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Monday 31 October 2022

Oxford Landing unleashes a healthier wine option

The trickle of low-alcohol wines in the marketplace is fast becoming a torrent. 

South Australian winery Oxford Landing has this week introduced SUNLIGHT by Oxford Landing, which it describes as "a collection of sustainably made wines that deliver on flavour, quality, and are lower in alcohol and calories". 

Inspired by the Riverland vineyards, SUNLIGHT by Oxford Landing pays homage to Australian sun and the River Murray. 

Light in alcohol and light in calories, the new range is billed as being "perfectly suited to a lighter lifestyle".

Oxford Landing winemaker Andrew La Nauze has spent 18 months developing the new range which comprises a chardonnay and shiraz, aiming to ensure that the lower alcohol does not compromise on quality or taste.

“We pride ourselves on generous, flavoursome wines, and if we couldn’t achieve this in the process, then we would not release the wines to market,” La Nauze said.

“Our estate in the Riverland is perfect for growing full flavoured wines, so we have an excellent base wine to start from.” 

The 2021 Chardonnay 2021 has 7% alcohol per volume, while the 2021 Shiraz has 8% ABV. 

Both wines will have an RRP of $15. 

Tourists flood back to Thailand

Tourists are flooding back to Thailand, which has already reached its initial target of attracting seven million foreign tourist arrivals this year.

It recorded 7.35 million foreign tourist arrivals through October 26, the Tourism Authority of Thailand said in a statement.

Most arrivals were from nearby nations. Malaysia was the top source market with 1.25 million arrivals, followed by India with 661,751.

Then came Laos with 538,789, Cambodia with 373,811, and Singapore with 365,593.

The TAT had set a goal of 7-10 million foreign arrivals in 2022.

The finance ministry is now predicting 10.3 million arrivals by the end of the year and 21.5 million in 2023.

A revival of tourism is a key driver of growth in south-east Asia’s second-largest economy.

A Wizz bang future for budget airline?

Many Australians may not have heard of low-cost airline Wizz Air, but it could soon be a familiar flight option. 

Hungarian-based Wizz is considering launching non-stop flights from the UK to the Middle East and, potentially, to Asia, Travel Mole reports.

Marion Geoffroy, managing director of Wizz Air UK said future destinations could include the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Saudi Arabia, using longer-range A321XLR planes. 

Asian destinations could be reached with a stop in the UAE via its joint venture Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, which currently flies to the Maldives.

“The macroeconomic environment forces everyone to be very rational about capacity,” Geoffroy said, adding the airline will not enter the ultra-competitive transatlantic market.

Wizz serves many cities across Europe and has the largest fleet of any Hungarian airline.

Sunday 30 October 2022

Hobart restaurant returns with all guns blazing

Hotel restaurants in Australia can be hit and miss affairs. Sometimes the food does not match the hotel experience. 

Likewise pan-Asian restaurants are not always a triumph. Often certain cuisines are done much better than others.

What a pleasant surprise, then, to dine at Mr Good Guy, the recently reopened Asian eatery that is part of the ibis Styles in Hobart. 

For much of the pandemic period, Mr Good Guy was shuttered and the hotel was used as a Covid isolation facility.

Earlier this month, however, both hotel and restaurant reopened after a thorough clean - and the kitchen has come out with all guns blazing. No wonder Mr Good Guy was close to full on a chilly Tuesday evening. 

Not only is the food here very good - and well priced - the service was excellent at a time when hotels across the board are struggling to find good staff. 

The vibe here is decidedly casual but the food - which spans influences from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Singapore and Vietnam - is well considered. 

You can choose from an a la carte menu, or the "Trust Mr Good Guy Banquet", where the kitchen sends out what it thinks is seasonal and good. The banquet can also be matched with wines by the glass from Tasmanian labels like Frogmore Creek, Nocton Vineyard and 42 Degrees South. 

We began in Vietnam with Goi Ga (above); shredded chicken and cabbage salad with herb, lime, spice and crushed peanuts. Delicate and delicious. 

Then followed more Vietnamese flavours: crisp pork and crab spring rolls, melt in the mouth textures served with nuoc cham and peanut hoi sin dipping sauces, both of which carried a serious flavour kick. 

Next was one for the vegetarians; a very tasty Thai-style crispy spiced eggplant dish with a fragrant sauce and jasmine rice. 

The "Borneo-style" beef rendang failed to deliver the required palate punch, but the kitchen was quickly back on form again with crispy cinnamon banana roti pancakes; a caramel-powered Thai/Indian mash-up that worked as a sweet treat.

There are plenty of fresh and flavoursome hawker-style dishes between $12-$18 on the a la carte menu, while the banquet costs $59 per head with a minimum of two people. 

The prices are more than fair and there are vegan and gluten free options. We will definitely be back. 



Meet a wine man who was ahead of his time

It is 40 years since Mornington Peninsula wine industry pioneer Garry Crittenden, along with family and friends, planted two hectares of vines in one weekend at Dromana and doubled the total amount of vines planted on the peninsula.

Today, of course, the Mornington Peninsula is regarded as one of Australia's premier cool-climate vineyard regions, known around the world for the quality of its pinot noir and chardonnay.

Earlier this month the Crittenden family celebrated 40 years of their involvement in wine on the Mornington Peninsula and reflecting on the dedication of founders Garry and and the late Margaret Crittenden, who died a couple of years ago.

"Why 40 years?" asks my old friend Garry. "Well as I’m in my 80th year now its statistically unlikely that I’ll be around to do 50."

To mark the milestone, Crittenden Estate has released a special pinot noir (above).

When I first started writing about wines in the 1980s, Garry Crittenden was waxing lyrical about not only the Mornington Peninsula, but also the huge potential for Italian grape varieties in Australia.

He was right on both counts.

Today, Crittenden Estate, as the business is now known, is still a family affair and is run by winemaking son Rollo and his sister Zoe.

Garry Crittenden was the first winemaker in Australia to commercialise Italian wine varieties, and was also a pioneered of sustainable farming and regenerative practices, eschewing synthetic chemicals and using only biological farming methods to restore and maintain the health of the soil.

If you visit, you will almost certainly be shown, with pride, the giant compost heap.

Nowadays Garry Crittenden is semi-retired but sill emails regularly and acts as an ambassador for the business.

"In commemoration of that historic time in 1972, I have made a batch of 2021 pinot labelled “40 YEARS ON “," he says.

It's a fine wine that appeared on my doorstep recently, along with some other wines marking important milestones.

Beginning from the early 1980s Garry's late wife Margaret diligently collected press clippings about the Mornington Peninsula wine industry.

In recent years Garry resurrected these clippings and collated them into a book. See here.

The Crittendens have always been among the most generous people in the wine industry. Let's raise a glass to them.

# Tasmanians may be interested to know that Garry Crittenden, along with Tony Jordan and Bill Casimaty, was responsible for planting the Tolpuddle vineyard - perhaps the state's most globally famous vineyard - back in 1988, when the modern Tasmanian wine industry was in its infancy.

Saturday 29 October 2022

French wine fraud scandal unveiled in court

The Bordeaux wine industry is bracing for another scandal after investigators discovered an alleged fraud scheme which saw up to five million bottles of cheap Spanish wine labelled as being French.

The Times and Drinks Business reported this week that prosecutors say the scheme generated about €4 million between 2013 and 2019.

Five suspects are facing trial in Bordeaux after being charged with fraud and could potentially face sentences of up seven years in jail. 

The prosecutor's office has called for five-year jail terms for the offender, Sud Ouest newspaper reported. 

Some of the bottles found to be part of the scam contained wines bought for a few Euros a litre but sold as high-end Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Saint-Julien and Margaux wines from Bordeaux.

The rest was sold as French table wine, which still demand a higher price than their Spanish counterparts.

The enquiry centres on Celliers Vinicoles du Blayais, producers north of Bordeaux, who allegedly imported cheap wines from Spain after becoming concerned that they would be unable to fulfil orders.

How to make your Halloween festivities a little more fruity

I don't really get this Halloween thing.

What was once a uniquely American pastime - like school massacres and drive-by shootings - is now hugely popular around the world, and particularly in Australia.

As well as meaning you are likely to be bothered by kids knocking at your door: "trick or treat or clip around the ear", there are also special drinks for the occasion.

And in a whacky twist, Queensland farmers are encouraging Australians to carve pineapples instead of pumpkins.

Pure Gold Pineapples said Australians wanting to support their local industry should pick a pineapple instead of a pumpkin to carve as their Australian Halloween tradition.

They encourage that first you carve your pineapple with the kids, then save the waste to make an adult-friendly evening cocktail.

So, here is the Bacardi Pineapple Potion:


60ml Bacardi Spiced Rum
20ml pineapple Juice
+Pineapple wedge

Method: Fill a high ball glass with ice, add Bacardi Spiced and top with chilled pineapple juice. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.

That might put a smile on your dial while the neighbourhood kids are being a pest.  


For more Halloween-inspired cocktail recipes head to the BACARDÍ website

Jansz teams with artist for colourful gift pack

The Jansz label is a byword for reliably good cool-climate sparkling wines from Tasmania.

Just in time for party season, Jansz has partnered with award-winning Tasmanian illustrator Daniel Gray-Barnett to create a new Jansz Tasmania Seasonal Release gift box.

Gray-Barnett has created a special piece called Our Breath, Our Song for the Jansz Tasmania Premium Cuvée Gift Boxes (Christmas) and also for a Premium Rosé (which will be available for Mother’s Day 2023).

The artist says Our Breath, Our Song is inspired by the majesty and mythology of the Bass Strait.

The abstract work "explores the flow of time, people and nature".

“I drew inspiration from the Tasmanian landscape and in particular, the Pipers River region where the Jansz Vineyard makes its home,” says Gray-Barnett.

"The river seemed like a really fitting symbol to base the artwork around and tie in elements that make the area and Tasmania so special.

Our Breath, Our Song is about our changing relationship with Tasmania, its flora and fauna and the flow of air, water, time and people.

“I think it’s also unexpectedly vibrant - Tasmania is usually considered low-key and understated, but is actually bursting with creativity and life.

“Jansz is such a uniquely iconic Tasmanian brand. Not only is it a favourite in our house, but it’s a perfect representation of what I love about Tasmanian creativity - organic, an appreciation for craft and a respect for old ways.”

This is the third edition of the Jansz Tasmania's Seasonal Release, with the sparkling house having previously worked with Tasmanian artists Eloise Lark and Jamin.

The Jansz Tasmania Premium Cuvée Seasonal Release packaging is available in retail liquor stores up until Christmas, with a recommended retail price of $30.

Friday 28 October 2022

The world's best vineyards? Or a complete sham?

For those who thought that Australia, New Zealand and South Africa do pretty well when it comes to producing good wines and offering excellent cellar door experiences, it turns out we were wrong.

According to the mob who collate the World’s Best Vineyards 2022, those nations are not even in the race.

The top 50 list is "compiled from all the nominations by the global academy of voters".

Each academy chair is responsible for recruiting 36 wine and travel experts and each member of the voting academy must vote for seven vineyards.

Except this lot do not mean vineyards - they mean wine tourism experiences.

And the organisers admit there is "no pre-determined checklist of criteria or predefined list to choose from". Each vote is a nomination for a vineyard experience open to the public that voters deem to truly be the best in the world.

Italy tops the list for the first time as Antinori nel Chianti Classico in Tuscany (below) was voted number one.

Spain’s Bodegas de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal second place for the second time in a row.

Chilean vineyards, Montes and VIK Winery, achieved third and fourth place.

Montes also took continent winner for South America, with Robert Mondavi Winery topping the North American nominations.

The best in Africa was apparently Creation in South Africa, whilst Henschke in Australia topped the Australasian list - but could only manage 36th spot overall.

France and Portugal had the highest overall split of vineyards with each taking 11 spots on this year’s Top 100 list. 

Penfolds Magill Estate limped in at No.49 for two Australian entries in the top 50.

Quite how this list was put together authoritatively with much of the world in lockdown until recently is hard to fathom.

Here's what Andrew Reed, Managing Director Wine and Exhibitions at organisers William Reed had to say: “The World’s Best Vineyards highlights wine tourism destinations around the globe and now that travel is back on the cards, this year’s list is more important than ever for raising profiles with tourists and those looking for authentic and unique trips."

"Best" here seems to mean "with expensive architecture".  

See if you are intrigued, or appalled.

A very soggy weekend for Tasmania

Visiting Tasmania this weekend? It may be a little soggy.

Heavy rain over the past few days has caused washaways, flooding and road closures right across the state.

Tasmania Parks and Wildlife have advised a number of areas and tracks have been closed due to the extreme weather conditions.

The following areas currently are closed:
Moulting Lagoon Campsite
Douglas Apsley National Park
Lake Augusta Road
Mount Barrow State Reserve lower shelter and picnic area
Arm River Regional Reserve
Little Beach Conservation Area
Mole Creek Caves
Cloudy Bay Campground
Meander Falls Road, Mother Cummings Rivulet
Patons Road, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair
Liffey Falls Campground
Devils Gullet Lookout
Yeates Track, Great Western Tiers
Liffey Falls day use area and Riversdale Road
Tamar Island Wetlands

But there is some good news. Parks and Wildlife have completed assessments and have reopened the following tourism areas.

Hastings Caves: walking tracks are open, pool remains closed; Aquatic Point - Trevallyn Nature Recreation Area, Notley Gorge, Holwell Gorge and Ralphs Falls and Mt Victoria Road (open to 4WDs only).

How about staying in your own private resort?

How about getting a few well-heeled friends together and enjoying some time in the sun in your own private resort?

Anantara Lawana Koh Samui Resort in Thailand is offering groups of friends and family an opportunity to book a stay in their own resort-within-a-resort.

The private villa cluster has space to accommodate up to 15 adults, with four king bedrooms and one twin bedroom apartment offering privacy and direct water access.

The villas are described as being "perfect for indoor/outdoor island living" with partially open-air bathrooms equipped with rain showers and soaking tubs, along with a private poolside sala for lunches or dinners under the stars.

The complex is being promoted as "ideal for extended families and groups of friends".

Located in a quiet area just off Koh Samui’s buzzing Chaweng Beach, retreat features low-slung swim-out villas circling a private full-length swimming pool.

With decor inspired by Sino-Thai fishing villages, the compound allows travellers to stay connected while giving each guest private space.

Throughout their stay, travellers enjoy access to Villa Host services, supervised kids’ club activities and exclusive benefits as part of the package.

Offering stays between four and seven nights, the package starts from $1,690 per night based on double occupancy and includes villa accommodation, daily breakfast, in-residence bubbly breakfast experience, in-residence gourmet dinner, complimentary soft drinks from the minibar and a four-hour island-hopping tour for seven-night stays or more.

Anantara Lawana Koh Samui is located only seven minutes away from Koh Samui International Airport.


Sourcing gourmet produce one grain at a time

For most Australians, rice is rice. In Thailand, it can be the most important part of a meal.

To that end, Dusit Hotels and Resorts is following a 'Farm-to-Table' concept and working directly with rice farm collectives in north-east Thailand to source the finest organic Jasmine rice for use in its restaurants and staff canteens - while also supporting sustainable development.

Dusit is one of Thailand's leading hotel and property development companies and has become the first hotel chain in Thailand to offer 100% organic rice across its portfolio of properties nationwide.

The company says it is working with agricultural communities in Thung Kula Rong Hai region (below).

Dusit's team has selected four farming communities to work with based on their passion for high-quality produce and eagerness to co-develop and enhance their agricultural offerings with Dusit.

"Our mission is to bring enduring value to Thailand's rural communities while benefiting our customers and employees too," said Siradej Donavanik, VP for Development Global, Dusit International, and Chairman of Dusit's Sustainability Committee.

"Jasmine rice from Thung Kula Rong Hai is known around the world for its strong aroma, soft texture, and slender grain.

"The long-grain white rice we source is among the finest of its kind. By sourcing this rice directly, not only are we giving guests, customers, and employees access to high-quality nutrition, but we are also giving the farming collectives we work with access to consistent income, which will help to improve their quality of life.

"We aim to help put in place systems and processes that help the farms to increase their yields so they can generate more revenue overall."

Established in 1948, Dusit International operates hotels and resorts, hospitality education, food, property development, and hospitality-related services.


Thursday 27 October 2022

New Melbourne luxury hotel lays down a challenge

Melbourne is about to get a serious new luxury hotel contender.

Soaring 80 stories above the CBD, The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne, will be part of the Marriott Bonvoy collection and the pre-opening blurb says its will "redefine luxury in the city, with its extraordinary design, exceptional experiences and breathtaking views".

That's confidence for you.

"We are thrilled to bring The Ritz-Carlton brand to Melbourne”, says general manager Antony Page.

“With design that blends the best of the brand and the destination, combined with the finest amenities, culinary offerings, and highly personalized service, The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne will deliver an experience tailored to today's luxury guest and deeply connected to this vibrant city."

Set to open its doors in the first quarter of 2023, The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne is located on Lonsdale Street in the heart of the CBD.

The lobby will be on level 80 - located above 257 hotel rooms and suites.

“We look forward to unveiling this stunning property and to welcoming guests with the warm hospitality, refined ambiance and the legendary service for which The Ritz-Carlton is renowned the world over," Page says

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company currently operates more than 100 hotels in 35 countries and territories.

For further information, please visit the hotel's website here.

Sydney CBD to get a new produce market

Sydney is to get a new gourmet produce market when Quay Quarter Lanes Markets launches on November 9.

The market will bring farm-fresh food to the Sydney CBD and aims to attract over 40 stallholders, including farmers, bakers, makers, cooks, picklers, roasters, growers and gourmet retailers.

The market will be held once a month and bring the laneways of Quay Quarter, on Loftus Lane, to life.

The market is a new event from Cambridge Markets Sydney in collaboration with Quay Quarter Lanes and City of Sydney.

It will feature local retailers including Zini Gelato, Adora Chocolates and Bubble Nini Teas.

The market will also showcase Cambridge Markets’ stallholders, from Prickle Hill Farms, Brickfields, Berliner Bakery, Stephen Hodges Fish, Savannah Estate Winery, Brother Mountain Macadamias, Rita’s Organic Farms, Noble Organics meats, West Walla organic eggs, Le Saucier pasta sauces and Bacca cured meats.

There will also be coffee and pastry from the bakery of CBD restaurant, Grana, which neighbours Quay Quarter Lanes. Adding to the mix will be tacos from Jeerys and sweet treats from Thicc Cookies.

Quay Quarter Lanes Markets will take place on the second Wednesday of the month, from 8am-2pm.

There will also be live music and entertainment.

Cambridge Markets director and organiser Rebecca Fox said the launch of the market would be an important step in connecting people who live and work in the city centre with fresh local food and quality producers.

“One of the great things about markets is the connections they cultivate,” Fox said. “When we take a produce market to a community, it’s an opportunity for people to get out and actually talk to a farmer, or a grower, or the man who baked the bread, people they might not meet regularly.

“We have producers and markers at our markets who do everything from cure fish to pickle olives to make small-batch gin and they have such great stories about how and why they do what they do."

The market has been made possible due to a Precinct Activation Grant from City of Sydney. The grant is being overseen by The Freelance Consultancy Group (TFCG).

“We are delighted to bring a new event back to the area after a few challenging years,” said Genevieve Deslandes of TFCG. “You can expect many surprises, live music and plenty of community initiatives on a monthly basis.”

Wednesday 26 October 2022

McCallum steps up at TarraWarra Estate

Adam McCallum is the new chief winemaker at leading Yarra Valley producer TarraWarra Estate.

He takes over from long-time winemaker Clare Halloran, who is taking a break and departed earlier this year.

McCallum was born and raised in the Yarra and has worked at wineries in both Australia and France.

He started in the industry at the bottom, working in a wine shop in Croydon and behind the bar at the Yarra Glen Hotel before catching the wine bug.

After a chance encounter with Steve Webber, he was given the opportunity to work his first vintage at De Bortoli Wines in the Yarra, kickstarting his career.

His CV includes stints in Domaine Motrot in Burgundy, at Yarra Yering and McPherson Wines in Victoria, Frankland Estate in Western Australia, and most recently under O'Halloran at TarraWarra Estate.

He says he enjoys drinking wines that are subtle, elegant and well balanced, and believes these attributes are not exclusive to expensive wines. His varieties of choice are, unsurprisingly, pinot noir and chardonnay - TarraWarra Estate’s most celebrated wines.

​TarraWarra Estate is a 400-hectare property which includes 28 hectares of vines and a lovely cellar door and restaurant, as well as the TarraWarra Museum of Art. See

Enjoy a gastronomic adventure package in Phuket

The Slate is probably my favourite address in Phuket; a whimsical luxury resort with a serious gourmet offering. 

A new “Gastronomic Adventure” package features an immersive stay at the art-inspired resort with plenty of tasty treats in store. 

Guests signing up for the package are transported by private car to the resort, where they get either am upgrade or a complimentary bottle of bubbly. 

The tariff includes breakfast daily at the Tin Mine al fresco eatery, daily lunch or dinner at any of the resort’s venues, including one glass of wine, sparkling wine, beer, soft drink or juice per person per meal.

The half-board deal (try one of the food trucks on the beach for your other main meal) enables guests to experience Black Ginger, the award-winning Thai restaurant that appears to float above a tranquil lagoon and is only accessible by wooden raft. 

Alternatively they can choose to eat at Rivet, reimagined with an open-fired grill and smokehouse.

Packages also include 10% discount at Kru Precision Wellness and 20% off treatments at the serene Coqoon Spa, while those staying in Pearl Shell Suites will receive personal butler service, complimentary mini-bar items and a 60-minute Coqoon Rebirth massage for two people. 

There are a range of benefits available depending of accommodation choices. 

“At The Slate, we strive to curate amazing gastronomic experiences that delight and surprise in equal measure," says co-founder and owner Krystal Prakaikaew Na-Ranong. 

"It's not only about the food; it's the entire journey: the flavours, aromas, atmosphere and activities all come together to create immersive journeys that spark conversion and live long in the memory. 

"Our ‘Gastronomic Adventure’ gives guests the chance to explore our diverse dining destinations and enjoy truly unforgettable encounters in Phuket.” 

To start planning a Gastronomic Adventure visit

Rates start from THB 8,250 ($345) +++ per room per night.

To learn more see

Luxury hotel earmarked for Penrith

Penrith in Sydney's outer western suburbs, is to get a luxury hotel complex.

Accor has signed an agreement with Panthers Group for a new five-star Pullman hotel at the Penrith Panthers precinct.

The 153-room Pullman Sydney Penrith hotel, which is slated to open in the fourth quarter of 2023, will form part of Panthers Group’s transformation of the precinct to create a business and entertainment destination.

Rugby league has come a long way! 

The hotel will adjoin the new Western Sydney Conference Centre (WSCC), which remains on track to open in Q4 2023, and will boast a range of onsite facilities, including a restaurant and bar with private dining rooms, along with a ground-floor café.

Pullman Sydney Penrith will service the WSCC, which will host trade shows, exhibitions, seated functions for up to 1,000 people, along with other major events.

Panthers Group chief executive officer Brian Fletcher said: “Pullman Sydney Penrith will be a welcome addition to Western Sydney’s tourism offering and builds upon the existing and upcoming new amenities within the Panthers precinct and the wider Penrith locale. It is part of our ongoing commitment to deliver world-class facilities to the local community. This development will enhance Penrith’s reputation as a world-class event and tourism destination.”

The future Western Sydney International Airport - due to open in 2026 - is a 30-minute drive away.

The Accor group also operates Mercure Penrith, which is located adjacent to the Penrith Panthers precinct.

Tuesday 25 October 2022

Meet Hobart's new drinking den - Manky Sally's


David Walsh does not do ordinary.

The owner of Hobart's quirky MONA museum, Moorilla Wines, Domaine A and Moo Brew is about to open Hobart's newest drinking den: with the unlikely name of Manky Sally's.

The taphouse and bar will be on the Salamanca strip - located just a stone’s throw from the Mona Roma ferry terminal.

The oldest craft brewery in lutruwita/Tasmania, Moo Brew began life when Walsh found a bottle he liked - but not a beer to fill it.

The new venture is equally experimental with Moo Brew’s managing director Lauren Sheppard and head brewer Jack Viney at the helm.

Manky Sally’s will feature a nano-brewery, and serve up "new and classic brews".

‘Do not expect timber benches, metal furniture and people sitting around barrels’, says Lauren, ‘with the name a cheeky nod to our location, Manky Sally’s is not your typical taphouse.’

The bar’s interior features decor and fittings that have been foraged from MONA’s four warehouses. From artworks that may or may not be forgeries, to atmospheric lighting and fancy chandeliers to taxidermied creatures and vintage carpets.

Suitably Walsh wacky.

Tunes will be supplied by a MONA-curated vinyl collection and there will also be the occasional live performance.

Head brewer Viney says: ‘Trying something different with 7000 litres of beer is risky, but on 300 litres? Not so much. Manky Sally’s tiny brewing tanks will give us the chance to conduct some creative experiments and get instant feedback from the people drinking at the bar."

There will be 14 taps at Manky Sally’s serving eight core Moo Brew beers, two seasonal releases, two experimental beers brewed onsite, a guest Tassie beer and a cocktail. There will also be batched cocktails, Tasmanian spirits, and Domaine A, Moorilla and other local wines.

Dinner will be on offer seven days a week, with lunch served Friday-Sunday, featuring seasonal, shareable snacks.

‘We’re creating the type of bar where we’d choose to drink’, says Shepherd. "It’s like nothing else you’ve ever seen and that’s really the point."

Manky Sally’s will be at 25 Salamanca Place, Hobart - hopefully from mid-December. See

Here come your groceries - delivered by drone


My first thought was that April Fools' Day had been brought forward, but apparently not.

Gold Coast residents are to be added to a trial of a new service that delivers groceries direct to their homes.

Coles has paired with global on-demand drone delivery company Wing to trial the service in the Gold Coast suburbs of Ormeau, Ormeau Hills, and Yatala - starting on November 2.

The deliveries will be flown from the Coles store at Ormeau Village Shopping Centre and will be gradually expanded to include other nearby suburbs, delivering 500 of the most popular Coles grocery items including bread, fresh produce, convenience meals, snacks, health care items, and household essentials.

The press release says Coles is the first major Australian retailer to trial the new ‘store-to-door’ drone delivery model, with a dedicated fleet of Wing delivery drones co-located in the Coles store car park.

Coles team members will process and pack orders, and Wing staff will load the drones and oversee operation of the delivery service. Delivering frozen chickens or 24-packs of toilet rolls might be problematic.

Coles Head of Network Development and Customer Delivery (phew!) James Geddes said: “We are delighted to be expanding our drone delivery pilot program with Wing to our Queensland customers. 

"The service will provide a convenient and effective way of delivering everyday essentials to our customers’ homes in a matter of minutes.

“Customers can now get those urgent items they need in a hurry, delivered by drone, directly from the local Coles Ormeau Village store. 

"Whether they’ve forgotten to pick up a loaf of bread or fresh milk during their weekly shop or are missing an ingredient for dinner-time meal prep or school lunches, they can now get those products delivered quickly, without having to drive to the store."

The Coles drone delivery expansion into Queensland follows a successful pilot program launched in Canberra.

As part of the expansion into South-East Queensland, Wing will also be offering Coles items for delivery from the rooftop of the Gland Plaza in Logan City.

Customers can download the Wing app (available from the App Store or Google Play), enter their address, and add items to their cart before submitting their order.

Will you pop a cork on Global Champagne Day?

Are you ready to toast Global Champagne Day?

Lovers of sparkling wine celebrate every year on the fourth Friday in October. This year that means October 28.

There are dozens of events happening across Australia - and many more around the world, to pay tribute to the world's favourite bubbles.

Options range from Champagne Day at Opera Bay in Sydney, to a Champagne dinner at The Shorehouse in Swanbourne, Western Australia, to Dinner at The Apartment in Melbourne with Champagne Pommery or Champagne and Oysters at the Mayfair Hotel in Adelaide.   

The Champagne Bureau Australia is counting down to Champagne Day and is encouraging wine lovers to set up their own events if they don't fancy attending a restaurant or bar.

Here is a list of events:

Monday 24 October 2022

Virgin Australia tries to promote the unpromotable

Someone at Virgin Australia has been smoking the wacky baccy, or quaffing the gin-infused crazy kool aid.

Virgin - aided by some malleable media - is trying to convince flyers that being given the middle seat in a row of three is desirable.

As a regular flyer, I always prefer an aisle seat on short-haul flights and a window sear on long-haul. Sitting in a middle seat is a fate to be avoided at all costs - particularly post-Covid, when you neighbour can be sniffing and coughing their way to their destination.

Amazingly, News Ltd newspapers are compliant in this idiocy.

"While the middle seat might be the neglected option for any travellers, it does have its advantages: with a person either side your chances of meeting someone interesting are double," wrote David Mills in what read suspiciously like a paid advert.

Yes, he really wrote that. 

Mr Mills thinks the chance of winning a prize is "a powerful incentive to book the middle seat" on your next flight.

I, like many other Velocity frequent flyers, received an email from the airline over the weekend.

The ‘Bring on Wonderful’ campaign spearheads Virgin Australia’s mission to "truly make flight an uplifting experience for all".

Not the chore it currently is.

"This isn’t just a brand campaign – we are putting words in action to make the flying experience unique and truly wonderful,” says Libby Minogue, chief marketing officer for Virgin Australia.

She says the ‘Middle Seat Lottery’, transforms every middle seat on the airline’s domestic flights from the least favourite to the most wonderful.

Yes, really.

"Guests who sit in the middle seat will have a chance to win hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of unexpected and wonderful prizes, with a new prize and winner every week," says Tom Martin, co-CCO of Virgin campaign partners Special.

There will, apparently be prizes worth up to $230,000 on offer.

Other genius innovations include the ‘Reverse Kids Meals’ - where children can have their meal backwards, with their dessert first, if they so wish.

Impressive eh?   

UPDATE: On the very day the "Wonderful" campaign was launched, friends had their Virgin flights from the Sunshine Coast to Hobart cancelled and delayed by a day.
They were then put on flights to Hobart via Sydney, then Melbourne that took them a total of 11 1/4 hours to make the journey. Oops.

New Croser bubbles with a serious point of difference

Premium Australian sparkling wine brand Croser has launched a new range that is infused with bespoke botanicals.

The new range launches with Croser NV X 78˚ and Croser NV Rosé X 78˚ - two sparkling wines infused with signature botanicals from 78 Degrees Distillery.

Croser - which no longer has any links with founder Brian Croser - uses fruit from the coolish Adelaide Hills region.

“Croser X 78˚ is unlike anything else that’s on the market and we are really excited to introduce this innovation to the current generation of sparkling enthusiasts and Croser fans," says Jack Glover, marketing director for Accolade Wines.

"The vibrant range is perfect for those who want to experiment with their palate and experience a new type of premium sparkling - whatever the occasion may be."

The Croser X 78˚ range is made using the "traditional method" like Croser NV, but botanicals are added during the winemaking process.

The new Croser NV X 78˚ and Croser NV Rosé X 78˚ are now available at Dan Murphy’s stores nationally, the Petaluma/Croser cellar door and online at at RRP $32, with the Croser NV X 78˚ also available at selected BWS stores.

Anyone for a glass of Chateau Djokovic?

Novak Djokovic is a masterful tennis player with a controversial personality. 

The Serbian tennis star is hoping that his success on the court - 21 grand slam titles - can translate into wine sales, having launched his first two wines over the weekend. 

Djokovic joins the likes of Ernie Els, Brad Pitt, Kylie Minogue and Graham Norton in launching a wine range, opening serve with a 2020 Djokovic Chardonnay and 2020 Djokovic Syrah. 

Serbian wine magazine Vino & Fino reports that the Djokovic Winery is a new operation in the player's home nation. 

Djokovic's uncle, Goran, is the director of the winery, and he told Vino & Fino that he hopes the vineyard will soon attain a similar status to what his nephew has achieved on-court. 

"There are many challenges, but we try to achieve the maximum in this business, as in everything," Goran Djokovic told Vino & Fino

The magazine reports that the Djokovic family vineyard covers six hectares in Sumadija, Serbia, three for white grapes and three for red grapes, on "one of the most attractive lands in Serbia, on red soil rich in stone, marl rock and lime, with large white pieces of stone." 

Šumadija is Serbia’s premiere wine region and is home to leading wine producer Mija Radovanovi.

The wine is currently sold at the Wine & Pleasure store in Belgrade but there are plans for future global distribution. 

Champagne gift packs pay tribute the the roaring 20s

It is that time of the year: bubbles time.

The Melbourne Racing Carnival is upon us, and Christmas parties are just around the corner.

And if you are looking for a gift for a fashion-conscious wine lover, what about a limited-release gift pack containing a bottle from Champagne House Heidsieck & Co Monopole.

Heidsieck has just revealed a fresh new look to its packaging with the "1920s Gatsby styling" of its 2022 releases.

Boasting to have been enjoyed by "aristocrats, royalty, and rulers alike", Heidsieck & Co Monopole was born in Reims just prior to the French Revolution in 1785. 

The historic brand is most famously known as the “Shipwreck Champagne”, after 2,400 bottles of the 1907 vintage were discovered underwater 82 years after the Jönoköping was sunk in 1916.

Each cuvée is packed in a limited-edition gift box with a nod to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 20s icon “Gatsby the Magnificent”. 

Currently available are the Blue Top Brut NV ($59.99) - a fresh and lively number that was very popular with my tasting group) - and the Rosé Top Brut NV ($74.99) that is a new introduction to the Australian market and being saved for a significant date later this week (stay tuned!).

The Heidsieck & Co Monopole Brut and Brut Rosé are now available from independent bottle shops, with the 2012 vintage Gold Top ($85.99) being released in November.

A fun range - and well priced.

Sunday 23 October 2022

Rex predicts electric planes will cut flight costs

Australian regional airline Rex is predicting operating costs for short flights will fall by as much as 50% with the introduction of electric- and hydrogen-powered planes.

Rex will begin trials in 2024 of planes with retrofitted electric engines on short regional routes, Travel Mole reports.

It says that it expects electric- powered flights on shorter routes will be operational within a decade.

“We will do experiments with a real plane in 2024, where we will swap out the existing engine, which burns jet fuel,” Rex deputy chairman John Sharp said.

“We’ll also install an electric motor powered by batteries and hydrogen.”

Rex has partnered with manufacturer Dovetail Electric Aviation for the trials.

The converted aircraft will be tested on routes of about an hour, including Sydney-Wagga Wagga and Sydney-Coffs Harbour.

“It will require all of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s permits to ensure it is completely safe,” Sharp said.

Qatar wants to spy on World Cup visitors

With the World cup finals in Qatar just a month away, Qatar’s government is causing concern to visitors with newly imposed demands on fans travelling to the tournament.

 The Qatari government requires all foreign visitors to download a pair of apps that provide officials with rights to access data on their phones - apps that could be considered as spyware.

Ehteraz is a Covid-19 tracking app that can manipulate content on a user’s phone. It can also override installed software and disable a phone’s lock screen.

Hayya, which tracks match info and access to the public transport system in Qatar, has permission to share information on a user’s phone.

Øyvind Vasaasen, the head of security at Norsk Rikskringkasting AS (NRK), the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, warned against uploading the apps.

“It’s not my job to give travel advice, but personally, I would never bring my mobile phone on a visit to Qatar,” Vasaasen told the NHK website.

“When you download these two apps, you accept the terms stated in the contract, and those terms are very generous. You essentially hand over all the information in your phone. 

"You give the people who control the apps the ability to read and change things, and tweak it. They also get the opportunity to retrieve information from other apps if they have the capacity to do so, and we believe they do.”

NRK has submitted its findings about the security loopholes to FIFA but the organisers, not keen on rocking the boat, reportedly say they do not wish to comment on the matter.

Qatar has previously come under fire for human rights violations and the treatment of migrant labourers employed to build stadiums for the tournament. 

Coonawarra: where planning ahead is an art form

The wine producers of Coonawarra love a good event. 

Coonawarra Grape and Wine Incorporated (CGWI), trading as Coonawarra Vignerons, already has six locked in for 2023 - which is admirable forward planning. 

The Coonawarra Vignerons is a not-for-profit members organisation that supports local grape growers and winemakers with promotion, marketing, technical innovation, finances and administration.

The Coonawarra wine region, best known for its world-class cabernets and shirazes - is in the heart of the Limestone Coast of South Australia.

Coonawarra is home to over 25 cellar doors scattered along one stretch of road,- the Riddoch Highway- named after Coonawarra's founding father, John Riddoch.

The key dates for 2023 are:

• 12 January 2023: Coonawarra Vignerons Cup

• April 14-15: Coonawarra After Dark

• May 18-21 Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival

• July 1-31: Coonawarra Cellar Dwellers

• August 2023: Coonawarra Cellar Door in the City Wine Tasting Roadshow

• October 1-31: Coonawarra Cabernet Celebrations

For details see

Image: Tasting at the 2022 Cabernet Celebrations

Saturday 22 October 2022

Changes ringing out at All Saints

It is all change at All Saints, the family-owned Rutherglen region wine institution. 

The Brown family announced this week that the new cellar door in the family's heritage-listed castle has been unveiled with a new range of tasting experiences on offer. 

The revamped facility features a large wrap-around bar with three premium tasting experiences on offer.

A new retail area with interactive displays shares stories of the family, winemaking and viticulture, while new release and back vintage wines are available for purchase. 

"Our winemaking philosophy is all about making the most of our unique place – the soil, the Murray River, the climate, and the fruit - to create handcrafted wines that truly reflect where they were produced," the Brown family say. 

Three premium tasting experiences are on offer for a fee. 

Estate Tasting: a choice of five wines for $15. The Estate range features classic varieties including a few fortified options.

Family Cellar Tasting; a choice of five wines for $45 from the Family Cellar and Limited Release ranges. 

Muscat Experience: Taste from Rutherglen to Rare classifications for $60. 

Not cheap then, but the good news is that for All Saints wine club members, estate and cellar tastings are complimentary. 

Meet the town where the Christmas decorations are already up

Christmas cannot come soon enough for the good people of Attleborough, a small but lively town in the English county of Norfolk.

It not even Halloween yet, but pumpkins are out and snowmen are already in evidence.

Attleborough residents are so keen on Christmas that the town's Christmas decorations have already been put up - even though it well over two months to go to Christmas Day.

Elliot Ellis, who leads Attleborough Christmas Lights Committee, told the Eastern Daily Press newspaper: "Over the last few years we have had problems due to Covid causing illness among the light engineers, which meant it got pretty tight to get ready in time.

"This year, we have started a week early to avoid that issue."

A week early? Good golly Mr Ellis.

The Attleborough festivities are so popular that "people travel from all over Norfolk" to see the lights being switched on." Santa is apparently a contender to do the honours.

This year that will be on November 27, so organisers are certainly ahead of schedule this time around.

You've got to love a bit of enthusiasm.

# Image shows Attleborough Christmas decorations in 2018. (Facebook).     

Friday 21 October 2022

Launceston's new cocktail bar unleashed


Launceston, the second-largest city in Tasmania, is undergoing a nightlife boom with several recent bar openings. 

The latest arrival ready to shake and stir up the locals is Bar Stelo - a sister property to Stelo at Pierre's. 

Bar Stelo officially opened this week and is the latest venture for Lauren and Nathan Johnston, who have spent the past two years developing the Stelo at Pierre’s restaurant offering.

Now they have transformed the adjoining retail space into a cocktail lounge.

Bar Stelo promises to feature local produce through an Italian lens. 

“From bold and boozy to light and luxurious, there will be an extensive array of cocktails on offer, providing a perfect pre-dinner location for anyone dining in the CBD,” Lauren Johnston said.

“There will be familiar faces from Stelo at Pierre’s in the bar providing uncompromised quality in all the offerings; serving serious cocktails, bar snacks and our stunning local gins, whisky and wine.

“We have been referring to Bar Stelo as the restaurant’s ‘virtuous mistress’ because while it provides some synergies there are some wonderful contrasts. 

“The restaurant is quite masculine with its linear, straight lines and deep red features where as Bar Stelo involves a lot of circles and curves and beautiful Boston Green paintwork on the walls that highlight the feminine and evocative art works by emerging Hobart artist Eddie James.”

The bar has been designed by Stelo at Pierre’s founding bar manager and architect Justin LeFevre. 

A private booth will be a popular place for friends to gather and celebrate. 

Bar Stelo is now open to the public. For more info see

New wine festival to champion the out of the ordinary

Smaller boutique and independent wine producers have a chance to shine at the Yarra Valley's brand new festival: PULP.

PULP will debut next month and aims to champion winemaking innovation and diversity across the region.

The 10-day festival will celebrate local producers, new and established, with wine tastings, food trucks and live music, bringing together young guns and local legends.

There will be a focus on environmentally sustainable and innovative practices, out-of-the-box wine styles and blends, and creative collaborations.

Ticket holders will have the chance to sample the latest releases at events taking place across the Yarra Valley and inner-Melbourne venues from November 11-20.

Maybe take the chance to try north-east Italian grape variety brachetto, or pair sparkling tempranillo with chocolates.

Or perhaps sample wines from Tillie J Wines, Seville Estate, Santolin Wines, Musical Folk Wines, Rongo Wines, Notes Wine, Sutherland Estate, Solar Wines and Wheeler Wines at a CBD tasting.

You can find out details at

Thursday 20 October 2022

Meet Tasmania's newest wine brand

Goaty Hill was one of the Tamar Valley's standout producers, making excellent wines across the board, among them one of Tasmania's consistently finest rieslings.

Goaty Hill was sold a while back and in its place has emerged Small Wonder, a new brand with experienced operators at the helm.

CEO Paul McArdle and winemaker Andrew Trio are transitioning the former Goaty Hill vineyards to organic practices and have released their first wines - along with opening a refreshed cellar - in time for spring.

The Small Wonder wines have launched ahead of their sister brand - Wayfinder Wines, which is due to debut in mid 2023 in Margaret River, Western Australia.

Trio will split his time between the two states. He was head winemaker at boutique winery Corliss Estates in Walla Walla, Washington state, for decade, returning to Australia in 2018.

Small Wonder's publicity blurb says it will focus on "responsibly made, small-production wines that come from a vineyard with a focus on sustainability and growing exceptional fruit".

These first releases include riesling, pinot noir and chardonnay with 2022 rosé, sauvignon blanc, and pinot gris just coming onto the market.

CEO McArdle has worked for several leading Margaret River producers, as well as with Must Wine Bar in Perth.

“Small Wonder is committed to making everything we touch better," he says.

"With the rare opportunity to build two wine businesses from scratch, we feel it’s an obligation to be committed to better practices, better vineyards, better processes, and better wines.

"Ultimately we want to make small local efforts that connect us to the movement that brings global change; and that connects us to our community - all while creating interesting wines that celebrate the vineyards.”

Currently in transition to becoming certified organic, Small Wonder is working towards achieving carbon neutral status and using 100% green energy.

Small Wonder wines are available to purchase now from I will be doing a tasting over the next few weeks to see how they stack up.

Treasury snaps up historic Bordeaux wine estate

Australian wine powerhouse Treasury Wine Estates is the new owner of Chateau Lanessan, one of the old wine estates in Bordeaux.

"We’re pleased to announce the completion of our majority acquisition of Chateau Lanessan," the company said in a statement,

Founded in 1793 by Bordeaux wine merchant Jean Delbos, the property features 390 hectares of land and 80 hectares of Haut-Medoc-appellation vineyards, a winery, and two 19th century chateaux in the commune of Cussac near Fort Médoc.

The vineyard is planted with 52% cabernet sauvignon, 37% merlot, 8.5% petit verdot and 2.5% cabernet franc.

The estate held a rating of Cru Bourgeois Supérieur, until this classification was annulled.

The Bouteiller family has been the custodian of the property for nine and will continue to play a role as Treasury continues to build its multi-national luxury wine portfolio.

Penfolds managing director Tom King said: “We look forward to collaborating with the Bouteiller family and winemakers to enhance the château’s production capability and reputation for quality wine, while also deepening our relationships with the local Bordeaux community.

"The region’s winemaking traditions complement the quality and innovation that Penfolds is known for, and we have ambitious plans to invest in the historic property and welcome wine lovers to experience the region’s unique winemaking traditions.”

No financial details were announced but the deal was completed earlier this week. 

Wednesday 19 October 2022

When your next CEO is right under your nose

Tourism Tasmania launched a nationwide search for a new CEO but found the person they were looking for right under their noses. 

As is so often the case in Tasmania, the "right person for the job" was already known to the organisation as they sought a replacement for John Fitzgerald, who is leaving after a decade in the role. 

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff announced today that Sarah Clark has been appointed to the role "after an extensive national recruitment process and a very strong field of candidates".

They could have saved their money. 

Clark had been on Tourism Tasmania’s board since September 2021 and will transition from a non-executive director to the CEO’s role as executive director on the board.

Tasmanian born and raised, she joins Tourism Tasmania from Intrepid Travel, the world’s largest adventure travel company. 

Her current role at the organisation is Managing Director ANZ and member of the global core management team. 

“As a proud Tasmanian, I am honoured to take on the role and provide leadership to realise Tasmania’s vision and plan of being a global leader in sustainable tourism," Clark said.

"We are a destination on the top of many Australians' travel lists, with international travellers quickly catching on. 

"People are looking for enriching and meaningful travel experiences and Tasmania is unlike anywhere in the world. We are beautifully positioned to thrive as travel recovers with our world-class gastronomy, natural environment, arts, and unique culture.

"I look forward to leading the incredible and very capable team at Tourism Tasmania and working with the wider tourism industry to drive positive social, cultural and economic impact to Tasmanians through a strong and sustainable visitor economy.” 

Tourism Tasmania extended its thanks to Fitzgerald for his "contribution and leadership over the last 10 years. During his tenure, he has overseen both a period of significant industry growth as well as the unprecedented challenge and impact of COVID-19."

Clark will commence her new role in early 2023.

How very fashionable: high tea is back in style

Back in the day, what is now the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth was the epitome of chic.

Since the 1960s, iconic brands have used the Wentworth as a backdrop for high-end photo shoots for what was then the cutting edge of fashion.

Today, the hotel has a new and glamorous offering in its High Tea, to be served in the hotel's Velvet Lounge.

To be launched on Saturday, the new High Tea will be very French in style with delicate macarons, a religieuse with a touch of rose and raspberry, Bordeaux-style mandarin-vanilla cannelés, a revisited Opera cake and lemon myrtle meringue petite tarte.

On the savoury side, guests can enjoy a signature mini baguette with slow-roasted truffled beef,  choux and caviar, quiche with smoked duck and porcini, traditional French chicken pithivier and Tasmanian smoked salmon blinis with crème fraiche.

All complemented by a glass of Moet Imperial bubbles or Sofitel's signature cocktail, plus an assortment of premium Silver Jubilee by Dilmah teas.

High Tea will be served every Saturday and Sunday from 1-3pm for a limited time only (from October 22 to November 30), priced at $89 per person.

For details see