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Thursday 25 July 2024

Cherubino unveils new cellar door eatery for Margaret River



Winemaker Larry Cherubino will partner with chef Ben Jacob for a new "relaxed yet refined" Italian dining experience at the Cherubino Wines Caves Road site in Margaret River this spring.

Masseria Restaurant will be helmed by chef Jacob (Lagoon Yallingup) who has developed a menu that will aim to "transport diners to the Italian countryside", showcasing casual Italian-Mediterranean cuisine using traditions with a south-west twist.

Think house-made focaccia, a selection of the season’s best antipasti and cured meats to a range of hand made pastas. From the charcoal grill expect the likes of Bistecca Fiorentina and whole Augusta Nannygai. To finish, perhaps Tiramisu made to share on the table.

“Ben has been aligned with our vision from the get-go,” said Larry Cherubino “We wanted to create a dining experience in the region that is accessible but still elevated and both the food and wine menus reflect that wholeheartedly."

The name loosely translate to farmhouse in Italian.

A wine list crafted by Cherubino City Cellar’s sommelier Simone Ratti and Group Venue Manager Jonathan Diaz will include rare and exclusive back vintages.

“I am very excited to align with the Cherubino brand in opening Masseria.” said Jacob “I am committed to utilising my depth of knowledge and skill as a chef and restaurateur to create a welcoming atmosphere where families and friends can indulge in an Italian-Mediterranean menu focused on casual, simple, but delicious food, right here, in the south-west.”

Masseria will open just in time for spring/summer 2024 dining.

Wednesday 24 July 2024

Oktoberfest city adds alcohol-free zone



You know consumer trends are drastically changing when the home of one of the world’s biggest celebrations of beer adds an alcohol-free space.

Yep, Munich - home of the legendary Oktoberfest - has created an area near its central railway station where sad ass revellers can drink zero-alcohol beers.

Called Die Null (The Zero), the venue will serve exclusively alcohol-free drinks to visitors before the festival, which is due to be held for the 189th time from September 21 to October 6.

The decision to open Die Null was also partly taken in an attempt to curb anti-social behaviour before and during Oktoberfest, when thousands of beer fans descend on the city of Munich to raise a stein or two… or three.

Local government officials decided to position the alcohol-free beer garden in the middle of the city so that it would be “anchored in the centre of society.”

Die Null was opened by Munich city mayor Dieter Reiter last week and will remain open until the provisional date of September 15 to encourage a peaceful build-up to Oktoberfest.

Guests at the open-air, alcohol-free establishment will be allowed to bring their own food, and there will be free live entertainment provided by bands, choirs and DJs. Soft drinks, mocktails, juices, water and non-alcoholic beers will be on offer to thirsty visitors.

It just doesn't sound all that festive to me. 



Yering Station links with MIFF



Yarra Valley wine producer Yering Station has long-time links with the arts community.

As well as a long-standing partnership with National Gallery of Victoria and the annual Sculpture Exhibition at the estate each spring, Yering Station has now partnered with the Melbourne International Film Festival as official wine sponsor.

MIFF, which begins on August 8 and continues through August 25, will include over 250 features, shorts and extended reality experiences landing across Melbourne, around Victoria and online Australia-wide.

The program launch was presented by Yering Station with artistic director Al Cossar saying: "This year’s MIFF program features over 250 films, with more than 400 sessions across 18 days, bringing together incredible Australian filmmaking, world cinema, drama, comedy, horror, animation, bold experimentation – things you’ve been waiting months to see, and others you never thought you’d get a chance to.

"The MIFF program this year, like every year, is a multi-faceted festival of cinematic excess, designed to delight, and sure to bring out the best in your imaginations."

International guests attending the festival include British screenwriter and director Luna Carmoon, award-winning Latvian animator Gints Zilbalodis and American filmmaker, poet, and photographer Raven Jackson.

The Yering Station marketing team describes the collaboration as "a beautiful partnership that celebrates the art of cinema and fine wine, proudly upholding our legacy of supporting the arts".


Tuesday 23 July 2024

Chinese winemaker making an impact in Queensland

 


A leading Queensland winery took a gamble when it appointed a Chinese winemaker last year.

But it was a gamble that is paying off for Ballandean Estate, Queensland’s oldest family-owned and -operated winery.

Boxi Zhen was earlier this month announced Emerging Queensland Winemaker of the Year at the Royal Queensland Wine Awards, and award that recognises emerging talent and craftsmanship.

“We’d like to thank the RNA and Treasury Brisbane for giving our young winemaker Boxi such a great opportunity to further develop his reputation for winemaking excellence," said fourth-generation vigneron Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi.

“Boxi is thrilled to be undertaking the Australian Wine Research Institute's Advanced Wine Assessment Course.

“He’s really looking forward to having his wines featured at Treasury Brisbane outlets, and the privilege of being an associate judge at 2025’s Royal Queensland Wine Awards.

“We blended Boxi into the family fold at the start of 2023, when he started the next chapter of his winemaking career, after working across the Napa Valley to China, South Australia and now the Granite Belt.

“He’s humbled be recognised by a prestigious national wine show in his second vintage as a Granite Belt winemaker.

“We hope that Boxi’s minimal intervention approach will underpin the Granite Belt as a region that continues to build on its momentum for new, exciting wines that suit our ever-changing climate.”

Court gives Tasmanian wine producer a slap on the wrist



A leading Tasmanian wine producer has been slapped on the wrist by the Federal Court, the Australasian Lawyer magazine reports.

The court ruled that Kreglinger and Pipers Brook "engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct" by falsely representing its wine as having an affiliation with a prestigious French winery.

The court found that by promoting and selling a wine under the New Certan label Kreglinger Wine Estates Pty Ltd and Pipers Brook Vineyard Pty Ltd falsely represented that the wine had the approval of, or affiliation with, the renowned Vieux Château Certan (VCC) in Bordeaux.

These representations, made without endorsement or connection, violated sections 18 and 29(1)(g) and (h) of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

It was the presentation - not the name - that earned the ire of the court. 

The court stated that the New Certan wine's presentation and labelling misled consumers into believing it had a significant connection to VCC. This was particularly problematic given VCC's brand's historical and prestigious nature.

The court ordered that Kreglinger and Pipers Brook engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by falsely representing an affiliation with renowned Pomerol producer VCC, whose wines sell for many hundreds of dollars a bottle.

It also issued injunctions restraining Kreglinger and Pipers Brook from bottling, supplying, or distributing any "prior branded New Certan wine" and from using specific promotional texts linked to the VCC.

Additionally, the court ordered the removal of images and descriptions from specified websites, including the Halliday Wine Companion and other major retail sites.

In response to the court's findings, Kreglinger and Pipers Brook undertook not to advertise, offer for sale, or sell any remaining stock of the wine. 

But the label will live on, with a new look that will not be confused with the French brand. 

“The name New Certan was trademarked by us 25 years ago, so we were pleased that the Federal Court confirmed our right to continue to use the name,” said Kreglinger executive chairman Craig Devlin.

“We were also pleased that the Judge had no issue with the revised label that we will use for the next release of New Certan later this year."


Monday 22 July 2024

New Zealand slugs cruise ships with increased costs



The New Zealand Government has dealt a financial blow to cruise ship operators - and they are not happy about it.

New Zealand has revealed a hike in border processing fees for cruise ship guests of 88% - scheduled to take effect from December 1.

The Cruise Lines International Association Australasia and the New Zealand Cruise Association both hit out at both the cruise fee hike and the lack of notice, news portal Travel Mole reported.

The say cruise lines won’t be able to pass on the increase to passengers, who have already booked and paid for their cruises.

The trade groups warn it could severely impact cruise traffic to New Zealand with with forecast that passenger numbers are down around 22% this year.

They say New Zealand is one of the most expensive markets for cruise operation costs.

NZ Cruise Association CEO Jacqui Lloyd said: “Cruise lines carefully plan and budget their operations two to three seasons ahead, leaving no room to pass unexpected cost increases to passengers.

“These financial burdens fall squarely on the cruise lines.”

It is not clear why cruise lines would not build such contingencies into their forward planning.

The processing cost for travellers arriving by cruise ship will increase from $11.48 to $21.54, an increase of $10.06 per passenger. This represents an extra $30,000 in costs for a ship carrying 3000 passengers.
 
The CLIA and the NZCA are pushing for urgent meetings with the New Zealand Customs Service and government officials.


Vietnam resort success story celebrates first birthday



The Central Coast of Vietnam is booming as a tourism destination with dozens of new resorts having opened over the past few years. 

One that has got off to a flying start is the Gran Meliá Nha Trang, a seafront hotel that is celebrating its first anniversary this month. 

Vietnam’s first and only Gran Meliá resort, this five-star retreat opened in July 2023 and is already listed on the region's top 5 on Tripadvisor with a 5/5 rating. 

There has been praise for its outstanding villas and "its ability to seamlessly blend the brand’s rich Spanish heritage with the finest Vietnamese hospitality".

“Our first anniversary gives us the chance to reflect on a wonderful year, during which we have curated many magical moments and made many new friends," says Jingyi Wu, the resort's executive assistant manager.

"We are proud to have achieved such a strong first year, but this is just the beginning - moving forward, we will continue to improve, innovate and elevate the standard of five-star hospitality in Vietnam."

So plenty of confidence there. I'll try to take a look when I visit with Vietjet in October. 

To celebrate its first anniversary, Gran Meliá Nha Trang has unveiled a  program of activities and events that capture the Spanish spirit of fiesta. 

Gran Meliá Nha Trang’s “Anniversary Offer” - available for bookings made during the remainder of July - includes early check-in, late check-out, and an upgrade to the next room category (subject to availability), plus complimentary stays for up to two children under 12 years old. 

Sunday 21 July 2024

Luxury on the banks of the Yarra River



The Yarra River meanders through the centre of Melbourne but somehow seems underutilised.

There are rowing crews training, sure, and the occasional river cruise, but largely it sits underappreciated and underused.

One Melbourne hotel that takes full advantage of its location right alongside the river is the excellent Pan Pacific Melbourne.


 











Not only is the hotel brilliantly located for enjoying the many waterfront bars and eateries at South Wharf, it offers expansive river views from most of its rooms. The views from mine are above (it was a grey Melbourne day, unfortunately). 

It is also right on the doorstep of the massive Direct Factory Outlet shopping facility, and the Melbourne Convention Centre.



Pan Pacific Melbourne is also just a short stroll along the riverbank from the Crown Casino and Southern Cross Station. So location, location, location.

Even entry level rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, along with en-suite bathrooms with both bath tubs and walk-in showers.

There is a choice of king-sized bed or twin beds and an executive writing table with ergonomic desk chair. Perfect for those who have work to do while staying. There are bathrobes, slippers and a hairdryer, along with Balmain (Pierre not the Sydney suburb) toiletries.

Each room has a large LG LED television with local and cable channels and movies on demand; high-speed wifi. a safe, tea- and coffee-making facilities and a minibar if requested.

There are a range of packages available; per haps chocolate and bubbles in the room, or an afternoon high tea.

In my opinion is well worth upgrading your room choice, or being a member of Pan Pacific's Discovery club, to have access to the Pan Pacific Club during your stay.

Check into a Yarra Suite (above) for a seriously decadent getaway: a splendid view of the River, a separate lounge area, club lounge access and lots of little extras.



Access to the fourth-floor Pacific Club (above) offers a full buffet breakfast (very good it is, too). and the chance to enjoy canapes with cocktails in the evening, along with access to computers and a printer.

The evening spread is so good it can replace dinner if you don't want to leave the hotel.

Other Pacific Club benefits include all-day refreshments and pressing or dry cleaning of up to two pieces of clothing per room per night. There is a nice chilled vibe here.

Food and beverage outlets include Dock 37 Bar and Kitchen, Café Orr or 24-hour room service.

Did I mention the staff? I found them uniformly excellent; helpful and smiling across the board. 

Pan Pacific Melbourne is at 2 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf, Melbourne. Check out https://www.panpacific.com/

* The writer was hosted by Pan Pacific Melbourne 

Tourism booms in Japan with record number of visitors



Japan is definitely the favourite Asian destination for discerning travellers right now.

Japan welcomed a million more foreign visitors in the first half of 2024 compared to pre-pandemic levels, logging a new record of 17.78 million, national tourism organisation the JNTO announced.

The weak yen is attracting large crowds to Japan, with tourists splashing out on everything from kimonos to knives, boosting the local economy, AFP reported.

The January-June figure beat the previous high from 2019 of 16.63 million, an influx that has prompted overcrowding concerns at hotspots such as Kyoto and Mount Fuji.

"It is important that we promote rural regions to visitors, while taking measures against overtourism," Prime Minister Fumio Kushida.told a cabinet meeting on the nation's efforts to expand inbound tourism.

Japan is expecting 35 million overseas visitors in 2024.

Over the 2023 calendar year, 25 million visitors came to Japan, after strict pandemic-era border restrictions were lifted.

The country has set an ambitious goal of luring 60 million tourists a year by 2030 - around double 2019's full-year record of 31.88 million.

But some residents are already fed up with unruly behaviour and etiquette breaches by some foreign visitors.

In a town near Mount Fuji in May, authorities mounted a large barrier at a popular viewing spot next to a convenience store in an attempt to deter photo-taking.

New crowd control measures have been put in place on the volcano's most popular hiking trail, which now has an entry fee of 2,000 yen ($20) plus an optional donation.

Locals in historic Kyoto have complained of tourists harassing the city's famed geishas, with visitors now banned from some private alleys.

And the mayor of Himeji has said the western Japanese city, famous for its castle, could make tourists pay four times as much as locals to visit the World Heritage site.

Saturday 20 July 2024

Out of the black and into the pasta



Hugely experienced Irish-born chef Peter Roddy has launched a new dining concept, Pastarami, at the former Noir Restaurant site in Melbourne.

Roddy has worked at Gordon Ramsey’s Amarylliss in Glasgow and Michel Roux Jr’s Le Gavroche in London, and also done a stint in New Zealand.

Roddy - along with partner Ebony Vagg and former Noir head chef Jonno Phillips - is looking for a "simpler, brighter and lighter" vibe at Pastarami after closing Richmond favourite Noir in March.

The spotlight will be on freshly made pasta crafted daily by Roddy and Phillips using an imported Italian pasta machine.

Sauces are made on-site and can take up to two days to prepare.

With a move away from all black, the venue has been renovated with the fit-out (below) designed by Brandworks.


Menu highlights include snacks such as crostini with miso tuna or Calabrian anchovy, ricotta and dill.

Small plates will feature beef carpaccio, capers, lemon and Parmesan, and stracciatella, pumpkin panzanella and kale pesto.

In addition to pasta dishes priced from $20-26, main attractions include the confit duck with cavatelli, smoked cinnamon and mushroom.

Diners can opt for a la carte (with a recommendation to share three pastas between two people), or the the Chef's Choice Pastarami Party which includes six shared plates including focaccia, snacks, two pasta and a salad for $49 a head.

Roddy has put together the wine list himself and cocktails are also set to star.

Pastarami is at 175 Swan Street, Richmond. www.pastarami.com.au.



earthworks: a wine brand that focuses on grape growers

 

The earthworks brand has been part of the Hill Smith family's wine portfolio for over 20 years, but it has tended to fly under the radar.

Now a new marketing campaign, Dig a Little Deeper, plans to get new sets of eyes on the brand, which retails for around $20 a bottle.

HSFE says it is reintroducing the label, which focuses of the families who grow the grapes across the state of South Australia.

Originally launched in 2003, earthworks Barossa Shiraz has been a consistent on premise and in Coles liquor stores.

"This year, we are proud to launch a new campaign, Dig a Little Deeper, which pays tribute to the family growers who have grown the exceptional fruit that forms the heart and soul of earthworks wines," the company says.

"Over time, the collection has grown to encompass fruit from these Barossa families across their South Australian vineyards.

"The setting of this campaign is James Hage’s vineyard next to his home in the Barossa." See the campaign video here.

The range encompasses earthworks Barossa Shiraz 2022, earthworks Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2022, earthworks Tempranillo 2022, earthworks Riesling 2023 and earthworks Rosé 2023.

All five wines offer good-value midweek drinking with the riesling and rosé both zippy and approachable - both are recommended - and the cabernet just edging out the shiraz as the best red. 

It was, however, disappointing that the rosé label gives no indication of the grape varieties involved. I’d also like to see a breakdown of where the fruit comes from in the wines lazily labelled as "South Australia". 

After all, the brand is all about the earth. Let us know what earth.   

Friday 19 July 2024

Qantas unveils high-tech lighting plans for Project Sunrise



Ultra-high technology including innovative and customisable cabin lighting inspired by the colours of the Australian landscape will feature on Qantas’ upcoming Project Sunrise ultra-long-haul flights to help minimise jetlag and improve customer wellbeing.

The design is a result of more than 150 hours of testing in the Airbus Customer Definition Centre in Hamburg where representatives from Qantas, Airbus, the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and Caon Design Office created and tested hundreds of lighting patterns and sequences in an Airbus A350 cabin mockup.

Qantas and the Charles Perkins Centre last year released preliminary findings on how to potentially reduce the impacts of jetlag by reshaping the inflight travel experience, based on world-first research conducted during test flights for the Project Sunrise program.

Based on state-of-the-art modelling of circadian rhythms, the Charles Perkins Centre advised the optimal spectral irradiances for light to promote circadian adaption, sleep, and wake. 

These were implemented and tested throughout the lighting workshops in Hamburg and adjusted for eye comfort and appearance.

The lighting sequence will be tailored to help passengers adjust to their destination time zone before they set foot on the ground.

The trial has produced a series of 12 unique lighting scenarios specifically for the Project Sunrise flights.

The main cabin will also have Welcome and Farewell lighting scenes for boarding and disembarking, as well as tailored scenes for taxi, take-off and landing, and sleep, the airline said in a statement.

The Wellbeing Zone will feature soft blue-enriched light creating a daytime sky effect with slow-moving clouds during ‘the day’ to keep customers awake, and a moonlight inspired scene with reflections of water rippling to relax customers who spend time in the Wellbeing Zone while the rest of the cabin is in a dark period.

In a first for the airline, the six enclosed First Suites will offer a fully customisable lighting sequence for their environment that means customers can choose the time zone they want to be on for the duration of the flight.

Qantas International CEO Cam Wallace said the "scientifically informed" lighting design was a critical component of the preparation for Project Sunrise flights, which will connect Australia’s east coast non-stop with London and New York.

“These world-first flights have been an opportunity for us to work with experts and build on our experience of long-haul flying to rethink the inflight experience with a focus on customer wellbeing and combating the effects of jetlag,” Wallace said.

“One of the things that was clear from the research is the importance of light cycles and brightness in setting the body clock - and that was the basis of this testing.

“Combined with the design of the cabins, specialised meal planning, and the movement program, this unique lighting sequence will help improve our customers’ comfort in the air and minimise their jetlag when they arrive at their destination.”

Australian industrial designer David Caon said the lighting workshops followed more than five years of cabin design with Qantas to maximise customer wellbeing inflight.

“Aircraft lighting doesn’t cross the mind of most travellers but the external light cycle of night and day has more impact on our circadian rhythm and the impact of jetlag than any other factor,” Caon said.

Dr Sveta Postnova from the Charles Perkins Centre said: “It’s great to see circadian science being translated into practice.

“The new lighting scenarios for A350 were developed to optimise the circadian effects of light at different times during flights while accounting for the light appearance, ambience, safety, and hardware requirements on board."

Tasmanian wine businesses on the market



One of Tasmania's highest-profile wine producers is for sale, along with several smaller wineries and vineyards.

The huge Nocton Park property, just outside Richmond in the Coal River Valley, hit the market this week with Nutrien Harcourts offering the business for sale by expressions of interest closing on August 30.

The Nocton property includes 608 hectares on three titles with 35 hectares of vineyards planted largely with pinot noir, chardonnay, merlot and sauvignon blanc.

Much of the fruit used to be sold but is now released under the Storm Bay and Nocton labels. The cellar door facility is also part of the sale.

Also for sale is the former Panorama Vineyard, now called Lucille, at Cradoc in the Huon Valley south of Hobart.

Planted mainly with pinot noir, and a small amount of chardonnay, the vineyard is currently owned by the Lubiana family.

The property has a mothballed winery complete with offices, cellar door, bottling plant, and a climate-controlled barrel hall housing 300 barrels. It encompasses five freehold titles, with approximately 9.3 hectares of vineyards.

Brownwood Vineyard, with 17.6 hectares of vines planted in 2019 with pinot noir, chardonnay and riesling, is also available to buy in the Coal River Valley.

Other wine businesses for sale in Tasmania include Velo at Legana, just north of Launceston, where vines were first planted on site in 1965.

Velo has a modern cellar door and Timbre Kitchen, with chef Matt Adams as a key tenant. It is offered with all plant/machinery, the business, wine club and stock

Nearby Brook Eden at Lebrina, planted in 1988 was enlarged in 2015 to complete three hectares of vines. It is for sale, along with Winter Brook at Loira in the Tamar Valley, which has 3.2 hectares under vine and a further 0.8 hectares in preparation for planting.

Opportunities abound. 


Thursday 18 July 2024

The best month of the year to immerse yourself in Hahndorf


It has a new name but will offer all the fun visitors have come to expect from previous years. 

More than 40 intimate experiences and events have been announced for the 2024 Hahndorf festival over the month of September.

Previously known as Hahndorf. Handmade. Handcrafted. Handpicked, the popular festival has been renamed Hahndorf Immersed. 

The new Hahndorf Immersed aims to champions local artisans who operate in and around the main street of the historic South Australian village, located in the Adelaide Hills. 

Carolyn Cattrall, chairperson of Hahndorf Business & Tourism Association, said the town has a rich lineage of artisan culture.

“This festival celebrates our unique traders," she said. "From leather smiths, candle makers, artisan cheese and chocolate, journalling [wot?], floristry and a plethora of art related experiences - there really is something for everyone in our beautiful village,” she said.

New events on the program include fun for the whole family at The Haus with a sweet pretzel decorating class; learning the art of sabrage and making a spring bouquet with brunch and bubbles at Sidewood Estate. 

Maybe crafting your own clay masterpiece at the Hahndorf Academy’s pottery making class; a private, educational and personal opal cutting demonstration with your own polished stone valued at $150 to take home at the end of the session at the Opal and Gemstone Studio; or experimenting with calligraphy and wax stamping at Walden’s General Store. 

“With overwhelming positive feedback from event goers and traders alike, this year’s event program is as diverse as we are, and there is truly something for everyone," said Catrall. 

"Some experiences only happen once and some happen every day, but all events are small - so get in quick to avoid disappointment,” said Cattrall. 

The festival starts on Sunday, September 1, and runs for the entire month with both midweek and weekend experiences. 

See https://hahndorfsa.org.au/

Thailand makes tourists even more welcome


Thailand has confirmed new stimulus visa measures to boost the Thai economy through travel and tourism.

What that means for you and me is that we can stay for longer without visa hassles.

The new measures include 60-day visa exemption and Visa on Arrival (VOA) schemes and Destination Thailand Visa (DTV), which take immediate effect.

Thailand will grant visa exemption for nationals of 93 countries and territories - up from 57 countries previously.

Visitors under this scheme will be allowed to stay for tourism purposes and short-term business engagements for a period not exceeding 60 days, which can be extended at the Immigration Office for another period not exceeding 30 days.

These countries are: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea (ROK), Kosovo, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Türkiye, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

Thailand will also allow nationals of 31 countries and territories, up from 19 countries previously, to apply for VOA at the immigration checkpoints on arrival. Visitors under this scheme will be allowed to stay for tourism purposes for a period not exceeding 15 days.

Thailand is also introducing a new visa measure, Destination Thailand Visa (DTV) for remote workers, digital nomads, and freelancers as well as participants of activities like Muay Thai courses, Thai cooking classes, sport training, medical treatments, seminars, and music festivals. Spouses and dependent children of DTV holders will also be eligible.

Foreigners who wish to apply for this visa must have a proof of funds, or a guarantee of not less than 500,000 Baht ($21,000) for the duration of stay. The visa fee is 10,000 Baht ($415).

DTV holders, together with spouses and dependent children, will be entitled to a five-year stay with multiple entries for cumulative stays not exceeding 180 days, which can be extended for another 180 days.

Image: Visit Bangkok 

The lowdown on the Penfolds 2024 Collection

 

What a remarkable array of premium wines.

The Penfolds Collection 2024 is launched today and while the release of a new Penfolds Grange usually grabs the headlines, the new collection is just as noteworthy for its strength in depth.

From collectibles to affordables, the new releases are remarkably excellent across the board, and wine lovers do not have to spend a fortune to find a wine full of interest.

The new releases mark the 180th birthday of Australia's most famous wine brand - and I was among those fortunate enough to attend a pre-release tasting at the Kalimna Homestead in the Barossa a couple of weeks ago.

Like those who tasted in London, Paris, New York and other cities around the globe, my thoughts were subject to an embargo until now.

Here is the full list of the new releases we tasted along with chief winemaker Peter Gago (below), followed by my ideas on what to buy.



The Penfolds Collection 2024 (RRP $AU) 
Australia
2020 Grange $1,000.00
2022 Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon $800.00
2022 Yattarna Chardonnay $220.00
2022 RWT Bin 798 Barossa Valley Shiraz $200.00
2022 Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon $300.00
2022 Magill Estate Shiraz $165.00
2021 St Henri Shiraz $135.00
2023 Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay $125.00
2022 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz $120.00
2022 Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon $130.00
2022 Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz $100.00
2022 Bin 28 Shiraz $50.00
2022 Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz $75.00
2022 Bin 138 Barossa Valley Grenache Shiraz Mataro $60.00
2023 Bin 21 Grenache $60.00
2023 Bin 23 Pinot Noir $55.00
2023 Bin 311 Chardonnay $55.00
2024 Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling $45.00
US 
2021 Bin 149 Cabernet Sauvignon $275.00
2021 Bin 704 Cabernet Sauvignon $125.00
2021 Bin 600 Cabernet Shiraz $90.00
2021 Howell Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc $450.00
France
2022 Penfolds II Cabernet Sauvignon $500.00
2021 FWT 585 Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot Merlot $120.00
China
2022 CWT 521 Cabernet Sauvignon Marselan $150.00
Penfolds Commemorative Bin 180 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz 2021 Release:
2021 Bin 180 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz $1,180



The Penfolds Collection spans four country of origin releases, with 25 wines made from exceptional vineyards across Australia, US, France, and China. The range represents great work from winemakers including Steph Dutton, Andrew Baldwin, Kym Schroeter, Shavaughn Wells and Matt Woo.  

Alongside the 2024 Penfolds Collection, the commemorative Bin 180 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz 2021 is being released to honour Penfolds 180th anniversary milestone. 

“Our goal was to craft a landmark wine to acknowledge Penfolds 180th anniversary," says Gago. 

To celebrate the Bin 180 release, Penfolds has partnered with South Australian artisan Andrew Bartlett to design a limited-edition art piece to enclose the rare 3-litre jeroboam Bin 180 wines. If you have a lazy $18,000 lying around.

Here are my 10 personal favourites from the tasting. You may not share my palate, but these were the wines that shine for me, from $1000 a bottle to $45. 

Penfolds 2020 Grange: Grange has a global reputation for excellence for good reason. This is a blend of the parcels of shiraz from around South Australia. Powerful. Precise. Pleasurable. A benchmark, as always, albeit from a difficult vintage. Classy, compelling but will be better given some time in the cellar. 

Penfolds Magill Estate 2022 Shiraz: A really lovely, elegant vintage. Great length and texture but with immediate approachability. A delightful, impactful take on the house style.  

Penfolds Bin 138 2022 Shiraz Grenache Mataro: This might be the biggest bargain in the release. A classic Barossa blend that delivers flavour and texture in spades. Very tempting. Very approachable. Very rewarding.

Penfolds 2022 Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon: A wine celebrating 60 years since its first release (1964). Full-bodied and with proven cellaring potential. It's big and powerful with flavours ranging from tapenade to choc mint, but it all comes together.  

Penfolds 2024 Bin 51 Riesling: Vibrant, fresh and flavoursome: classic Eden Valley citrus, minerality and acidity. Ready to enjoy with pan-fried whiting and terrific value. 

Penfolds 2022 Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet: Classic Coonawarra cabernet with swagger and style. Enjoy now, or cellar.    
  
Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz: Stylish and sophisticated with a potent line of precision. Delivers exactly what you'd hope for. Serious value here.  

Penfolds Bin 407 2022 Cabernet Sauvignon: I could drink a lot of this blend from five regions. Sweet fruit and very solid core. Depth and deliciousness. A great dinner party choice. 

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz: Immediately enjoyable, this is very stylish with its punchy but astutely-judged palate. 
 
Penfolds Bin 21 2023 Grenache: Another one of the serious bargains on  offer. Only the second release of this lip-smacking food friendly wine. A blend of Barossa and McLaren Vale fruit that is very varietal and wallet friendly.  

A shout out, too, to the CWT (Chinese Winemaking Trial) Bin 521 2022 Cabernet Sauvignon Marselan, an experimental blend that has worked impressively. Think dark, sweet fruit flavours and exotic spices notes. 

* The wines of The Penfolds Collection 2024 will be available globally from August 1. See www.penfolds.com.

Wednesday 17 July 2024

New owner for major Australian and New Zealand wine labels

 

Some of the most famous wine brands in Australia and New Zealand have a new owner.

Labels including Jacob's Creek, St Hugo and Brancott Estate will now come under the Accolade banner, if government approval is forthcoming.

Accolade Wines and Pernod Ricard reached an agreement concerning the sale of 10 key wine brands, Drinks Trade is reporting.

The deal, signed in Paris on Tuesday night, will see Accolade. Australia’s second-largest wine producer acquire Pernod Ricard’s Australian, New Zealand, and Spanish wine brand portfolios. 

“Combining Accolade Wines with the Pernod Ricard assets will create a more certain and financially sustainable future for the business, allowing us to better serve our customers, in more segments and more geographies," said Joshua Hartz, spokesperson for Australian Wine Holdco Limited (AWL).

AWL became the equity owners of Accolade Wines in February this year.

The transaction includes the sale of Australian brands Jacob’s Creek, Orlando, and St Hugo, New Zealand brands Stoneleigh, Brancott Estate and Church Road, and Spanish brands Campo Viejo, Ysios, Tarsus and Azpilicueta.

Accolade Wines will acquire all associated assets of each brand, which includes an integrated platform from vineyard to bottle alongside seven wineries, Drinks Trade says.

Accolade is an international wine business with headquarters in South Australia. It has been owned by the Carlyle Group, an American company, since 2018. Bain Capital now holds a controlling interest. 

It makes wines under labels including Hardys, St Hallett, Grant Burge and Banrock Station, as well as Mud House in New Zealand.

Tetsuya snares a new Michelin star

Influential Australian chef Tetsuya Wakuda has earned another Michelin star just six months after opening a new restaurant.

Sagetsu by Tetsuya was this month awarded a star in the third edition of the annual Michelin Guide Dubai.

The restaurant only opened in February but was listed among four two-star and 15 one-star restaurants in Dubai.

Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, said: “Dubai is now truly recognised as an international gastronomic destination and its impressive development continues year on year. Its appeal isn’t just with international travellers or local gourmets; talented chefs and restaurateurs from around the world are now also attracted by its vibrant dining scene and arrive keen to make their own mark in the city."

Tetsyua's in Sydney, an icon over almost four decades, will close its door on July 31 but the Japanese-born chef still runs eateries in Singapore and Dubai. He also operates Wakuda restaurant at The Venetian resort in Las Vegas. 

The award came just weeks after Japanese restaurant Waku Ghin, helmed by Wakuda in Singapore, dropped to the one-star tier after holding two stars for several years.

Sagetsu by Tetsuya, part of the One&Only One Za'abeel complex, earned praise from the Michelin inspectors.

"In a place where the moon and sand meet, as the name suggests, chef Tetsuya Wakuda's cuisine brings together Japanese precision and French techniques," the guide says.

"The tasting menu clearly conveys the essence of the dishes, highlighting balanced flavours made with few ingredients.

"The signature dishes, such as a sea urchin with Bohan shrimp, are complemented by the restaurant’s remarkable sake selection. An omakase experience is recommended to step into the mind of the chef. The décor is minimal and chic as it uses a lot of stone and wood, helping to create a serene Japanese atmosphere, with views of Dubai’s urban skyline."

Sagetsu by Tetsuya is located on a 120-metre cantilever between two high-rise towers.


The perfect time to mix some art with your wine



Fancy combining some arts and crafts with your wine tastings and long lunches?

The Margaret River Region Open Studios event will run from September 7-22 with 144 artists from Busselton to Augusta showcasing their creativity.

A 56-page Event Guide is now available in hard copy and online and artist workshops are open for bookings.

During the 16 days of the award-winning event, the largest of its kind in Australia, artists throw open their studio doors and invite the public in for a 'fly on the wall' experience of an artist creating.

“As our artists' practice and confidence grows, so does their desire to make each year's Margaret River Region Open Studios an enriched experience for their visitors," says event deputy chair and potter Jacquie Happ.

“MRROS is blessed to have a loyal following of art lovers,” she said. “In fact, last year more than 70% of our visitors were returning to the event.

“They will often revisit the studios of their favourite artists as well as seeking out new talent.

“Open Studios allows artists to grow their following and emboldens them to create fresh bodies of work each year, and perhaps try out new techniques to get instant feedback from visiting art lovers.”

Several artists will be opening new purpose-built art studios for this year's event.

Artists featured include painters, potters, printmakers, photographers, mosaicists, mixed media artists, metalwork and timber craftspeople, textile creators, illustrators, installation artists, sculptors, glassmakers, jewellers, textile makers, upcyclers, ceramicists, and furniture makers

In 2023 the event attracted approximately 15,000 visitors who made 145,000 studio visits.

And, of course, there are also all those cellar doors to visit.   

See www.mrropenstudios.com.au

Tuesday 16 July 2024

Wine region builds on what Russians started 200 years ago



It is 200 years since migrant adventurers from Russia planted the first vines in what is now one of the major vineyard regions in the US: Sonoma County.

The history of those migrants lives on in names like the Russian River Valley and Sebastopol.

The first vines in the region were planted at Fort Ross on the Sonoma coast and this milestone in California's wine industry will be marked at events like the Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival.

Two centuries on and Sonoma towns like Healdsburg and Petaluma are magnets for wine and food lovers from around the world, particularly given they are only a short drive north of San Francisco.

Among the summer drawcards are the Russian River Valley Wine Weekend, which runs from August 2-4 and showcases local wines with live music performances.

The Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance and Foundation hold the Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival, celebrating Sonoma Valley's rich winemaking heritage during California Wine Month.

Against the backdrop of the historic colonial Sonoma Plaza, visitors can enjoy a weekend filled with food, wine, and communal festivities. 

Attendees can experience the festival spirit through events like Vintage Movie Night, the Sonoma Valley Harvest Dinner at Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Blessing of the Grapes, Sonoma Valley Grape Stomp, and the Artisan Festival of Food & Wine from September 26-29.

For more information visit sonomacounty.com

Revamp lifts airport hotel to new heights



Staying at an airport hotel can take a leap of faith.

We've all likely trekked in the rain while pulling heavy suitcases to a hotel located in a remote part of an airport precinct, or waited a very long time for a "regular" shuttle bus to arrive and then take its sweet time stopping at various locations before dropping you at a hotel that is 5-10km away from the actual airport.

The newly refurbed Parkroyal Airport Melbourne is a glorious exception; located directly opposite the terminals and accessed via covered pedestrian walkways that protect you from Melbourne's notorious weather.

This is a welcoming hotel, too, with a lively vibe and impressive facilities.
 


The refurb has resulted in a lighter colour palette, more greenery and bedrooms that are very up to date with plenty of easily accessible power points and USB slots so you can make sure all your gear is fully charged before you fly.

Many of the rooms have direct runway views - ask for one if you are keen on watching aircraft take off and land. There are Nespresso machines, too, and a range of TV and movie options. 

On-site amenities, including modern Australian restaurant Airo (more in a moment) , a 24-hour gym, a heated indoor lap pool, spa, sauna and steam room.

The refurbishment, which I'm assured was badly needed, spans all 276 guest rooms, the lobby, restaurant, café, and bar, as well as the hotel’s meeting and events floor - which includes a business centre with computers.

The guest rooms, with a range of family rooms on offer, have been lifted by decorations inspired by Australian lifestyles and nature. The corridors are long, so ask for one near the lifts if you have mobility issues.

The new-look lobby is bright and airy and reception is manned 24 hours - ideal for late arrivals or for anyone whose evening flight is cancelled.

Airo Restaurant is adjacent to Airo Café and Airo Bar, where several guests were chilling out when I stayed earlier this month.

Great news, too, for any whose flight is delayed for several hours: the Parkroyal Melbourne Airport offers the chance to purchase a Day Pass; meaning they can swap hanging around the airport for resting in a guest room, relaxing in the spa, or enjoying a meal at Airo. 

It's an unsurprisingly popular option for those experiencing flight delays or stop-overs.

There is also the chance for those without lounge access at the airport to use the hotel's Bar Airo lounge, and stay connected with free wifi, or use leisure facilities including the pool, gym, spa and sauna. Inclusive of showering and changing facilities for just $25.



I'm not usually a huge fan of hotel dining but the staff at Airo were particularly welcoming and all three courses I sampled were impressive: from colourful and tasty Australian baby Bay Lobster with lumpfish caviar, millet, crustacean rouille, radish and lobster oil to perfectly cook Black Angus Beef eye fillet with Otway Dutch Cream pommes puree, baby broccolini, cipollini onion, red wine jus.

Dessert was Madagascar vanilla panna cotta with Tasmanian Elderberry essence, sparkling pressed pineapple, pistachio.

The wine list is adequate without frightening the horses.

There is a 24-hour room service on offer should you arrive at some ungodly hour.    

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay - and loved the convenience of this Pan Pacific property.

Guests who book before August 15 can take advantage of isavings of up to 25% on flexible rates for stays until December 30.

Full details here: https://www.panpacific.com/en/hotels-and-resorts/pr-melbourne-airport.html

* The writer was a guest of Parkroyal Melbourne Airport 

New Hunter winery restaurant aims to offer something different


The Hunter Valley is to get a new winery restaurant with a menu designed to accompany "natural" wines.

Harkham Wines will open a restaurant on their grounds to sit alongside their cellar door from Thursday.

The restaurant will have a relaxed atmosphere, a simple menu designed for sharing and live music from local talent. 

Harkham is a family-owned and -operated winery with a focus is on small-batch, single-vineyard varietal wines that are hand-harvested and left to ferment with minimal intervention.

The Harkham family were the first in the Hunter when, back in 2005, they started to produce "natural" and "orange" wines, which were made in clay amphorae.

Only 20,000 bottles are produced each year, with many going on to be sold at restaurants including Brae, Margaret and Bentley Restaurant & Bar.

“We are really proud of the Harkham brand and all that we have done in our almost 20 years," says owner and winemaker Richie Harkham

"Not long ago we identified a gap in the market for a casual offering where people can come to enjoy simple food paired beautifully with a glass of Hunter Valley semillon or shiraz rather than locking into a fine dining experience with a two-course minimum."

Harkham has worked with restaurateur and friend Marco Ambrosino and newly appointed Harkham head chef Shaun Nash (ex-Cutler and Co) on the menu. 

Well-travelled sous chef Robin Clough will support Nash.

The menu will be split into sections: starters and snacks, protein, pasta, pizza, sides and dessert .

Think dishes like fried olives with goat’s cheese; meatballs with parmesan and Napoli sauce; spaghetti aglio olio, veal cotoletta; and a fish of the day. Desserts will include tiramisu and a selection of cheeses.

A snack menu with a smaller selection of small and share plates will be on offer outside of main meal times.

Harkham’s new restaurant will be open from 12pm-5pm on Thursdays (lunch), 12pm-11pm on Fridays (lunch, snacks, dinner), 8am-11pm on Saturdays (breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner) and 8am-6pm Sundays (breakfast, lunch, snacks).

The cellar door is open 10am-5pm, Thursday through to Sunday and bookings can be made now via Harkham’s website.

Monday 15 July 2024

A very special wine of which there were only 576 bottles made

It is fair to say that the Cullen Wines 2022 Fruit Day Vanya is not a wine for everyone.

It is an exquisite red wine, full of palate interest, and is an absolute joy to drink, even in its youth. We paired it with steak and kidney casserole with dumplings, a match made in heaven.

The issue for most wine lovers is the $900 a bottle RRP - and the fact that only 576 bottles were made.

With the wine newly released at the Cullen cellar door, restaurant and website and being officially released to distributors on Friday, it will be the quick and the dead.

This gem ticks all the boxes for meticulous biodynamic winemaking - and is named for winemaker and long-time biodynamics advocate Vanya Cullen.

From a very good Margaret River vintage, the estate cabernet sauvignon fruit was harvested in late March "on a fruit day, with, Venus, Mars and Saturn in conjunction".

It was hand-picked, hand sorted and de-stemmed and then crushed to a 300-litre beeswax amphora and fermented with 46 days on skins before being pressed into a new flower day puncheon.

The juice was then matured in the new oak vessel for seven months before bottling on a fruit day.

There are classic vibrant cabernet characteristics; blackcurrant, tobacco leaf, minerality, chocolate and black cherry; a wine that is light-footed with impressive balance.

With a deft combination of intricacy, authenticity and approachability, this glides across the tongue like a vinous luxury yacht. 98 points for me.


Tourists slow to return to England



Almost everyone I talk to who has visited the UK recently has a comment about how expensive it is for tourists.

Perhaps that is the reason for reduced visitation.

VisitEngland’s annual report for 2023 shows visitsn to attractions still remain below pre-pandemic levels.

The 2023 Annual Survey of Visits to Visitor Attractions (snappy name!) found visitor numbers are recovering but still significantly down on 2019, Travel Mole reports.

Overall, visits to attractions in England were up 11% in 2023 compared to 2022 although still 28% down on 2019.

VisitEngland director Andrew Stokes said: “It’s good to see continued growth in visits to our attractions but there remains ground to be covered.”

The survey collected data information from 1,513 English attractions.

It shows the return of overseas visitors and an increase in school trips in 2023 has fuelled the increase, but domestic visits fell slightly by 2%.

The number of attraction visits in London was still down by 22% on 2019.

The Tower of London remains the top "paid for" attraction in England, with 2.8 million visitors. Kew Gardens follows with two million visitors.

The British Museum is the top "free attraction" with 5.8 million visitors, with the Natural History Museum in second.

“These statistics give us a window into the challenges that many of England’s attractions are still facing, but it’s encouraging to see that numbers of visits are slowly climbing,” Historic England CEO Duncan Wilson said.

Image: VisitEngland 

Major international operator snaps up quirky Melbourne hotel


Quirky Melbourne property The Jazz Corner Hotel has been snapped up by Minor Hotels, one of the world’s fastest growing hotel groups.

The character-filled hotel will continue to operate under its current name.

It is known for its musical offerings, with both international and domestic live performances almost every night in its Bird’s Basement jazz venue.

Located in Melbourne’s legal district, opposite Flagstaff Gardens and walking distance from the Queen Victoria Markets, the hotel is close to many top restaurants and bars.

It is an easy stroll to some of Melbourne’s best shopping, including Melbourne Central, Emporium Melbourne and Bourke St Mall, and a short distance from the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Marvel Stadium for sports fans.

Guests can choose from a range of themed suites with city skyline or park views which pay homage to jazz legends, including the Ella Fitzgerald Studio, the Charlie Parker and the Frank Sinatra King Business Suite.



All of which include kitchen and dining areas, in-room laundries, mini-bars, designer bathrooms, coffee machines and the latest TV and casting technology.

On-site amenities for the recently refurbed 74-room property include a café and the Mezzanine restaurant & bar for cocktails and casual dining, as well as a fully equipped gym.

“We are excited to add this distinctive property to our Melbourne portfolio,” said Craig Hooley, Chief Operating Officer for Minor Hotels Australia and New Zealand.

“Melbourne is a vibrant city with a dynamic music, nightlife and major events scene, and The Jazz Corner Hotel is ideally situated for travellers to access everything the city has to offer – then unwind whilst enjoying live jazz performances in the comfort of their hotel.”

Minor Hotels is an international hotel owner, operator and investor currently with more than 530 hotels in operation in 56 countries across Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Europe, South America and North America.

For more information, please visit www.minorhotels.com

 

Sunday 14 July 2024

New Air India technology to track baggage




Air India has rolled out a real-time baggage tracking tool on its website and app.

Launching ahead of many competitors, the app comes in response to many complaints about delayed and mishandled baggage, Travel Mole reports. 

The airline says it is a comprehensive tracking system that only a few other airlines globally can match.

It enables passengers to track the location throughout the journey.

It will provide status updates at various stages like check-in, security clearance, loading the aircraft, and when it arrives at the baggage claim area.

“The status coverage includes all important baggage touch points where baggage tracking technology is available,” the airline said in a media statement.

Expo aims to boost wine businesses in China

 

Want to know what is happening in the wine industry in China? 

Why not find out from the horse's mouth when international experts and enterprises involved in the wine industry are set to gather in north-west China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, China's leading wine-producing area, for an expo next month.

The China (Ningxia) International Wine Culture and Tourism Expo will be held in Yinchuan from August 9-11. 

The expo will have the optimistic theme "Chinese wine, a marvel to the world --good wine originates from unique terroir". 

More than 60 wineries and exhibitors from countries including France, Australia, Italy, Spain and Chile will attend the three-day expo, which will feature a wine carnival, competitions and other events.

Huang Siming, director of the management committee of a wine industrial park at the eastern foot of Helan Mountain, told Xinhua that Ningxia has since 2012 been host for nine editions of the International Wine Expo. 

"The upgrade of the wine expo makes a bigger circle of friends for Ningxia, and helps the region expand its market, share the opportunities and achieve win-win deals with friends through co-operation," said Huang.

Local officials say Ningxia "boasts a unique terroir for making top-class wine, with its prolonged sunshine and a cool, dry climate aiding the cultivation of grapes".

Ningxia has emerged as China's largest wine-producing region. It boasts 40,133 hectares of grape plantations and 253 wineries. 

Image: Vineyard at the eastern foot of Helan Mountain in Ningxia

Chocolate producer helping the environment



Plant-based, gluten- free organic chocolate producer Pana Organic will be walking the walk on July 28 when it aims to plant up to 2,000 new trees on the Mornington Peninsula.

It will be part of its annual tree-planting initiative, building on the existing Pana Organic forest.
 
Aligned with National Tree Day, Pana Organic will be planting native plants without pesticides to ensure they are helping build habitats for native wildlife in Hastings/Somers.

Pana Organic says it wants the event to bring community together and work together for the greater good of our planet.



The founder of Pana Organic, Pana Barbounis, says events like this are important to him and the entire Pana Organic brand.

Pana Organic has teamed up with Fifteen Trees and the Somers/Hastings Koala Habitat Project for the initiative. 

Coordinated by the Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation (MPKC), the project sees partners plant trees in existing koala corridors, thereby encouraging koalas out of urban areas and away from the many threats they face. 

‘To achieve our goals, we need funding to purchase trees for the wildlife corridors. All money received goes directly towards bringing our project and goals to life," Dirk Jansen, co-ordinator at The Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation said. 

“Thank you to Pana Organics and Fifteen Trees for your assistance in purchasing trees on our behalf and, indeed, for coming out to plant too.” 

The revegetation project is also backed by Mornington Peninsula Shire, Parks Victoria and the Department of Defence. 

Saturday 13 July 2024

French activists block cruise ship



It is not just Venice and Amsterdam where locals are heartily sick of cruise ships.

Environmental activists in Brittany, France, recently prevented passengers from a cruise ship from entering the port of Concarneau in Finistère, news portal Travel Mole reported.

Activist groups including Stop Croisiè, res BZH and Extinction Rebellion prevented the Seven Seas Voyager ship from tendering guests ashore.

Some protestors even took to the water brandishing a banner reading ‘We are the iceberg’ - a nod to the Titanic disaster,

The Seven Sea Voyager can accommodate almost 700 guests, who some locals did want to see.

“We think they’re an ecological absurdity and a symbol of social inequality,” one activist told local newspaper Ouest France.

Opposition against cruise ship visits has been growing.

Last year residents of the nearby port of Douarnenez jeered cruise passengers with shouts of "you are not welcome" and "shame on you".

That was directed at guests of the Atlas Ocean Voyages ship World Traveller, which only accommodates about 100 passengers.

In southern France, Marseille mayor Benoît Payan has openly criticized large cruise ships which he called "floating cities".

A 2023 study revealed Marseille and Channel port Le Havre were among Europe’s most polluted ports.

Sculpture at Champagne Pol Roger honours Sir Winston Churchill

It is alleged that the late British statesman Sir Winston Churchill drank two bottles of Pol Roger Champagne a day.

Now a two-metre tall bronze statue of Churchill has been unveiled at the Champagne house he had such a lifelong affection for.

Unveiled earlier this month, the striking artwork was crafted by British painter and sculptor Paul Rafferty, who lives on the French Riviera, and has written a book about Churchill’s paintings of the south of France, wine news portal drinks business reports.

While the World War II prime minister was loved for his eccentricities, cigar smoking and Champagne consumption. He was also a prolific artist and painted over 550 pictures in his lifetime.

Rafferty has depicted Churchill at his easel, painting his Bottlescape (1926).

The sculpture also highlights the British statesman’s other passions: not only is he puffing on a cigar, but there is a Pol Roger ice bucket at his feet, in which rests Churchill’s alleged favourite cuvée: Champagne Pol Roger Brut Vintage 1928.

The sculpture was unveiled by Lord Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill, Randolph Churchill, Churchill’s great grandson, and Hubert de Billy, fifth generation family member of Champagne Pol Roger.

Guests enjoyed dinner in the newly built Salle de Bûcher, the former woodshed of the Pol Roger family home, where they were served the Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2013 in Jeroboam.

The room sits some 30 metres above the Pol Roger cellars in which lies 10 million bottles of maturing champagne. Less than 100 metres away sits 44 Avenue de Champagne, the former home of Jacques and Odette Pol Roger and immortalised by Winston Churchill as “The most drinkable address in the world.”