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Wednesday 30 June 2021

Yarra Valley ready to celebrate winter

The winemakers and gourmet producers of Victoria's Yarra Valley will celebrate winter over two weeks of the Fireside Yarra Valley Festival 2021. 

Short days, crisp nights, and an icy chill in the air will add to the fun f an event that will run from July 17 to August 1. 

Visitors will be urged to enjoy the warmth of an open fire while treating themselves to some of he finest foods and wines from one of Australia’s premier wine regions.

Now in its third year, Fireside 2021 is a 16-day festival that features a selection of special events including winemaker dinners, fireside brunches, pizza parties, cooking classes and much more. 

It’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy some of the region’s finest wines from names including Oakridge, Seville Estate, Six Acres Wines, Innocent Bystander, TarraWarra Estate, Yeringberg, Yarra Yering and many more.

Visit to explore the programme of events that make up this year’s festival.

Artful new range added to the Taylors wine collection

Few Australian wine producers have as many different ranges as Taylors, but the Clare Valley-based producer has just launched another new collection, called Masterstroke.

The range includes three new wines - the Masterstroke Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Masterstroke McLaren Vale Shiraz 2019 and Masterstroke Clare Valley Cabernet Shiraz 2016.

The new collection features three different South Australian regions. 

When Bill Taylor Snr., Taylors Wines founder, established the family’s winery in the Clare Valley in 1969, he recognised the potential for the region to produce outstanding table wines but the Masterstroke collection champions the terroir of three diverse regions. 

"We consider winemaking to be a true art form," says managing director Mitchell Taylor. "The decisions of our vineyard and winemaking teams are like the strokes of an artist’s brush on canvas. 

“While our home is in the Clare Valley, we have a long history of working with our grower partners to source outstanding cabernet fruit in the Coonawarra and shiraz from McLaren Vale - both hero varieties of their respective regions. 

"While each wine is a distinct reflection of their regional terroir, they still display the powerful elegance that’s expected of a Taylors wine.”

Each of the new wines features a portrait of the region from where the fruit is sourced. The photography was produced by award-winning South Australian landscape photographer, Benjamin Goode.

The Taylors Masterstroke collection (RRP $60) is available now at select fine wine retailers, Taylors Wines’ Clare Valley Cellar Door and online at Full reviews when I've tasted the wines. 

Tuesday 29 June 2021

Doors slam shut on British travellers

Bad news all round if you are in Britain and want to travel.

Hong Kong has announced it will ban all passenger flights originating from the UK starting from July1, Travel Mole reported.

Hong Kong has designated the UK as "extremely high-risk" due to the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19.

People having spent spent more than two hours in the UK will banned from boarding flights to Hong Kong "because of 'the recent rebound of the epidemic situation and the widespread Delta variant virus strain," Hong Kong authorities said in statement.

They also imposed blanket flight bans on Indonesia, India, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines.

The vast majority of current Covid-19 cases in the UK are of the Delta variant, which was first identified in India, and cases have been surging in recent weeks despite the fact that 60% of Britons are now fully vaccinated (compared to fewer than 4% in Australia under the dismal leadership of the Slogan Bogan flapdoodler).

The UK reported more than 22,000 new cases of Covid on Monday.

The World Health Organization says Delta variant is present in at least 85 countries and is the most infectious of all variants.

New rules also came into force at Portuguese border points, imposing a 14-day quarantine on British arrivals who are not fully vaccinated.

Arrivals landing at mainland Portugal by air, land or sea, require proof they have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine at least two weeks ago.

Portuguese authorities said the measures will last until at least July 11.

Portugal is taking a similar measure as Malta, which announced similar rules that take effect later this week.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged fellow European Union countries to impose quarantine on arrivals coming from the UK, due to the spread of the Delta variant.

About 30% of the Portugal population are vaccinated so far.

Spain has also announced that British travellers to the Balearic islands (Ibiza and Mallorca) will have to show either proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test.

The move comes just days after Mallorca and Ibiza were placed on the British Government’s travel “green list”, prompting a rapid surge in holiday bookings from Britons keen to escape the green and pleasant land.

Big-name chef signs on the dotted line


Russell Blaikie has been named as the director of food at the West Australian-based Prendiville Group, which runs hotels and resorts in the west and in Queensland. 

Blaikie joins the hospitality family business in a newly created role. 

After a full immersion into the business, Blaikie will be delivering innovation in food and developing a range of new hospitality concepts.

Blaikie, who closed his lauded Must Wine Bar in December after 19 years  has a history with the Prendiville Group having consulted to them for three years up until 2015.

The awarded chef says there won’t be a cookie-cutter approach to Prendiville Group venues.

“The hospitality provided by the diverse range of venues within the group is about creating a positive social experience, with food and drink at the centre of that,” Blaikie says.

Blaikie says that the biggest asset of the Prendiville Group is its people.

“It’s a WA family business that’s developed over many years and grown through hard work from the ground up with great integrity in business dealings, that’s why I want to work with them,” he says.

“I’m excited about this new role and the challenge it brings.”

Prendiville Group Chairman Peter Prendiville says: “When Russell became available, we started talking and it quickly became apparent that his skills, experience and values are aligned with ours and we’re thrilled to have him part of our management team.”

The Prendiville Group, which owns Sandalford Wines, employ almost 3,000 people.

Monday 28 June 2021

Delatite unveils multi-million dollar expansion

Victoria has a new multi-million-dollar cellar door and restaurant after the opening of the new Delatite facility in Mansfield.

With views over Mt Buller and the Alpine ranges, the state-of-the-art, sustainable building replaces the modest 1980s cellar door that Delatite has outgrown in recent years.

Managing director David Ritchie, whose parents Robert and Vivienne planted the first grapes over 50 years ago, says the aim was to build a cellar door that tells the same story as the wine.

“Obviously, we want our customers to have the best possible time when they visit us,” he said.

“Whether it’s drinking our wine or visiting where we make it, we want a place that shows our commitment to quality and our care for the environment.”

Delatite has been using biodynamic practices in their vineyard for 15 years now is environmentally aware.

The new Delatite cellar door and restaurant has a large tasting area, with 180-degree views over the vines, neighbouring farmlands, Mt Buller and Timbertop.

To the north of the tasting room is the restaurant, enjoying the same eastern views as the tasting room and plenty of natural lighting.

Locally sourced food and produce is at the centre of the seasonal menu.

Up to 60 guests can be seated indoors with additional dining on the outdoor deck and courtyard.

The designer was Melbourne-based practice Lucy Clemenger Architects, where the senior partner is Vivienne Ritchie’s niece.

“I contacted Lucy to ask if she had any ideas who might design it and she said, ‘would you mind if I throw my hat in the mix?’,” Ritchie said.

The facility is at 390 Pollards Rd, Mansfield and is open from 11am-5pm daily. See

What now for 126-year-old Tulloch Wines?

Lindemans is a shadow of its previous self and the once mighty McWilliams Mount Pleasant operation was recently split up and sold. Now another famous Hunter Valley wine brand is on the market. 

Tulloch Wines - one of the oldest brands in the region - has been put up for sale after the board recently passed a motion for the sale of the brand and business.

The sale is driven by the upcoming retirement and exit of several individual shareholders, which means the Tulloch family cannot control the business alone. 

But CEO and fourth-generation family member Christina Tulloch says she is looking forward to the next part of the company’s story, whatever it may bring.

“While exit planning of this sort can be a complex process, I am confident and excited about the opportunity we now have to continue Tulloch Wines’ 126 year legacy in the Hunter Valley,” she said.

“Tulloch is a highly successful company, and I am confident we will be able to find investors who respect our history and tradition and see the value and potential of further growth. I and all the team here at Tulloch look forward to being a part of the next phase of this great Australian brand’s story.

“The Tulloch family is immensely proud of the business we have built and the incredible successes we have achieved.”

The sale will include the Tulloch Wines brand and its assets, with an award-winning cellar door, café and events space; 20 acres of Pokolbin real estate and vineyard; grower agreements; national bottle shop ranging; a wine club; and a packaged liquor license. 

The sale does not include winemaking facilities, as Tulloch wines - which sell over 40,000 cases annually - are not made on-site.

“In the meantime, it will be very much business as usual and there will be no change to the dedicated, expert, and professional service our guests have come to know and love from the team here at cellar door. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to lead this wonderful team into the future,” Tulloch said.

Langley & Co has the business on sale with or sale by expressions of interest closing on Friday, July 30, 2021. Figures of $10 million have been mentioned in the media. 

Fingers crossed the family finds a benevolent investor. 

Sunday 27 June 2021

Is this the best-value hotel in Adelaide?

Sometimes you really don't need a hotel with all the bells and whistles that cost the big bucks.

For a night or two you can get by without a concierge, 24-room service, around-the-clock reception and porters to help you take your one small bag to the lift.

What you probably do want is a clean, quiet, well-sized room with a TV, shower, fast free internet and a central location.

For all those of you with simple tastes, may I introduce you the Adabco Boutique Hotel in Adelaide.

With a history dating back to 1897, the Adabco has a communal kitchen and outdoor terrace located on each floor. It is clean, comfortable and very affordable.

Located in a heritage-listed Venetian Gothic style building it offers a beguiling mix of old-world charm and modern sophistication.There is even a guest lounge with computer terminals.

It's a little old school, for sure, but that's part of its appeal.

There are little touches of luxury like in-room robes and Netflix movies, but what the Adabco does best is offer a very good base within strolling distance of both Adelaide many cafes, eateries and bars and the lovely parklands.

The building was originally opened as Our Boys’ Institute in 1897, the early forerunner of the YMCA in Adelaide.

Lady Victoria Buxton, wife of the former Governor of South Australia, laid the foundation stone in October 1896.

There are a range of room sizes and styles with prices booked directly online for under $100 a night - that's cheaper than many crappy country motels. Two night stays, for instance, attract a 20% discount.

The Adabco is part of the Elanor Group. Adabco Boutqiue Hotel, 223 Wakefield St, Adelaide SA 5000. (08) 8100 7500.

# The writer was a guest of Adabco Boutique Hotel but would happily stay there at his own cost

Meet a unique pinot noir from Tasmania

Tasmanian winemaker Max Marriott stole an idea from a Burgundy wine icon to produce a unique limited release.

Marriott, from Anim Wines, is about to release a wine made during Hobart's lockdown in April last year. 

His baby is called Hobart 27; which references the 27 individuals involved in the snipping of the grapes. 

The four-week 2020 lockdown of Hobart coincided with the grape harvest and saw Marriott drop off buckets of grapes to the doorsteps of willing participants, largely from the hospitality industry, who were instructed to snip individual berries of pinot noir off bunches of grapes.

“Lalou Bize-Leroy, from the famed vineyards of Burgundy, one of the most powerful women in wine and a fastidious winegrower, first pioneered this method – at least to my knowledge – and it’s a process I’ve replicated with colleagues when I was working in Oregon,” says Marriott.

“When lockdown occurred, and we were fortunate enough to continue with our harvest and vintage, I began to think of ways we could incorporate the community into wine. I guess it was equal parts reaching out, motivating, keeping busy, empathy, excitement, intrigue and ambition.”

A positive community response saw buckets of grapes left on doorsteps over a series of nights and then saw the buckets of snipped grapes collected: with enough fruit to make one barrel of wine.

“There are various thoughts behind the practice of snipping whole berries with the pedicel (short stems) intact,” explains Marriott. “The promotion of bunch character without the green tannin of the stem, unruptured whole berries undergoing intracellular fermentation, carbonic maceration and unique ferment kinetics, specific extraction of tannin and so forth.”

The front label is watermarked with the Tasmanian waratah, a flower that overlooks Hobart on the slopes of kunanyi/Mount Wellington. A gold flourish references the extremely rare yellow waratah, but also maps the addresses of all who had buckets of grapes delivered to them, with Hobart the centrepoint. 

The wine will be released on July 1 with just 400 bottles available. $270.

See or call 0400 203 865. 

Friday 25 June 2021

A slice of Japanese tranquillity in the centre of Adelaide

Just a short walk from the centre of Adelaide is a delightful surprise: a tranquil Japanese garden that is free to enter and offers a perfect location for some quiet contemplation.

Originally built to honour the Japanese city of Himeji - which became one of Adelaide’s sister cities in 1982 – the garden on show in this little oasis was the work of Japanese landscape designer Yoshitaka Kumada and many volunteers.

Enter through ornate gates and discover a little slice of Japan in Park 1, one of the southern parts of the Adelaide Parklands. You can purify yourself by using a chozubachi, or traditional water bowl.

The garden contains features which are of religious significance to the Japanese people and contains features designed to reflect the beauty of nature.

It is a blend of two classic styles. The first is the senzui (lake and mountain garden), where water and the imagination create images of vastness and grandeur. The second is the kare senzui (dry garden), where rocks and sand evoke the presence of water.

There is a lovely small lake at the centre of the park, which is fed by a mini waterfall.

Himeji, 650km west of Tokyo, is a beautiful city with a historic castle that I was fortunate enough to have visited a couple of years ago

The park is beautifully maintained and open from 8am daily.

A Hunter Valley favourite to make its return

The Hunter Valley will soon welcome the return of an old favourite after Tower Estate lodge and winery in Pokolbin has been reimagined with a $6m renovation, expected to be completed by June 2022.

Two family-owned businesses that share a passion for the wine region, Spicers Retreats and Tower Estate, owned by Michael and Karen Hope of nearby Hope Estate, have announced their plans for Spicers Tower Lodge in the heart of Hunter Valley wine country.


“Hope Estate shares much with Spicers Retreats,” said Michael Hope (above), the owner of Hope Estate Wines. “We’ve both worked to do something wonderful with our piece of heaven in the Hunter, and draw in more people seeking somewhere to enjoy life to the fullest.


“We each bring something unique to the partnership. Spicers have perfected their brand of relaxed luxury, and we’re the custodians of Tower Estate. This area is my family’s lifeblood.”


The Hope Estate winery, brewery and distillery in Pokolbin is set in spectacular grounds, and home to Australia’s largest winery concert amphitheatre.


Spicers Tower Lodge will be the third Spicers Retreat in the area, joining Spicers Vineyards Estate and Spicers Guesthouse. Each retreat compliments the region and offers a very different experience.


“We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with the Hope family to restore Tower Estate,” said David Assef, Spicers Retreats managing director. “It’s a great opportunity for all of us to bring back an iconic lodge drawing on its history and creating something special together.

“We have ambitious plans for the Lodge and function space. The buildings will have that sense of place and a strong connection to the landscape, with plentiful natural materials and colours. 

"Spicers Tower Lodge will be a new way to experience the flavour and landscapes of the beautiful Hunter Valley tapping into the world-class wines of the region and working alongside Australia’s best chefs and restaurateurs in the region.” 

Founded by Jude Turner in 2002, Spicers Retreats has grown its portfolio to nine luxury retreats and eight fine-dining restaurants across Queensland and New South Wales. It also operates the iconic Scenic Rim Trail, Queensland’s only Great Walk of Australia.

Thursday 24 June 2021

Grange has a 70th birthday party with serious style

Magill Estate, where the 2020 Penfolds Grange sits maturing in barrels, was the venue for a memorable 70th birthday party for Australia's most iconic red wine. 

The first Penfolds Grange Hermitage, created by Max Schubert, was made in 1951. 

Chief winemaker Peter Gago and his team celebrated the milestone in style with a few friends last night. 

It was, as you'd expect, a memorable occasion with guests given Salon Le Mesnil 1996 Blanc de Blancs to start and tastes of no fewer than six previous vintages of Grange (1965, 1976, 1986, 1990, 2004, 2010), served alongside some magnificent food. 

Here's a few images I took (apologies if any are out of focus).

How to taste the King Valley in style

Quest Wangaratta and Brown Brothers Winery have teamed to craft a new way to taste the King Valley this winter, offering a premium two-night Winter Wine Escape bookable until July 15.

 With restrictions easing across Victoria, guests can now plan their winter getaway with a two-night stay at the new Quest Wangaratta and enjoy a premium wine and food tasting experience at Brown Brothers winery in Milawa.
The one-of-a-kind wine and food adventure celebrates the history behind the famous Brown Brothers brand. 
At an exclusive discounted rate, guests will join chefs in the kitchen garden to discover and forage for fresh produce, before enjoying a guided tasting experience and tour to unearth over a century of winemaking history.
The journey concludes with a premium lunchtime dining experience at the winery restaurant, where produce picked that morning is paired with a selection of Brown Brothers wine.
Meals will be designed to match and enhance the flavours and aromas of the produce picked.
The Winter Wine Escape also includes a free upgrade from a studio to a one-bedroom apartment at Quest Wangaratta, and complimentary bottle of the Brown Brothers Prosecco NV.

Quest Wangaratta property manager, Gerry Bourke, said the Winter Wine Escape balances the very best of the old and new in the region. 
“Having opened just last year, Quest Wangaratta is the perfect place to stay while experiencing the King Valley region, with spacious contemporary rooms, complete with cooking, dining, laundry and entertainment facilities”, he said. 
“This special package will enable our guests to sample the very best wines from the fourth-generation winemakers at Brown Brothers and have a beautiful place to cosy up at the end of a big day.”

The Winter Wine Escape package is bookable until July 15 with stays available up until November 30, subject to hotel and restaurant availability. The package is available for two night Friday to Sunday stays.
Click here to book.. 

Wednesday 23 June 2021

Why I'm sworn to silence about the new Penfolds wines

Chief winemaker Peter Gago and the Penfolds winemaking team today unveiled the new 2017 Penfolds Grange, along with the rest of the 2021 Australia Collection. 

A small group of lucky media (minus the Victorians) was shown all the new releases - along with two brand new wines - at the superb new Kingsford Homestead facility on the edge of the Barossa Valley. 

We sniffed and sipped, made notes and interrogated Gago. But I can't reveal a word about any of the new releases. 

With more tastings to be held globally, there is a media embargo imposed until July 22 - and the wines will not be released until August 5. 

So what can I tell you? 

The team let slip that there might be some news on pricing that will please consumers. 

All the wines will be released in Australia with a screw cap option. Except Grange, which remains under cork. 

I can also say that one of the cheapest wines in the range is absolutely stunning. But I can't say any more. 

Just stay tuned. 

Simply capital: a novel stay in the Australian capital

Three of Canberra’s innovative women have collaborated to create a unique short-stay package bringing together art, wine and a luxurious spring stay in Canberra. 

The exclusive Great Things Come In Little Packages is aimed to appeal to lovers of ceramic art from emerging artists, cool-climate wines and boutique accommodation.  

“Great Things Come In Little Packages has been developed as a collaboration between Canberra’s tiniest gallery, Gallery of Small Things (GOST), the Little National Hotel and Lake George Winery,” said package collaborator and Director of GOST, Anne Masters.  

“We’re working together to showcase ceramic art and highlighting feature artist, Grace Brown of Oh Hey Grace on her first solo show in Canberra. And pairing her work with award-winning wines from boutique Lake George Winery and a stay at a small luxury hotel in the heart of leafy Barton, Little National Hotel. 

“We really want to support smaller businesses in Canberra including local art, wine, accommodation, transport and hospitality businesses, following a particularly tough 12  months for us all.” 

Great Things Come In Little Packages includes two nights’ accommodation at Little National with daily breakfast at Buvette Restaurant, private exhibition viewing at GOST, welcome drink with meet and greet the artist Grace Brown, a little ceramic workshop, a take home gift from the artist’s limited collection, and a personalised vine to wine tour at Lake George Winery.  

“We are confident Canberra Region advocates, and together invite visitors to experience a weekend away with our luxurious packages,” Masters said. 
Great Things Come In Little Packages is available  September 24-26 2021 only. The package costs $485 per person, twin share.  

Tuesday 22 June 2021

Tokyo Olympics becoming a farce as cash-crazy IOC presses on

The cash-crazy International Olympic Committee is pressing ahead with the Tokyo Olympic Games despite the opposition of most Japanese people - and the continued risk of Covid-19.

Despite constant warnings from health experts, Tokyo Olympics organisers said this week that spectators will be allowed in stadiums and arenas.

The president of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, Seiko Hashimoto, said only domestic spectators will be allowed and each venue will be capped at 50% of its capacity to a maximum of 10,000.

A decision on whether spectators will be at the Paralympics will be taken in mid-July.

Officials said they would make contingency plans to allow events to go ahead without any spectators if the infection rates get worse during the Olympics.

The news came as a Ugandan athlete tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Japan for the Games.

“In principle, spectators will be admitted to events subject to limits,” organisers said in a statement. “In light of the Government’s restrictions on public events, the spectator limit for the Olympic Games will be set at 50% of venue capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 people in all venues.”

Japanese media reports said as many as 20,000 people could attend the Olympic opening ceremony at the main stadium, but organisers said the number would “not be that high”.

Government officials said they would leave open the option of holding events without spectators if the infection situation worsened before or during the Olympics.

“If there should be major dramatic change in infections, we may need to revisit this matter amongst ourselves, and we may need to consider the option of having no spectators in the venues,” said the governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike.

“We want people there to appreciate Tokyo 2020," Hashimoto said. "What is most important is for people in Japan to feel safe and secure, so we have to keep providing information to make them feel that way.”

Spectators will be asked to wear masks, to travel directly to venues and to return home as soon as events have finished.

The Japanese government’s top health adviser, Shigeru Omi, said last week that banning all fans would be the safest option, The Guardian reported. “We believe the risks of infections inside venues would be lowest by holding the event with no fans,” said Omi, a former World Health Organization official.

“We believe it would be most desirable not to have fans inside venues. Regardless of holding the Olympics or not, Japan has continuing risks of a resurgence of the infections that puts pressure on the medical system.”

Organisers and the IOC decided this year to ban overseas spectators, while the number of officials, journalists and support staff has been cut to below 80,000 (lots of hangers-on there) , in addition to 11,500 athletes.

The Japanese public remains opposed to holding the Games with up 65% in favour of the event being postponed or cancelled.

Japan has seen a comparatively small Covid-19 outbreak, but its death toll of nearly 14,500 is high by regional standards.

If the Games do go ahead, it will be all about the cash with athletes second and spectators third. It is clear they should be held next year, when the vast majority of officials, athletes and spectator will have been vaccinated.   

# The writer has covered three Olympic Games dating back to 1980, and has been a consultant to the IOC   

Monday 21 June 2021

Do you feel the need to go wild in Tasmania?

Former junior tennis star and admitted former alcohol abuser Alice Hansen has launched a new series of wild wellness adventures in Tasmania. 

Hansen, also a well-known writer, describes Wild Wellness as "Tasmania’s new remedy for modern life stress". 

Think Instructor-led ocean plunges, expert-led sessions by the fire and guided breathwork beneath the stars. All set in Tasmania’s epic wilderness. 

Not for me, thank you, but I can see the appeal. 

New Wild Wellness options range from day experiences to recharging retreats and four-day guided cliff walks.

Wild Wellness is billed as an Australian first – a merging of medical professionals, decades of experience and global thought leaders – delivered through retreats and online courses. It launches nationally in August. 

The wellness team includes a doctor, psychologist, NLP practitioner, breath-worker and nutritionist. 

Options include a Three Capes Lodge Wild Wellness Walk; A one-day Five Huts Wild Wellness Walk; Wild Wellness @The Cove in Tasmania's north-west and an Alcohol-Free Wild Wellness Retreat. 

With plans to expand nationally, keep an eye out for more Wild Wellness events in 2022. 


So you enjoy your rieslings with a few years of age?

The Howard Park rieslings from West Australia are renowned for benefitting from a few years in the cellar. 

Good news for lazy wine lovers is that the Burch family - owners of Howard Park - are prepared to do the cellaring for you. 

Howard Park Wines has just unveiled the eighth riesling release in its Museum Series, re-releasing the 2014 Mount Barker Riesling.

The Mount Barker and Porongurup sub-regions of Western Australia’s Great Southern experienced warm to hot conditions throughout the entire vintage period but ocean breezes helped the vines. 

In the making of this wine, each vineyard block is vinified separately in stainless steel tanks. The free-run juice is racked before a long and cold fermentation to preserve character and fruit flavours. Blending occurs in June of the vintage year. 

In a nod to Howard Park's history, the label design for the 2014 Museum Release Riesling commemorates the inaugural 1986 Riesling with original artwork created by the late artist Denise Bowen, mother to now Howard Park Wines chief winemaker Nic Bowen.

The artwork draws inspiration from the Great Southern landscape with a colourful depiction of the Marri and Karri trees, which are unique to the region.

“A tasting of this wine seven years ago showed the wet slate notes that are so typical of the Great Southern region. Over time, the notes of lemon and lime have softened, giving way to secondary flavours such as praline and brioche,” said Howard Park Wines director of winemaking Janice McDonald. 

“As our Museum Series has shown in the past, it will continue to age, grow and evolve the longer that it’s cellared. It is a wine that sits beautifully amongst the line-up of museum releases and we’re proud to celebrate this release with Denise Bowen’s beautiful artwork.”

The Museum Series offers an opportunity to get a taste of rare back vintage wines without the difficulty of storing the wines for future enjoyment.

The Howard Park Museum Release Riesling 2014 (RRP $41) is now available to members of the Howard Park Wine Club before being released to the public in late 2021.


Saturday 19 June 2021

Meet Australia's most unlikely wine tourism destination

Wine tourism has never been more popular, which is why even regions that are unsuitable for growing wine grapes are jumping on the bandwagon.

Take the Gold Coast in Queensland; a beach destination with a lot to offer. But not known for its vineyards. 

I was very surprised to see a press release this week promoting the merits of Gold Coast hinterland wineries. 

It said, in part: "Gold Coast wineries produce some fabulous offerings for wine lovers, and a visit to some of our beautiful vineyards, cellar doors, wine bars and restaurants should feature on any foodie’s itinerary."

That is just a tad disingenuous, as nearly all of the grapes used by Gold Coast wine producers are grown several hours away in the much cooler Granite Belt region near Stanthorpe.

That said, there are several worthwhile destinations for wine lovers, including Witches Falls at Mount Tamborine, 

You can watch grapes grow as you taste their array of wines accompanied by a platter of local cheeses. They freely admit that their wine grapes are grown on the Granite Belt 200 km away, but the wines are made on site. 

One of the largest Gold Coast wineries, Cedar Creek Estate (above), does grow some warm-climate varieties verdelho and chambourcin on site. 

You can enjoy lunch here next to a picturesque garden overlooking the vineyards. 

Near Canungra, you'll find O'Reilly's Canungra Valley Vineyards, where you can feast on picnic baskets and enjoy music at weekends. 

At Mount Cotton – an hour’s drive north of the Gold Coast – Sirromet Wines is a family owned and run winery spread across eight hectares. Again, a lot of fruit comes from the cooler Granite Belt. 

Sirromet create a wide range of wines  including lesser known varietals like montepulciano and have a renowned on-site restaurant. 

For full details see:

Friday 18 June 2021

Impressive start for new Seppelt winemaker

New Seppelt senior winemaker Clare Dry is off to a good start with her first release as the venerable producer marks its 170th birthday.

Dry's 2021 Seppelt Drumborg Riesling from Henty is part of the 2021 Seppelt Luxury Collection launched this month. All the other new releases were made by her predecessor Adam Carnaby. 

The collection comprises seven wines sourced from regional Victoria: Grampians, Heathcote and Henty regions for a brand that was established in 1851. 

“It’s a privilege to launch the 2021 Seppelt Luxury Collection in honour of the icons of Australian wine  who have been at the helm of Seppelt," Dry said. 

"Names including Benno and Karl Seppelt, Charles Pierlot, Ian McKenzie, Colin Preece and most recently Adam Carnaby, have been transformational not only just for Seppelt, but the Australian wine industry in general.

"There is a little bit of each of them in these wines - and that’s pretty special. 

“The sole wine from vintage 2021, the Drumborg Vineyard Riesling, is my first Seppelt release. I experimented with different techniques including whole bunch pressing, hand pick with crush to press, and different levels of solids in the ferment. 

"The resulting wine is classic Drumborg, with tight mineral acid and a seamless palate of florals and citrus fruit with a hint of exotic spice."

The Drumborg retails for $40 and maintains the standards you would expect. It's dry, delicious and full of palate interest. I'll taste the shirazes over the next couple of weeks. 

Thursday 17 June 2021

Five-star hotel delivers six-star experience

When a hotel has been named the best in the country multiple times, that creates an expectation of excellence among guests. 

COMO The Treasury - named best city hotel in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific for 2020 by Travel + Leisure magazine - not only lives up to expectations but exceeds them. 

During my career I have been lucky enough to stay in a range of global hotel icons including The Ritz in London, the Meurice in Paris, Amandari in Bali, and the Palace of the Lost City in South Africa. 

COMO The Treasury is in the same class - both when it comes to facilities and to service. 

Even though you are in a five-star environment - someone to park your car, someone else to whisk away your bags, a check-in lounge rather than a desk - the vibe is effortlessly courteous. The staff here are slick and helpful without the slightest hint of condescension.

Opened six years ago - and named best hotel in Australia and New Zealand by Conde Nast Traveler in 2017 - the luxury urban hotel has a charming Victorian-era façade on Cathedral Square in the centre of Perth city core. It remains on the Conde Nast Gold List.

There are just 48 large rooms and suites: all with a definite boutique buzz. 

"We pride ourselves in offering unparalleled luxury service and a bespoke cultural experience from the moment our guests arrive," says general manager Jesse Tibert "It is with the help of our attentive staff that COMO The Treasury rises to the top.”

The rooms (all different) are impeccably equipped. Think Egyptian cotton, super-comfy beds, air-con, a complimentary in-room bar replenished daily (thanks for the delicious cashews), private safe, multimedia hub, USB charging points, free wifi, Illy coffee machine, electronic blinds and super-modern bathrooms with heated towel rails, bathrobes, and slippers.

There was no iron and ironing board, but a phone call saw them arrive quick smart. 

This is a serious five-star property so there is a 24-hour reception, concierge and daily housekeeping and turndown service (a rarity nowadays). Complimentary fruit and water are delivered daily (no nickel and diming here).

The historic 19th-century Treasury is part of a building that is now a gourmet hub but that sat empty for more than 20 years before being completely reimagined. 

There are two restaurants - Wildflower (above) and Post with chef Kim Brennan in charge - within the hotel, a bar and a spa offering COMO Shambhala wellness therapies. There is a heated indoor pool, gym and a personal trainer on hand should you want or need one. 

My wine tasting appointment meant I had to miss out on an Indian head massage (below).

Super-knowledgeable Emma Farrelly oversees not only the wine lists in house, but also the wine program for Petition, Poole’s Temple and Petition Wine Bar and Merchant, which are among the several wining and dining options within the State Buildings complex. 

Beer Corner, Telegram Coffee, The Honeycake and Long Chim are other choices, depending on your mood.

Thanks, Emma, for introducing me to new Western Australian wine names including Trait, Dormilona and Vino Volta, but the lists also include favourites including Barolo and Bourgogne. 

Dinner at Wildflower (overlooking the city) is a memorable modern Australian experience (particularly with a selection of matched wines), while Post does excellent breakfasts. Those are for another review another day. 

# COMO Hotels and Resorts has 15 luxury properties around the globe in destinations including Bhutan, Turks and Caicos, Miami, Indonesia, Italy, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the Maldives. Room rates start from $595. See  

# The writer was a guest of COMO The Treasury but hopes to soon return as a paying guest  


Details of Adelaide's new five-star hotel unveiled

Details have been revealed about Accor’s newest Sofitel hotel in Australia, Sofitel Adelaide, which is scheduled to open in September 

The hotel will mark the luxury brand’s debut in South Australia and will be the first internationally recognised five-star hotel to be built in Adelaide in 30 years.

Accor Pacific CEO Simon McGrath, said: “Distinguished by its bursting calendar of cultural events and flourishing passions for gastronomy, fine wine, music, fashion and design, Adelaide is an ideal destination for our Sofitel brand. 

"The hotel’s design reflects the distinct sense of style and sophistication of Sofitel. Sofitel Adelaide is one of our biggest hotel openings of 2021 and its level of luxury and on-site amenities will ensure it’s one of Adelaide’s most illustrious new destinations.”

Located in the heart of Adelaide on Currie Street, the design of the new $150 million property will be decorated with French-inspired artwork. 

Sofitel Adelaide will have 251 guest rooms and suites in French colonial style adapted to a modern contemporary aesthetic (whatever that means). 

Sofitel Adelaide is part of a 32-story mixed-use tower by Palumbo Group, which in addition to being a hotel, will also house one of the tallest residential developments in South Australia. 

Of the 32 stories, the first 24 will be dedicated to the hotel and its leisure and business facilities, which will include a French-inspired restaurant, two bars, swimming pool, SoFIT health and fitness centre, meeting and private dining rooms and a Sofitel Club Lounge.

The largest hotel operator in Australia, Accor has 15 hotels across South Australia, with 12 of these in the city of Adelaide. Sofitel Adelaide will join a growing portfolio of five Sofitel hotels and resorts in Australia and more than 120 globally.

Rooms at Sofitel Adelaide will start from $350 per night. To book, visit