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Friday 30 September 2022

South Australians to crash New Zealand wine party

Winetopia has always been a celebration of New Zealand wines - but this year South Australia is crashing the party.

South Australian winemakers will be the first overseas producers to present at the popular Auckland event.

This time around the Kiwis can enjoy a new dedicated area, Tasting South Australia, offering Barossa shiraz and Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon, among others, and there will also be a Kangaroo Slider Bar, serving burgers from Macro Group featuring kangaroo and wild game meat.

South Australian wineries taking part include: Thorn Clarke Wines, Rymill, Unico Zelo, Metala, Dandelion Vineyards, Sisters Run, Yalumba, Geoff Hardy, Portia Valley, Organic Hill and Levrier Wines by Jo Irvine

Wine journalist and educator Tony Love will be presenting at the event and says: “South Australia’s wine makers are among the most innovative in the world, creating world-class styles from its famed traditional varieties like shiraz, cabernet, and grenache, and now forging a new generation of wines from a wide range of regionally adaptive and climate-suitable Mediterranean and Iberian varieties.”

Love will host a series of masterclasses.

Other wine gurus in attendance will include Master of Wine Bob Campbell and wine writer Joelle Thomson, while wine and film buffs will also relish in the opportunity to meet American novelist and filmmaker Rex Pickett, best known for his novel Sideways, which was adapted into a 2004 box office hit of the same name.

He is currently in New Zealand, writing a follow up to Sideways.

In addition to the food and wine exhibited within the Tasting South Australia area, visitors will have the opportunity to ‘tour’ each region of New Zealand to try more than 300 wines from 60 of New Zealand’s most celebrated wineries, spanning nine wine regions and 20+ varietals.

Dine Social will be showcasing five pop-up eateries, featuring a range of culinary styles.

Rob Eliott of Lemongrass Productions, which is hosting the event, said: “South Australia is renowned for its rich history of winemaking and for producing spectacular, signature reds which are very different from the wines we make so well here in New Zealand.

"Given that many of New Zealand’s pioneering winemakers learnt their craft at the Roseworthy campus at the University of Adelaide, there is a natural friendship between Australian and New Zealand wine producers."

Winetopia will be taking place at Shed 10 Auckland over three event sessions: Friday, October 28: 5pm-8:30pm and Saturday, October 29: noon-3:30pm and 4:30pm-8pm.

Early Bird tickets start at $37 + $2 booking fee available until October 7 unless sold out prior. Premium Tickets are $87 + $2 booking fee for those wanting an elevated experience.

To find out more, and to book, visit

Thursday 29 September 2022

Why you need to see this famous artwork now

One of Britain's most iconic works of art is under potential threat of being removed from public view.

LS Lowry's Going To The Match is currently on display at the superb The Lowry, a theatre and gallery complex at Salford Quays in Manchester - a venue that is well worth a visit for anyone in town.

It is on loan from The Players Foundation (PF), the Professional Footballers' Association charity, which intends to auction the painting next month to raise money for its charitable works.

Salford's mayor has called on the "footballing community" to fund the purchase of the painting - valued at £8 million ($13.3 million AUD) so it can remain on public display, The Fiver online newsletter reported.

It has been loaning the 1953 work to the arts centre.

Salford Mayor Paul Dennett said "finding £8m-plus wouldn't be too difficult" for the area's footballers.

The PF said the financial crisis meant it had to sell "in the interests of our beneficiaries" as it "no longer has any income guaranteed, so we have had to completely reposition".

The work shows fans on their way to Bolton's former ground Burnden Park (a cold, bleak place, trust me).

"Wouldn't it be truly tragic if this iconic LS Lowry painting... was sold to a private collector and ceased to be free to access by people here in the City of Salford as it has been for the past 22 years?" Dunnett said.

"I'd like to make a personal plea for the footballing community here in Greater Manchester to look at retaining this painting for the people of Greater Manchester.

"There's a lot of money in that community, so finding £8m-plus wouldn't be too difficult."

Lowry, who died in 1976, spent much of his life in Salford and his work is strongly associated with the city.

The work will be auctioned at Christie's in London on October 19.

Calling wine lovers in Tasmania

Tasmania's Spring in the Vines festival is coming back for a second year on the weekend of November 4-6. 

Close to 40 vineyards across key wine regions in southern Tasmania including the Coal River Valley,  Derwent Valley, Huon Valley and the south-east will be involved. 

the event sees grape growers and winemakers in Southern Tasmania are coming together to open their doors to the public for a behind-the-scenes look. 

The festival is about celebrating spring, a new vintage, a new wine cycle of life and is designed to showcase Tasmania’s growing global reputation for premium cool-climate wines. 

To help celebrate, there will be food, live music, art and other entertainment. It is also an opportunity for wine lovers to meet wine producers who don’t usually open their doors on a regular basis. 

Whether you've been meaning to taste wines from small producers like Cathedral Rock, Trial Bay, Off the Rails, Future Perfect or Sonnen Wines, or to visit more established wineries like Mewstone (above) Bangor, Kate Hill, Pooley and Derwent Estate, this is your chance. 

The event is organised by Wine South Tasmania. Wine South and for info on participating vineyards and their programs, visit

Wednesday 28 September 2022

Canada lifts all Covid restrictions

Canada has confirmed it is removing all remaining Covid-19 entry restrictions from this weekend.

Canada is scrapping all testing and quarantine, officials announced.

So mandatory use of the ArriveCAN app will no longer be necessary, said Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos.

And masks on planes and trains will no longer be mandatory, said Omar Alghabra, the Minister of Transport.

But Alghabra had a bob each way, saying officials still strongly encourage travellers to wear them.

Both ministers praised the vaccination rate as a main reason the restrictions could be rolled back.

Airlines will no longer need to review the vaccination status of foreign nationals.

So as you were.

But just a reminder not to pack any prescription medicine in your baggage.

If Air Canada - which suffered mightily during Covid - loses your bag you'll find Australian prescriptions are not accepted in Canada, and it is as hard get a doctor's appointment there as it is in Australia.

An expensive online consultation may be your only option.

Image: Toronto, Destination Canada

So you really want to push out the boat with a weekend of conspicuous luxury?

So money is no object and you want a weekend treat like no other? 

Australia is once again set to host Hotel Clicquot, a venue "to live the Veuve Clicquot Champagne lifestyle" to the full. 

The luxurious pop-up will take place in Noosa, Queensland, for two-night stays from November 13. 

From Clicquot gastronomy through to private picnics on the beach, from Champagne poolside to days cruising the coastline, a break at Hotel Clicquot sounds positively sybaritic. 

Expect to be picked up in a chauffeured Tesla, enjoy a poolside breakfast prepared by the in-hotel private chef, and end with drinks at Bar Clicquot, with a private bartender serving complimentary Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, Rosé and Rich. 

The on-demand menu includes signature Clicquot experiences such as the Maison’s 250th anniversary burger, prepared with locally caught Moreton Bay bugs paired with the flagship of the house, Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label.

On the first evening of their stay, guests will enjoy a chef’s table interactive dining experience featuring sustainable, locally sourced seafood. On the second evening, the pinnacle culinary experience of a stay at Hotel Clicquot unfolds; a ‘Garden Gastronomy’ degustation by chef David Moyle, matched with La Grande Dame Champagnes. 

This is the second year that Moyle, who built his reputation at Franklin in Hobart and now has three restaurants in Byron Bay, has collaborated with Hotel Clicquot.

The dinner takes place around the Hotel Clicquot fire pit. 

With a retro-chic vibe, Hotel Clicquot has an infinity pool with sweeping ocean views as well as five private guest suites, a cinema, a day spa, bar and direct access to Sunshine Beach and Noosa National Park. 

The ultra-luxury residence hosting Hotel Clicquot in Noosa is the passion project of international hemp industrialist Evgeny Skigin. 

Gracing the walls of Hotel Clicquot are artworks by leading indigenous Australian artists Kathleen Petyarre, Eileen Napaltjarra and Gloria Petyarre, alongside works from Maison Veuve Clicquot.

Guests keen to explore the region can opt for a private river cruise on a luxury 1940s handcrafted, wooden runabout and enjoy a picnic lunch with Veuve Clicquot Rosé on the Noosa riverbank. 

For those seeking a more relaxed schedule, there are sessions at the Clicquot Spa or Clicquot-inspired movies at the hotel’s in-house cinema, complete with Clicquot popcorn. 

Hotel Clicquot offers a 24-hour ‘Click for Clicquot’ concierge service and a sommelier to guide guests’ Champagne journeys. 

Packages start from $7,000 per couple/room, inclusive of transfers, meals and activities. Hotel Clicquot is a private hotel and access is only available to guests, who must be over 18 years of age.

All I need now is a nice little Lotto win!  


 Images: James Vodicka 

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival spreads its wings

The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival has expanded its offering with a 10-day regional program offering eating and drinking right across the state of Victoria.

The festival kicks off with The Village Feast, a two-day (November 19-20) festival in the Gippsland village of Thorpdale that will feature an opening night collaboration dinner taking the team from wine-bar favourite Embla to winery restaurant Hogget; a campfire degustation from Farmer’s Daughters chef Alejandro Saravia, plus his deli, serving an all Gippsland deli menu; pop-up food outlets from chefs including interstate talent such as Danielle Alvarez and Analiese Gregory.

There will also be a celebration of Gippsland milk with That’s Amore and Gippsland Jersey; cakes by Mali Bakes; pub favourites at Art Deco watering hole The Travellers Rest Hotel; and entertainment including Mia Wray, Grace Cummings and Dorsal Fins on the main stage curated by Always Live, a new state-wide celebration of contemporary live music supported by Visit Victoria.

Early bird tickets are $32 for adults with free entry for children aged 12 and under.

“We’re thrilled to be back in regional Victoria as we continue to celebrate 30 years of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival,” says Anthea Loucas Bosha, CEO of Food + Drink Victoria, the not-for-profit parent company behind Melbourne Food & Wine Festival.

“This program highlights the extraordinary food and drink experiences that make Victoria the best place in the world to eat and drink [a huge, contentious and very parochial statement] from our two-day takeover of Thorpdale for the Village Feast, a series of one-off dining events in Ballarat, and taking our popular Crawl and Bite tours to Victoria’s High Country.”

Other events that are part of Melbourne Food & Wine Festival’s dedicated regional program include:

· Victoria’s High Country Crawl and Bite, taking intimate groups of food lovers between a handful of great venues at a time, stopping for a bite, drink or taste at each in villages including Beechworth, Bright and Rutherglen.

· Ballarat Unlocked, with the region’s best chefs at some of the city's historic buildings in a Festival dining series.

· Signature Escapes, a series of itineraries put together in concert with producers, restaurateurs and hoteliers to showcase the best of the regions.

Tickets go on sale from Friday at

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Big names pair to create new Melbourne watering hole

Two big names in the hospitality industry are combining to launch a new eatery and drinkery in the Melbourne CBD.

Amphlett House, described as "an elevated taphouse" will be in Melbourne's CBD and will be spearheaded by bar star Andrea Gualdi and chef Ian Curley.

The new venue will open in late October and is located on the corner of Little Bourke Street and Amphlett Lane, close to Longrain, Hochi Mama, Grossi Grill and Grossi Florentino.

The 120-seat venue is being promoted as offering "exceptional drinks and elevated pub classics".

Ovolo creative beverage director Gualdi has curated a drinks menu that features classics and a variety of drinks on tap including craft beers, wines and a selection of handcrafted cocktails using Australian ingredients. 

“My background has been completely focused on cocktail bars, so I am thrilled with this unique opportunity," Gualdi said.

"Our aim is to bring the same level of quality you'd find in Australia's best bars to the drinks offering at Amphlett House.

"We are lucky to have access to some incredibly progressive Australian and international producers, both in the alcoholic and non-alcoholic categories, and we look forward to showcasing quality local produce in a welcoming setting.”

Ovolo culinary director with have support from head chef Ben Green (recently executive chef at multi-site brew bar Gather and Gather in London).

Curley said: “The food concept for Amphlett House will be elevated pub dining, with a classic menu highlighting quality Victorian produce.

"I've loved this part of Melbourne for many years and am looking forward to serving up humble fare with big flavours in the Paris end of town.

"There is nothing pretentious happening here -we welcome you to share a meal with family and friends or grab a quick bite with your better half.”

The taphouse is the latest addition to boutique designer hotel collection Ovolo's portfolio of food and drink offerings.

Amphlett House will sit within designer hotel Laneways By Ovolo, with the launch coinciding with the hotel being reimagined and renamed.


Australia’s best wine list will not be found in Melbourne or Sydney

Brisbane’s Cru Bar + Cellar has been crowned as having Australia’s Wine List of the Year at the 29th edition of the major industry ceremony.

Notable winners from the night also included: 
Best Wines List TAS: Fico
Best Wine List NSW: Bennelong
Best Wine List VIC: Cutler & Co.
Best City Restaurant Wine List: Bennelong
The Tony Hitchin Award (Best New List): Brunello
Australia’s Best Wine Bar List: Cru Bar + Cellar

These are serious awards and I was very disappointed that I had to withdraw from the judging panel when my duties coincided with a busy trip to Europe.

“We’ve seen the resilience of the hospitality industry in incredibly difficult times during the pandemic. Although many are still doing it tough, Australia’s Wine List of the Year in 2022 suggests that the industry is hitting back,” said chief of judges Peter Forrestal.

The most popular category entered this year was the Best List of Wines by The Glass, showcasing that more and more venues are allowing diners to experiment, learn and spend on quality wines and expanding the options for food and wine matching throughout the meal. This award went to last year’s Wine List of the Year winner Ten Minutes by Tractor.

Tasmania gets a new gourmet festival

Tasmania has a brand new gourmet festival.

The north-west of the island state will host the inaugural Stanley & Tarkine Forage Festival from November 11-20.

This 10-day festival aims to showcase the region’s world-class fare, providing an opportunity to enjoy a tasting trail, dine on signature dishes and meet local makers.

Visitors can enjoy locally sourced premium beef and seafood direct from the source with the program featuring tastings and communal feasts, live music, cooking demonstrations and markets.

Home to the towns of Smithton and Stanley (below) and some wild and woolly coastline, the region is known for its diverse villages and ports.

Supported by grant funding through Austrade’s Recovery for Regional Tourism program, the Stanley & Tarkine Forage Festival will feature local abalone, shucking oysters direct from the wild, meeting gin and wine makers or generational beef farmers.

The Tassie on a Plate pop-up tasting trail will bring the Circular Head region to life, allowing visitors to follow a route where participating businesses will prepare signature dishes available throughout the event.

Options will range from freshly cracked lobsters to honey cakes; scallop pies to local cheese platters,

Festivalgoers can even learn how to bottle their own kimchi with Korean-born Tasmanian Sue Glynn.

“We love to meet visitors and talk to them about our abs and about the environment here that makes them so good," says says Joel Gilby, managing director Of Three Friends Abalone.

"The water over the back of Greenhills here in Stanley is so clear and clean, and the air … golly - its’ a perfect recipe."

For more information visit Stanley & Tarkine Forage Festival

Monday 26 September 2022

Good news for lovers of Champagne

The news from the 2022 vintage is all good for lovers of Champagne.

The last grapes have been picked, the pressing centres have delivered their final musts and fermentation is under way,

The Champagne harvest that started on August 20 for the earliest-ripening crus is now complete and despite the summer drought, some well-timed rain ultimately produced good conditions for ripening the grapes.

The year 2022 has been described as a “solar” Champagne vintage, yielding substantial volumes, with a quick and easy winegrowing season and "perfectly healthy" grapes.

Winegrowers and Champagne Houses are delighted.

Quantity was variable from sector to sector, but has proved sufficient everywhere to meet the 12,000kg/ha available volume set for the year.

Winegrowers’ president Maxime Toubart said: “Thanks to a bountiful, high-quality harvest and with the exceptional permission of the INAO (governing body for protected designations of origin), winegrowers have been able to rebuild reserves that were substantially depleted by the 2021 winegrowing year.”

Champagne Houses president David Chatillon said the 2022 harvest was most fortunate, given “market demand is strong (up 9% at the end of August compared to the previous year) following on the already remarkable figures for 2021.

"The profession remains optimistic for the future, despite the uncertain economic climate. The fine grapes harvested this year are set to make great wines that will surely satisfy the expectations of consumers.”

Image: Brianna Curtis on

Meet Tasmania's newest sparkling wine label

Tasmania has a brand new range of premium sparkling wines. 

Fogarty Wine Group this week announced the launch of its new Tasmanian sparkling wine label, Thalia, which features an NV, Rosé and Reserve Cuvée. 

The wines are handcrafted using the traditional method and the name originates from the Greek mythology figure Thalia, the goddess of comedy, dance and idyllic poetry. 

The publicity blurb talks the wines up big time, saying: The Thalia NV, Rosé and Reserve Cuvée redefine the finest sparkling wines from Tasmania and reflect the pristine environment and terroir of Australia’s coolest winemaking region."

Chief Winemaker Liam McElhinney’s passion for cool-climate winemaking led him to Tasmania in 2019 where he joined the Fogarty Wine Group at Tasmanian Vintners. 

“I’m really excited to be launching this very special range of sparkling wines," he said. 

"Each of the Thalia wines offer a unique window into just how amazing Tasmania can be for world-class méthode traditionnelle. From the freshness and instant appeal of the NV, to the complex toastiness of the Reserve Cuvée, these wines showcase just how important careful viticulture, meticulous winemaking and patience is when crafting superb sparkling wines."

I have not yet tried the wines, but will report back when I have. 

Sunday 25 September 2022

Airlines take full advantage of misery

It doesn't take much of an excuse for airlines to up the price of tickets.

A football final? A long weekend?

Up they go. Which is, of course, disgraceful.

Now the fares for air tickets out of Russia have skyrocketed as young Russian men flee the possibility of being conscripted to join the Russian army on the Ukraine frontline.

Overseas flights have sold out in record time while remaining seats are on sale for the equivalent of several thousand dollars on some routes.

A mass exodus of adult Russian males comes after leader Vladimir Putin announced the mobilisation of army reservists. Russia’s defence minister said up to 300,000 men could be called up for the absurd continued assault on Ukraine, which has been almost universally condemned.

Social media posts have suggested that airlines have now been forced to stop selling tickets to adult males wanting to leave Russia.

Foot and road traffic at border crossings with Finland and Georgia surged.

Still, the airlines made a nice little profit while they could.

Spring will be a sparkling affair in the Adelaide Hills

Head to the Hills for Australia's newest sparkling wine festival: Sparkling Spring.

There will be three days of bubbly celebrations in the Adelaide Hills region from October 21-23.

The inaugural event aims to celebrate the quality sparkling wines produced in Adelaide Hills with a series of tasting experiences at cellar doors over the featured weekend and beyond.

If you are in the mood you can paint an original artwork at Nepenthe’s Bubbles & Brushes, or smell the roses at Karkoo Nursery for Golding’s Bubbles & Blooms

Or try the DAOSA Time and Tradition tasting at Tappanappa, a Picnic in the Park at Cobbs Hill or dancing the day away at Howard Vineyard's Blush & Blanc.

Masterclasses will include The Lane's Taste the World of Sparkling and Sidewood's Sparkling vs Champagne. Deviation Road's Discovery and Mount Lofty Ranges' Our Lofty Methode will focus on limited releases. 

One of the highlights is expected to be the Friday Long Lunch prepared by celebrity pan handler Andre Ursini at Deviation Road, while other sit-down affairs include Sidewood's Sparkling Brunch

Visitors can enjoy antipasto and pizza at the Italian Stravaganza with Artwine, music and food trucks at Nepenthe's Eats, Beats and Bubbles and finger food at Hesketh’s Sparkling Snack-tacular.

There will also be two city events in Adelaide. 

Croser and Golding will take their joint Effervescence experience to North Adelaide and continue to offer it every day at their cellar doors in Lobethal and Woodside. 

Barrister’s Block, meanwhile, is hosting a sparkling afternoon of High Tea at The Feathers Hotel.

For more details visit  

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, 

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

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


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

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."


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 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 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.”


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

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 per night Thursday to Sunday or $250 per night Friday and Saturday. Dinners are extra and need to be pre-booked.


# The writer was a guest of The Little Seed