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Saturday 30 April 2022

Whisky campaign hits a sour note

I get quite a few absurd press releases over the course of a week but one from whisky producer The Glenlivet takes out an award for sexism. 

The premise of this release is that women cannot, and do not, appreciate fine whiskies without a mixer. 

And they have roped in an actress to help their case. 

“Academy Award Winner Anna Paquin and renowned Single Malt Scotch The Glenlivet are ripping up the rule book on whisky drinking traditions in a provocative new campaign.”

OK. So what is it all about?

The Glenlivet is on a mission to break the whisky drinker stereotype and shine a light on all appreciators. As Paquin says in the new commercial: "Whisky doesn't care what's between your legs, so why should we be told to follow these rules?"

Noting her first experience with The Glenlivet, Paquin broke conventions by adding tonic to the whisky, "I first discovered Glenlivet while I was working in Scotland. While it tastes great on its own, I found it's even yummier when you add a little mixer and create a cocktail."

The drivel goes on: Paquin was selected to become the face of The Glenlivet Australia and New Zealand due to her “ongoing invitation to flip convention on its head”.

The launch film is directed by famed director and photographer, Jamie Nelson at her 1968 Hollywood Regency style house in Los Angeles. 

The Glenlivet Australia and New Zealand Marketing Manager Kristy Rutherford chimes in: "Whisky has long been seen as a symbol of power, drunk solely by middle-aged, white men behind closed doors of the 'Old Boys' Clubs'. In fact, one-third of whisky drinkers globally are women.”

Should you wish to be insulted further on #BreakTheStereotype head to The Glenlivet's website.

New sustainable wine range offers sub-$10 value

It is hard to find a sub-$10 wine that shines, but I was genuinely impressed by both the varietal chardonnay and the well-balanced sauvignon blanc in the range of  sustainability-driven new Australian wine brand Rewild. 

The $9.99 range from Duxton Vineyards released this week includes a chardonnay, moscato, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc and rosé, with red varietals arriving later in 2022.

The blurb says the wines are all produced using sustainable methods and made using minimal intervention. That's good stuff. 

The range is also 100% vegan friendly, ticking another hipster box, along with ethical consumption credentials.

Recent studies have revealed that almost two in three Australians (65%) are concerned about their carbon footprint, and 40% of consumers value and consider a company’s environmental efforts when purchasing products 

Duxton Vineyards is a member of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia. 

Senior winemaker Tony Allen says Rewild is a wine range that celebrates Australian agriculture and is dedicated to improving the environment.

“It’s the land that gifts us these wines, so it’s important that we give back and support meaningful change," Allen says. 

"Rewild is created for people who enjoy delicious wine but also want to make purchase decisions they feel good about, and have a positive impact on the environment.” 

The Rewild bottles are lightweight and packed in FSC-certified recycled cardboard, and the labels are made from sugarcane - all features designed to minimise the brand’s carbon footprint and impact on the environment.

Rewild has a goal to reach 100% renewable energy, uses regenerative farming practices, water-saving initiatives and a biodiversity management plan as well as not using any animal products.

All the grapes come from the southern Murray Darling region. 

The wines are available from Dan Murphy’s stores nationally for $9.99. 


Friday 29 April 2022

How drinking wine could have health benefits

Whether you prefer to drink red wine, or white wine, both styles offer health benefits, a new study showed.

Researchers from Iowa State University also found that drinking either red or white wine is a better health option than consuming beer or spirits.

The team discovered that drinking beer or spirits leads to higher levels of visceral fat - the more harmful variety of fat which increases the risk of developing heart disease and other health complications.

The study of nearly 1,900 white adults (why the racial choice?) ranging from 40 to 80 years-old found that drinking wine did not lead to the same harmful build-up of visceral fat. 

Drinking red wine, in fact, contributed to adults having less visceral fat than their peers.

The study authors found that white wine appears to provide an additional health benefit - stronger bones. 

Older drinkers consuming white wine in moderation had a higher bone mineral density than those opting for red wine or beer.

“Ageing is often accompanied by an increase in the problematic fat that can lead to heightened cardiovascular disease risk as well as by a reduction in bone mineral density," says study author Brittany Larsen. 

"This has important health implications given that nearly 75% of adults in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese.” 

In Australia, of course, we are all lithe and lovely. 

The found that there are many biological and environmental factors that contribute to weight gain and alcohol is just one of those factors. 

“Alcohol has long been considered one possible driving factor for the obesity epidemic," Larsen said. 

"Yet the public often hears conflicting information about the potential risks and benefits of alcohol. Therefore, we hoped to help untangle some of these factors through our research."

The researchers aim to continue their analysis of alcohol’s effects on human health. Their next step is to examine how diet - including alcohol consumption - influences diseases of the brain and cognition in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.

The findings were published in the journal Obesity Science & Practice.

Image: Marco Maisano,

Discover 40 reasons to visit the Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley Wine and Food Festival is up and running with the return of A Little Bit of Italy in Broke this weekend - to be followedby several other events. 

The region's wine and food culture will be showcased through a series of over 40 events across May and June, the event supported by Wine Selectors.

This year’s program sees the return, after a two-year hiatus, of signature events celebrating the sub-regions of Broke and Lovedale, as well as new and exciting additions to the program.

Visitors can wine and dine with some of the Hunter Valley’s leading winemakers and chefs, take part in a range of entertaining and interactive masterclasses to sharpen their culinary skills. 

“Given the challenges the of past few years for the hospitality, wine and tourism industries, we are delighted to be able to bring our signature festival to life again with a full program across both May and June,” said Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association CEO Amy Cooper.  

“The 2022 program is bursting with events and our chefs, cooks, winemakers and hospitality stars are ready to put their best foot forward to allow you to immerse yourself and experience Wine Country in all its glory.”

The festival kicks off today with the return of A Little Bit of Italy, a weekend-long festival celebrating wine, great food, and Italian country style hospitality in Broke Fordwich.

This year’s program also sees the return of the iconic Lovedale Long Lunch. The progressive lunch will run on May 14-15, with leading local chefs teamed up with seven Lovedale wineries to offer guests food, wine and live music al fresco among the vineyards. 

A new event on this year’s program is the Firelight Festival + Firewalk, aiming to shine on Singleton’s town centre with a light show combining unique sensory, hologram and immersive laser light experiences.

The Hunter Valley experienced high visitor numbers across the recent Easter and school holiday period.  “We encourage people to book all aspects of their visit early, including accommodation, wine tastings, events and experiences as well as restaurants if you don’t want to miss out” said Cooper.

The full program, with something for all wine and food lovers, is now live at


Artisan gins offer a point of difference

Australia has an ever-increasing number of artisan distillers producing a dazzling array of styles but the public also has a wide range of imports from which to choose - many of them with interesting points of difference. 
If Mum is a gin lover and keen on the sustainability vibe, then she might enjoy a Silent Pool Gin, the UK’s No.1 super-premium gin, on Mother's Day. 

A recent arrival in the Australian market, Silent Pool is notable for a mix of 24-botanicals and an eye-catching glass bottle design. 

I thought it was a delightful floral and juniper- driven drop; as delicious on its own as in a G+T.

Emanating from Surrey, Silent Pool Gin has a sustainable distillery, committed to using local ingredients, recycled machinery, and renewable power sources. All waste is used to create electricity or as fertiliser.

Silent Pool is available at Dan Murphy’s or BWS for $79.99.

Another Mother's Day option is Mirabeau Dry Rosé Gin (above), inspired by the botanicals of the French Riviera. So Frenchy. So chic.

This one also has a distinctive bottle that Mum might like - and is distilled with a touch of rosé wine. 

Mirabeau has used grape spirit, made from upcycled grape skins after they have been pressed during the winemaking process, as its base. It is dry, gluten free and vegan friendly. 

I haven't tried this one yet, but will let you know when I do. Also at Dan Murphy’s and BWS for $79.99. 

Thursday 28 April 2022

Of all the gin joints: Four Pillars expands

There is more to the Yarra Valley than wine. Healesville is also home to one of Australia’s leading small distilleries: Four Pillars.

Four Pillars this week unveiled its $7 million new home in Healesville, seven years after launching in the same town.

The newly expanded Four Pillars has opened its new distillery, gin garden and hospitality experience directly adjacent to its original home on Lilydale Road, Healesville in the heart of the Yarra Valley.

The ambition for what the team at Four Pillars is calling Healesville 2.0 is simple: to set a new benchmark for craft gin distillery experiences worldwide.

The design of the new additional 1000sqm space, by Melbourne’s award-winning and sustainability-led Breathe Architecture, has nearly tripled the capacity for visitors at Four Pillars and includes Jude’s Gin Garden, a multiple event and function areas, a crafted copper bar plus a dedicated Four Pillars Gin Shop featuring rare, limited-release and Healesville-only gins and merchandise.

With support from the Victorian Government, the expanded distillery sees new blending and bottling line facilities, additional storage space, additional car parking and room for a new 2000-litre still due to arrive later in 2022, taking the Four Pillars still inventory to six hand-made, German copper Carl stills.

The additional production and hospitality capacity means Four Pillars will be capable of producing more than one million bottles of gin a year and hosting somewhere between 150-200,000 visitors annually.

To accommodate these increases, up to 30 more full-time local jobs will be created, taking the team to upwards of 150 employees.

The new Four Pillars Healesville 2.0 has an increased capacity of around 300 guests at a time with a range of table, bench, booth and bar-stool seating in Beth’s Bar and Jude’s Gin Garden.

This should mean the end to the frustrating queues that have formed at the front of the distillery most weekends for the past five years.

Jude’s Gin Garden has sliding, floor-to-ceiling windows allowing an al fresco vibe.

In addition to a drinks menu of tasting paddles, classic gin drinks and original cocktails, there’s also a new substantial snack menu designed by Made From Gin Creative chef Matt Wilkinson and his Yarra Valley sidekick, Caro Gray.

The food is focused on local producers as well as the incorporation of Four Pillars’ spent gin botanicals.

Expect duck liver pate with Bloody Shiraz gin jelly; bagels with olive leaf gin-cured salmon and gin-laced potato, zucchini and dill croquettes.

Later in 2022, Healesville 2.0 also plans to open up the Four Pillars Tuck Shop on weekends and public holidays, offering regularly changing, more substantial food specials and a few guest appearances from food friends.

Four Pillars recently announced it was Australia’s first carbon neutral gin business.

Gin will be ‘piped’ directly into the main bar through featured copper pipes to reduce glass waste plus bottled tonic usage will be massively reduced, replaced in the most part by tonic in kegs. These two initiatives alone will see the site save 29 tonnes of glass per year.

he whole site, incorporating the old and new buildings is enclosed by an eye-catching copper ‘veil’ made from 1650 metres of raw copper tubing, giving Healesville a new landmark.

Co-founder and distiller Cameron Mackenzie said: “This has been a true labour of love for so many people and we should especially thank our architects Breathe, builders Neverstop, the local, state and federal governments who have all made a contribution not just to our building but to the whole road and surrounds, and most importantly to my wife Leah, the Four Pillars’ Experience lead, who oversaw the whole two-year project.

“This building will hopefully be one that the local community loves, that Victorians come visit regularly and that gin lovers from around the world feel drawn to when they visit one of the greatest cities in the world, Melbourne.”

Four Pillars Distillery sis at 2 Lilydale Road, Healesville and is open seven days a week. See

Images: Anson Smart 

Art to entice visitors to Margaret River

Wine and food are far from being the only reasons to visit Margaret River in Western Australia.

There are also fabulous surf beaches, tremendous natural beauty- and a thriving arts scene.

A record number of artists have signed up for this year's Margaret River Region Open Studios, an annual event that will run from September 1-25.

From Anniebrook to Witchcliffe, and Boallia to Eagle Bay, the Margaret River region will be a sea of Open Studios signs welcoming art lovers to the artists' usually private world of paint, canvas, kilns, fabric, fire, timber, charcoal, chainsaws, pencils, found objects, welding tools, looms, printing presses, clay, metal and millinery.

Chair Jim Davies said the response from artists to this year's Margaret River Region Open Studios event was a wonderful outcome.

“We've been bowled over by the number of artist registrations this year,” he said. “We thought there might be some uncertainty due to Covid, but I suspect the desire to share beauty and creation is more important than ever before to our artists and community.

“Our event has grown year-on-year and the word-of-mouth spreads through the artistic community.

“An astonishing 43 artists will make their Open Studios debut in September, which is another record broken, and 16 artists will have participated in all nine events, providing a rich and diverse offering for our visitors.” 

The 16-day event will showcase art in all its forms.

Visitors will find artists in family homes, old timber mill cottages, hobby and dairy farms, straw bale homes, a converted water tank, cottages, hay sheds, converted school bus, brewery, beach shack, industrial sheds, sea containers, shearing sheds, bush blocks, a 'Sheila shack' and more.

Wednesday 27 April 2022

Young or old: the eternal riesling conundrum

Riesling - one of the world's great grape varieties. Versatile and usually affordable. 

From Alsace to Australia, however, there is one great conundrum for wine lovers: when to drink their rieslings? 

Young rieslings, particularly from Australia, are usually dry and high in acid. 

Give them a couple of years and they retain their citrus fruit flavours but soften. A few more years in bottle and they develop honeyed, toasty or kerosene characters. 

This is also true of the delicate, less ripe rieslings from Germany and Austria, and slightly sweeter styles from New Zealand. 

In the first 12 months of their lives, Aussie rieslings offer lashings of lime, lemon and grapefruit flavours and searing acidity. 

A decade or so on they are completely different beasts; mature and mellow. 

To explore the many facets of riesling, Henschke, Howard Park and Taylors Wines hosted a recent Museum & Current Release tasting. 

The wines involved were the Henschke 2007 and 2021 Julius Riesling from Eden Valley; the Taylors 2012 and 2019 St Andrews Riesling from the Clare Valley and Howard Park 2010 Museum Release and 2020 Mount Barker Riesling from Western Australia. 

The wines were offered in tiny tasting-sized bottles by Trust In Taste (above), so were not able to be tasted with food afterwards, or sampled a day later. 

We were joined by Justine Henschke, Mitchell Taylor and Richard Burch from Howard Park; all of whom are passionate about quality rieslings. 

All three producers use screw caps to ensure their wines maintain integrity. 

"One of the intriguing thing about these wines is that they retain their freshness under screw caps," says Henschke. "There is a richness, oiliness and opulence to our 2007, while in maintains fruit character.

"We  believe aged riesling is a style with celebrating and we have found we can't release enough to keep our customers happy." 

Mitchell Taylor noted the "secondary aromatics, toast and honey" in the 2012 St Andrews and said: "We are holding back greater volumes of older wines to meet a growing demand from collectors."

Likewise, Burch says older Howard Park rieslings are "a revelation", still concentrated and hitting their stride at 10-15 years of age. 

Call me a philistine, but while there is a definite place for older rieslings - particularly with food - I just love the exuberance and vitality of younger rieslings, perhaps at 1-2 years of age. 

The 2021 Julius is dry, aromatic, floral and wonderfully pure; the St Andrews has a delicious line of limey acid in its adolescence and the Howard Park 2020 definete regional minerality and textural appeal. 

And the winners consumers offered the choice between such contrasting styles.    


New Orleans bounces back with new crowdpullers

Whether you enjoy partying, jazz, history or sport, there is no argument that New Orleans is one of the most compelling destinations in the US. 

I've visited twice and know that the city is both fascinating and resilient, having bounced back not only from Hurricane Katrina, but also from Covid. 

The city bills itself as "the Cultural Capital of the South". All Ciovid restrictions have now been lifted and there are several new attractions to explore.

The ESSENCE Festival of Culture Live is returning for the first time in two years from June 30-July 3, while Vue New Orleans, located on the 33rd and 34th floors of Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans, is an indoor and outdoor observation deck and exhibit featuring 360-degree panoramic riverfront views of New Orleans and beyond.

The Southern Food & Beverage Museum (SoFAB) is offering an in-depth look into how to create delicious, traditional dishes that can be found nowhere else in the world. Both the Cajun and Creole classes include a tour of the museum. 

For adventure lovers, Zip NOLA is a new swamp zipline attraction located 45km from downtown New Orleans on the banks of Lake Pontchartrain, in the historic town of Frenier. 

The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, located in the Warehouse District, opened in early 2021 while the Liberations Pavilion at The National WWII Museum, currently under construction, will mark the final major addition to The National WWII Museum.

The Louisiana Children's Museum (LCM) has moved  to City Park and includes five interactive exhibits. 

The Frenchmen Hotel was remodelled and opened in February. Originally built in 1860, it has a rooftop bar and a courtyard plunge pool. 

Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences New Orleans opened its doors in August 2021. Located on the Riverfront at the foot of Canal Street, the hotel is the latest addition to the city's luxury accommodations. The 34-storey, mixed use development houses a 341-key hotel on the lower floors and 81 luxury condominiums on the upper floors.

Virgin Hotels New Orleans and the Hotel Saint Vincent are other new arrivals, while One 11 Hotel, the first new hotel in over fifty years in the French Quarter, opened in December 2020. 

For gourmets, the local tourism officials from New Orleans and Co. highlight the likes of Mister Mao, a new tropical roadhouse on Tchoupitoulas Street in the Garden District and Saint John, a new restaurant on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. 

The former Claret Wine Bar space was renamed The Bower Bar and opened in early January. 

For more details visit

Tuesday 26 April 2022

New destination for wine and food lovers in McLaren Vale

Bec Hardy Wines has unveiled a new South Australian gourmet experience at cellar door in McLaren Vale. 

The Kitchen at Bec Hardy will showcase the best of local, sustainable food in a relaxed setting among the vines. 

With a philosophy of "all things local, seasonal and sustainable", the kitchen will initially be open Friday, Saturday and Sundays from 10am to 3pm. 

The winery, co-owned by sixth generation Hardy family member Bec and her husband, Richard Dolan already hosts events ranging from yoga in the vines and painting classes. 

Heading up the kitchen is Anthony Schlenk, who joins the team from Penfolds Magill Estate kitchen. He previously ran the Moseley Beach Club kitchen at Glenelg. 

Schlenk champions an unpretentious approach to food, seeing it as a platform for connecting people and bringing joy, and is passionate about sourcing ingredients for the menu responsibly and ethically.

The Bec Hardy team has also worked in collaboration with Nick Finn, who played a key role in the launch of the acclaimed restaurant at 2KW in the CBD. 

The menu, which will be changed frequently, features a selection of small and larger dishes, offering diners the opportunity to share, follow a traditional à la carte path, or sit back and let the chef decide with a ‘feed me’ menu. 

The launch menu includes ingredients sourced from local producers including chorizo from Ellis Butchers of McLaren Vale, bread from Andy Clappis bakery in Willunga and bio-dynamic organic cheese from Paris Creek Farms in Meadows.

Dishes from the inaugural menu include ‘pan-seared South Australian Tommy Ruff served with dill and lemon beurre blanc sauce, mashed potatoes and herbed asparagus; and lamb shanks slow-roasted in Bec Hardy Shiraz served with creamy polenta finished with sautéed kale and a parmesan crumb.

As a 100% dog-friendly cellar door, Bec Hardy is among the first winery eateries to offer a dish for furry friends: a chicken liver jerky. 

Dishes for humans can be paired with wines by the glass or bottle from the Bec Hardy Wines portfolio.

Bec Hardy, co-owner and co-MD (above) says: “The Kitchen at Bec Hardy has been a dream of mine since we took over the Pertaringa cellar door in McLaren Vale back in July 2020, and this new space represents the biggest investment and expansion here in 30 years. 

"There is no better partner to great food than great wine, even more so when the produce is sourced from the land and sea around us.

We’ve loved creating a welcoming space for people to visit with friends, family and their dog - and now we’re able to go beyond a glass of wine and a platter and invite them to indulge in a quintessentially South Australian meal amongst the vines.”

The Kitchen at Bec Hardy launches on Friday. Bookings are recommended to avoid disappointment, but walk-ins will be catered for, if space is available. 

The Kitchen at Bec Hardy opening coincides with the renaming of the cellar door from Pertaringa to Bec Hardy Wines. 

For further information visit To book a restaurant spot call (08) 8383 2700 or email

Hong Kong to welcome back visitors after two years

Hong Kong is to lift its ban on visitors arriving in the city for the first time since the Covid pandemic.

Hong Kong officials have announced said they would open borders to visitors from May 1, the first time in two years, ending strict border controls that effectively shut the international financial hub off from the outside world as it mirrored mainland China's strict zero-Covid policies.

The city drew about 56 million visitors in 2019 before virus restrictions dragged that figure to nearly zero, dealing a blow to the city's economy and sparking an expatriate exodus, Travel Mole reported.

The move came after Hong Kong allowed venues including gyms, theme parks, beauty parlours and movie theatres to reopen after a four-month closure sparked by an omicron-fuelled new outbreak.

Hong Kong has also dropped its mandatory hotel quarantine for visitors from 21 days to one week.

Meanwhile, citing a drop in infections, Singapore has said it is relaxing border controls by allowing all fully vaccinated travellers to enter via air or sea checkpoints without requiring a PCR test within two days of their departure.

Image: James Wong,

Monday 25 April 2022

Celebrating the many styles of viognier

It is hard to pronounce and often hard to find.

Viognier (vee-on-yay) is a white wine grape variety that is is the only permitted grape for the French appellation Condrieu in the Rhone Valley. 

It is also found in Australia, where Yalumba has spent 40 years exploring various styles of viognier, as well as small plantings in New Zealand, South Africa and the US. 

The grape is sometimes co-fermented with shiraz (Clonakilla being a headliner of this blend), or with other Rhone whites like marsanne, roussanne and clairette. 

Viognier is a low-acid variety that thrives in warmer climates, producing soft, often lush and interesting white wines. 

It also can be used for making dessert-style sweet wines. Expect to find full-bodied and textural wines with apricot, peach and pear flavours to the fore, sometimes alongside ginger and Asian spice notes. 

With International Viognier Day - a Yalumba initiative - just around the corner on April 29, we tasted a range of wines featuring the grape with Yalumba chief winemaker Louisa Rose and Langmeil's James Lindner.

They were: Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2021 (RRP $15), Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2020 ($28), Yalumba Organic Viognier 2021 ($22), Langmeil Three Gardens Viognier Marsanne Roussanne 2021 ($20), Guigal Côtes du Rhône White 2019 ($35), Yalumba The Virgilius Viognier 2019 ($50) and Yalumba FSW 8B Botrytis Viognier 2020 ($30).

A fascinating range of styles and price points.

Tasting several of the wines later with food, we discovered just how food-friendly the variety can be with its "refreshing bitterness" when phenolics are used in a positive way during the winemaking process.

Viognier can be paired with anything from a curry to blue cheese, making it one of the most versatile of wine choices.

"With food these wines really come into their own," says Rose.

"More so than sipping on them without food."

Launched last year, International Viognier Day is for producers and enthusiasts all over the world.

Until the 1970s, the only plantings of the variety were in Condrieu and Côte Rôtie but in 1980 Yalumba planted 1.2 hectares of viognier vines in the Eden Valley.

Rose, now Yalumba’s head of winemaking, first encountered viognier when she began working at Yalumba in 1992, and the grape has been a passion project for her over the past 30 years.

Today, Yalumba exports far more viognier to the US and UK than it sells in Australia - and has planted additional vines in regions ranging from the Riverland to the Limestone Coast.

“Viognier is a low-acid variety, but it gives a refreshing character from the phenolics and the tannins which come out of the skins,” explained Rose.

“Viognier is at home with food and is particularly suited as an aperitif. The richness and spice in the Viognier bring out flavours and textures in food that otherwise you sometimes don’t see.

“After one sip, I am thinking about what I want for dinner. It’s an exciting wine from that point of view.

“We have watched the Yalumba family and friends go through the same journey of discovery  as the wines have made their way to hearts and minds all over the world.”

For details see

Henschke hits high points with new-release shirazes

It is one of the most eagerly awaited dates on the Australian wine calendar: the launch of the new vintage of Australia's highest-profile single vineyard wine; the Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz. 

May 4 is the date for the global unveiling of four super Henschke single-vineyard shiraz wines from the Eden Valley: a stellar Hill of Grace, Hill of Roses, Mount Edelstone and The Wheelwright. 

I was among the fortunate folk to get a sneak peek; and the wines certainly live up to expectations with a 98-point rating for the Hill of Grace and admiration for the value offered by the the Wheelwright. 

This sixth-generation winemaking family never fails to deliver.

The shiraz collection follows the vision of fourth-generation winemaker Cyril Henschke, one of Australia’s pioneers of dry table wines in the 1950s, who produced his first single-vineyard wine Mount Edelstone in 1952 from 16 hectares of shiraz planted in 1912 by Ronald Angas. 

This is the 65th release of Mount Edelstone Shiraz (96 points) and arguably Australia’s longest consecutively produced single-site wine. The 2017 shows off glorious fruit, eucalypt and herbs and great balance.

Around the same time on neighbouring land, the local German Silesian community were building the Gnadenberg Lutheran Church with a spire that overlooked a vineyard. 

Cyril Henschke paid tribute to the church with the wine name ‘Hill of Grace’; a translation of Gnadenberg. 

When he made his first Hill of Grace in 1958, the oldest vines, the ‘Grandfathers’, were thought to be 100 years of age. Now at just over 160 years of age, they are among some of the oldest vines in the world.

This is the 56th release of Henschke Hill of Grace, a wine that is always made from just four hectares of vines. There was no Hill of Grace made in 1960, 1974 and 2000. Just one barrel was produced in 2003; no vintage in 2011, and extremely tiny vintages for 2013, 2014, 2019 and 2020.

The 2017 vintage is graced by vitality,” says Stephen Henschke, the fifth-generation winemaker. “The common thread through all four Eden Valley releases shows a liveliness and capacity for long life that has developed as the result of an exceptionally long and gentle vintage. 

"This vintage will be recognised for wines of incredible depth, purity and energy, much akin to high-quality vintages  such as 1992, 2006 and 2012, all of which were late, cool seasons and have shown excellent ageing potential in ideal cellaring conditions.”

My notes: "Subtle, smooth and seductive; dangerously, defiantly drinkable in its youth when you know it deserves to be cellared." 

The prices make this quartet "special occasion" wines: Hill of Grace $900, Hill of Roses $430, Mount Edelstone $230 and The Wheelwright $140, although all would make magnificent Mother's Day gifts. 

The Wheelwright (95 points), thrilled me.  Made from vines approaching 50 years of age, the 2015 vintage of The Wheelwright was released in 2018 to commemorate 150 years of family winemaking. 

The 2017 vintage is the third release of this wine - and well worth seeking out if you get the chance as it combines power and elegance in equal measure.

“Our unique Eden Valley sites mean so much more to me than the beauty of the vines and the wines they produce," says Stephen Henschke. "Each step we take is in the footsteps of our ancestors. Our story is the perseverance and courage of the generations past and the generations yet to come.” 

The Hill of Roses Shiraz (95 points) is an impressive understudy to the Hill of Grace, It takes its name from the Rosenzweig family who once ran the historic Parrot Hill Post Office that lies opposite the vineyard.

Some good news. You don't have to spend up big to enjoy a Henschke. There are also wines in the range that retail for under $35.  


Sunday 24 April 2022

Bendigo's Rockin' Rollin' Tram Ride for Elvis

Bendigo's historic trams get into the Graceland spirit

 “I said Shake Rattle ‘n Roll, I said Shake, Rattle ‘n Roll!” we bellow in clumsy unison, clutching - and spilling - our Blue Suede cocktails as the vintage tram does its own wobbly rendition along the main street of Bendigo.

We get to the end of the street and prepare to complete the return journey while the music never skips a beat. Our driver, Steve, makes the perilous change-of-ends and is co-opted into a few choruses of “Hound Dog” before he reaches the relative safety of the cab.

Bendigo’s beautifully ornate trams transported the gold-enriched city’s citizens from their introduction in 1890 until their controversial closure in 1972. Now a working and popular tourist attraction, Bendigo Tramways have 15 working trams among the collection of almost 50, operating along the preserved route through the city’s centre. 

They stop - usually - at six points between the Central Deborah Gold Mine and the Bendigo Joss House Temple, a distance of a little more than four kilometres, taking 45 leisurely minutes.

Tonight our carriage is festooned in bold Viva Bendigo livery and gaudy party lights to coincide with the Elvis - Direct from Graceland exhibition currently being held at the Bendigo Art Gallery (BAG), founded in 1887 and one of Australia’s oldest and largest regional art galleries.

# Roderick Eime was a guest of Visit Bendigo

New hotel brand makes an impact

It might not be a name as familiar as Hyatt, Hilton, Sheraton or Mercure, but travellers can expect to see a lot more voco hotels on their travels. 

Billed as "playful and sustainably-minded" vovo is part of the IHG Hotels & Resorts group and three new voco hotels will open over the next two months: voco Melbourne Central (above, April 28), voco Auckland City Centre (May 12) and voco Brisbane City Centre (May 27).

Since opening the world's first voco Hotel in Australia in 2018 – voco Gold Coast – the brand has been launched in 31 locations around the UK, France, Austria, Montenegro, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China. 

The new destinations join  voco Gold Coast, and voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley which opened in 2019.

The Melbourne Central property will be Australia's first new-build voco Hotel and will take up a prominent Lonsdale Street address. 

Every one of the 252 guestrooms feature a window that opens (hooray!), reducing reliance on air-conditioning and a reduction in energy.  

Auckland City Centre will be the voco brand's first foray into New Zealand and will boast the highest rooftop bar in the city: Bar Albert. 

The 194-room voco Brisbane City Centre will have a rooftop pool and sweeping Brisbane River views. 

voco bedding is made from 100 per cent recycled materials, while the linen produced in line with the Better Cotton Initiative that supports sustainable cotton harvesting. 

Opening 'voco life' packages include overnight accommodation, complimentary breakfast for two, an upgrade on arrival with guaranteed views, complimentary voco cocktail and bespoke welcome treat on arrival. 

The package is available at each hotel and is bookable now for three months. See

Saturday 23 April 2022

Up the ladder to the roof: a new Perth experience


Calling all thrill seekers. 

Visitors to Perth's glitzy new Optus Stadium can now challenge themselves to a new rooftop experience – VERTIGO. 

In a first for Australian stadiums, the new experience allows fans to walk several metres beyond the edge of the stadium roof at a height of 42 metres. 

Harnessed from above and with no handrails, the brave - and the foolhardy - an peer face-first over the edge for an uninterrupted view of the field of play. 

The new VERTIGO experience joins the existing HALO rooftop tour, Behind the Scenes Optus Stadium Tour, Game Day rooftop experience and Aboriginal Cultural tours available through The Ozone at Optus Stadium. 

The rooftop tours also include a new Western Viewing Deck experience, and with lift access, it allows people of all abilities to enjoy a unique view of Perth and the Swan River. 

Sounds lovely, but I  think I'd rather have a sit down, a nice cup of tea and a biscuit.

For those who are interested:

Hotel manager urges travellers to discover Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, is a fascinating destination and very much on my radar for a post-Covid visit.

The city's newest international luxury hotel, the Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh, is ready to play its part in a post-pandemic renaissance as the city regains momentum as a hub for tourism.

In common with destinations around the world, Cambodia’s capital has suffered as the global health crisis slowed international arrivals to a virtual standstill for the past two years. But with the country now fully open to travellers, it is ready to showcase its credentials as one of the most dynamic drawcards in South-East Asia.

The Hyatt Regency opened in January 2021, when most of the world was battened down by the pandemic.

It has 247 guest rooms including 43 suites, and is the largest internationally branded hotel in the city.

Located in the heart of Phnom Penh’s cultural and business district of Doun Penh, the hotel is a 30-minute drive from the airport and is within a short walking distance to the Royal Palace, National Museum, and the riverside.

“Before the pandemic, Phnom Penh was making great strides as one of South-East Asia’s rising capitals,” said Herman Kemp, the hotel's general manager.

“It’s a dynamic metropolis that balances modernity with tradition. There’s alluring café society, bustling bars, and a thriving and eclectic restaurant scene. On the other hand, there’s historic architecture, bustling markets, a stunning location on the banks of the Mekong River and classic Khmer culture and hospitality.”

As guests pull into the hotel’s driveway, they are greeted by a heritage French heritage villa that contrasts with the modern main building.

The Colonial House is home to The Attic, an old-world speakeasy-style bar. Other F&B options include Metropole Underground, an Art Deco-themed space that is Phnom Penh’s first subterranean venue, and FiveFive Rooftop Restaurant & Bar with city views.

Other hotel highlights include a 22-metre outdoor infinity pool.

“It’s been an extremely challenging couple of years for Cambodia, as it has been for countries everywhere,” said Kemp. “But we regard the future with optimism and are ready to give our guests a flavor of what makes this city so special.”

Friday 22 April 2022

Rats! Flight delayed by rodent on board

The late arrival of the incoming aircraft. Staffing issues. A mechanical fault. 

There are myriad reasons why a light might be delayed but an Air India flight bound from Srinigar to Jammu was this week delayed by two hours after a rat was sighted in the cabin. 

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation has ordered an investigation, Travel Mole reported.

The flight was able to depart from Srinagar Airport after rat was removed from the plane, airport officials told the news agency Press Trust of India.

Air India, under new management, did not respond to PTI’s request for a statement. Bad form. 

he Tata Group took over the operations of Air India on January 27. The Indian government sold the airline last year after a bidding process. 

It is not known how the rat got on board, or whether it survived. 


Confusion still stopping people from flying

Widespread confusion over health requirements is making people less likely to fly internationally, a new survey reveals.

Continual changes to health requirements for air travel, and fears that the aviation sector is not prepared for another global health crisis, are major issues, the survey of people in the US, UK, Italy and the Gulf showed.

Many people in each nation surveyed say they chose not to fly in 2021 because of Covid-related requirements.

At total of 46% of respondents in the US, 61% of people in Italy, 65% of people in the UK and 68% of people in the Gulf chose to stay at home.

And in a worrying sign for the sector's recovery, the survey found a third of Americans (32%), 40% Italians, 40% of Britons and nearly half (46%) of people in the Gulf say that confusion over health requirements will keep them from flying in 2022.

The survey was conducted by YouGov (not Australia's You Gov) ahead of the Future Aviation Forum, a global aviation summit taking place in Riyadh from May 9-11.

While results varied from county-to-country, the study revealed widespread confusion around the patchwork of existing health requirements for air travel.

"There is a clear need for countries to work together to harmonize health requirements for passengers," said Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Transport and Logistics.

"For the global aviation sector to make a full and speedy recovery, it is essential that we improve clarity around current requirements and build confidence in the sector's ability to handle future public health crises."

The Future Aviation Forum will bring together leaders from the public and business sectors, international CEOs, and regulators to shape the evolution of international air travel and drive forward solutions in a post-pandemic world.

It will feature more than 120 speakers, with over 2,000 attendees with a focus on passenger experience, sustainability, and business recovery post-Covid.

Image: Maksim Chernyshev,

New Howard Park wine range aims to aid the environment

With sustainability all the rage - and Earth Day being celebrated today - Howard Park Wines has released a new exclusive collection; Arbor Novae, and a partnership with environmental charity Carbon Positive Australia. 

The new range is available from today, initially exclusively to the West Australian winery’s Wine Club members.

The Arbor Novae range is designed to showcase terroir through regional characters in the glass, but also through active reinvestment back into the land.

For every bottle of Arbor Novae sold, $1.50 will be donated to Carbon Positive Australia. This initiative will help support local tree planting and landscape restoration for a carbon positive future.

Founded in Western Australia, Carbon Positive has restored degraded lands Australia-wide through ecologically sensitive planting for over 20 years. Through its work, the charity has planted six million trees and captured 665,921 tonnes of carbon.

“This is about legacy and integrity -  the Burch family is determined to leave the land they source from in a better state, a more sustainable state, for future generations,” says Howard Park chief viticulturist David Botting.

“The partnership with Carbon Positive allows us to extend our legacy beyond the fences of our vineyard and in doing so, helps secure a more sustainable future for all. Arbor Novae represents one new pillar of our sustainability ethos here at Howard Park and allows wine club members to enjoy unique and carefully crafted wines that reflect varietal diversity and vineyard character, whilst directly contributing to restoring our natural landscapes.”

The name Arbor Novae means “new trees” in Latin and the Arbor Novae labels display original paintings by Fremantle artist Andy Quilty featuring abstract tree forms. 

The range features a 2019 Margaret River Chardonnay (RRP $35), 2020 Pinot Gris (RRP $30) from the Mount Barrow vineyard in Mount Barker, a 2020 regional grenache shiraz blend (RRP $30) and a2021 Old Vine Riesling (RRP $30) from the Gibraltar Rock vineyard in Porongurup.

See this link for full details

Thursday 21 April 2022

Calling all serious lovers of chardonnay

Calling all lovers of chardonnay.

The lovely Adelaide Hills wine region has over 30 events scheduled for its Chardonnay May celebrations, all of which are live on the website.

The cool Adelaide Hills are known for producing some of Australia's most stylish chardonnays and the celebrations will feature vertical tastings and indulgent long lunches, as well as a Chardy party.

Cellar doors that will hold special chardonnay tastings every day throughout the month include Howard VineyardAnderson HillShaw+SmithGolding,  Ashton Hills and Murdoch Hill.

Things heat up from May 20-29 with most of the region's cellar doors focused on chardionnay over two weekends. 

if you plan to visit a few wineries in one day, perhaps small bites paired with chardonnay will be on offer at Pike and JoyceLobethal Road and Howard's Vineyard. Or maybe chomp on a lobster sandwich with Hesketh Wines at Grünthal.

IFor those seeking depth, several wineries have selected rare back vintages from their cellars with special museum releases and vertical tastings on offer at PetalumaAshton HillsLofty Valley Estate and Tapanappa.  

Capacity is limited at most events, so bookings are recommended.