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Thursday 30 September 2021

Why distinguished sites matter to Australia's family wineries

The French word terroir encompasses the natural environment in which a wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.

They believe the tastes and textures of a wine are majorly influenced by where is is grown: the terroir.

Indigenous Australians have a similar concept, known as pangkarra.

Four of Australia's leading family wineries go together for Zoom tastings this week in which they explored what they call "distinguished sites" - vineyards that produce top-quality fruit each vintage. 

Howard Park, Taylors, Brown Brothers and Yalumba looked at key sites in Western Australia, the Clare Valley, Victoria and the Barossa, discussing the key elements involved in growing fruit for benchmark wines. 

All four wineries are part of the group Australia's First Families of Wine and they each presented a shiraz and a cabernet sauvignon that reflected their terroir. Blend PR put together the event.

The representatives were Nic Bowen (below) from Howard Park talking about vineyards in Margaret River and the Great Southern, Mitchell Taylor (above) from Taylors on the St Andrews vineyard in Clare, Tracy Taylor from Yalumba looking at the Barossa and Eden valleys and Coonawarra, and Andrew Harris from Brown Brothers talking about various sites in regional Victoria. 

Yalumba alone has no fewer than 123 grape growers on its books - in addition to its estate vineyards - so it needs to know where its best sites are for wines like The Cigar, a Coonawarra cabernet, and the Paradox shiraz. 

Similarly, Brown Brothers has access to a wide range of resources for its Patricia Shiraz and Cabernet, while Mitchell Taylor concentrated on the "diversities and synergies" of just one standout vineyard.

Bowen looked at they key elements in the Scottsdale Shiraz from the Great Southern and the Leston cabernet from Margaret River. 

"This was a great collaboration between like-minded family wineries," said Mitchell Taylor. "It was an excellent opportunity to give members of the wine trade and media a look at our various and different vineyards." 

Regional expression, and terroir, are alive and well in Australia.

# Some of my favourite wines of the night are pictured above.

A whale of a time as peak season approaches

Whale cruises are set to re-start just in time for the peak of the migration season in Jervis Bay, if the “Roadmap to recovery” unveiled this week by the NSW Government goes according to plan. 

For the last 30 years, local whale tour company Dolphin Watch Cruises has had its most frequent and intimate encounters with the gentle giants inside Jervis bay in October. 

It’s not just the big adult humpbacks either; at this time the most common visitors to the bay are the mothers with new-born calves.

“Whale season is May to November in Jervis Bay, but October is the crew favourite for sure," says Dolphin Watch Cruises manager Jet Jones.

"We get the biggest whales of all, the gigantic mother humpbacks, and the smallest travelling with them, their new babies. 

“Jervis Bay is a sheltered rest-stop for the mums to feed and teach their new babies, getting them fat and strong for the long swim and cold water to come between here and Antarctica. 

"October is whale rush-hour here at the Jervis Bay rest-stop, so the easing of Covid-19 restrictions has come just in time for us to start back cruising with them until mid-November.”

Local tour operators are hoping to safely reopen with reduced boat capacity around October 11 for those in the local area and regional NSW. 

Visitors from with Greater Sydney are scheduled to return around October 25. 

For details visit

Ace of a space: Meet Sydney's latest luxury hotel

Ace Hotels is a boutique chain that operates properties across the US, Canada and Japan. 

Atelier Ace will open its first property in the southern hemisphere - Ace Hotel Sydney - in early 2022. 

With design by Flack Studio, the Ace Hotel Sydney will be housed in Surry Hills’ historic Tyne House brick factory - the site of one of Australia’s first ceramic kilns. 

The 264-room hotel will have a ground floor restaurant, bar and café located in the hotel’s communal lobby and a restaurant and bar on the rooftop.


Ace Sydney aims to replicate the inner city rhythm of Surry Hills inside its walls. 

Inspired by the rich history of Surry Hills and the warm, cinematic colour palette of the Australian landscape, the Ace Hotel Sydney aims to reflect a vibrant local community.

Many of its furnishings, artworks and interior details have been created uniquely for the project. 

"We were committed to creating a warm space that brought together Australia’s cultural history with Ace’s unique, community cultivating approach to hospitality,” said David Flack, founder and director of Flack Studio. 

Ace was founded in Belltown, Seattle in 1999, with current locations in Seattle, Portland, New York, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Chicago, Kyoto and Brooklyn. Toronto and Sydney will open in 2022.

Reservations beginning from May 1, 2022 are available for booking at with high-season rates starting from $359. 

Image credits: Anson Smart

Rutherglen readies for a tourism revival

Rutherglen is a small. laidback town in north-east Victoria that's known around the world for the quality of its fortified wines. 

The local tourism authority goes so far as to say it is a "buzzing, chic and contemporary getaway destination".

What is not in doubt is that Rutherglen has been given a zhuzh as it readies to emerge from the Covid-19 tourism cocoon.


There’s a brand new website offering visitors a new way to explore the region with a selection of tailor-made itineraries. 

For some ideas, check out and then take a quick six-question quiz which generates a suggested bespoke itinerary. 

The new site is also a great place to get to know the people behind the wines of Rutherglen. Some of these Faces of Wine trace their lineage six or more generations back to the 1860s when pioneering grape growers first planted. 

It’s also the place to discover a bunch of very new arrivals in the region, including:

      Grace, a brand new restaurant/deli/bar now open for breakfast, lunch, aperitifs and dinner from the team behind Milkin’ Kitchen  gourmet caterers.

      Much-loved local foodie institution, The Pickled Sisters, now at a new Main Street location with chef Stewart Gilchrist still at the helm and now offering dinner Friday and Saturday nights as well as all-day brunch and lunch menu Thursday to Sunday

      New at Cofield Wines (former home of The Pickled Sisters) is Footsteps, a cafe and restaurant highlighting fresh locally sourced produce to match the estate-grown wines. 

      The Pavilion, overlooking the century-old Calliope vines at Buller Estate, for a long and leisurely winery lunch or a cellar door graze

      The beautifully restored historic landmark, The Convent, now available for group accommodation.

Other accommodation options include historic Mount Ophir and a tiny house in the vines at Jones Winery

# Images: Rowly Milhinch at Scion Wines and Mount Ophir.

Wednesday 29 September 2021

Calling all arts and crafts lovers to the deep south of Tasmania

Calling all lovers of arts and crafts to the Huon Valley in November. 

The Huon Valley, for those not in the know, is the southernmost municipality in Australia. In the far south of Tasmania. Next stop Antarctica. Literally, 

The Valley will host the artists and makers of the Huon Art and Away Trail from November 5-7 with 20 potters, artists, weavers, carvers, glass artists and spoon designers showing off their unique creations.

Pick up a brochure, or a red Art & Away sign will be on the streets to direct you to each venue.

Whether a single room in the home, a repurposed building or purpose built, all these studios are dedicated workspaces used throughout the year by the artists. 

Visitors can see where and how they work, what materials they use, perhaps works in progress or even the artist working. 

Most of all it is an opportunity to ask questions, chat and perhaps support these artists by purchasing work directly from their studios. Whatever you choose to do you will gain a unique insight into that artist and perhaps the story behind the piece that you take home.

Plan your visit around the Studio Trail by selecting information about the participants and their work by checking out the website. 

You can also check out some outstanding wine producers and cider maker along the trail. 

Or why not stay over night, make a dinner reservation, and add some of the other fabulous Huon attractions to your visit? 

The Huon Valley Writers Festival is on over the same three days so that might also pique your attention. 

Runaway on the runway: flights delayed by errant turtle

There are myriad reasons why a flight might be delayed.

Mechanical issues perhaps, a connecting flight arriving late; or perhaps a passenger lost in the departure lounge.

Perhaps the most unusual reason for a delay happened last week at Tokyo's Narita Airport, where take-offs and landings were delayed by a badly behaved turtle. 

The turtle, believed to be from a nearby pond, forced the airport to temporarily suspend operations after it was spotted on a runway by a pilot who was about to take off.

The pilot informed air traffic controllers and the runway was shut down causing a delay for five flights as the airport staff scrambled to rescue the creature, Mainichi Daily newspaper reported.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's Narita Airport office confirmed five planes were delayed.

Airport administrators said the turtle is about 30 centimeters long, and weighed 2.1 kilograms.

Although there have been occasional cases of cats, racoon dogs, rabbits and other animals entering the runway, the appearance of a turtle was very uncommon.

“The turtle might have crawled out of the reservoir near the runway to sunbathe since the weather has been warm the past few days,” an airport official said.

Thailand unveils precise travel reopening plans

I'm holding out for a Pad Thai, a cold Singha or cocktail by the pool at Rayavadee in Krabi and maybe a massage on the beach.

Thailand is one of my favourite travel destinations - and will be one of my first ports of call when Australians are allowed to travel.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has just revealed that the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has approved a four-phase timeline for the country’s re-opening plan to revitalise the nationwide tourism industry.

The pilot phase from October 1-31 will continue with the four popular beach resorts, which were the first destinations to reopen – beginning with Phuket on July 1, then Surat Thani’s Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao on July 15, and most recently Krabi and Phang-Nga on August 16 linking with Phuket under the 7+7 Extension arrangement.

This phase will also see reopening of new designated areas in Krabi – Khlong Muang and Thap Khaek.

The next phase from November 1-30 will see the reopening extended to 10 other tourism-driven destinations. These include all areas of Bangkok, Krabi and Phang-Nga, and designated areas in Buri Ram (Mueang), Chiang Mai (Mueang, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, and Doi Tao), Chon Buri (Pattaya, Bang Lamung, Na Jomtien, and Sattahip), Loei (Chiang Khan), Phetchaburi (Cha-Am), Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin), and Ranong (Ko Phayam).

From December 1-31, the reopening will be extended to 20 more provinces which are tourism-driven, well-known for art and culture, or border destinations. These include Ayutthaya, Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Nong Khai, Pathum Thani, Phatthalung, Phetchabun, Phrae, Rayong, Samut Prakan, Songkhla, Sukhothai, Trang, Trat and Yala.

The third phase from January 1, 2022 onwards will see the reopening of 13 border provinces, including Bueng Kan, Chanthaburi, Kanchanaburi, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Nan, Ratchaburi, Sa Kaeo, Satun, Surin, Tak, Ubon Ratchathani, and Udon Thani.

Meanwhile, foreign tourists can continue to visit the four pilot beach resort destinations under the existing conditions - except for Australians unable to travel without an exemption. I guess we'll have to wait a bit longer. 

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Up on the roof: where to see Adelaide and be seen

Up on the top floor of Adelaide's chic Mayfair Hotel is a very swish cocktail bar that is pretty much a secret to everyone except for the city's most tuned-in drinkers.

Hennessy is the place to see great views of the city, and be seen by movers, shakers and fun lovers.

The 13th floor rooftop bar on King William Street in the Adelaide CBD has an al fresco terrace with its own lit-up wall garden, a chandeliered bar space and and relaxed lounge area.

It's a place to take in the views from up high, and to enjoy Champagnes (from Besserat to Louis Roederer Cristal) and house cocktails, as well as a range of small bar eats.

Signature cocktails include a Cherry Mob, Pink Panther, and a Blue Lychee Martini as well as all the classics,  and there is also a range of mocktails.

A Roku gin from Japan with pink tonic, fig and cherry blossom was just the ginspiration I needed after my masked flight from Hobart.

Or maybe you would prefer a two-tier whisky tasting pitching bourbon from Maker's Mark from Kentucky alongside an Oban 14-year-old malt from Scotland, or a Hibiki Harmony whisky from Japan. 

Jacob Quigg is the well-travelled 
Hennessy bar manager and has been curating a number of gin and dark spirit offerings to enhance the beverage program. Many guests arrive after dinner in the Mayflower Restaurant in the same hotel.

The lovely terrace features luxurious underfloor heating and tiled bar around the edge of the terrace, providing plenty of opportunity for admiring the city skyline.

The bar is named not after the cognac, but after the original architects of the building which houses the hotel - the 1930s CML building designed by Hennessy, Hennessy & Co.

Hennessy is open Thursday-Sunday right now and is accessed via an express lift from the hotel lobby. Dress up, not down. 

# The Mayfair Hotel is a five-star boutique hotel with 170 rooms and is home to Mayflower Restaurant and Hennessy rooftop bar.

A quality G+T for when you are in a hurry


Sometimes you just need a drink. 

You don't want to fiddle around with a bottle of gin, a bottle of tonic and finding a lemon to slice. 

So here is a quality cocktail with zero fuss. 

Meet Bombay Sapphire's new cans of Bombay Sapphire & Tonic: ready to pour. All you need is the lemon or lime.

The blurb says it is "best enjoyed chilled straight from the can, or poured over a glass of ice with a slice of lime".

So you still need the slice, but everything else is taken care of. 

Each can contains a double serve; so you can share, or slake your thirst big time. 

British distiller Bombay Sapphire uses up to 12 precious botanicals suspended above the spirit in perforated copper baskets during distillation of its London Dry Gin. 

That way, as the heated spirit vapours rise, they’re gently infused with all the rich aromatic flavours our botanicals release

Sold. Try Dan Murphy's or BWS stores. Around $27.95 per pack of four.

Why it is time for a celebratory tea party

I make no secret of the fact that wine is my beverage of choice. I also enjoy an occasional beer, a vodka or gin, and sometimes a nice cup of tea. 

In fact, I've been drinking tea for a lot longer than wine: I recall drinking Typhoo Tea and collecting free footballer cards back in the 1960s.

That's a rather roundabout introduction to why I am writing about tea today, rather than wine. 

Nerada Tea, Australia’s largest tea producer, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year - a pretty major milestone for Australian tea production. 

The tea plantation in the Atherton Tablelands of Far North Queensland, is marking the occasion with the release three brand-new, single-origin loose leaf tea blends, using 100% Australian-grown tea. 

Nerada Tea was launched in 1971, after several years of growing and selling bulk tea in Innisfail, Queensland. 

An opportunity emerged to produce a branded tea to sell to Queensland and southern Australian states and so the Nerada brand was born, named after the area alongside the local Johnstone River. 

Pioneering local Dr Allan Maruff cultivated the tea using some of the original cuttings from the lost plantation in Bingil Bay that was planted by the Cutten Brothers in 1884. 

Through cyclones, drought, market challenges and changes of business structure, the Nerada brand has continued to survive. 

Nerada Tea has been responsible for new and innovative practices in the Australian tea industry including pesticide-free farming practices, mechanised harvesting, blending, and processing teas from both its home in the Atherton Tablelands and its packaging facilities in Brisbane. 

Today, the plantation harvests 6.6 million kilograms of fresh green tea leaves to the Nerada Tea processing factory, which equates to roughly 750 million cups of tea per year. 

Despite these impressive production figures, Australian-grown black tea still only accounts for 6% of the tea available on our supermarket shelves. 

It turns out that  Far North Queensland is an ideal climate to grow and produce outstanding tea. 

"We’re nestled between Queensland’s highest mountain ranges, and the rich volcanic soils and 750 metre altitude give our tea a distinctive flavour profile,” Nerada Tea plantation director Tony Poyner said.  

“There is such a wonderful tea culture here in Australia. We feel honoured to have played a significant part of Australia’s tea history.

"It’s testament to the perseverance of many of the pioneers in Queensland, such as the Taylor and Russell families who were determined to grow world-class tea on Australian soil."

There's a new-look pack to celebrate the 50-year milestone. 

The new blends to be released for this semi-centennial are: Director’s Cut Original Black Tea; Director’s Cut Sunrise Black Tea with Lemon Myrtle and Director’s Cut Indulge Black Tea with Cocoa. 

The blends are available from Nerada Tea’s online store or by visiting the Nerada Tea Room in Malanda, where you might spot a tree kangaroo or two (above). They live on the property. See 

Now please excuse me, I'm off to put the kettle on. 

Monday 27 September 2021

Ridiculously Delicious and the peanut butter wars

The peanut butter business is hugely competitive.

The peanut paste is widely popular in the US, the Netherlands, the UK, Australia and parts of Asia with brands like Bega (which purchased Krafts), Sanitarium, Mayver's and Coles and Woolworths own brands dominating the market in Australia. 

From the red corner comes Ridiculously Delicious, founded in Australia by Ben and Kate Dutton a decade ago and now introducing a range of new products. 

Each Ridiculously Delicious product contains 100% Australian peanuts - when available - sourced from the ‘peanut capital’ of Kingaroy in Queensland and manufactured in Australia. 

Now, the brand is adding two new lines and four new products to its existing popular range of traditional peanut butters and snacks, including peanut butter cookie chips and bars.

Entering the fray is Ridiculously Delicious Chocolate Peanut Butter, a blend of crunchy roasted peanuts and rich, dark chocolate (available in two varieties: Original Crunch and Organic Coconut). 

Also new is Ridiculously Delicious Peanut Brittle, hand-made golden-roasted peanuts and Ridiculously Delicious Crazy Crunch Peanut Butter, made using the brand’s signature blend of 100% Australian, golden- roasted peanuts and a pinch of Murray River salt. 

For details see and come back to see my tasting notes after I have pigged out. 

Following the recovery of the Kingaroy region from the 2020 drought, Ridiculously Delicious is celebrating its return to 100% Aussie peanuts

Ben Dutton, co-founder and managing director of Ridiculously Delicious, says: “We’re excited to continue expanding our range of peanut butter products, particularly as we approach a decade in business.

"We’re fortunate to be able to continue offering Aussies the same high-quality products and satisfy their love of peanut butter through our new range of chocolate peanut butter spreads, peanut brittle and a crunchier version of our traditional peanut butter, which was our first product we launched back in 2011.

"What sets our brand apart from others is the fact that we go beyond traditional peanut butter products and offer products across multiple categories, showcasing Australian peanuts and peanut butter in an entirely new way.”

Ridiculously Delicious products can be found in more than 1000 independent supermarkets and grocers including Harris Farm, IGAs, selected Foodworks stores, health food shops and premium independent greengrocers.


Chocolate Peanut Butter 270g, Crazy Crunch Peanut Butter 375g and Peanut Brittle 180g all have an RRP of $7.99. 

Discover a new "adults only" retreat in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland

The Sunshine Coast Hinterland is a beautiful region just north of Brisbane - and one of the first spots I aim to visit once travel in Australia returns to normal. 

A new luxury cabin billed as an "adults only escape" is bringing a touch of Scandinavian-style design to the region with the opening of Scandi at Maleny - the region's latest luxury boutique accommodation, located just 12 minutes out of Maleny township.

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom modular cabin offers views across the Sunshine Coast Hinterland's volcanic landscape and valleys..

Owners Pete Coorey and Dee Montalva say their primary focus for Scandi at Maleny was sustainability, and they have taken great care to minimize their environmental footprint.

“Scandi is a modular build, and this alone makes our cabin more sustainable from the get go,” Dee explained.

Scandi was trucked to the site in four separate pieces, before being placed in its final position on an elevated escarpment that offers uninterrupted views of the valley below.

Visitors can expect a stocked pantry with local products. 

The cabin operates off rainwater only and has a self-recycling septic system with the treated water used to maintain the gardens.

In the bathroom, guests will find local products from Maleny-based natural beauty company Mukti, as well as reusable make up wipes. 

“Every item in the cabin was considered in regards to where it was made and where it came from, favouring local products and suppliers where possible with extra points for environmentally friendly aware brands,” Dee said.

Inside the cabin Dee's background as a wedding stylist is evident, with Scandinavian-inspired styling throughout.

Features of the property include an indoor fireplace for chilly hinterland nights, fully equipped kitchen and outdoor barbecue.

Dee said the couple's goal was to create a space where guests can enjoy the cabin as if it were their own home.

“We want our cabin to be a place for guests to disconnect so they can reconnect, to sleep deeply with no alarms, and to have uninterrupted conversations with their favourite person.

“We want them to forget about the to-do lists and schedules, and simply be in the moment."

Prices for Scandi at Maleny start from $500 per night, with a two-night minimum stay.

For more info visit

Sunday 26 September 2021

A heavyweight experience with The Greatest: Muhammad Ali

Calling all boxing fans who want to travel in 2022.

In collaboration with New Zealand-based Genio Global Entertainment, a new immersive experience highlighting the life and achievements of former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali is coming to Los Angeles.

The Muhammad Ali Experience is expected to open at the Beverly Center in summer 2022.

The experience intends to showcase the story of "The Greatest of All Time" and take fans behind the scenes of Ali's most iconic moments.

"We are pleased to partner with Andrew Te Whaiti and his dedicated team at Genio Global Entertainment to bring this exciting project to fruition," said Lonnie Ali, the boxer's former wife and manager.

"Muhammad's life was extraordinary, and we are thrilled to share this experience with fans from all over the world."

Andrew Te Whaiti, Genio Global Entertainment CEO and founder, said: "We are honoured to be creating a one-of-a-kind experience that will showcase one of the most influential and inspirational people in history."

For details see

Genio Global Entertainment is the official operator of The Muhammad Ali Experience under a license with Authentic Brands Group, which in conjunction with Lonnie Ali as trustee of the Muhammad Ali Family Trust (MAFT) which owns Muhammad Ali Enterprises.

Whisky-accented wine stars as Jacob's Creek goes a little bit fancy


When Jacob's Creek first launched its Double Barrel wines I was a little bit sceptical. 

Wines aged/finished in whisky barrels? Who would that appeal to? 

A few years down the track the concept has proved a huge success, with the range now expanded to four different Double Barrel wines. 

The Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Collection now showcases a chardonnay, shiraz, shiraz cabernet blend and a cabernet sauvignon, all finished in a combination of aged whisky barrels leaving each wine with a unique oak flavour. 

The 2018 shiraz, 2019 shiraz cabernet and 2018 chardonnay are finished in Scotch whisky barrels, while Irish whiskey barrels are used for the 2018 cabernet sauvignon. 

Whisky barrels with narrower staves and extra toast allow the tannins and fruit to integrate more readily and impart more flavour.

I also think winemaker Dan Swincer (above) and his team have got more knowledge of working with different barrels and the new releases are better, more integrated, wines as a result. 

"Perfecting this range took much perseverance and persistence," Swincer says. 

The wines are available from all good liquor retailers for RRP $27.00.

The standouts for me are the shiraz, where the powerful fruit offers an ideal foil for the oak characters; and the shiraz cabernet, which shows darker spice notes and paired well with a spicy roast chicken dish.


My wife, with an aversion to obvious oak, gave the nod to the well-balanced chardonnay, where ripe stone fruit flavours still shone through - and it also paired well with the chicken dish. 

The cabernet sauvignon is probably best paired with aged Cheddar cheese, while the shiraz calls out for a hearty winter stew. 

Something different. Something a little bit fancy for the whisky-loving wine drinker in your life. 

Saturday 25 September 2021

Septuagenarians began a Tasmanian family wine dynasty

John and Libby Pooley; Shelley and Matt Pooley

English migrants Denis and Margaret Pooley were in their 70s when they decided they would like to plant a vineyard and make some wines in their adopted homeland in Tasmania. 

Many of their friends told the septuagenarians that were crazy, but with the help of Tasmanian wine industry pioneers Fred Peacock and Andrew Hood, they set off on their wine journey in 1985. 

Almost 40 years on, the third generation of Pooley vignerons includes Matt Pooley and wife Shelley; and Anna Pooley and husband Justin Bubb. 

Under the keen eye of parents John and Libby Pooley, the latest generation is making the world of wine sit up and take notice with world-class pinots noir and remarkable, long-lived rieslings.

The first Pooley vineyard was a few rows of vines planted on the banks of the Coal River, north of Campania, but still just a short drive from Hobart in southern Tasmania. 

The 16-hectare farm that began as a retirement project is still part of the family vineyard portfolio, along with the Butcher's Hill vines next to the family cellar door just outside the hamlet of Richmond.

Cooinda Vale yielded its first vintage in 1989 and Denis continued working in the vineyard until he died in 1994. Margaret Pooley lived on until 2010. 

In 2003, their son John Pooley - a well-known Hobart prestige car dealer - and his wife Libby bought Belmont, a heritage-listed Georgian home on the outskirts of Richmond. 

Pooley Wines expanded and established a second vineyard, the adjacent Butcher’s Hill, with its first vintage produced in 2007.

Until the passing of Margaret Pooley, three generations of the Pooley family were working in the vineyards with John’s son, Matthew Pooley, taking on the responsibility as viticulturist and with Margaret’s granddaughter, Anna Pooley, returning to the family business in 2013. 

Pooley wines have been made entirely by family hands from that point onward.

Former viticulturist Matt Pooley is today the brand representative and sister Anna Pooley is the award-winning winemaker. 

The 2020 Margaret Pooley Tribute Riesling ($75) - named in honour of the family matriarch - was named the best riesling in Australia in the 2022 James Halliday Wine Companion

It has, predictably, already sold out, but a few of the remaining bottles were the stars of the show at a small celebration at the Pooley cellar door on Friday night - along with back vintages including stellar wines from 2018 and 2015 - both ageing gracefully and drinking beautifully. 

Both Hood and Peacock were in attendance at this week's celebration. 

Also being enjoyed were the two recent release single-vineyard 2020 pinots noir; the Butcher's Hill and the Cooinda Vale (both $70 and worth every cent). 

The Butcher's Hill is a stunning wine, full of delicate deliciousness and sweet and savoury notes, while the tighter Cooinda Vale is one destined for a long happy life in a dark cellar.

Further evidence of the talent of Anna Pooley, formerly of Treasury Wine Estate's and a stint as a winemaker in Italy, is the lip-smackingly vibrant Pooley 2021 Pinot Grigio ($36), a superb summer wine with great vivacity that has concentrated flavours and a persistent acid line along with a subtle Italian accent.

Any wine lovers visiting Tasmania should make sure to check out the delightful old Georgian home that houses the Pooley cellar door. 

Belmont is a grand heritage-listed, convict-built home circa 1832, purchased by the Pooley family in 2003. 

The original coach house and barn is now home to Pooley's cellar door and tasting room,  open seven days a week and known for excellent pizzas at weekends. The staff, like everyone employed by the family, are consummate professionals. 

The Pooley family also operates Prospect House, a country manor-style hotel just across the road from the cellar door. 

For more info visit




Thai tourism reopenings pushed back

Thailand's reopening to tourists has hit a snag.

Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Phetchaburi,and Prachuap Khiri Khan were all set to open to tourists from October 1, but that is likely to be delayed by at least a month until November 1.

The impending delay was revealed after meetings between the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Public Health Ministry.

Officials were concerned by the sluggish vaccination rate which had already led to a short delay in reopening Bangkok, Travel Mole reported.

The capital will also not likely open until November along with the other provinces.

Pattaya City's mayor said the tourist hotspot was ready but expects a delay while Bangkok's mayor had already said the capital would not be opening in early October as originally signalled.

Bangkok officials had sought more time as many shuttered hotels still need to be reactivated and certified as Covid-safe.

There is, however, some good news for anyone planning to visit the Asian nation.

Thailand's disease control committee has proposed a halving of a two-week hotel isolation requirement for vaccinated arrivals.

Thailand is keen to welcome back foreign visitors, after nearly 18 months of strict entry policies caused a collapse in the tourism industry, a key sector that drew 40 million visitors in 2019.

"Reducing the quarantine is not only about tourism, but will help business travel and foreign students," senior health official Opas Karnkawinpong told a news conference, adding tests would also be required.

Under the proposal, to be presented to the Government on Monday, those without vaccination proof would be isolated for 10 days if arriving by air, and 14 days if by land.

Only Phuket and Koh Samui currently waive quarantine requirements for vaccinated tourists, as part of a pilot scheme.

Less than a quarter of the estimated 72 million people living in Thailand have been fully vaccinated.

The country is still fighting a severe wave of infections. 

Image: William Summers/Scopio 

Friday 24 September 2021

Retirement proves short-lived for riesling maestro

What started as a little retirement project for leading Clare Valley winemaker Neil Pike is turning into a booming business. 

Pike launched his Limefinger label in 2020, shortly after taking an early mark from family business Pikes, where he did 40 vintages. 

He started with one wine, a Watervale Riesling, but that proved so popular that the brand has expanded from the 2021 vintage. 

"This year I have added a Polish Hill River Riesling to join the Watervale Riesling in the Limefinger range," Pike says.

"The fruit for the Watervale “Learnings” has again come from 20-year-old vines on the St Clare Gardens “Honey Home” block just a few minutes drive from the Watervale township, while the fruit for the Polish Hill River “Solace” wine has come from 30-year-old vines on our “Home” block planted around our house.

"A cool winter of average rainfall in 2020 preceded an average budburst time of mid-late September. Slightly below average rains in October and November saw flowering commence just a little earlier than usual and completed by third week of November.

"Conditions during the all important summer months were almost perfect - there were very few days in the upper 30s and into the 40s and rain stayed away during the lead-up to ripening; apart from 10mm just prior to veraison in mid-January.

"Lower yields than normal were reported in the southern end of the valley due to some poor fruit set during flowering. The lower crops and healthy canopies saw rapid ripening and winemakers had to be on their toes to ensure the fruit was harvested before sugar levels accelerated away from them. Thankfully acidities held on nicely and adjustment was rarely necessary.

"No such problems at Polish Hill River where yields were above average and the fruit ripened slowly in the beautiful late summer/early autumnal conditions. Sugar levels moved slowly and the acidities stayed high allowing us to pick at the desired flavour level."

Pike says the two wines display obvious regional characters. 

"Their respective sub-regional characteristics are on full display," he says. "The Watervale “Learnings” shows fragrant “limey” florals and is soft and full flavoured, whereas the Polish Hill River “Solace” is quite lean, tight and displays a good lick of grapefruit and the slatey characters typical of this vineyard.

Both wines were fermented dry - the Watervale to 3.1 g/L and the Polish Hill River to 4.4 g/L residual sugar.

Just over 1,250 bottles of the Watervale wine were produced and just over 2,000 bottles of Polish Hill River. They retail for $37.50 each.  

So be quick. See for free shipping on all orders.

Dive into summer as Sydney's iconic pools reopen

Sydney swimming pools are set to reopen from Monday, September 27 - just in time for the warmer weather,

The biggest conurbation in Australia has a unique number of harbour and seawater pools dotted across the city. 

The team from Tourism New South Wales has released a handy guide to the best places to for an al fresco dip and take in some fresh air and sunshine. 

Sydney Harbour  

Running along the edge of The Domain - 34 hectares of parkland on the eastern fringe of the city centre - the Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool looks out over wharves of Woolloomooloo. The saltwater Olympic pool is popular with both serious lap swimmers and those who prefer to laze about on stylish wooden deckchairs. Depending on the time of year, the facility also hosts open-air yoga. 

Within a picturesque parkland setting in Sydney’s CBD, Cook + Phillip Park Pool features a 50m pool, as well as hydrotherapy and leisure pools. The pools are heated so ideal for swimming all year-round. 

There are many idyllic sandy beaches lining the shores of Sydney Harbour, including Redleaf Beach in Double Bay, a 10-minute drive east of the city centre. Pack your swimming gear for a dip in the Murray Rose Pool, a netted sea enclosure which is a favourite with locals. After a few laps, take a stroll along the wooden boardwalk that forms the perimeter of the enclosure while soaking up views of the harbour beyond.

Just 5km from the city centre, Balmain’s Dawn Fraser Baths is the oldest harbour pool in the southern hemisphere and was the home of Australia’s first swimming and water polo clubs. The pool was built in the early 1880s and the still water is surrounded by Victorian wooden pavilions painted cream and green. 

On the North Shore you’ll discover Maccallum Pool, cut into the coast on the western side of the waterside suburb of Cremorne Point. These historic 33m-long seawater baths ringed by a wooden boardwalk, with plenty of shady nooks to gaze over the harbour (including the Sydney Harbour Bridge) after you’ve had a splash about.  

Eastern Suburbs 

Start the morning with an invigorating early morning dip in the world’s most famous ocean pool, Bondi Icebergs on Bondi Beach, a 20-minute drive from the city centre. Named after its winter swimming club, the bright white pool dates back to 1929 and is an Instagram favourite. 

From Bondi, take the coastal walk around to Bronte Baths, built in 1887. Climb across the rocky headland to find the perfect place to spread your towel, before cooling off with a dip in the crystal-clear water of Gordons Bay. Divers and snorkellers can follow the Gordons Bay Underwater Nature Trail, marked by concrete-filled drums and a chain and with information displayed on steel plaques.  

Enjoy a casual swim followed by lunch at the café, or join onsite yoga and Pilates classes at Wylie’s Baths in Coogee (above), a short drive south of Bondi. It’s one of Sydney’s most beautiful tidal pools, with raised decking and views over the Pacific Ocean and Wedding Cake Island.   

Relax at the only ocean pool in Australia open exclusively to women and children, McIver’s Ladies Baths in Coogee which has been attracting swimmers for almost 150 years. The McIver family ran the baths from 1901 until 1922, when the Randwick Ladies Amateur Swimming Club was formed and took over the lease. The club still runs the pool, funded by a nominal charge, tossed into a bucket on entry. How very casual.

Soak in the views at Maroubra’s Mahon Pool, a five-minute drive south of Coogee and accessible along the coastal walking track. Cut into the inter-tidal rock platform, the pool is set among exposed rocky outcrops, providing spectacular seascapes and a sense of seclusion.

South of the city  

There are several ocean pools along Cronulla’s beaches and surrounding coastline in southern Sydney, 30km from the city. 

North Cronulla Rock Pool, on the flat rocks between South Cronulla Beach and North Cronulla Beach, is smaller and shallower, while the adjacent South Cronulla Beach Rock Pool is a full-size 50m pool with eight lanes, perfect for lap swimming. Head south along the popular coastal walk from South Cronulla Beach and you’ll find Shelly Beach, which is home to a beautiful ocean bath. Further along the coastal walk towards Port Hacking you’ll find Oak Park Rock Pool, which like Shelly Beach’s Ocean Bath, is perfect for kids.

Northern Beaches 

Start at the iconic beachside suburb of Manly, a 30-minute drive or ferry ride from Sydney city. Triangular Fairy Bower Pool lies between Manly and Shelly beaches on the Cabbage Tree Bay Eco Sculpture Walk; the Sea Nymphs sculpture sits on the pool’s outer edge. Around the next headland is the first ocean pool to be built on the North Shore, the 50m Freshwater Rock Pool, which opened in 1925.  

Curl Curl Beach’s ocean pool includes a shallow natural beach area, making it a firm favourite with young families - about 15 minutes’ drive north of Manly. A little further up the coast, North Narrabeen Rock Pool has a distinctive boardwalk that encloses a 50m pool with a wading pool for children. Other popular pools in this area include Mona ValeCollaroy and Dee Why.  

Sydney’s most northerly beach, Palm Beach, has an ocean pool offering views up towards the Central Coast, and is overlooked by Barrenjoey Headland with its famous sandstone lighthouse. There are also ocean pools at Avalon, Newport and Bilgola

# Images: Destination NSW