133856839_HDR
Greenhill Wines Pinot Noir

Words and images: Roderick Eime 

As a youngster, I used to enjoy riding my pushbike through the Adelaide Hills, past the acres of orchards and market gardens. 

Apples, pears, plums, cherries and strawberries were everywhere through Summertown, Ashton and Lenswood, and we often stopped and scrumped a juicy Pink Lady or two.

That was 40 years ago and the landscape has now been transformed. Gone are the rows of fruit-laden trees, replaced by vineyards chockers with pinot noir , chardonnay and even the Europopular grüner veltliner.

About the time I was ready to leave Adelaide for my own adventure, the Adelaide Hills were embarking on their big wine revival. 

Led by such names as Brian Croser, Stephen George, Tim Knappstein, Stephen and Prue Henschke, Geoff Weaver, Michael Hill Smith and Martin Shaw, the cool-climate characteristics of the region were rediscovered and now produce a most impressive array of wine.

It’s going to take me another 40 years, I reckon, to visit all the cellar doors in my old stomping ground, but I have to start somewhere and the new winery cafe at Greenhill Wines is a great place to begin my reacquaintance if, for no other reason than I must have passed their driveway many hundreds of times on two wheels or four.

After a couple of tries, I did finally catch up with the most affable Dr Paul Henschke of the famous Eden Valley dynasty and who one might more accurately describe as a wine scientistic and academic. Along with his similarly credentialled wife Penny, the couple started Greenhill Wines at Summertown in 2009 and bottled their first vintage two years later.

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Dr Paul overlooking his idyllic patch at Summertown (RE)

“I do still teach at the uni occasionally,” Paul says modestly, “but these days I like to focus on producing our own wines.”

“We are presently making three whites, a fresh style grüner veltliner, a barrel-fermented chardonnay, using grapes sourced locally together with a type of  yeast native to the Piccadilly Valley (cryophilic Saccharomyces uvarum for the boffins) and a white, non-sparkling, Pinot-Chardonnay (pinot grigio blended with chardonnay).”

While I may not be a wine judge in the league of Hooke or Halliday, each of these are flawless to my palate. The grüner veltliner is popular throughout Europe, but not so widely grown here, so it was a bit of a surprise. Paul describes it as a “highly textured mineral palate of apple, pear and citrus, and a long, fresh, crisp, dry finish”. For me at least, it’s the type of fragrant, crisp white that can be paired with a wide variety of foods, but perhaps ideally with spicy Asian dishes or cooked seafood. 

What did make my eyes pop was his magnificent Monomeith Vineyard Pinot Noir

“This reminds me of those fabulous pinots from Tasmania,” I remarked meekly. My confidence lifted when Paul agreed. Apparently, it’s the ‘whole bunch fermentation’ and post-fermentation maceration that are the secret ingredients. I feign wisdom and nod in agreement. 

Paul and Penny make such small batches that you’re unlikely to find any in the big bottle barns. You’ll need to come and taste them for yourself at the Henschke’s idyllic little establishment overlooking the glorious Piccadilly Valley or sign up for mailings.

Most bottles are under $30, even for these expertly crafted vintages. 

For the full story and details on ordering, visit www.greenhillwines.com.au

For more information on the Adeliade Hills, visit www.adelaidehillswine.com.au

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Smiling faces on the Tamar Valley Wine Route

In March, I spent a couple of days in the Tamar Valley wine region. 

I was struck by the number of smiling Tasmanian faces I encountered - and I also made a side trip to Deloraine, where I popped into Red Brick Cider. 

If you happen to find yourself in Tasmania over the Easter Weekend you might want to visit Moore’s Hill, Cabbage Tree Hill, Holm Oak, Holyman or Red Brick Cider. 













Discover Margaret River's favourite winter festival

 

Margaret River is a delight to visit at any time of the year but there is plenty to entice wine and food lovers to the fifth annual Cabin Fever winter festival. 

Cabin Fever will boast a line-up of over 35 events taking place across the Margaret River region between July 16-25. The 2021 program and tickets will be available from April 14. 
 
Among the key drawcards will be Perth French bistro Le Rebelle venturing to the South West of Western Australia to create a feast with Dunsborough’s Yarri for a Bordeaux versus Margaret River wine tasting, with guests sampling hero wines from both regions.
 
The return of the Cheese Toastie Battle at The Common will see a new line-up of chefs battling it out to be crowned the Cheese Toastie Champion. 

Blazing Brews at Beerfarm is also back with fire, live music and a range of food and beverage offerings.
 
Chow’s Table and Wildhop Brewery will team up for a carnivore’s delight with East Meats West, showcasing both eastern and western cuisine styles. 

Shelter Brewing Co. will embrace their seafront location with a sea shanty event while chef 
Chef Ben Jacob’s newest venture Lagoon Yallingup will team up with Fremantle’s Manuka Woodfired Kitchen to create a four-course dinner with matched wines at Lagoon’s ocean-side venue.
 
Gourmets who are eager to secure tickets to the event and get a host of great deals from Cabin Fever venues (such as wine discounts, free wine flights and more) can sign up to become a “Friend of Cabin Fever” for just $20 and will gain access to pre-sale tickets on April 12. 

FInd out more on Friends of Cabin Fever here:
www.cabinfeverfest.com.au/introducing-friends-of-the-festival/

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Sapphire standard: How sustainable is your gin?



The team behind Bombay Sapphire Gin is on a mission to ensure their product is 100% sustainable by the end of the year.

The aim is for Bombay Sapphire, distilled in England but owned by the Barcardi group, to be the first major brand made with 100% sustainably-sourced botanicals. 

After decades spent building sustainable partnerships with farmers and suppliers, Bombay Sapphire has announced that all 10 of its botanical ingredients are on track to be certified sustainable by late 2021. 

With the suppliers of eight botanicals already certified according to the For Life standard, the goal is for the remaining two producers – for grains of paradise from Ghana and licorice from China – to be certified in the months which follow the lifting of travel restrictions.

Bacardi has set 2025 as a target for sourcing 100% of all its key ingredients across the board from sustainably certified suppliers.

The 10 Bombay botanicals include juniper from Tuscany, coriander from Morocco, lemon peel from Spain and cubeb berries from Java, are selected by Ivano Tonutti to create the gin’s fresh, bright taste.

The For Life certification is awarded by Ecocert, the world’s leading specialist in the certification of sustainable practices. 

“We take a 360-degree approach to sustainability,” says Bombay's Ivano Tonutti. ”It’s our responsibility to care as much about the farmers and their communities as we do the botanicals they grow and harvest for Bombay Sapphire.

"By looking after their well-being and investing in sustainable farming practices, we are helping to protect the environment and their livelihoods for generations to come.”

Sarah Nichols, Marketing Director for Bacardi ANZ, says: “Our sustainability credentials are second to none and thanks to the team’s hard work we are reaching new heights. We’re now hoping to inspire others to follow in our footsteps. It’s only if we invest in the environment as an industry that we can really move the needle.”

For details see www.bacardilimited.com/corporate-responsibility/environment/

Monday, 29 March 2021

How to bring gender stereotyping to your reveal party

Gender reveal parties are all the rage, I am assured. 

Expectant parents hold a party at which they reveal whether they are expecting a boy or a girl. The parties are often themed pink for a girl, blue for a boy and bright purple or green for a non-binary baby. 

Leading Champagne House Maison Pommery has now released mini bottles of bubbly designed for these parties. 

The POP It’s a boy, POP It’s a girl range has been launched across Australia with the piccolo bottles containing 200ml of Champagne with a traditional cork and wire cage. 

The drinks are designed to enable parents and their friends to "pop" and toast their happy news. 

POP is billed as the first Champagne range blended to be consumed directly from the bottle or with a straw.

POP It’s a girl! is, as you'd expect, a rosé Champagne, with POP It’s a boy! a more macho brut style. Gender stereotyping at its finest. 

The bottles have an RRP of $30. www.pommery.com

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Four decades of refinement pays quality wine dividends

Pioneering Orange winemaker Stephen Doyle takes a different approach to his cool-climate riesling - an approach that has paid major dividends over almost four decades. 


Doyle releases his Bloodwood rieslings with a couple of years of bottle age - the 2018 ($32) has just hit the market - and he is constantly seeking to refine the style. 



The Bloodwood vineyard was planted in 1983 and Doyle admits that it took 10 to 15 years to really understand the vineyard in order to define his approach. 


"The Bloodwood style moved around a bit in the early years as we gained experience and a better understanding of our site," he says. 


“Ideally, riesling, regardless of residual [sugar] , should sit on a knife’s edge between fruit and acidity with the taster constantly questioning that fine line.

“Over the years I’ve been working a little more on the mid-palate in order to build texture. The current style works best with the grapes from our unique site. 

"We concentrate on a clean, efficient ferment minimising volatile acidity and extended ferment character. We’ve been building texture on the mid-palate since 2008, giving the wine at least six months on fine lees.”

The Scott Henry-trellised riesling vineyard sits on the higher reaches of the Bloodwood property. 

“The soil is very low-vigour, calcareous laminated silt stone and shale, the vines are all hand-pruned and hand-picked, and grown using organic principles, only ever using copper and sulphur sprays, and only if we have to,” Doyle says.

“It’s a variable site, so each vine is pruned according to its vigour, with the aim to produce around 4000 litres from the 0.8-hectare block. 

"The deep, free-draining warm gravels of Bloodwood give Riesling an austerity and fruit density which remains rare in Australian styles.

“The Orange region is in its infancy and is still working out how to grow the traditional varieties.This needs time.” 

Both the 2018 and the 2010 are wines of rare style and substance - designed for aficionados.

The Bloodwood wines are distributed directly from the winery via Bloodwood’s website www.bloodwood.biz

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Chinese bastardry forces Australian wine producers to pivot

The announcement that China will apply duties of up to 218.4% on most Australian wine exporters has left the wine industry needing to pivot quickly. 

Australian Grape & Wine said today that it is now focusing its attention on driving growth in developing markets. 

China’s Ministry of Commerce of Commerce (MOFCOM) yesterday released its final determinations on investigations into allegations of dumping of Australian wines in China and trade distorting subsidies (countervailing duties), applying duties on imports of all bottled, still wines from Australia.

“While it is disappointing, the industry is not surprised by today’s decision,” said Tony Battaglene, CEO of Australian Grape & Wine. 

“We continue to reject the allegations levelled against Australian Grape & Wine members and have approached both investigations as collaboratively and transparently as possible.”

Battaglene said the industry had been preparing for this outcome.  

“Our focus now is two-fold. Firstly, we’re working with industry and the Australian Government to assess options available to us within the Chinese system, and internationally," he said. 

"And secondly, we’re focusing on growing demand for Australian wine in other markets across Asia, Europe, US, and the UK.

“We have worked closely with the Australian Government throughout this process and I want to thank Ministers for the work they have done in what has been a very challenging period for everyone.”

“The Australian Government’s $72.7 million investment to help agribusinesses expand their export markets is a great first step to getting on with the job of finding new markets for Australian wine. 

"It’s going to take collaboration, hard work and commitment, but if we work together we’re confident that we can drive growth in market access and sales in a range of markets in the coming years.”

# Australian Grape and Wine Inc is the national association of grape and wine producers. 


Friday, 26 March 2021

Sleeping in a "mega morgue" proves a surprise


I don't do camping - I joke to friends that I dislike the lack of room service. And I certainly like an en-suite bathroom.

I'm also not keen on hostels. Too noisy, too busy and no privacy.

So what am I doing staying at the Pod Inn in Launceston, Tasmania, sharing bathrooms and a common space with backpackers and budget travellers from around the globe?

I'm having my first Pod experience and apart from some early claustrophobia - and a momentary panic in the middle of the night when I can't find the button to open my pod door - it is a success - and a money saver.

Often, all you need from a night in town is a bed, wifi and bathroom facilities (shared or not).

The first capsule hotel in the world opened in 1979: the Capsule Inn Osaka, located in the Umeda district of Osaka. In Australia they are a relatively new phenomenon. 

The bathrooms and toilets at the Pod Inn appeared clean, even if I am not overly keen to share. 

My plastic Superior Side Entrance Capsule Bed (below) was relatively spacious for one person but would be a little tight for two - although at $60 a night, beggars can't be choosers.


I'm certainly glad to be on the lower level, not having to climb up to a first-storey pod in what has been described as a "mega morgue for the living". 

The capsule is certainly well equipped with room to easily slide in and out through the card-controlled sliding door. You are provided with a comfortable mattress, comfy pillows and quilts. 

There is a dimmable ambient light, laptop desk, a safe to lock up your valuables, reading lights, air conditioning, USB charger port, power point, back-lit mirror, smoke detector and coat hooks. 

A locker space and towel is provided to each guest.

The capsule bed was intended to provide basic layover accommodation for those who didn't want to pay big bucks for full service hotel. Often mega drunk businessmen who were just sober enough to realise they wanted something better than a shared hostel room. The Launceston operation opened in 2018.

Guests can control their own lights and ventilation to suit themselves - and you don't have to worry about disturbing other guests. 

I expected to hear some noise from other guests but slept relatively well, although getting in and out of the pod to go the toilet in the middle of the night was tiresome. 

As a plus for those not wanting to brave the mean streets of Launceston, there is also an on-site noodle bar eatery.  

All in all the Pod Inn delivers exactly what it says. And I hear an offshoot is coming to downtown Hobart very soon. 


# The writer paid his own way