Thursday, 6 May 2021

A 50th birthday wine celebration with kisses from Dannii

An always reliable choice for a cheap treat, much-loved Australian sparkling wine, Yellowglen, is turning 50. 

To mark this milestone, Yellowglen has teamed up with another Aussie icon who is also celebrating 50 years in 2021 – fashion and entertainment personality Dannii Minogue.

As Australia's most popular sparkling wine, Yellowglen has become a regular for birthdays and other celebrations.

To mark the milestone, Yellowglen is releasing a limited-edition 50-year Celebration Brut Cuvée. 

I'm not sure how much Dannii knows about wine, but she says: “Yellowglen is an icon of Australian celebration, a brand that stands for joy and has inspired generations of Australians with its approachable, fun-loving style."

Treasury Wine Estates Marketing and Category Director Ben Culligan says: “Throughout its 50 years, Yellowglen has long been the social butterfly of Australian wine. Its fun-loving approach paired withsparkling expertise is what has made it so popular.”

Yellowglen was founded in 1971 by Ian Home. It wasn't expensive imported Champagne, yet it wasn't cheap and nasty local sparkling."

Yellowglen’s limited edition 50 Years of Celebration Yellow & Pink Brut Cuvée is available nationally now for $12 RRP in liquor retailers.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

New-release Australian benchmark red wine shines

Arguably Australia's most collectible wine, the 2016 vintage of Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz is released today - and it will delight lovers of bigger red wine styles.

Henschke Hill of Grace is a single-vineyard wine grown in a shallow alluvial valley just north-west of the Henschke winery in South Australia's Eden Valley.

The name comes from the beautiful Gnadenberg Lutheran Church overlooking the ancient vineyard, where a congregation gathers weekly; Gnadenberg translating from German to ‘Hill of Grace’.

The oldest vines, known as the ‘Grandfathers’, were planted circa 1860 by Nicolaus Stanitzki from pre-phylloxera material brought from Europe, and are estimated to be just over 160 years of age.

As Henschke winemaker for four decades, Stephen Henschke now walks these ancient vines with his wife Prue, one of Australia’s most talented and dedicated botanically trained viticulturists.

The vines are managed with organic and biodynamic practices and grow within the native landscape; an ecosystem of local grasses and flowering plants.

“My philosophy is a holistic one; to ensure that the created environment sits in a healthy balance with the natural environment,” says Prue.

This is the 59th vintage (55th release) of Henschke Hill of Grace. Every vintage from the single vineyard is a limited release, however some are more limited than others.

There was no Hill of Grace made in 1960, 1974 and 2000. Just one barrel was produced in 2003; no vintage in 2011 and extremely tiny vintages for 2013, 2014, 2019 and 2020.

“The 2016 vintage will be recognised for deeply coloured, plush, dark-fruited wines, which are concentrated, complex, vibrant and energetic, with beautifully layered mature tannins; overall characterised by average yields of small berries and exceptionally high quality,” says Stephen.

“They are very much akin to high-quality vintages such as 1988, 1994 and 2008, all of which have shown exceptional ageing potential in ideal cellaring conditions.”

The new Hill of Grace is a big, rich, deep, serious wine that I am sure will cellar well - but I showed it to eight people and they all loved its plushness.

The Henschke family have also released the Mount Edelstone Shiraz 2016 alongside Hill of Grace.

Mount Edelstone was first produced in 1952 by fourth-generation winemaker Cyril Henschke, one of Australia’s leading pioneers of dry table wines, from 16 hectares of shiraz planted in 1912 by Ronald Angas, descendant of English landowner George Fife Angas. This is the 64th release.

A sibling wine to Hill of Grace; Hill of Roses Shiraz 2016, a young-vine wine produced from a mass selection of the best performing shiraz vines on the Hill of Grace vineyard, has also been released. It is a bit of a blockbuster.

Henschke Hill of Grace 2016, Mount Edelstone 2016 and Hill of Roses 2016 are available now through fine wine retailers, restaurants and the Henschke website and cellar door.

Henschke Hill of Grace Eden Valley Shiraz 2016 RRP $890.00

Henschke Hill of Roses Eden Valley Shiraz 2016 RRP $415.00

Henschke Mount Edelstone Eden Valley Shiraz 2016 RRP $225.00

Henschke, one of Australia’s oldest family-owned wineries, has been making wine for over 150 years.

Established in 1868, Henschke is resolute in its desire for complete integration of vineyard and winery, through six generations of family grape growing and winemaking tradition in the Eden Valley and Barossa Valley.

For more information, visit the Henschke website at

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Massive upgrade for landmark Adelaide hotel

The InterContinental Adelaide, one of Adelaide's landmark luxury hotels, has announced a major renovation project.

The hotel's asset management company, TCC Land International, based in Thailand, together with hotel operator, IHG Hotels & Resorts, has outlined plans for an extensive $32 million investment into the iconic 367-room hotel, which will commence in late 2021.

The refurbishment will include a re-design of all 367 guestrooms and suites; upgrades to meeting and event spaces; a refreshed restaurant and bar; enhancements to the hotel's award-winning Japanese teppanyaki restaurant, Shiki; and a new InterContinental Club Lounge space and experience.

It will also mean a facelift for the hotel's entrance, lobby, hallways and lifts.

“InterContinental Adelaide has been one of the city's most-loved and iconic luxury hotels for many years, hosting travellers from around the world," said general manager Michael Gaedtke.

"We know that South Aussies have a great pride in our iconic, vibrant hotel with its riverbank location and views directly over the Torrens and Adelaide Oval, and we recognise the responsibility that comes with that. This renovation affirms our commitment to South Australian tourism, and demonstrates support for the Government's focus on growing the state's share of high-yielding domestic and international visitors.”

Leanne Harwood, IHG managing director for Australasia and Japan, added: “InterContinental Adelaide is consistently ranked as one of IHG's top hotels from a guest satisfaction perspective, and we know that travellers will be excited to see the new product once it is complete."

Notable past guests at the hotel have included the Rolling Stones, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, the Australian and Indian cricket teams, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The hotel will remain open throughout the renovation, which is expected to be completed in early 2023.

IHG currently has 60 hotels operating under six brands in Australasia, including a big presence in South Australia with Crowne Plaza Adelaide, Holiday Inn Express Adelaide, and the new Hotel IndigoAdelaide, which opened on March 1.

Monday, 3 May 2021

Tasmania comes alive in winter

Winter used to be a season when Tasmanians hibernated. Now they embrace the coldest months with a series of events and festivals.

BOFA – Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival

Hobart: May 38-30 and online (free) May 3-30. 

Tasmania's annual film festival, Breath of Fresh Air, makes a welcome return back to the big screens and also continues its online presence in 2021. More than just a film festival, BOFA features panel discussions, a short film competition aptly named Stories of Tasmania and a red carpet opening night with a Roaring 20s-themed party.

Dark Mofo

Hobart June 16-22 

Celebrate the dark through large-scale public art, food, music, fire, light and noise. The festival will explore the links between ancient and contemporary mythology, humans and nature, darkness and light, birth and death during a week of public art, live music, performances, and nocturnal revelry.  Signature events include a Winter Feast on the waterfront, Ogoh-Ogoh parade and burning (above), and the Nude Solstice Swim. 

Festival of Voices

Hobart: June 30-July 11 

Festival of Voices celebrates song in its many forms. Guests can attend one of the many masterclasses on offer or don the puffer jacket and huddle in a Covid-safe fashion around the bonfire for the big sing that magically transforms a crowd into a choir.

Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival

Huonville July 16-17 

Willie Smith's Apple Shed hosts a festival of fire, dance and feast to celebrate the Hon Valley's rich apple-growing history. Dress up make a noise to scare away the evil spirits from the orchard so that the next season brings abundance.

Tassie Scallop Fiesta

Bridport: August 1

Celebrate the opening of the scallop season with a gastronomic festival. Learn more about the maritime history of the area, find out what to fish and what not to fish and watch live cooking demonstrations using the hero ingredient of the day, the humble scallop!

Tasmanian Whisky Week

August 9-15 

There's a reason that Tasmanian is home to internationally acclaimed and gold medal whiskies so come and find out why.

Beaker Street Festival

Hobart and Launceston: August 14-22 

Beaker Street is a not-for-profit organisation in Tasmania that exists to promote the intersection of art and science. Their flagship event, Beaker Street Festival, is a celebration of this intersection and takes place around Tasmania with their hub at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.


Junction Arts Festival  

Launceston: September 1-5 

Junction Arts Festival is celebrating 10 years with the program highlighting the very best of the previous years. Connect with contemporary pakana and palawa stories through the Opening Ceremony and Journey of the Free Words, warm up by the fire as top chefs prepare a campfire feast, experience theatre and dance productions from Tasdance, Stompin and Mudlark in a car park, abandoned buildings and old churches.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Exciting times for leading Tasmanian pinot producers


These are exiting times for Tasmanian vignerons/negociants Jim and Daisy Chatto, who are leading lights in the cool-climate pinot noir sphere. 

Jim's contract as group winemaker at the recently sold McWilliam's Wines Group expired at the end of April, leaving him free to concentrate on his own vineyard in the Huon Valley, and his burgeoning business as a consultant across the island state. 

This year also marks the 20th vintage that the couple has made pinots under their own label - and they are currently releasing five new wines from the 2020 vintage as of May 1, with a further three to follow in August. 

Chatto's reputation - he was Gourmet Traveller WINE winemaker of the year in 2019 - means he is able to source some of the most-sought-after fruit in the Apple Isle to complement the wines from his own Isle Vineyard, overlooking the Huon River in the deep south of Tasmania. 

Chatto's CV stretches through Tamburlaine, First Creek and Pepper Tree in the Hunter and includes an early spell at Rosevears Estate in Tasmania. He made his first wine under the Chatto label using fruit from the Glengarry vineyard in the Tamar Valley two decades ago - and the Glengarry grapes again feature in his new releases. 

Daisy Chatto, meanwhile, is a native Tasmanian and former trade marketing co-ordinator for Brokenwood Wines. 

The pair moved to the Huon just over a decade ago - building a beautiful sustainable home overlooking the vines - with Jim commuting regularly between Tasmania and the various McWilliam's vineyards. 

"Now I can concentrate completely on our own vineyard - and the fruit that comes in from our grower friends, as well as doing some consulting," says Chatto, a leading wine show judge and renowned palate. 

The Chatto Wines range starts with the entry level lutruwita blend ($45), a melange of fruit from the north and east of the state that includes no fewer than five different clones. It is a wine of amazing weight and texture; with intensity, and plushness to ensure it is immediately accessible. lutruwita is the indigenous word for Tasmania,

Then comes the "Grower" range of four remarkable different pinots (all $65): Bird from a vineyard at Pipers River planted by regional pioneer Andrew Pirie; Glengarry, from an East Tamar vineyard planted in 1991 that Chatto first sourced fruit from over two decades ago; Marion's, planted in 1979 on the West Tamar (one of the oldest plantings in the state); and Max Kitchell's Seven Inch, a micro vineyard that lies 750 metres from Isle and produces tiny quantities of stunning fruit. 

Bird is the choice for lovers of elegant, Burgundy-style pinots, bright and ethereal; Seven Inch is the other early-access wine choice, spicy and beautifully balanced. These were my personal favourites. 

For those with patience, Glengarry offers purity and a slatey minerality, while the Marion's is altogether, bigger, darker and gutsier with 10% whole bunch and a long way to go. 

The August releases will comprise the two estate wines: the brooding, intense Isle ($90) and the blackcurranty Intrigue ($70), made using eight different clones and named after a famous racing yacht that was built on the property that now houses the Chatto winery and cellar door (open by appointment only).  

They will line up alongside (of course) a pinot noir from Savigny-le-Beaune that Chatto made with French-based Australian Jane Eyre in Burgundy in 2019 (above). 

There is also a side project, Mania, in conjunction with Nicholas Crampton and Fourth Wave Wines. 

Pinot noir will continue to be the focus, although Chatto is not ruling out making a chardonnay "for family and friends". 

"It is good to get your head under the bonnet and specialise in one grape variety," he says. "But there will always be a big range. If you only make one variety then you have to offer people a choice of styles."

The current range is the culmination of 25 years of winemaking experience and six years of searching for the perfect site for the home vineyard. 

Planting began in 2007 and the first vintage from 2012 was released in 2013 to immediate acclaim. Many Chatto wines sell out soon after release. Hesitate and you miss out.  

Chatto already helps out some Tasmanian producers with advice, but says he still has "room on his dance card for consultancy work". Along with time to spend with the couple's two young daughters.

For full details see

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Covid-19 digital passport gets go ahead

The European Parliament has approved the launch of a Covid-19 digital passport scheme, in a move it hopes will free movement and leisure travel a step closer in time for the northern hemisphere summer.

The EU Covid-19 certificate will show proof of a vaccination, a recent negative test result or that the holder has recovered from the virus, Travel Mole reported.

MEPs also called for "universal, accessible, timely and free of charge testing".

The vaccine passport scheme will be in use for a period of 12 months and is only for travel purposes.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called it a "key step forward towards free and safe travel this summer."

The EU is working with the World Health Organization to ensure the vaccine certificate can be used beyond Europe.

There have, however, been "no contacts" with British officials to make it available to UK citizens yet. So the Brits can stay at home.