Great Eastern Wine Week - Sponsored Ad Leaderboard

Great Eastern Wine Week - Sponsored Ad Leaderboard
Great Eastern Wine Week, 9-18 September 2022

Saturday, 25 June 2022

Meet Italy’s own Little Venice

Treviso is often known as “Little Venice” for its many canals. 

And it just 30 minutes away from the real Venice - and a whole lot less frenetic. 

One of the key centres of the Prosecco region, Treviso is a city comfortable in its skin - chilled and clearly affluent. 

For those not familiar with the name, Treviso is known for Prosecco and is Italy’s radicchio capital. It is also the city where tiramisu was invented. 

The city is home to the headquarters of clothing retailer Benetton, Sisley, Stefanel, Geox, Diadora and Lotto Sport, as well as appliance maker De’Longhi , and bicycle maker Pinarello.

I have one night in the Palazzina300 - a delightful B&B overlooking the Piazza dei Signori. 

A few images abovevto whet your appetite. 

And here’s the B&B room - delightfully quiet and well equipped. 

Mixed news for flyers from Qantas

Qantas has good news for international flyers and bad news for domestic travellers. 

Post-Covid, the Australian national airline is resuming flights to Johannesburg and Jakarta from Perth, but is cutting back on some domestic routes as it struggles to cope with demand. 

"After a faster-than-expected Covid-19 recovery for the travel industry, we have had to adapt to meet increasing demand and rapidly changing circumstances," Qantas said in a statement. 

"We sincerely thank you for your patience and understanding while we work through what has been a challenging restart for our industry globally."

Qantas says it has deployed extra staff to assist at check-in and manage queues, and made operational changes to improve on time performance. 

All much needed as Qantas has not been delivering over recent months. 

"In the current environment, we know it will take some time for our operations to normalise, but we're working every day to ensure we deliver the level of service you have come to expect from Qantas." the airline said.

The had news is that "the Qantas Group is adjusting its domestic capacity levels to assist with the recovery of sustained high fuel prices". 

That means fewer flights on some routes due to rising fuel costs. 

"Capacity is being reduced from high frequency routes, so the impact to customers is expected to be minimal," Qantas says. 

The good news: Qantas will significantly boost its international network from Perth with flights to Johannesburg and Jakarta set to take off later this year. 

The routes are the latest of eight new international services the national carrier has announced since Australia's international borders re-opened in November 2021.

Qantas will operate the only direct service from Perth to South Africa - taking over from struggling South African Airways - operating three return flights per week on its Airbus A330 aircraft starting from November 1. 

Qantas flights will reconnect Perth with Jakarta for the first time since borders closed in March 2020, beginning with three flights per week on its Boeing 737 aircraft from November 30. 

The Hunter Valley says hello to an old friend

The Hunter Valley will welcome back an old friend when Tower Lodge in Pokolbin re-opens as Spicers Tower Lodge from July 1. 

After a $6 million renovation, the new-look lodge is ready to open up to visitors again.

Tower Estate was first launched in 1999 by Australian wine legend Len Evans AO OBE and some business partners. 

The exclusive retreat is built in a modern Spanish mission style and will now be home to Sebastian - a Basque-style restaurant. 

David Assef, Spicers Retreats managing director, says: “We are honoured to be the new custodians of this iconic property. Tower Lodge has a wonderfully earthy and natural design, it’s in harmony with the changing seasons around it, as the vines bud, flower and eventually drop their leaves for a winter display.”

Spicers Tower Lodge will be the third Spicers Retreat in the Pokolbin area, joining Spicers Vineyards Estate and Spicers Guesthouse. 

The 14 rooms at Spicers Tower Lodge all feature a large bedroom, lounge, dressing room and new bathtubs, while some have a private courtyard, open fireplace, or outdoor hot tub, from which to view the vineyards. 

Sebastian Restaurant is inspired by San Sebastian in Spain, famous for its many pintxos bars and starred restaurants. 

Sebastian offers a five-course set menu, which will change daily on a four-day cycle, with a different premium meat presented three ways as the main course each night. 

The winter ‘game and forest’ menu features trout, squab, roe deer and wild boar - certainly something different for the Hunter but likely to be polarising. 

The Hunter region’s 200-year wine heritage is on full display at Tower Lodge, supported by iconic Spanish varietals, including albariño, tempranillo, Grenache and gently sparkling Txakoli with notes of apple and citrus, which dances on your palette as Sebastian’s flavours of Basque country fill your senses.

A vision for perfection

Spicers have secured Patrick Barrie as Spicers Tower Lodge’s General Manger, who joins them from the highly awarded Saffire Lodge in Tasmania’s spectacular Freycinet Peninsular.

Patrick well understands the needs of a regional luxury retreat, having been a manager at Hakuba Springs Hotel in a village in the Japanese Alps; the luxury Longitude 131° resort located adjacent to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park; and the Oatley family’s Qualia on Hamilton Island.

He also completed the Camino de Santiago trail in north east Spain, taking him more than a month and over 1,000kms, exploring the local Basque towns and food culture on foot, giving him an affinity for Sebastian Restaurant.

Fulfilling an inheritance
Tower Estate was Len Evan’s last business venture before he passed away in 2006, and a testament to his life as a pioneering, inspiring wine judge, ambassador, restaurateur and passionate entrepreneur.

“It’s essential we retain Evans’ vision for the estate, with an ambience and design that reflects the unique country style and a search for quality above all else,” explained Barrie.

“We have so much to thank Len Evans for,” Patrick says. “He arguably did more than any other one person to create our culture of wine appreciation in Australia.”

Evans was a playful, loud, and extravagant bon vivant, who wasn’t embarrassed to pursue and praise the world’s top wines, especially those from France, and in particular those from Burgundy and the prized wines of Domain Romani Conti.

It helped Tower Estate’s fortunes that investors over the years include British TV chef Rick Stein; previous co-owner of Rockpool Bar and Grill David Doyle; renowned Hunter winemaker Brian McGuigan; businessmen Andrew Banks; businessman and art collector Basil Sellers; and former News Limited boss Ken Cowley.

Alongside contemporary wine luminaries Brian Croser and James Halliday, Evans was a great educator who turned Australians into wine consumers by demystifying wine and encouraging higher standards in the domestic industry. He even had an entertaining, jargon-free wine column in The Australian Women's Weekly.

Room to be free

Spicers Tower Lodge is a place where you can celebrate and share the wonders of life. It’s ideal for intimate events and long, convivial days and nights enjoying some of the region’s finest cuisine and wine with friends, family and colleagues.

Every evening, the team at Tower Lodge hosts a food and beverage masterclass on a topic drawn from the things loved by Sebastian Restaurant: jamon, olives, cheese, sherry, vermouth, gin, and of course wine, and you can reserve a range of unique regional wine experiences in advance.

Enjoy the spacious lounge, bar, library, conference facilities and sauna and take full advantage of the carefully tended grounds that surround Tower Lodge, with games on the lawn like frisbee golf, croquet and kite flying, there’s even an archery range.

“There are so many outstanding spaces for our guests to enjoy, says Patrick. “There’s the underground cellar, gorgeous restaurant, a newly designed outdoor terrace with a fireplace, and a stunning pool area in an undercover courtyard, it’s a real treat on those warm Hunter Valley afternoons.”

“The Tower Suite with its roof top hot-tub looking over the vineyards is sure to be one of the most sort-after suites in Australia,” he says.

A style to savour

Located at the heart of Australia’s oldest wine region, Spicers Tower Lodge is lined on one side by vines and, on the other, a small creek among the gum trees. Nearby are some of the most iconic cellar doors the Hunter Valley has to offer.

Brokenwood’s new cellar door complex is the largest in the Hunter Valley and one of Australia’s First Families of Wine, Tyrrell’s, established in 1858, has a suite of tasting experiences that showcase their heritage vineyards and museum wines.

If you’d like some more vigorous activity, Tower Lodge has a short walk which starts and finishes at the property. Or you can grab a mountain bike and take a tour of beautiful Pokolbin, visit the Pokolbin Farm Shop for local produce or browse the delicious stalls at the Hunter Wine Country Markets.

The Hunter Valley offers a swag of options if you want to pursue adventures like hot air ballooning, a helicopter joy ride, or some rounds of golf at one of the three picturesque courses within half an hours’ drive from Tower Lodge. Spa Anise at nearby Spicers Vineyards Estate is an elegant day spa with two treatment rooms, each with private courtyards, and offers a mobile service to Tower Lodge.

Spicers Tower Lodge is your perfect romantic base to experience life and explore the delights of the Hunter Valley, tucked away along pretty country roads and enchanting scenery.

You will find Spicers Tower Lodge on the corner of Broke and Halls Roads; a two-hour drive from Sydney or one hour from Newcastle. Sydney Airport is 190km away, Newcastle Airport is 80km. Transfers are available upon request.

- END –

Founded by Jude Turner in 2002, Spicers Retreats has ten luxury retreats, hotels and lodges across Queensland and New South Wales. It also operates the Scenic Rim Trail, Queensland’s only Great Walks of Australia and more recently, launched Private Collection by Spicers. Spicers are proud to have ten restaurants inclusive of 2022 award-winning - The Peak in Maryvale, The Tamarind in Maleny, Homage in Grandchester, The Long Apron in Montville, and Restaurant Botanica in the Hunter Valley.


Spicers Tower Lodge

6 Halls Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320

The natural textures of heritage Hunter Valley luxury

For reservations HERE, EMAIL or CALL137742

For more information or enquires, visit the website

New Adelaide Hills cellar doors unveiled


Visitors to the Adelaide Hills have two new cellar doors to visit as of June.

At Wotton Family Wines, the Wottons have grown top quality cherries and wine grapes for 25 years and have just opened their Wotton Family Wines cellar door.

It is described as "an intimate modern space" (above) and offers wine tastings of four wines with local cheeses. It is open 11am-5pm Friday to Monday at 141 Greenhill Road, Uraidla.

The Wotton family has worked in the region for 150 years and in In 1994 the first wine grapes were planted. 

The established wines of Casa Freschi, meanwhile, have until now only been available in restaurants or independent stores.

Their new cellar door is on a former apple orchard, surrounded by 100-year old chestnut and walnut trees and housed in a vineyard shed converted using recycled materials.

Casa Freschi is a small, artisan, wine producer using organic principles and minimal intervention. 

The cellar door is located in the Casa Freschi Altezza vineyard at 159 Ridge Rd Ashton.

It is one of the closest vineyards to Adelaide being only 15km from the CBD.

A range of current and museum wines, dating back to the inaugural Casa Freschi vintage in 1999 will be available to taste and purchase from 11am-5pm Friday to Sunday.

Friday, 24 June 2022

Queensland mulls a tax on visitors

Queensland. Beautiful one day. Dumb the next.

The Australian state is considering whether to impose new taxes on tourists.

The Queensland Tourism Industry Reference Panel has proposed introducing visitor taxes for local attractions within the state.

“The idea of a visitor levy is not new. It has been modelled, canvassed and debated for the best part of a decade,” the panel’s report noted.

“While we appreciate that views are polarised as to whether it is an appropriate way to raise funding, everyone we spoke with saw a greater need than ever for increased funding.”

Money raised by the proposed new tax would be pumped back into the sector to maintain state-operated tourist attractions and national parks, as well as for marketing.

“We don’t just want to build back to where we were, we want to see the industry grow,” Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe said.

“We have very different destinations that have very different needs.”

A statewide levy ‘would not work’ the panel said, and it instead suggests local authorities should be able to set a visitor tax.

“Any mechanism needs to be flexible - able to be varied at the local council/destination level to suit local circumstances.”

Kevin Byrne of the Cairns Tourism Industry Association said: "I think an accommodation levy, a visitor levy of 5-8% in the first couple of years, would be appropriate.” 

Well Kevin, let me tell you that will the cost of living rising across Australia, there are lots of tourists who will opt for destinations where they are not being price gouged.

Why Oman Air will soon be on the radar of frequent flyers

Most frequent flyers know about Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways - three Middle Eastern Airlines with global reputations. 

Now Oman Air is to become the newest member of the Oneworld alliance, with Oneworld announcing that the airline has been elected as a new member at its Annual General Meeting this week. 

The process  is expected to be completed by 2024.

This means Qantas frequent flyers will have the chance to sample the offerings of the Muscat-based carrier  - who I will test drive next month. 

The announcement was made at IATA's Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit (WATS) in Doha. 

Oman Air CEO Eng Abdulaziz Al Raisi said: “Oman Air's admittance into Oneworld represents a defining moment in our journey to provide passengers with greater travel options through our developing partnerships and alliances. 

"We're delighted to be joining the world's foremost airline alliance at a time when demand for travel is on the rise. We look forward to welcoming Oneworld members onboard Oman Air to experience the height of Omani hospitality and all that the Sultanate of Oman has to offer in terms of history, culture and natural beauty.”

When Oman Air becomes a full oneworld member, Qantas Frequent Flyer members will be able to earn and redeem points, earn status credits and receive reciprocal status benefits with Oman Air. 

Oman Air operates to destinations in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe using a fleet of Boeing 787s, Airbus A330s and Boeing 737s. 

Other recent additions to the Oneworld alliance include Royal Air Maric and Alaska Airlines. 

The subtle art of matching a five-course meal with Prosecco DOCG wines

Pairing a five-course meal with just sparkling wines is a serious challenge. 

It is a challenge that the outstanding Prosecco DOCG producer La Tordera not only accepted, but  triumphed over with some stellar 2021 releases.

La Tordera, hosting a group of Australian media and industry folk, combined with the Casa Caldart Restaurant to put together a stunning set of wine and food combinations. 

And to top things off we were joined by family patriarch Pietro di Vettoretti for the end of our meal with the fourth-generation family winemakers, who adopt an organic and sustainable approach. 

So we enjoyed creamed cod in crunchy black cannoli on escarele cream with capers and raisins paired with Otreval Valdobbiadene DOCG Rive de Guia Extra Brut. 

Then came tuna carpaccio with mango, dehydrated strawberries, wasabi mayonnaise and pumpkin seed crackers with Serrai Valdobbiadene DOCG Extra Dry (so not dry at all). 

The star of the show: risotto with Valdobbiadene DOCG and lime-scented prawn tartare with Brunei Valdobbiadene DOCG Brut. 

Next up, a stunning swordfish tataki in a sesame crust with courgette flowers stuffed with orange-scented ricotta paired with Tittoni Valdobbiadene DOCG Rive di Vidor Dry. 

Finally, almond shortcrust  pastry cake with apricots alongside the benchmark Superiore de Cartizze Valdobbiadene Dry. 

See for more details on the wines.  

And finish with one of these: 

      Sorry that's all folks. I need a good lie down. 

Thursday, 23 June 2022

New life for an old Melbourne watering hole

One of Melbourne’s most famous watering holes is getting a new name and a new look.

Brick Lane Brewing has acquired the lease for the old Mercat Cross Hotel in the Queen Victoria Market precinct, redeveloping the old pub into an immersive beer experience, including a restaurant, bar and educational space.

The space is expected to be completely open in March 2023, with some pop-up activity over the next few months. 

Brick Lane founder and CEO Paul Bowker says: “The redevelopment of the iconic Mercat Cross Hotel site is one of the most important steps in the renewal of the Market Precinct and it’s an incredible honour that Queen Victoria Market has entrusted us with bringing this to life.

“We’re thrilled to be investing in our ongoing relationship with Queen Victoria Market.

“Since inception, Brick Lane has had community and inclusivity at its core and there is no better example of the market which has focussed on bringing Melburnians together for over 140 years. We are committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive space for all Melburnians, visitors, and the market community.

"This will be the flagship venue for Brick Lane and firmly cement our roots in the hustle and bustle of the Melbourne laneways and community which was the inspiration for the brewery since day one.”

The venue will include a ground-floor bar featuring a range of diverse beer styles, an upstairs restaurant driven by local market produce with an emphasis on sustainability, casual terrace dining, and function areas with live music areas on the upper level.

The food menu will highlight seasonal Victorian produce, while the drinks list will feature Victorian wine and spirit producers as well as Brick Lane’s portfolio of beers including their Sidewinder No Alcohol and Sunsetter Ginger Beer ranges.

“The site provides a unique opportunity to truly showcase to Melbourne and the world the special role that beer can play in creating community and bringing people together,” says Bowker.

"We see this as a real opportunity to bring the brewery and beer more broadly to life by creating an engaging and educational hospitality experience, where everyone is welcome. The opportunity to do this in the market precinct where our first kegs were poured four years ago, makes it even more special.”


A serious heli adventure in Tasmania

So you are visiting Tasmania. You are feeling energetic and are cashed up.

Life’s An Adventure, the company that offers a range of multi-day walking experiences across the island state, has just announced an addition to its Walk Three Capes three-day itinerary - the opportunity to heli hike on Tasman Island.

Guests can select from three experiences as part of their Tasman Peninsula pack-free adventure: a boat cruise with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, a 20-minute scenic flight over Cape Pillar and Tasman Island, and now the chance to land and walk on Tasman Island.

“We are thrilled to partner with Rotor-Lift Aviation to offer this once in a lifetime experience as part of our Three Capes adventure,” says Mark Norek, CEO of Life’s An Adventure.

“It is an extraordinary opportunity to walk on an island few have ever had the opportunity to see up close.”

The Tasman Island helicopter landing is available to four guests on each tour.

It includes a flight over the dramatic coastline with its dolerite capes, before landing on Tasman Island for a guided tour led by a Rotor Lift pilot. Tasman Island is home to sea birds and seals as well as offering views of dolphin pods and migrating whales.

The island is part of Tasman National Park and Rotor Life has exclusive permission (you have to ask how and why) to touch down on the outpost.

Guests who land on the island then enjoy a direct scenic flight back to Hobart by helicopter, skipping the two-hour bus return. This is followed by transfers to their desired hotel.

For more details see

Image: Richard Bennett

Tamar Valley wine standout sold

Tamar Valley winery Moores Hill has been sold, but will continue to operate.

Owners Julian Allport and Fiona Weller and their business partners confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry when they announced the change of ownership, saying: "It's been an intense but satisfying 14 years and we're planning a bit of a break."

Young winemaker James Oliver, most recently of Yering Station in the Yarra Valley, and his partner Constance will take up residence at the start of July. 

Allport and Weller told customers: "Be assured that Moores Hill will be in safe hands. Delicious wines, a friendly cellar door and our commitment to sustainability will continue.

"We’re very grateful to the customers, industry colleagues, suppliers, venues and staff who have supported us on our journey over the past 14 years. We’ve learnt so much, made many firm friends and enjoyed rewarding experiences.

"We look forward to assisting James and Constance as they settle in over the next few months. We plan to stay in the Launceston area, spending time with our family while we consider our next adventure."

Hong Kong icon hits rock bottom

Hong Kong’s famous Jumbo floating restaurant is no more.

The restaurant - shuttered through the Covid pandemic - sank in the South China Sea while being towed to a new location.

The Jumbo had been a famous landmark at Aberdeen Harbour in Hong Kong since 1971. Noted past guests include the Queen, President Jimmy Carter, Tom Cruise and Richard Branson.

It mysteriously sank near the Paracel Islands due to "adverse conditions" owner Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises said.

The massive three-storey vessel had an exterior styled after a Chinese imperial palace.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Look out for a Martini glass neon sign

Backroom, tucked away from Melbourne’s Toorak Road, will launch on July 1, offering a space for a post-dinner tipple, late-night snack, or cocktail. 

Adjoining Latin-influenced Lona Misa restaurant, the venue will be led by Ovolo Hotel’s group creative culinary director Ian Curley; group creative drinks director Andrea Gualdi (ex Maybe Sammy); Lona Misa’s executive chef Isa Raku and bar manager Jordan Tredennick.

With entry via a discrete concrete door on Toorak Road, identified only by a neon Martini glass sign, Backroom will be a 45-seat underground venue. 

Backroom will open every Friday and Saturday evening - and I must say it sounds a little pretentious. 

Andrea Gualdi says: “We’re lucky enough to work with leading innovative minds in the beverage industry, and so with the launch of Backroom we wanted to flip the concept of a bar on its head, providing a platform for these brands to shine. 

"The product comes first and sets our team the exciting creative challenge of reinventing our food and beverage menus with each new collaboration, drawing inspiration from what these brands are all about - their unique flavour profiles, heritage and ethos. We couldn’t think of a better way to kick things off than with an all-Australian line-up from Feels Botanical, Regal Rogue and Capi.”

This, apparently will not be just about drinks but be "a sensorial journey through flavour, colour, texture and sound". So there. 

Highlights from the cocktail menu will include a Regal Rogue Wild Rose Ricky (Regal Rogue Wild Rose, Feels Vivify, Capi Soda), a Feels Botanical Vivifying Martini (Feels Vivify, Regal Rogue Lively White, Orange Bitters), a Red Ricky highball (Regal Rogue Bold Red, Feels Vivify, Topped with Capi Grapefruit and Rosemary Soda Water) and Regal Revel Negroni (Feels Revel, Campari, Regal Rogue Bold Red, Orange Bitters).

As part of Ovolo Hotel Group’s Plant’d initiative, Backroom will showcase an entirely vegetarian menu aligned to the brand’s ongoing pledge to ethical eating, conscious cuisine and cutting-edge veg. 

How very, very hip. 

Backroom will be located at 234 Toorak Rd, South Yarra. Look out for that Martini glass sign. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Dining differently in Vancouver

Vancouver is probably my favourite city in Canada - a beautiful and lively waterfront city with plenty of gourmet options.

I will be missing out on a Vancouver stopover during my upcoming trip to Canada, but the folks at Destination Vancouver sent me a list on some of the diverse dining attractions I will be missing out on.

As a city with a diverse population, Vancouver’s dining scene ranges from classic West Coast cuisine, and seafood joints around the seawall, to exotic ethnic neighbourhoods and famous bakeries.

If you are lucky enough to be visiting here are a few local eateries with a difference that the locals recommend.

H Tasting Lounge – This waterfront restaurant at the Westin Bayshore (above) offers dishes that can be enjoyed in one of their themed outdoor domes. Afternoon teas featuring sweet and savoury bites served on a golden Ferris wheel are another attraction.

Glowbal – This luxurious restaurant offers plenty of photo opportunities while dining on West Coast fare. Installations include an oversized mirror with dramatic floral backdrops, lush greenery and florals, vibrant patterned fabrics and birdcage booths surrounded by foliage and ambient lights.

Dark Table – Something very different. Non-sighted servers guide the sighted, offering a culinary experience into the unknown.

Sushi Aboard – This Japanese restaurant makes fresh sushi delivered by a conveyer train connecting your table to the kitchen.

Hello Nori – Pull up a chair in this 24-seater architectural space and enjoy a fresh hand rolled nori offering prepared right in front of you.

Octopus Garden – Although unassuming from the outside, this restaurant transports you to a small shop in Japan with many references to the culture and octopi. Feast on the omakase – a set meal selected and made by the chef.

Collective Goods – Visit this part-grocery, part-wine shop and part-bistro establishment to get your Parisian fix in store and to take home.

And should you wish to splash out, the 2022 list of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants was announced in late May and a Vancouver restaurant took the coveted No. 1 spot for the very first time. Opened in 2019 on the cusp of the pandemic, Published on Main is a fine dining eatery with an elaborate 11-course tasting menu.

A town of art and wine

For the first two nights of our trip to the Prosecco DOCG wine country we are staying in the lovely town of Conegliano in the Veneto region of Italy. 

It bills itself as “a town of art and wine”.

We are around 30 kilometres north by rail from the lovely town of Treviso, the regional capital

The population of the city is of 35,000 people. The remains of a 10th-century castle are situated on a hill that dominates the town. 

I took a quick walk around town this afternoon and took some photos, as well as of the Hotel Canon d’Oro - our first lodgings. 

I hope you like the images. More info and pics to follow. 

Monday, 20 June 2022

Wine in a flat bottle anyone?

Serving wine from a flat plastic bottle might sound like heresy for wine lovers but the Coles group are betting on the packaging being a success. 

A wine bottle made entirely from Australian-sourced 100% recycled PET plastic is helping to reshape the carbon footprint of wine by targeting the industry’s environmental hotspot, the glass bottle.

In a collaboration between sustainable packaging pioneers Packamama and winemakers Accolade Wines and Taylors Wines with eco-bottles of Banrock Station wines and Taylors’ One Small Step range on sale exclusively through select Liquorland and First Choice Liquor Market stores nationally from this month.

The launch marks the Australian market debut of the eco-bottles.

With a nod to tradition, Packamama’s innovative eco-bottle shares the classic high-shouldered silhouette of a traditional ‘Bordeaux’ wine bottle. But when turned to the side, it reveals a slimmer, flatter profile that allows twice as many bottles to fit in a standard wine case - which means it’s much more efficient to transport. 

Using recycled PET also saves weight and with the bottles being 83% lighter, emissions in transport are reduced as well as the energy in production and recycling to further tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

The freight-friendly bottle has the potential to significantly reduce the road transport burden and emissions for wine in Australia.

Were both Accolade Wines and Taylors Wines to switch entirely to eco-bottles, it would cut an impressive 250,000 km of road freight a year or the equivalent of a semi-trailer travelling from Melbourne to Broome 50 times.

And when customers are finished with their Banrock Station and One Small Step Wines, the empty bottle is fully recyclable.

While the shape of the eco-bottle is a departure from the traditional round wine bottle, Packamama’s chief executive and founder Santiago Navarro is confident the time is right for Australian winemakers to  challenge a couple of centuries of tradition.

“Australia is globally recognised as a leader in wine packaging thanks to break-through innovations, including bag-in-box casks and screw-top caps for wines, and we are highly motivated to launch our climate-friendly bottle at Coles with Accolade Wines and Taylors Wines,” Navarro said.

“Coles’ ambition to be Australia’s most sustainable retailer is powerfully aligned with our ambition to deliver the world’s most scalable, sustainable bottle.”

Mia Lloyd, Coles Liquor Acting General Manager Customer, Trade Planning & Insights, said it was exciting to be at the leading edge of packaging innovation with the eco-bottle.

“We know our customers want us to do more in relation to sustainability and this exclusive collaboration with Liquorland, First Choice Liquor Market, Packamama, Taylors Wines and Accolade Wines significantly reduces the carbon footprint of wine for customers every day. The lightweight and flatter eco-bottle also gives our customers a convenient new option when they’re packing for that camping or caravan holiday,”, Lloyd said.

Accolade Wines, who launched the eco-flat bottle two years ago in Europe, says it is on a mission to improve the sustainability of the wine industry and has ambitious targets to advance circular economy packaging across its entire portfolio.

“In the last 18 months alone, we have launched a variety of sustainable and innovative packaging solutions including wine in cans, wine on tap, bagnums, as well as a world-first circular, sustainable packaging solution for on-premise partners,” said Sandy Mayo, Accolade Wines Global Chief Marketing Officer.

“We chose Banrock Station to launch the eco bottle in Australia, because the environmental credentials fit perfectly with the brand’s 25-year sustainability heritage and its commitment to forging a more sustainable future for the planet.” 

Taylors’ third-generation managing director,  Mitchell Taylor said the eco-bottle delivered a more sustainable bottle for consumers and provided another way for wineries to improve their carbon footprint.

“We know that Australian wine drinkers are very open to innovation when it provides real benefits, like this sustainable eco-bottle does,” Taylor said.

Banrock Station eco-bottle Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir, and Taylors One Small Step Eco-bottle Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are all $16.


The new normal when flying internationally

When you have an international connection to make the last thing you want is for your first flight to be delayed. 

With Qantas right now quite a few flights are delayed - or cancelled. 

With two flights from Hobart to Sydney on Sunday afternoon one was, of course, cancelled. 

The other flight was delayed. 

And there was no catering. ‘Sorry about that.’

And the flight was so full that they were shoving frequent flyers into middle seats. No apology about that. 

And in their rush to get everyone on board they forgot about priority boarding. 

Then there was delay in getting the plane refuelled.

Stress all round.  

We were promised vouchers when we landed to compensate for the lack of catering. 

There were none. Of course. 

Further stress when we were then ordered to spend 40 minutes circling above Sydney because of “air traffic congestion”. 

On the ground I had less than an hour to make it from the domestic airport to the international terminal and go through immigration and security. 

But the Qantas shuttle bus has a schedule. And that wasn’t going to change just because customers had connections to catch. 

Fortunately, immigration and security was a breeze. No time to change dollars to Euros but I made it. 

No thanks to Qantas. My blood pressure levels were sky high when I boarded my Emirates flight. 

The lesson. Give yourself at least six hours between your domestic flight arriving and your international flight departing. Three hours is no longer enough. 

But its 2022 and it’s great to be flying again. Isn’t it? 

Taste your way around the globe in Sydney

Sydney is among the most cosmopolitan cities on the planet and gourmets can taste their way around the globe without leaving the city.

Destination NSW has just unveiled a range of newly opened eating out options.

Dim sum in Summer Hill

Cantonese favourite Lotus has opened up a new sister venue in Summer Hill, the group's first foray in Sydney's inner west. Lotus Dumpling Bar serves many of the group's favourite menu items, including Peking duck pancakes and juicy pork xiao long bao, as well as a variety of vegan and vegetarian offerings.

Tequila-spiked Mexican dining

Recently reopened Bar Patrón brings the fiesta vibes of Mexico to Circular Quay, with a Mexican menu inspired by executive chef Manuel Diaz's Oaxacan background and a Patrón tequila-infused menu. The signature grilled lobster is drizzled with a creamy sauce made with Patrón Silver and Oaxacan cheese.

Catalonian cuisine

New Spanish restaurant Parlar brings the flavours of Catalonian cuisine to Potts Point. There's a plush fit out and a menu that stars photogenic tapas snacks and a range of Iberian-influenced mains.

Drink in the Basque

The new dining space from acclaimed Firedoor chef Lennox Hastie is an ode to the  wines of Spain's Basque country. Gildas, located right around the corner in Surry Hills, will also serve dishes cooked on  flames, with local produce at the forefront of the menu.

Zumbo comes to the QT

Dessert king Adriano Zumbo has created a high tea like no other at CBD hotel QT Sydney. The menu will feature savoury creations (like Champagne lobster rolls) as well as his signature Zumbarons and  passionfruit tart.

Turkish goes vego

Inspired by the vegetable-driven meze bars of the Aegean coast, celebrated Sydney Turkish chef Somer Sivrioğlu (Efendy and Anason) has opened a plant-predominant venue in the CBD, Maydanoz. From charred cauliflower to haloumi honey kebabs and cavolo nero leek pie, the meat-free menu offers plenty of choices.

For more dining out ideas in Australia's biggest city see

Photo by Stu Hammill on 


Sunday, 19 June 2022

My new buddies are a travel treat

When I'm on the road I want to travel as light as possible.

No big headphones, no annoying charging cables.

But I also want high-quality sound, which is why I was delighted when the team behind PaMu Slide 2, the affordable ANC (that means active noise cancellation, BTW) Bluetooth in-ears buds, offered to send me their new product to test drive.

Which I did - listening to styles of music ranging from Whitesnake to Jason Isbell.

The PaMu Slide 2 buds are my new best travelling buddy.

The previous generation of PaMu was the most successful crowdfunding audio project on Indiegogo.
PaMu Slide 2 is even better - and very affordable.

The sound is clear and precise and the noise cancellation drowns out even those droning airline announcements.

The PaMu app enables users to alter the key settings and change different EQ modes for various sound experiences. You can also check in the app for how much battery power is left for each earbud.

PaMu Slide 2 offers 6.5 hours of listening per single charge and up to 26 hours of battery life with the wireless charging case using a slide cover design that looks like a retro camera.

It's pretty cool.

You can learn more tech info about the brand new PaMu Slide 2 here:

There is an ergonomic in-ear design feature to ensure the buds won’t be loose or fall out, and I particularly like the wireless charging. A wireless charger for phones also works on the earbuds charging case.

Also very handy is the light at the bottom of the charging case to display the battery power.

With big brand wireless earbuds costing over $300, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

My test pair is not getting returned.

See more PaMu products here:

Tesla gets angry with Chinese brewer

Electric car manufacturer Tesla is involved in a spat with a Chinese brewery that is selling Tesla beer and Tesla soda.

The US car maker has never produced drinks - but the Chinese company has. The two businesses are now set to go to court, Chinese website vinojoy reports.

A range of beer and soda waters that bear a striking resemblance to Tesla’s logo and name will be the focus of court action brought by the carmaker against the drinks’ Chinese manufacturer and distributor in Shanghai.

Court documents filed by Tesla (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. say Chinese company Sino Drinks Food Company has infringed on its legal rights by making beer and soda products that use its lawful trademarks.

It named the Chinese company and its subsidiary in Guangdong as well as a design company as defendants in the case.

Tesla Shanghai has demanded $US 742,000) in compensation. The Shanghai High Court will hear the case on June 23.

The series of controversial products are Tesila Beer, which uses Tesla’s transliterated Chinese pinyin name, and Tesla soda.

The drinks’ logo and names both resemble the car maker’s designs (below).

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Brewery paints a pretty picture

Shelter Brewing Co in Western Australia has commissioned renowned local artist Ian Daniell to paint the biggest indoor mural in the south west region.
Daniell, known for painting life-sized ocean life, is currently working on a 200-square-metre mural of a breaching humpback whale on the walls of Shelter’s second floor lab and office.

The mural, Breach, will be completed during the ninth annual Margaret River Region Open Studios, to be held from September 10-25.

Daniell said that he was thrilled to collaborate with Shelter and pay homage to the humpback whale.

“Fun fact - the humpback whale has the largest appendage - as in arms and legs, and in their case, flippers - in the animal kingdom, so it’s great to have a wall big enough to paint a life-sized version,” said British-born Daniell.

“With humpback whales being protected, we’re seeing more of them during migrations, you could say the humpback is making a comeback, and this mural is a colourful celebration of that.

“The backflip breach position of the humpback is true to what you’d see if you’re out on a boat or whale watching from shore.”

Shelter is a sponsor of Margaret River Region Open Studios, the largest event of its kind in the southern hemisphere. It enables everyone to access art as artists open their home studios inviting art lovers in to chat about art, see their work, and/or see them at work.

“Our partnership with Margaret River Region Open Studios is Shelter’s biggest collaboration to date in terms of investment,” said Paul Maley, general manager of Shelter.

“We’ve increased the space of the office and brew lab wall to accommodate Ian’s mural and we love what he’s doing - it’ll be a talking point, as all good art is, and add colour to an otherwise white wall.”

Get an early peek at the mural at Shelter Brewing Co, on the Busselton Foreshore.

Shelter brews six beers: Summer Sour, India Pale Ale, Pale Ale, Extra Pale Ale, Lager, Red Ale and a cider, along with seasonal brews (current season beer is the Bonfire Stout).

Image: LewisFrench

Thousands of flights cancelled at Gatwick Airport

Are you planning to fly in or out of London's Gatwick Airport this northern summer?

Good luck.

The airport announced this week that it is axing over 4,000 scheduled flights between now and September.

Gatwick will cap the number of flights to 825 per day in July and 850 in August.

About 900 daily flights normally operate during the summer peak.

The aim is a ‘more reliable and better standard of service,’ airport officials say. no doubt with tongue firmly in cheek.

The cuts will allegedly allow airlines to better manage expectations and make for a smoother operation, Travel Mole reports.

The cutbacks will impact as many as 800,000 holidaymakers.

“We have now successfully recruited 400 new colleagues to help us process passengers quickly through security this summer,” Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said.

“We are also working closely with our airlines to avoid disruption to passengers this summer, and while more newly recruited staff will start work in coming weeks, we know it will be a busy summer.

“We are also working closely with our airlines to avoid disruption to passengers this summer.”

All good then.

On the trail of some of Australia's finest oysters


The Sapphire Coast is home to some of the best oysters you can find on the New South Wales coast - and is the home of the new Sapphire Coast Oyster Trail

“The Sapphire Coast Oyster Trail is the first of its kind in Australia, promoting the region’s oyster experiences to the visitor market under the Oyster Trail brand,” said Anthony Osborne, Sapphire Coast Destination Marketing managing director.

“The Trail is a collection of amazing oyster experiences on offer in the region, including farm gates, tours, tasting experiences and restaurants. It celebrates the quality of the region’s world-renowned oysters, which undoubtedly come from some of the cleanest waters in Australia.” 

The Oyster Trail was officially launched at a special event held at the Merimbula Visitor Information Centre earlier this week. 

Visitors to the Sapphire Coast can create their own bespoke Oyster Trail itinerary from the recently designed Sapphire Coast website, which showcases tourism-ready oyster experiences on offer in the Bega Valley Shire.

The Sapphire Coast is home to five key oyster-producing estuaries, all of which imbue a special flavour to the oysters known as ‘merroir’ (I'd never heard that word before). 

“Not all visitors have to be a fan of eating oysters, but we know oysters are such great evidence of our untouched, pristine coastal landscape that everyone can enjoy,” Osborne continued.

Sapphire Coast Wilderness Oysters chair Greg Carton said the oyster industry and local tourism organisations have worked closely together over the past two years to lift the profile of the Sapphire Coast oyster brand.

“Our Sydney rock oysters are fed by the cleanest environment in New South Wales, and they have an exceptional reputation in the culinary world," he said. "Our oysters are served at the best restaurants in the nation’s capital cities, and there is a big opportunity to tap into the growing tourism appetite for culinary experiences.” 

For more information on the Sapphire Coast Oyster Trail visit