Monday, 22 May 2017

The world's greatest rugby team is looking for two special fans

Are you crazy about rugby union? Would you do anything to get up close and personal with the All Blacks? 

Air New Zealand and New Zealand Rugby are searching the world for two All Black "apprentices" to join the world's leading rugby team as they take on Samoa in Auckland on June 16.

The "volunteer" positions are the first of their kind within the All Blacks camp. The apprentices will stay at the All Blacks’ hotel and assist the team both in preparation for the match and on game day, including         assisting in the setting up of the team’s Captain’s Run on the day before the game before joining the team for lunch;   attending an exclusive Q and A session with All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen and players.

The apprentices will also help to set up the All Blacks’ coaches box, sideline and bench on game day and watch the game from their own private sideline bench. One will also be responsible for running the ball on to the field for kick-off.

Air New Zealand will provide transport to Auckland from anywhere across New Zealand - or around the world - for the successful applicants along with up to three friends or family members each. They will also receive accommodation and apprentices will wear special custom-made uniforms.

Hansen, no doubt masking his real feelings about the promotion, says fans of any age can apply.

“The main thing is these people need to be All Blacks supporters through and through and demonstrate a true love of the game," he says.

“Like any position on the All Blacks team we expect these spots will be hotly contested so applicants really need to sell themselves and show us how passionate they really are.”

Air New Zealand spokesman Jodi Williams says the airline has been a proud sponsor of the All Blacks for more than 20 years.

“Together with NZR we wanted to create a truly awesome opportunity for fans to go behind the scenes with the All Blacks and do their bit to help the team prepare for the test match against Samoa,” he said.
All Blacks supporters can apply now at Fans are encouraged to provide any supporting evidence of their suitability for this position – for example video, photos, written material or artwork. Applications close on June 5. 

# This story is a re-work of an Air New Zealand press release.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Meet the unique South African liqueur sold in over 100 countries

There is a fascinating story behind Amarula Cream, South Africa's global liqueur success story, which is now exported to 103 countries, including Australia and New Zealand.

The unique ingredient of the drink is marula, an indigenous African fruit the size of a small plum but oval in shape. The marula fruit cannot be cultivated but only grows wild and sun-ripens to a rich yellow, with a tough outer skin surrounding its fibrous, white flesh.

Amarula Cream is made with sugar, cream and the fruit of what is also locally called the Elephant tree or the Marriage Tree. Elephants enjoy eating the fruit of the marula tree and let locals know when the fruit is ripe and ready to be picked.

Because of the marula tree's association with elephants, producer Distell has made them its symbol and supports elephant conservation efforts, co-funding the Amarula Elephant Research Programme at the University of Natal, Durban.

In 2016 the Amarula Trust formed a partnership with conservation charity Wildlife Direct and its founder, Dr Paula Kahambu, working to protect the less than 400,000 elephants still surviving. The Amarula website contains details on how to help.

Amarula was first marketed in September 1989 and is now the second-largest-selling cream liqueur in the world. Its new-shaped bottle is based on a rescued elephant, Jabulani, who lives at an elephant camp in Hoedspuit, adjacent to the Kruger National Park.

The Amarula Lapa (the Sotho name for a gathering place) is the hospitality centre for the liqueur and is an ideal stop-off for anyone visiting the game parks of the Limpopo Province.

Made from traditional thatch, stone and wood, it offers educational films and lectures, light lunches and tastings of Amarula milkshakes and cocktails, including the Springbok, a popular South African chaser that is a combination of Creme de Menthe and Amarula Cream.

The lapa is just outside the town of Phalaborwa and is close to the processing plant where the fresh marula fruit is brought during the harvesting season, de-stoned and the pulp fermented before being transported to the distillery in Stellenbosch. It spends two years in French oak and has a soft caramel flavour. 

Well worth sampling at between $30-35 a bottle.

Amarula Lapa is at 4311 First Avenue, R40, Phalaborwa, 1390, South Africa. It is open 8am-5pm weekdays and 8am-4pm Saturdays and public holidays.

# This is an edited version of a story that appeared in Winestate magazine. The writer was a guest of Amarula.   

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

One of Australia's most enjoyable vineyard lunches

I was only vaguely familiar with the Bellarine Peninsula winery Terindah Estate, but locals recommended it heartily - and their advice proved spot on. 

From a welcoming tasting room and snack restaurant to a lovely setting overlooking vines, gardens and bay views to excellent service and top-notch food, Terindah Estate hit a home run for our group.

Established in 2003 by retired quantity surveyor Peter Slattery, Terindah produces a very good range of wines (although zinfandel is a bit of a stretch in the cool climes of Geelong and surrounds). 

Nowadays, Terindah is a magnet for locals and tourists alike; offering al a carte lunches Thursday-Sunday, occasional dinners, weekend breakfasts, cooking classes, weddings and conferences. 

The medal-winning Terindah Estate 2016 Rosé proved a popular lunch choice for our group of five; while the 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir is also outstanding. 

We chose The Shed at Terindah (the name means "most beautiful" in Behasa Indonesia, over the more relaxed The Deck (open seven days for lunch and snacks) and found chef Lyndon Betts and his team in fine form. 

The service from a French waiter and Romanian maitre d' was both slick and friendly - not always an easy combination to achieve.

My entree of pork brawn terrine with mustard and stout and wattle seed bread was a stand out, as were very pretty sardines with creme fraiche, lemon and pickled shallots. Adventurous food this, but not too much "out there" to scare the horses. 

I would have liked the duck skin on my duck with heirloom carrots and radicchio to have been a little crisper, but the dish was plenty flavoursome.

Other star mains included local snapper with potato, Warragul spinach and salty ice plant, and pork scotch with nectarine witlof and garlic. Make sure to order some goose fat potatoes, which are outrageously decadent.

We felt too full for dessert but did manage some excellent French blue cheese. It was perfectly matured. 

The Shed gets all the key elements right and is highly recommended.  

Terindah Estate, 90 McAdams Lane, Bellarine VIC 3223. (03) 5251 5536. 


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

How about a bottle of pisner (yes, you read that right)?

It sounds too gross to be true. Unfortunately, we now have access to a beer made with the aid of the urine produced by drunk music festivalgoers.

Danish brewery Norrebro Bryghus has used 50,000 litres of human urine collected at the largest music festival in Northern Europe - at Roskilde.

Named the ‘Pisner’, the beer doesn’t actually contain any human waste, but is produced from fields of malting barley fertilised with the urine ‘donated’ by the rock fans. 

Barley is traditionally fertilised using animal manure or factory-made plan nutrients, but the urine yield from the festival was nonetheless big enough to fertilise 11 tonnes of malting barley, and brew 60,000 bottles of the beer.

“When the news that we had started brewing the Pisner came out, a lot of people thought we were filtering the urine to put it directly in the beer and we had a good laugh about that,” said Henrick Vang of Norrebro Bryhgus.

Karen Hækkerup, CEO of the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, said: “Just as we have seen shops sell goods that would otherwise have been thrown out, Beercycling allows us to recycle a product that is normally flushed down the drain." 

Strange people those Danes! 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Fancy a wine-soaked weekend in Tasmania?

If you work in the wine industry and have a role that involves sales, then you might fancy a weekend exploring some of the finest vineyards in Tasmania. 

Wine Tasmania, the state's umbrella body, has issued an invitation for Australian wine trade representatives to participate in a wine-focused visit to Tasmania in July.

On a two-day visit on July 23-24, 10 selected wine trade representatives will meet wine producers, sample their wines and taste their way around the island. The visit will also include the opportunity to sample Tasmania’s outstanding food and perhaps visit a boutique distiller or cider producer. 

Wine Tasmania chief executive Sheralee Davies (below) said that visiting Tasmania was the best way to experience the island and its wine and to gain an appreciation of its diversity.

“This program provides an outstanding opportunity for wine trade representatives to experience our wines amongst our relaxed island lifestyle and spectacular scenery. We’ll be showing (and tasting) as much of Tasmania as we can squeeze into two days,” she said.

“Close to half of Tasmania's modest wine production is only available on-island, so visiting is really the best way to find out more about the unique place that is Tasmania and the wines it produces.”

“This is the fourth trade visitation program we have presented, with an average of more than 130 applications received annually. The feedback from the trade visitors we have hosted in the past has been particularly positive, with more Tasmanian wines appearing on restaurant wine lists and wine retail shelves as a direct result.”

The program is open to people currently employed in the wine trade including, but not limited to, sommeliers, restaurateurs, food and beverage, retail and wholesale representatives. Applicants must be in a position of authority for wine purchasing decisions and available to travel to Tasmania on July 23-24. 

Interested trade representatives are invited to submit their interest by June 12 using this form:
Confirmed participants will be announced on June 26.

This program is presented by Wine Tasmania, with support from the Tasmanian Government Department of State Growth and this story is based on a press release. 

Angove to fly the Australian organic flag at Vinexpo

Angove is one of the oldest family-owned wineries in Australia and an early adopter of organic principles. 
Now Angove is set to fly the Australian organic flag at Vinexpo (below), the world's biggest trade fair, in Bordeaux from June 18-21.

Angove says it will be the only Australian producer on the new “World of Organic Wine” (WOW) stand at Vinexpo, which will feature 200 organically and biodynamically certified wineries from around the world. 
Since first becoming certified just over a decade ago Angove Family Winemakers has embraced the organic ethos for many of its vineyards is are now the largest organic winery in Australia with nearly 200 hectares of fully certified family vineyard and ongoing relationships with a number of certified growers. It takes three years for a vineyard to become fully certified.
“We see many opportunities for great tasting, reasonably priced organic wines globally," director of sales Tim Boydell says. "Organic produce, in general, is one of the fastest growing consumer categories and it is fantastic to have built so rapidly on our early position in this market segment. 
Angove will showcase its Warboys Vineyard, Wild Olive and Angove Organic wine ranges at Vinexpo. 

“Organic viticulture is viewed as the best way to improve soil quality and optimise water use, which creates stronger, healthier vines and better fruit. It is more expensive but we believe it makes better tasting wines and, importantly, is better for the environment," says chief winemaker Tony Ingle.

"We see this as an essential investment in our future and part of our deeply held belief to make sure that we pass our precious natural resources on to the next generation in better condition than when we started.
"The organic crops seem to achieve flavour ripeness earlier, at lower sugar levels, have thicker skins, especially the reds, and are less susceptible to disease. Importantly farming organically improves the environment with no synthetic or chemical herbicides or pesticides used in the growing of the grapes."
# This story is a re-work of an Angove Wines press release  

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Is this the hippest new vineyard hotel in Australia?

The Mornington Peninsula is one of Australia's most vibrant wine regions; always innovative, constantly changing.

The newest regional attraction is Jackalope, a hotel, wining and dining complex that is part of the completely revamped Willow Creek operation, along with access to the winery and magnificent vineyard views.

Jackalope, named after a mythical creature, is the personal project of 29-year-old Chinese-born entrepreneur Louis Li, who sees the design as his own creative story; a mixture of art and storytelling featuring stand-alone artworks and a dark, moody vibe. Li describes Jackalope as “an escape from reality”.

Jackalope's 46 rooms and suites offer either vineyard or terrace views and range from 38 square metres to 85 sq m. “lairs”. Floor-to-ceiling windows and private terraces connect guests to the rural surrounds while, inside, bathroom features include deep-soak, black Japanese tubs, rain showers and double vanities.

The spa-like setting is complete with bath luxuries including a pinot grape skin and seed bath soak and body scrub, made using grapes from the hotel’s vineyard.

Jackalope is a dining destination in its own right with fine dining Doot Doot Doot offering degustation menus under the guidance of executive Guy Stanaway, while Rare Hare celebrates the surrounding Willow Creek vineyard through casual dining and wine experiences.

A four-course degustation dinner costs $85 or $150 with wine matchings (think dishes like John Dory with leek, vermouth, prawn and finger lime, or lamb sweetbread with abalone and shiitake). The Japanese-style crab omelette for breakfast, meanwhile, was the finest single dish I have enjoyed this year.

There is an on-site 1,200-bottle, glass cellar (above) that showcases an international selection of limited-release wines produced from vineyards 11-hectares or less – the size of the hotel’s vineyard.

The hotel’s funky bar, Flaggerdoot, specialises in cocktails and is dotted with art installations, while outside, a black 30-metre infinity pool laps up to the surrounding vineyard, while a poolside pavilion offers sun lounge service and is also available for massage treatments or private dining.

A seven-metre-tall namesake Jackalope sculpted by Melbourne artist, Emily Floyd, has taken tenancy at the entrance to the hotel.

It just doesn't get any hipper.

Jackalope: A cutting edge luxury hotel with funky rooms and two on-site restaurants adjacent to the Willow Creek vineyards and winery. 166 Balnarring Rd, Merricks North. (03) 5931 2500.

# The writer stayed at Jackalope as a guest of Ocean Eight and Polpero Wines