East Coast Wine Trail

East Coast Wine Trail
East Coast Wine Trail

Saturday, 24 September 2022

How organic wine sales can be boosted in Australia

Australians love their wine - and the idea of sustainability - but many are not prepared to pay premium for organic or biodynamic wines, analysis of an international study reveals.

But there are ways and means to encourage Australians to drink more organic wine, a Macquarie University researcher believes.

Dr Rezwanul Rana is a teetotal health economist but when a colleague asked him to do some statistical analysis on data collected in 2019-2020 from around 2500 wine drinkers in Australia, Chile, France, Italy, the Netherlands, South Africa and the United States, he was intrigued.

Like organic food, organic wine is relatively expensive to produce. So, the survey’s primary focus was on how much of a premium consumers would pay for it.

“A little under half of those surveyed said they would only pay US$1-$5 more for a bottle of wine that was organic,” Dr Rana says. “If they are willing to buy it at all, most consumers in all the countries surveyed would only pay slightly more for organic wine.”

It wasn’t older wine drinkers, presumably more affluent and health conscious than their younger counterparts, who were willing to pay extra for wine grown without chemicals, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides and free from sulphur dioxide-based preservatives.

“In countries, such as Australia, it’s younger people, especially ones who live in urban areas, who are keenest on organic wine and they are most likely to drink it in social situations,” Dr Rana says.

“That’s presumably because they are more adventurous, more concerned with the environment and more likely to have eaten organic food. That noted, those who eat organic food didn’t show the predisposition to drinking organic wine that might be expected.

"Consumers view organic food and organic wine quite differently.

“In the 1970s and 1980s, organic winemakers were making it up as they went along and the results were often suboptimal.

“The quality of organic wines has improved dramatically, but one reason many older wine drinkers are wary of them could be bad past experiences.”

Dr Rana has four suggestions for those who would like to see Australians drink more organic wine.

First, get the positioning right.

“Think about how organic food is positioned in supermarkets,” Dr Rana says. “Organic fruits and vegetables are prominently displayed in the fruit and vegetable section, making it easy for shoppers to notice then buy them. If you go into a bottle shop, the organic wines will often be ‘ghettoized’ in an obscure corner of the shop.”

Second, get the labelling right.

“Europeans, who grow up in cultures that have been producing wine for centuries, are confident about buying wine,” Dr Rana says.

“Australians pay much more attention to labels. They want to be reassured by the information displayed on the label that they are buying the ‘right’ wine. Organic winemakers have shot themselves in the foot with their failure to devise and universally embrace a logo that makes it clear their wine is chemical free.”

Third, get the brand associations right.

“Some of the world’s most prestigious winemakers now make organic wines and these wines have won many awards,” Dr Rana says.

“Yet many Australians believe organic wine is still the product of a hippie cottage industry. It needs to be made clear to them that the organic wine of 2022 is far superior to that of 1972.”

Fourth, go after the hipsters first.

“The most bang for marketing buck will come from targeting young, inner-city professionals,” Dr Rana says.

“These are the consumers who want to signal that they are discerning and environmentally conscious by ordering a glass of organic wine at a restaurant. Or taking a bottle of organic wine to a friend’s barbeque. You can mock hipsters as much as you like, but they are often tastemakers for the broader population.”

Image: Andreas Steidlinger, scop.io 

Tasmania set to sparkle in November

Calling all lovers of premium cool-climate sparkling wines.

Tasmania’s finest sparkling houses will once again come together to showcase their best at the Effervescence Tasmania Sparkling Wine Festival from November 10-13.

Now in its eighth year, Effervescence Tasmania brings wine lovers from around Australia to Northern Tasmania, enticed by the opportunity to sample over 50 sparkling wines from around Tasmania, poured by the people who grow and make them.

Comedian and wine expert Merrick Watts will host the Gala Dinner at Josef Chromy Wines and will also be bringing his show An Idiot’s Guide to Wine to Effervescence this year.

“This is one of my all-time favourite shows to do, getting to perform it at one of my all-time favourite wineries, and one of the most picturesque places on the planet, is really tough,” said Watts.

“It’s a comedy show about wine. People taste wines as I tell jokes about the grapes and their history. As a warning, I should say, some people over the course of the wine tasting have learnt something. That’s accidental.”

The event is designed to capitalise on Tasmania’s increasingly fine reputation for premium new world sparkling wine and is used as a vehicle to invite and educate trade, media, and over 1000 wine enthusiasts on the quality of sparkling wine produced in Tasmania.

Supported by Events Tasmania, the festival features Tasmania’s leading premium sparkling producers.

Highlights of the 2022 program include Tasmanian and International Benchmark masterclasses and The Grand Tasting, a public tasting event at Josef Chromy Wines on November 11, showcasing over 50 cuvées from 14 of Tasmania’s best sparkling producers.

The popular Bubbles and Beats DJ session will round out the Saturday program.

Effervescence will also see Jansz Tasmania, Clover Hill, House of Arras, Timbre Kitchen, Black Cow Bistro, Stillwater and Josef Chromy Wines host tours, degustation dinners, lunches, picnics and masterclasses throughout the Tamar Valley region and Launceston over the course of the festival.

Tickets for Effervescence Tasmania are on sale now at www.effervescencetasmania.com/

Participating wine producers are Apogee Tasmania, Barringwood, Brook Eden, Pirie, Clover Hill Wines, Delamere Vineyard, House of Arras, Jansz Tasmania, Josef Chromy Wines, Kreglinger Wine Estates/Pipers Brook, Holm Oak, Freycinet Vineyard, Spring Vale and Bellebonne.

Friday, 23 September 2022

Japan throws open its doors to tourists

It has been a long wait, but Japan is finally ready to open its doors to visitors.

Japanese officials said this week that most independent tourists will once be allowed to visit without restrictions from October 11.

All eligible travellers will be able to travel throughout Japan with traveller caps and visa requirements imposed during the Covid period to be eliminated. This ends more than two years of closed borders.

Visitors will no longer need to book all flights and accommodation through a travel agent.

To be allowed entry, visitors will still need to prove their triple vaccination status and submit a negative Covid test result to enter, the BBC reported.

Which means you can once again dress up like I did (above) and pretend to be Japanese - probably to the bemusement of the locals.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the announcement was an historic one for Japan, which has always counted on the flow of people across its borders as a key ingredient for economic success.

“We are a nation that has flourished through the free flow of people, goods and capital," he said. ". Covid-19 interrupted all of these benefits but from October 11 Japan will relax border control measures to be on par with the United States.” he said.

Japan has allowed overseas visitors since June, but they had to be part of group tours.

It's a major fail from Optus

I am not a big fan of Optus.

First they have claimed to have mobile telephone coverage in areas in which they don't.

Second, the gave a high-paying job to disgraced former New South Wales state premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Third, they cynically almost doubled the price of an Optus Sports subscription - I opted out.

Now they cannot keep their customers' personal details safe.

Today, Optus still doesn’t know whether hackers who stole the personal data of up to 9.8 million of its users on Wednesday were private criminals or state-sponsored lunatics.

And the telco is also still unsure how many customers have had their personal information - including email addresses, phone numbers and identifying documents - exposed to the hackers.

But in a stage managed media briefing on Friday, Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin said she was “angry” about the hack, which has been described as the largest data breach in recent Australian history.

This is the woman who earlier this year, announcing the Berejilkian "coup", said: “Optus has set its vision to become Australia’s most loved everyday brand with lasting customer relationships by redefining what customers should expect from their communication provider through our relentless pursuit of best-in-class service, greater innovation, better value and connectivity for all Australians.”  

But she's angry. Well done Kelly. Maybe get your people to do a better job next time. If you have any customers left.  

Tequila is tickling Australia's fancy

Times are tough for cocktail drinkers right now.

You can pay between $18-25 for a standard cocktail when you head out on the town, and considerably more for a premium mixed drink.

It is alarmingly easy to pay more for one cocktail than for your main course when dining out. A gin martini at Sydney's Quay restaurant, for instance, will cost you $32. 

That's why some drinkers are opting to pre-fuel before heading out clubbing or dining; making a couple of nifty cocktails at home before heading out of the front door.

And more Australians than ever before are opting for a tequila cocktail, rather than a G+T or a JD on the rocks. Or so I am reliably informed.

Tequila is the fastest growing spirit segment in Australia, with Patrón leading the way as the world’s best-selling ultra-premium tequila, Drinks Trade says.

Australia is the world’s third-biggest tequila consumer per capita, behind the United States and Mexico, from where the drink originates.

Patrón's Australian reps report that the brand is seeing increased demand from consumers for its aged Añejo and Reposado tequilas. “We are starting to see a rise in more educated consumers who possess a deeper understanding of the diversity and depth of flavour of tequila," says Joey Chisholm, the Patrón execution manager (which sounds like a pretty dangerous job).

"At Patrón, we are noticing Australians are using their new-found tequila knowledge to become more refined drinkers, trading up in cocktails like the iconic Margarita, which continues to be a hit. People are now swapping the traditional silver base for a super-premium.

Patrón Tequila contains 100% Weber Blue Agave and zero additives and the range includes the classic Patrón Silver, Patrón Reposado and Patrón Añejo.

“Australians are wanting to know how their tequila is crafted, what is in it and how to drink it. We have seen a trend with consumers trading up and finding enjoyment in the rich flavours and aromas of aged tequilas," Chisholm says.

Here's a recipe for a simple Tommy's margarita that can be made at home:

Ingredients: 60ml Patrón Reposado, 30ml lime juice, 15ml agave nectar, to taste, Kosher salt for rim, lLime wheel or wedge for garnish

Method: Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously with ice to chill. Strain onto fresh ice in a salt-rimmed rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel or wedge.

# Patrón is part of the portfolio of Bacardi Limited, headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda, and be found in Dan Murphy's and BWS stores.

A little slice of Umbria in rural Tasmania


Meet a casual Italian-accented restaurant in a small town in southern Tasmania where the flavours are bold and the prices very fair.

Welcome to Osteria at PettySessions, in an old court house on the banks of the Huon River in the hamlet of Franklin, around 45 minutes south of Hobart.

It's the perfect lunch destination for anyone on a day trip, or a good dinner choice for anyone staying in the Huon, where dining choices can sometimes be limited. We were staying just down the road at the excellent The Little Seed Studio. 

Osteria at PettySessions at has a clear focus on fresh Tasmanian ingredients - with a wallchart listing all their local suppliers.

Martino Crippa and Sofia Panfili - both originally from Umbria - are known for their exceptional pasta dishes and are open Wednesday to Saturday 12pm-3pm and 5pm-8:30pm.

The couple has just returned from a trip to visit family in Italy and in possession of some new recipe ideas.

Think dishes like house-cured salumi or seafood croquettes; luscious meatballs in a traditional sauce or ravoili with prawns, lemon and chilli. All delicious and beautifully presented.

Osteria is fully licensed with a good selection of local wines, as well as some Italian imports. Sofia can advise on your wine selection.

The desserts list is tiny, but tempting. 

Highly recommended.

Osteria at Petty Sessions: 3445 Huon Highway Franklin, TAS. (03) 6204 2706.

# The writer paid his own bill

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Spirit of Tasmania: a major step forward or a ferry bad mistake?

Melbourne is a global city, alive with art, culture, fashion and gourmet attractions.

Geelong is a very nice place, but has none of these attributes.

But anyone wanting to catch a ferry from Tasmania to the Australian mainland will no longer be docking in Melbourne.

As of October 22, the Spirit of Tasmania ferry from Devonport to the mainland will bid farewell to Station Pier, Port Melbourne, and operate from a new "state-of-the-art" terminal, the Spirit of Tasmania Quay at Corio Bay in Geelong (above).

The TT Line, which operates the ferries, is beside itself with excitement, saying: "The brand-new, purpose-designed Spirit of Tasmania Quay terminal will be fitted with cutting-edge technology and exceptional facilities for an enhanced travel experience.

"With easy access and ample parking, undercover areas for vehicles, seamless boarding and security processes, and comfortable passenger lounge with a café and children's play area, our new Geelong terminal will make your journey truly unforgettable." 

Unfortunately, a lot of regular passengers, who actually want to go to Melbourne, are less than thrilled, as was underlined by a story in The Age newspaper this week.

The final sailing from Melbourne will depart Station Pier on the evening of Saturday, October 22, and the first sailing will arrive in Geelong at Spirit of Tasmania Quay on the morning of Sunday, October 23.

The change comes after 37 years and many people are asking a one-word question. Why?

Even the Spirit's own website is not sure how foot passengers will make their way from the new Quay in North Geelong to the city of Melbourne. 

"GeelongPort is working with the Department of Transport and City of Greater Geelong to investigate opportunities to connect Spirit of Tasmania Quay to surrounding transport hubs and popular destinations," it says.

The closest stations are North Shore Station and North Geelong Station.

The problem is that a simple look at Google Maps shows these are a 1.4km and 1.9km walk respectively from the terminal. That's a fair walk in the rain with a suitcase.

And people in the transport industry point out that freight will now have to go by road to and from Geelong, sometimes in peak-hour traffic, rather than being loaded and unloaded right on the Melbourne waterfront. 

Oops! But I'm sure someone has done well out of the new $135 million, 12-hectare passenger and freight terminal.

Watch this space: the writing is on the wall

The Travelodge Resort Darwin has undergone a dramatic transformation with the addition of a two-storey high mural by artist Lisa King as part of this year’s Darwin Street Art Festival.

The mural honours Danggalaba Kulumbirigin woman Mililma May, who has worked with the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency and is an advocate for indigenous people.

King, an Australian multi-disciplinary artist and large-scale muralist, recently put the finishing touches to her portrait of Mililma at the busy Cavenagh and Lindsay Street intersection in Darwin’s CBD.

Festival producer Jo Shearn said Mililma was a fitting subject for the Travelodge artwork.

“Malila and Lisa spent time together on Larrakia land prior to the mural being started in order for the work to be a truly genuine representation of Milima’s strength and power as a young Danggalaba Kulumbirigin woman," Shearn said.

"She generously gifted us a beautiful poem to accompany the portrait.”

​​​​​​​Travelodge Resort general manager Lucy Ockleston said the team was thrilled to play a small part in honouring Mililma and looked forward to unveiling another mural in the not-too-distant future.

“When the Darwin Street Art Festival team approached us to partner again this year, we knew we had two perfect walls to not only showcase the artwork but to give the festival fantastic exposure,” she said.

“With Lisa King’s artwork complete, we are very much looking forward to unveiling our second enormous six-storey mural sometime in the future.

“Watch this space… quite literally.”

For more information on the Darwin Street Art Festival visit www.darwinstreetartfestival.com.au/


Wednesday, 21 September 2022

China to open massive wine museum

While Australia struggles to sell any wine into China, the French are further strengthening ties with the Asian nation and hoping to further emphasise the quality of their wines.

The Universal Wine Museum, a huge project between the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux and Chinese investors, is scheduled to open its doors in Beijing in 2024, Chinese wine website Vino Joy reports.

The museum (rendering above) will span 18,000 m² and will be the second-largest wine museum in the world upon completion.

Designed specifically for Chinese sensibilities, the museum will not be a “replica” of its Bordeaux prototype, says Philippe Massol, general manager of Cité du Vin, but “adapted for Chinese culture”.

“The two establishments are gateways to discovering that wine is a cultural product, but it won’t be a copy-paste," says Massol.

The layout and design of the museum, created by Ateliers Adeline Rispal will be less technical and easier to access, in accordance with Chinese visitors’ viewing habits.

The project will be unveiled amid China’s growing interest for French wines particularly after the de facto exit of Australian wines from the market.

Demand for premium French wines led by Bordeaux and Burgundy is fuelling the country’s high-end wine consumption.

Vino Joy says the museum will feature a vast space for wine tasting and retail, with over offerings from around the world. The museum will also include a 450-seat auditorium for wine lectures and education.

Younger travellers know what they want; what they really, really want

What are younger travellers across Australia and New Zealand looking for when they head off on holiday?

Research undertaken by Concrete Playground shows exploring their own backyards is of paramount importance with 50% of New Zealanders and 53% of Australians surveyed planning on doing more domestic trips this year compared to pre-pandemic.

Chilling out is also important with 31% of Gen Z (born 1997-2012) and 30% of millennials (born 1981- 1996) surveyed apparently booking trips for the sole purpose to de-stress.

The traditional bucket list has changed with 70% of those surveyed preferring to go off the beaten track, with 74% wanting to “live like a local” rather than seeing the more popular tourist spots.

Tasmania topped the list as the go-to destination for Aussie travellers while a whopping 40% say they are planning on spending more on travel than their pre-Covid spend.

Based on these results, Concrete Playground has extended its offering to include an e-commerce platform - Concrete Playground Trips (CP Trips) - which will curate "money-can’t-buy" travel experiences across Australia and New Zealand.

Frances Deighton, head of strategy and insights for Concrete Playground Trips said: “Now, more than ever, it’s important we all listen to what travellers want because their desires, interests and expectations are significantly different to what we were seeing pre-pandemic.

"It’s an exciting opportunity to provide this new traveller with an experience that will set the standard for their future travel.”

With five initial itineraries now live, the hero event is a VIP experience at the Spring City Festival in Auckland (above) to be headlined by Groove Armada, which includes VIP festival tickets, a three-night stay in the luxury Hotel Britomart - New Zealand’s only five-star green hotel - as well as a private sommelier and chef lunch at Ahi restaurant hosted by chef Ben Bayly; a helicopter flight to Waiheke Island for wine tasting at Stonyridge Vineyard with the winery owner, or a helicopter flight to Waiheke Distilling Company for a bespoke tour with the head Distiller. From $3,295 per person, bookings are available until October 26 for departure on November 26.

In Australia, The Five Days of Hobart’s Finest trip from $1,739 per person includes a four-night stay at Henry Jones Art Hotel; full-day Wineglass Bay and Maria Island scenic flight; Moorilla’s Posh-as day at MONA - a fancy day out at MONA and Moorilla, MONA’s on-site winery and vineyard, including a guided wine tasting, restaurant lunch with matched wines and return ferry tickets from Hobart.

To learn more about CP trips, visit https://trips.concreteplayground.com/

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Multi-million dollar cellar door expansion in the Clare Valley

South Australian winery Taylors has revealed an ambitious multi-million dollar project to construct a new cellar door at its Clare Valley estate - with preparations underway for a planned April 2023 opening.

Family-owned Taylors has announced a team of designers and builders for the project and released the image above.

The Clare Valley brand will relocate its cellar door offering to a new building adjacent to the original homestead on the grassy lawns of the property. The current cellar door has been largely unchanged since the winery was founded in 1969.

Taylors has called upon South Australia-based experts GP Architects, Cook Building and Georgie Shepherd Interior Design for what will be the first major upgrade in over 50 years.

"The Clare Valley has quickly become a feature region for travellers looking to immerse themselves in gourmet food and wine experiences," says third-generation Taylors Wines managing director Mitchell Taylor.

"Producers in the area have stepped up to deliver world-class facilities to meet that demand.

"Our cellar door is a fantastic place to showcase our world-renowned wines, but we have plenty of room to grow, and this exciting next step will mean that yet more guests can experience the Clare Valley and our award-winning wines.

"The build and interiors team we've assembled has done an incredible job at capturing what we want guests to experience when they visit Taylors Wines."

GP Architects has also worked on the Watervale Hotel, Pikes Wines and Slate Visitor Centre, and Pikes Beer Company Micro Brewery.

"This is an exciting project which will breathe new life into an already beautiful existing space on the Taylors property - it's something we are passionate about working on," said Kristina Soggee, senior project architect from GP Architects.

"We have spent a great deal of time working with the cellar door team at Taylors to get a deep understanding of how they would like to use the space, enhance their cellar door offering, and function as a tourist site to create a unique build that compliments the existing heritage homestead on site."

See www.taylorswines.com.au

The perfect excuse for a Yarra Valley visit

Been meaning to visit the Yarra Valley but not got around to it? Here's the ideal excuse.

Shedfest, the Yarra's spring wine festival, returns next month after a two-year hiatus.

The event sees14 members of the Yarra Valley Smaller Wineries Association (YVSWA) opening their cellar doors and sheds for a weekend of wine tasting, live music, food and some stunning scenery.

Falling on the weekend after Daylight Savings begins - October 8-9 - Shedfest offers an ideal opportunity to celebrate the turn of the seasons.

A selection of meals - all under $20 - will will be available at each winery, with menu offerings ranging from homemade apple pies and cheese platters to classic Italian fare and slow-cooked brisket.

And if guests would like to enjoy more than a complimentary tasting of a favourite wines, they will be avilable by the glass and bottle, along with some Shedfest Cellar Door specials only available for one weekend.

Daily tickets are $35 per person, which gives wine lovers access to tastings at every winery for one day (Saturday or Sunday) plus a complimentary Shedfest tasting glass they get to keep.

Weekend tickets are $50 per person over the two days while children, non-drinkers and designated drivers get free entry. 

The line-up of participating wineries ranges from long-time favourites to relative newcomers including Billanook Estate, Boat O’Craigo, Brumfield Winery, Fin Wines, Kellybrook Winery, Payne’s Rise, Seville Hill, Soumah of Yarra Valley, Steels Gate, Sutherland Estate, Tokar Estate, Warramunda Estate, Whispering Hills and Yering Farm Wines.

Visit www.shedfest.com.au for tickets and more information on the wineries, menus, ticket types and transportation.

Monday, 19 September 2022

Air New Zealand hits the Big Apple - but some baggage doesn't make it home

Oops. And it was a big oops.

Air New Zealand's first flight between Auckland and New York landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport at the weekend - the first non-stop service between Auckland and The Big Apple.

The 17-hour+ flight made its debut almost three years after it was first announced.

“By adding greater access to the east coast of the US, we’re connecting our North American customers to the possibilities of 20 destinations within New Zealand as well as the Pacific and Australia, all within easy reach,” Air NZ CEO Greg Foran said.

Air New Zealand now serves seven US and Canadian destinations, including Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver and now New York City.

The bad news was that dozens of passengers on the return flight to Auckland - which landed on Monday morning - discovered that their luggage had not made flight NZ1, Newshub reported. 

Air New Zealand chief operating officer Alex Marren apologised for the inconvenience caused, news website stuff.co.nz reported. 

"Unfortunately given additional fuel requirements due to adverse weather, some customer bags were unable to be loaded in New York and we are getting them to New Zealand as soon as possible," she said. “We are in touch with customers to update them and reunite them with their bags.”

With a distance of 14,215km, the flight is the fourth-longest currently operating flight in the world.

Lobster roll and a glass of semillon anyone?

It sounds like the perfect gourmet treat for spring: a lobster roll with a glass of chilled Hunter Valley semillon.

The October long weekend (Oct 1-3) will see Mount Pleasant launch a lobster roll and semillon pop-up on its cellar door grounds.

Available each Saturday and Sunday throughout spring in the laneway, the pop-up will see guests enjoying a lobster roll and a glass (or bottle) of Mount Pleasant semillon.

The semillons on offer will include new releases in the 2017 Cellar-Release Elizabeth Semillon, 2022 Lovedale Semillon, and 2022 Estate Semillon.

Chief winemaker Adrian Sparks said: “Because of its acidity, our semillon is the perfect match for the sweet flesh of shellfish and seafood, especially lobster. We wanted to introduce it as a special offering to really showcase the versatility of our wine and the broad range of foods they can be paired with.”

Curated by Justin North in collaboration with head chef Kyle Whitbourne, the kitchen team have sourced local Eastern Rock Lobsters and chosen an artisan milk bun to create the ultimate lobster roll for $19.

“We wanted to create the perfect spring pairing for this limited time offer," North said. "Taking into account the balance of flavours required between food and wine, we chose to use creamy yuzu mayonnaise and semi-sweet bun to help to offset the dry semillon.”

See www.mountpleasantwines.com.au/

To celebrate the launch of the activation, artist Libby Haines will be painting a one-off oil on canvas piece with the lobster roll and semillon as her subject on Saturday, September 24. 

Limited edition prints will be available and will be available for purchase via her website libbyhaines.com.

Discover a hidden gourmet destination in Tasmania

Take an idyllic farm on 15 acres of bushland overlooking the lovely Huon River in Tasmania's deep south.

Add a cosy studio cabin with all modern conveniences, a wood fire and delicious local produce.

Throw in delightful bush walking tracks, including one down to the local creek, where you might spot a platypus.

Then think of fresh fruit, vegetables and chicken's eggs from the property's own permaculture garden so you can create a breakfast or snack crafted with minimal food miles.

The two hosts have decades of hospitality experience - and one of them is an expert chef, who can whip up a three-course gourmet meal for you to enjoy in your cabin, or on the deck in summer.

Welcome to The Little Seed, a lovely couples retreat at Franklin, less than an hour from Hobart. And you can even bring your furry friend with you, should you choose.

Peter Clarke and Charlie Ebell opened The Little Seed about a year ago after selling their hugely successful Mavis's Kitchen accommodation and restaurant business in northern New South Wales,

They transformed a shed/car port into delightful accommodation and grow their own fruit and vegetables, which they craft into jams and chutneys. They are charming hosts: leaving you to your privacy, but available should you need anything.

The hamlet of Franklin, just a two-minute drive away, has several cafes and restaurants, while Huonville and Cygnet - two popular weekend destinations for Hobartians - are close by.

This pair have thought of just about everything - from USB chargers in the bedroom to hand-written welcome notes with local suggestions.


The leisure options are myriad - and very chilled.

Perhaps sit by the dam with a good book (as modelled by Albi above, but without a book), take a long, slow bath in the old-style tub, or stroll around the property, check out the local wildlife and take in the views of the somnambulant river below.

You can kick back in the large living room with its old-style charm along with a large TV, free wifi and access to Netflix, Foxtel and Prime Video.

A fully equipped kitchen with gas hotplates, oven, microwave, fridge, dishwasher, toaster, kettle, cutlery and crockery makes self catering a breeze and there is a wood-fired heater, air conditioning, and a bedroom with a king bed and luxury linen.

Help yourself to a gin and tonic from the honesty bar, or maybe a bottle of local wine from the likes of Kate Hill Wines and Heriots Point.

I'd recommend dining in one night and a visit to the Italian-accented Osteria at Petty Sessions (a five-minute drive away) the other night.

Our dine-in menu featured goat cheese and red onion tart with garden salad; twice-roasted free-range duck with organic potatoes, greens and orange sauce (below), followed by Huon apple crumble with ice cream.

Everything was restaurant quality.


Other main-course options include slow-cooked lamb shanks, beef stroganoff or a Sri Lankan-style curry. Vegetarian options are also available.

Single night pricing for accommodation is $350 with multi-night pricing at $225.00 per night Thursday to Sunday or $250 per night Friday and Saturday. Dinners are extra and need to be pre-booked.

See https://thelittleseed.com.au/ 

# The writer was a guest of The Little Seed   


Sunday, 18 September 2022

Have you had your daily dose of psychedelics?

Call me slow, but I missed out on the "buzz" surrounding Psychedelic Water.

This drink is apparently the first legal (in the US anyway) psychedelic brand of its kind; based on the ethos that "psychedelics are more than something you consume".

The publicity blurb says that "psychedelic" is a state of mind that fuels creators, mavericks, groundbreakers, risk-takers and free-thinkers.

It says that these products "leave you with a tongue-tingling feeling of happiness, mental clarity, and creative bliss".

What we are talking about here is "mild mood-boosting, non-alcoholic herbal supplements" containing kava root, damiana leaf and green tea leaf extract.

The aim is to "feel good without messing you up".

Anyway, the team behind Psychedelic Water have also produced a new legal microdose drink called Psychedelic Functional Microdose - which is not a particularly catchy or psychedelic name, but has a high-powered Los Angeles PR team spruiking its benefits.

They tell me Pankaj Gogia and Brandon Samuel are the "disruptors spearheading the destigmatization of psychedelics".

Their new product is "formulated for focus, memory, and positivity, this delicious new daily dose of proven functional mushrooms and nootropic ingredients is designed to unleash potential and optimize performance with directed energy".

OK. I really am none the wiser.

But there are apparently two flavours: Orange + Peach and Ginger and Ume + Sakura, packaged in small 2.5-ounce bottles.

Psychedelic Functional Microdose contains no sugar, is low-calorie, vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO.

So healthy mind-altering substances then.

Some research reveals that microdosing psychedelics is the practice of consuming very low, sub-hallucinogenic doses of a psychedelic substance, such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or psilocybin-containing mushrooms.

Microdosing has apparently grown in popularity, but scientific literature contains minimal research on this practice

I'm not sure whether to be intrigued or scared. 

Major new Melbourne Docklands hotel project unveiled

Melbourne is to get a landmark new mixed-use development including two international hotel brands.

Local developer Capital Alliance has combined with international hotel group TFE Hotels to unveil details of the new Docklands property (draft image above).

The $340 million project will feature the largest rooftop infinity pool in Australia and the first purpose-built Collection by TFE Hotels and A by Adina properties in Melbourne.

A 1000-capacity conference centre, located on a sky bridge that will connect the two accommodation towers. It will have 360-degree views of the city.

It is hoped the project, which is set to open in 2026, will become an architectural landmark on the Melbourne skyline.

The 200-room, yet-to-be-named Collection hotel will join the ranks of other purpose-built Collection by TFE Hotels properties - including The Calile in Brisbane and Auckland’s The Hotel Britomart.

The 105-room A by Adina hotel, meanwhile, will follow the opening of flagship hotels in Sydney and Canberra in 2021.

Capital Alliance CEO Mohan Du said that after eight years of developing in the Docklands precinct thsi would be his last project.

“As the saying goes, you save the best for last and these one-of-a-kind hotels will be uniquely different to other accommodation offerings in Melbourne,” he said.

“I know when we welcome guests and the public in 2026, we’ll be able to proudly showcase the legacy we’ve left behind with tremendous pride.

“Our partnership with TFE was born and galvanised during the uncertainty of the pandemic. It may sound cliché to say, but there are two things we’re certain of, developing a hotel is incredibly challenging and we have unparalleled confidence in our ability to deliver a world class establishment alongside TFE.”

The site will also feature a day spa, retail outlets and restaurant options.

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Snoop Dogg to link with Gordon Ramsay

Collaborations are a dime a dozen in the food, booze and music industries, but one announced today defies belief.

Think celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and rapper Snoop Dogg.

The Scottish newspaper The Daily Record reported today that Snoop Dogg plans to open a Glasgow restaurant with shouty chef Ramsay.

I checked and the date is not April 1. But I remain sceptical. 

Apparently Snoop Dogg, 50, has known failed goalkeeper Ramsay for several years. 

Snoop, whose real name is Calvin Broadus Jnr, released his first cook book From Crook to Cook: Platinum Recipes from That Boss Dogg’s Kitchen in 2018 and has sought advice from the grumpy one. 

Ramsay, 55, has interests in 35 restaurants around the world. He closed his Glasgow eaterie, the Amaryllis, in 2004 after only three years because of the death of head chef David Dempsey. 

The newspaper quoted the rapper as saying: “I have been speaking with my boy Gordon for a while about opening a restaurant together - but the pandemic slowed things right down.

“Gordon has got a few places in Vegas and Vegas is Snoop’s city - so I kind of figured that we would open a place there - but I know Gordon is from Scotland and people know my love for Scotland and for Glasgow as a city so - why not there?” 

Mr Dogg said he hoped the restaurant would offer personal favourites like fried chicken as well as traditional Scottish dishes like haggis. [This is getting silly now, isn't it?]
Snoop does have some culinary cred. 

He teamed up with American celebrity chef Martha Stewart for three series of Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party which saw them cooking for celebrities.

Snoop was also in the news this week with the release of his first sparkling wine collab with Treasury Wine Estates-owned wine label 19 Crimes in the US (top image). 

Following Snoop Cali Rosé and Snoop Cali Red comes Snoop Cali Gold, the first 19 Crimes bubbly. 

The theme of the launch centred around partying and celebrations, or as Snoop Dogg himself put it, an “OG party vibe”. 

OG apparently means Original Gangster, my rap correspondent tells me. 

I don't think it is a wine I will be rushing out to buy. 

Strike disrupts weekend travel plans

The French love a strike.

Particularly when it is as disruptive as possible. Blocking major roads for hours and inconveniencing commuters and other travellers are familiar tactics.

This week it was French air traffic controllers causing chaos at airports including Charles de Gaulle (above) in Paris.

The strike - and staff shortages - forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights.

France’s aviation authority, the DGAC, this week asked airlines to slash schedules to minimise disruption - a bizarre concept.

Airlines including Air France and budget carrier Ryanair were badly affected with Ryanair saying the main impact came from limits on overflying French airspace.

Ryanair blasted the "unjustified strike, which achieves nothing but disrupt thousands of European citizens/visitors’ weekend travel plans".

French air traffic control union SNCTA said in a statement that the walkout by its members was over the effects of inflation and its demand for more staff members. 

"It is inexplicable that thousands of European citizens/visitors will have their travel plans unfairly disrupted by yet another French ATC (air traffic control) strike," Ryanair said in a statement.

The Irish airline said the travel plans of 80,000 passengers had been affected when it had cancelled 420 flights, many of which were to fly over France.

Air France said it would operate only 45% of its short and medium-range flights but 90% of its long-haul flights.

Low-cost carrier EasyJet said it had cancelled 76 flights due to the strike.

Some local airports were temporarily closed, including Montpellier and Rennes, Travel Mole reported.

Major airports in neighbouring countries also felt the impact, with Spanish airport operator AENA saying it had been forced to cancel 65 flights.

The air traffic strike has followed unrest from pilots and baggage handlers, who are are asking for pay increases and better working conditions.

Friday, 16 September 2022

Vermentino and the grapes of wrath

The wine industry in Europe is full of rage right now.

In Italy there is outrage that other countries use the name Prosecco for their sparkling wines. And ongoing moves to prevent it. 

And in France there is anger that they can no longer use the grape name vermentino on their wine labels.

Which is is odd, because - as Jancis Robinson points out - the French have only relatively recently adopted the use of the name vermentino.

Rolle has traditionally been the southern French name for vermentino, Sardinia's flagship white grape variety.

The wine industry is, of course, awash with grape varieties that have different names in different countries. One man's grenache is another man's garnacha, and one woman's pinot noir is another's blauburgunder.

Either way, the producers in the Languedoc are very unhappy, with several speaking out to trade publication Drinks Business this week.

Jacques Bilhac, owner of Domaines d l’Aster in Pézenas, said a lot of producers in the Languedoc grow vermentino and use the name on labels.

“France makes similar volumes of vermentino as they do in Italy, and we have always called it vermentino - we have been promoting it for ages, and the consumer is starting to recognise it,” said producer Jean-Claude Mas.

The Italians apparently based their successful argument to the European Union on the fact that vermentino is part of existing Geographical Indicators (GI) in Italy, both of which are Sardinian: Vermentino di Gallura and Vermentino di Sardegna.

Vermenino is actually called favorita in Piedmont and some other parts of Italy - but that is another story for another day.    

Striking new resort makes a statement

Noku Hotels is a new name to me, but a press release about its new hotel in Phuket caught my eye - it is a striking-looking property (above).

Noku Hotels is part of Roxy-Pacific Holdings Pte Ltd, a property and hospitality group with a track record dating back to 1967.

The Group’s residential development projects typically comprise of residential developments such as apartments and condominiums in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.

The group also owns the Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy and four hotels under its Noku Roxy brand: boutique hotels in Kyoto and Osaka, Japan, as well as resorts in the Maldives and Phuket.

The new property is on a hilltop with views of Chalong Bay.

There are a total of 91 villas and lofts in a green setting. 

Hill and Tree villas have private pools (above). 

Embrace restaurant and The Terrace Bar are on-site, while the wellness centre is designed around the  swimming pool. Other wellness facilities include a fully equipped gym and a yoga room.

The hotel provides complimentary shuttle services to nearby beaches, the Phuket Old Town and shopping malls. See www.nokuhotels.com/phuket 

Thursday, 15 September 2022

So you’d like to own a Tasmanian icon

Arguably the most iconic hotel property in Tasmania: Cradle Mountain Lodge is for sale. 

Created by Tasmanian tourism industry pioneer Simon Currant and currently owned by Elanor Investors, the wilderness lodge recently underwent a major refurb. 

Mountain Lodge, has been listed for sale by the ASX-listed Elanor Investors Group.

The 86-cabin hotel is located on the edge of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, and has been named one of Lonely Planet’s ‘Top 10 Most Extraordinary Places To Stay’.

Elanor Investors Group’s Head of Hotels, Tourism & Leisure, Marianne Ossovani, told Travel Daily that selling the property wasn’t necessarily the plan when renovations began, but strong acquisition interest since has led to its potential divestment.

“We have received several off-market approaches by parties interested in acquiring the resort, prompting us to formally take Cradle Mountain Lodge to market,” she said.

Cradle Mountain Lodge is operated under Accor’s Peppers brand with the benefit of a franchise agreement, with vacant possession available upon sale.

Back to the beach for Hunter wine producers

There is no doubt that Balmoral Beach is one of Sydney's most spectacular landmarks; a delightful spot for an hour or two of R&R.

After a two-year break, Hunter valley Uncorked Balmoral is set to return to the shores of the inner harbour beach on Sunday, October 16.

Guests will be invited to enjoy some of the best semillon in the world, to kick back by the rotunda relaxing to live music by Soul Shack Music, and enjoying some food and congenial company.

Wineries including Allandale, Bimbadgen, Brokenwood, Comyns & Co., Mercer Wines, Thomas Wines and more will be joined by Twine Restaurant, Hunter Valley Cheese Factory, Amsterdam Pancakes, Bar Coco, Hunter Valley Gardens and Mercure Hunter Valley.

“We are delighted to be bringing all things Hunter Valley back to Balmoral next month after a two-year break,” said Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association acting CEO Jennie Curran.

“Our producers are excited to be welcomed back to showcase their wines and produce to the Sydney and local communities for a great day out.”

Festival goers can purchase either a Festival Pack or a Premium Pack.

The Festival Pack is available for pre-purchase is $30 and includes entry, one tumbler and four tasting vouchers.

The Premium Pack includes entry, one Spiegelau wine glass, four tasting vouchers and a meal voucher.

Pre-sale tickets are on sale now or tickets can be purchased on the day at the gate.

There will be free event shuttle buses running every 15 minutes from Mosman and Spit Junction to Balmoral Beach.

Visit Wine Country for more information. Tickets can be purchased here.

Barossa gem gets a polish

The Louise has long been one of the most luxurious places to stay in the Barossa - and it has just reopened with new owners and new look.

Now owned by Baillie Lodges, the new-look The Louise has been given a $3 million makeover.

Visitors to The Louise and restaurants Appellation and the new Contour (formerly three75) will be greeted by a stylish new vibe.

Designs by South Australia-based architect Max Pritchard include sweeping curved walls which open up the main lodge and offer views hills and vineyards.

There is also a lounge-cum-gallery space with deep club-style chairs.

Artworks have been commissioned from South Australian artists Emma Hack, Janelle Amos and Renee de Saxe.

Baillie Lodges has welcomed executive chef Asher Blackford to the helm in the kitchen, fresh from a stint at sister property Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge on Vancouver Island and formerly from flagship property Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island.

Contour, meanwhile, features intimate booths, a counter seat bar, a menu of favourites and a list of wines, local brews and cocktails.

The Louise wine collection has been granted a showcase alongside the guest lounge with a timber and glass prism holds more than 800 wine bottles.

For details see https://thelouise.com.au/   

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

A tribute too far? Holidaymakers told to vacate their rooms for a day

Funerals for ordinary folk, crucial cancer treatment and surgery have all been cancelled or re-scheduled “in tribute” to the late Queen Elizabeth II.

And in Britain the absurdity of the long-running weep-and-wail festival reached new heights when it emerged some holidaymakers were to be evicted from their accommodation as part of the circus.

Meet Center Parcs, a "hospitality" business that announced it would close all its sites on the day of the Queen's funeral, with some holidaymakers expected to be sent home.

The holiday company said it would close its five parks on Monday, September 19, as "a mark of respect" on the day of the state funeral.

Guests part-way through their holidays were apparently required to spend the night elsewhere or go home early, the Eastern Daily Press reported.

Those due to arrive on Monday were told they would have to start their breaks a day later.

Center Parcs said in a statement: "We have made the decision to close all our UK villages on Monday at 10am as a mark of respect and to allow as many of our colleagues as possible to be part of this historic moment."

Center Parks is a short-break holiday company that operates six holiday villages across the UK and Ireland, and sounds like it might be well worth avoiding.

As you might expect, the bizarre decision sparked outrage.

Center Parcs later said it had “reviewed our position regarding the very small number of guests who are not due to depart on Monday and we will be allowing them to stay on our villages rather than having to leave and return on Tuesday”.

But it said there would be no facilities available in its holiday villages on Monday and it would offer a discount to customers to reflect this.

The company is still asking people who were due to arrive on Monday to delay their arrival until the following day.

The secrets of grenache with panache

Grenache is perhaps Australia's most under-rated wine grape variety.

It is such a pity that a juicy, fruity, delicious grape is ignored by many consumers, perhaps because they are not sure what to expect stylistically.

This Friday, September 16, is International Grenache Day and the perfect excuse to get your laughing gear around some grenache with panache.

Yalumba, who produce several fine examples of grenache, combined with Andrew Hardy and his Ox Hardy label for a recent media tasting to showcase the variety and I've also tasted some excellent recent examples from producers including Willunga 500 and Oliver's Taranga.

Other leading producers include Chalk Hill, Chapel Hill, Yangarra Estate, d’Arenberg, Varney Wines and SC Pannell.

In Australia, particularly, grenache seems to be at its best in warmer climes like the Barossa and McLaren Vale.

It is dominant variety in many Southern Rhone wines, particularly in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Grenache, also known as garnacha in Spain, used to be the backbone of many of Australia's best fortified wines; back in the day when we had wines labelled as sherries, ports and tokays.

It is one of the most widely planted red wine varieties in the world but it needs careful work in the vineyard to make sure it is not too high-yielding, given its tendency to become overblown.

Grenache was one of the first varieties planted in South Australia, with plantings in McLaren Vale in the late 1830s and the Barossa in the early 1840s

Here, it is most often seen in GSM blends with shiraz and mourvedre (mataro), but many of the vines have been pulled out. Those that remain are often old and produce intense fruit. Handled correctly, the vines produce wines that are vibrant, aromatic and food friendly.

Yalumba senior winemaker Kevin Glastonbury, and Ox Hardy Wines boss Andrew Hardy agree that grenache is currently riding the success wave of the “the Pinot Noir revolution” with many drinkers looking for red wines of substance that are not too big, or oaky.

One of the keys to "new generation" grenache is picking the fruit before it goes to full ripeness, going for “red fruit rather than towards the black fruit spectrum,” Glastonbury says. "If you lose the fresh acid in grenache, then you lose the magic, because acid is the key.

"There is no doubt that grenache's time has come, particularly when it is made as a more elegant style of wine that is so friendly and drinkable."

Hardy agrees, hailing "lighter, fresher, aromatic and lifted" styles.

Wines tasted were the Yalumba Tri-Centenary Grenache 2019 ($65), Yalumba Vine Vale Grenache 2021 ($40), and two brilliant "value" offerings in Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache 2020 ($28) and Ox Hardy McLaren Vale Grenache 2021 ($38).

Willunga 100 winemaker Skye Salter - who makes outstanding individual vineyard examples from the Trott and Smart vineyards in McLaren Vale - says grenache is "undervalued and underutilised as a stand-alone variety in Australia", adding it is "a variety that never ceases to give me joy."

The Willunga 100 wines are made in tiny quantities and the 2021 wines retail for $55 with the Trott the more elegant style and the Smart a tad more assertive. 

Meanwhile, McLaren Vale’s inaugural Grenache & Gourmet kicks off this month.

The two week-long celebration of the region’s world-class grenache and grenache-blends launches on International Grenache Day and runs through to the Labour Day Long Weekend (1-3 October) with experiences at several wineries and restaurants.

See www.grenacheandgourmet.com.au for details.

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Now Sydney has a dedicated negroni bar

The world is awash with wine bars, whisky bars and even absinthe bars.

Now Sydney has a dedicated negoni bar with the opening this week of Bar Conte, with 20 versions of the classic aperitivo.

The many versions of the cocktail will be found at 340 Riley Street in Surry Hills under the guidance of co-owner Raffaele Lombard and his partner Victoria Hampshire.

Bar Conte aims to bring the culture of the Italian aperitivo to Sydney and while the bar will focus on drinks, it also has a short menu of Italian snacks and share plates.

“I have dreamt of this concept for the past 10 years," says Lombard. "The negroni is my drink of choice, and has been since I was a young man growing up in Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast.

"It's bitter, strong and clean - the ultimate pre-dinner drink. We felt it deserved its own dedicated bar.”

Bar Conte will feature a range of Italian and Australian vermouths.

"The temperature and the quality of the vermouth is what makes a good negroni," Lombard says. 

"Growing up in Italy, our family homes were always stocked with vermouth, and on special occasions I would be able to try them.

"Thirty years on, I have grown to love those flavours, there is so much nostalgia and many memories for me when it comes to vermouth.”

Lombard is serious about beer, so there is also a rotating list of five European beers (mostly from Belgium), Italian wines (orange, white, and red varietals), and sparkling offered by the glass and bottle.

The 38-seater venue features bold Italian film and drinks artwork on display. Bookings are now open with walk-ins available on a first-served basis.

Check out www.barconte.com.au from September 14, or phone (02) 7254 1170 for bookings. 

Images: Steven Woodburn

A new start for two Mornington Peninsula favourites

It is the start of a new era for both Mornington Peninsula wine producer Eldridge Estate and its long-time owner and vigneron David Lloyd.

Eldridge Estate, one of the Mornington Peninsula’s best-regarded vineyards, is now under the ownership of wine industry newcomers Elli and Vicki Tutungi.

Lloyd and his veterinarian wife Carol, meanwhile, have completed a move to a bush block at Dodges Ferry in Tasmania.

Lloyd reports that the Tutungis have had a love affair with the Mornington Peninsula and its wines for many years and moved in when Eldridge Estate came up for sale.

The Tutungis have engaged consultant winemaker Steve Flamsteed (formerly Giant Steps winemaker and co-owner of Salo Wines) to make their wines and continue to make premium chardonnay, pinot noir and gamay as did Lloyd.

Vicki Tutungi says: “Elli and I are not naïve enough to think it is going to be an easy journey, but are excited about the next chapter in our lives. David selected this piece of land for its special qualities in making premium wine and we intend to nurture it as he has.”

The vineyard is located on Arthurs Seat Road in Red Hill and the Tutungis will work Flamsteed ahead of their first vintage in 2023.

“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to work with a site of this kind of pedigree - I’ve had a long association with David and the wines of Eldridge Estate through the Victorian Pinot Noir Workshop - which began back in 2002," Flamsteed said.

"Vicki and Elli are an incredible force and are committed to producing the best possible wines from this amazing site."

Elli Tutungi is a cardiac anaesthetist and Vicki a former lawyer who has worked in technology development for 20 years. The couple has a home at Balnarring Beach, not far from Eldridge Estate and has taken advice from friends Steve Webber and Leanne de Bortoli from De Bortoli Yarra Valley.

Lloyd told me a year or so ago that after two bouts of cancer and the approach of his 70th birthday, he wanted to slow down and move to Tasmania.

"That desire has now become reality," he said. "I am turning 70 and did not have either the energy or financial resources to move Eldridge to a stable future in such a time of change."

Lloyd's former assistant Sara Van Agt will stay with Eldridge Estate, while Lloyd (below) will stay involved in the wine industry with a little side project.

 "My friend of over 30 years, Michael Twelftree, came up with a retirement project to keep my love of wine in a happy place," Lloyd says. 

"The project is The Odd Couple wine label, which is a couple of small batches of pinot produced each year where I choose the harvest date, make the wine and see it thru to bottling but do not have to run a vineyard or sell the wine."

The Odd Couple pinot is based on fruit from a small vineyard in the Coal River Valley, just a short drive from Doges Ferry.

"Carol and I are now happily living in Tasmania. where it is as tranquil as Red Hill was 28 years ago," Lloyd says from California, where he is enjoying a vacation.

Sounds like everyone is a winner.