Friday, 30 November 2018

Celebrities cashing in big time on the booze business

Wines from Jon Bon Jovi, Greg Norman and Ian Botham, whiskeys from Bob Dylan and beers from celebrity chef Marco Pierre White. 
Do not, whatever you do, get get in the way of a celebrity able to make money by attaching their name to an alcohol brand.
White this week launched The Governor Great British Lager, which will be brewed by JW Lees, which also makes White’s other beer, a bitter.
The Governor name is a reference to the chef’s ex-racing greyhound that was given the name thanks to its impressive performances on the track, The Drinks Business website reported.
The lager will be stocked at White’s restaurants and JW Lees pubs from the beginning of next year, while 10 sites in England will serve the lager this month and it will be available nationally. 
“I wanted something that gave the perfect balance of malt and hop, British in its roots with a familiar Pilsner flavour,” White said.
“Discerning drinkers will be able to enjoy their beer in the knowledge that it was brewed with the best-quality ingredients by a family of brewers in the UK”.
William Lees-Jones, managing director of JW Lees said: “We’ve been brewing beer with Marco since 2011 and it’s a privilege that he has trusted us to collaborate on his new lager.
“With over 60 years’ experience brewing lager, we have the knowledge and passion that Marco was looking for to deliver his perfect lager”.
Other celebrities lending their names to branded booze include actors Drew Barrymore, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (wine); Justin Timberlake (gin), George Clooney and Channing Tatum (tequila), P Diddy (vodka), Marilyn Manson (absinthe) and Rapper Jay-Z (Champagne). Even porn star Ron Jeremy with his own rum. 

New Art Series Hotel artist unveiled

Art Series Hotels has officially confirmed its eighth Australian property at Howard Smith Wharves, Brisbane, will be named after acclaimed Australian painter Vincent Fantauzzo. 


The first new Art Series property under the AccorHotels banner, The Fantauzzo is scheduled to open in March 2019 with bookings now available.

Born in Birmingham in 1977, Fantauzzo moved from England to Australia as a child. A graduate of RMIT University, he has exhibited worldwide with shows in India, Vietnam, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Australia.

Drawing on techniques from other mediums such as photography and film to create a narrative, Fantauzzo uses contrasting elements of light and dark, shadows and colours to create depth and heighten the realism and theatrical effect.

Renowned for his portraits of notable people including Heath Ledger, Matt Moran, Brandon Walters and Julia Gillard, he has won numerous art prizes. He is married to actor Asher Keddie.

Carved into the cliff under the Story Bridge, the $100 million luxury hotel will feature 166 guest rooms, with custom contemporary furnishings, featuring both original artworks and up to 500 reproductions of Fantauzzo's most recognised works.

“To have an Art Series hotel dedicated to showcasing my work is truly an honour and I cannot wait for the doors to open in March,” Fantauzzo said. “I'm strongly passionate about accessibility to the arts, and what excites me most about the collaboration is that this hotel will give all guests the opportunity to connect with art, and immerse themselves in a really creative experience.”

AccorHotels Chief Operating Officer Pacific, Simon McGrath, said: “Vincent is a charismatic artist with so much raw talent he was a natural fit to be the namesake artist of the first Art Series hotel under our management. 

"His mission is to make art accessible so he is a perfect match for the brand and The Fantauzzo's design will clearly reflect his individual sense of style and sophistication.”

The six-storey hotel will also offer four food and beverage outlets as well as an impressive rooftop pool boasting spectacular views of the Brisbane River and CBD, bar, gym and three conference rooms, fully equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual technology.

Branded Smart Cars and Lekker bicycles will be available so guests can explore all that Brisbane has to offer.

The Fantauzzo is scheduled to open in March 2019 with Art Series now taking bookings online at www.artserieshotels.com.au. Room rates start from $309 per room per night.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

A new route from Australia to tourism hot spot Barcelona

Etihad Airways has launched its first-ever scheduled flights linking Australia and European tourism hot spot Barcelona, via Abu Dhabi.

The inaugural flight, EY49, departed Abu Dhabi this week carrying a special delegation including dignitaries, media representatives (my invite must have been lost in the mail), influencers and senior members of Etihad Airways’ management team.



The UAE national airline celebrated the occasion in style by hosting a special event held at the historic Capella dels Angels, a sixteenth-century Gothic building which is now part of the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA),attended by leading figures from the local government, diplomats, media, corporate partners and travel trade.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer for Etihad Aviation Group, said: “We have been tremendously excited about the launch of this service and what better time to arrive in Barcelona than the month Etihad celebrates its 15th anniversary.

“Commercial and cultural links between the UAE and the Catalonia region are flourishing and Etihad is honoured to play a pivotal role in facilitating and enhancing the growth of trade and the strong demand for tourism.

"This is a breathtakingly beautiful part of the world, with something to offer the most discerning of travellers, and now for the first time, Abu Dhabi, our amazing home, is accessible from Barcelona with regular non-stop flights, featuring Etihad’s acclaimed in-flight hospitality.

“On behalf of the Etihad Aviation Group, I extend our sincere thanks to the Barcelona Air Route Development Committee for their invaluable support with the new service, the launch event, and for their genuine welcome.”

The new route will initially be operated five times a week by a two-class Airbus A330-200 before becoming a daily operation from March 31, 2019.

Business and leisure travellers alike will be able to seamlessly connect to the service with twice-daily flights from Sydney and Melbourne via Abu Dhabi, and daily from Brisbane. Barcelona is the second city in Spain served by Etihad Airways, complementing the airline’s existing daily service to Madrid.

Etihad Airways also operates an extensive codeshare partnership with Air Europa (UX) allowing guests a convenient transfer with the Spanish airline’s services between Barcelona and Madrid. Etihad also codeshares with Air Europa beyond Madrid to 19 cities in Europe, South America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Major wine producer commits to 100% renewable energy use

Pernod Ricard Winemakers, the company behind labels such as Jacob's Creek and St Hugo, has committed to sourcing 100% renewable electricity in Australia by mid-2019, supporting the company's global sustainability and responsibility goals.

The announcement came as Pernod Ricard Winemakers celebrated the official "switch-on" of 1MW of solar-generated electricity at its Barossa Valley Winery at Rowland Flat, marking the first completed stage of the company's 2.8MW solar installation project.

Men in hi-vis jackets on the winery roof
When completed in mid-2019, this will be the largest combined winery solar installation in Australia and will supply 20% of the business' annual electricity usage. 

Working with AGL Energy, the solar installation is expected to generate around 4,000 MWh of renewable electricity in the first year, which is equivalent to the electricity consumed annually in approximately 800 South Australian homes.

To reach 100% renewable electricity, Pernod Ricard Winemakers has signed a landmark 10-year Virtual Generation Agreement (VGA) with wholesale electricity retailer Flow Power to connect the business with renewable electricity sources. The business will be the first in South Australia that is connected to both off-site wind and solar farms.

This means the remaining 80% of the business' annual electricity requirement will be met by solar and wind for the next 10 years though Flow Power.

The commitment to its own solar project combined with the VGA will allow Pernod Ricard Winemakers Australia to achieve its ambition to source 100% renewable electricity ahead of its original plans.

Helen Strachan, Pernod Ricard Winemakers' Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, said the agreement demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and responsibility.

"We are doing everything within our means to draw upon renewable energy, both in terms of our own renewable electricity sources at our winery and our commitment to supporting the renewable energy industry," she said.

"We are excited to be leaders in defining the future of sustainable business in a rapidly changing environment."

Wine tourism boom in tiny Langhorne Creek


New cellar doors and a swag of major trophies is helping to put the Langhorne Creek wine region on the map for a growing number of tourists.

Langhorne Creek, less than an hour’s drive south-east of Adelaide, is the fourth-largest wine-producing region in Australia behind the Riverland, Riverina and Barossa Valley. 


But only a handful of cellar doors and its location in the shadow of the more populated regions of McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills have contributed to Langhorne Creek comparative lack of patronage among tasters.

This is beginning to change, The Lead South Australia reports.

This month’s fifth annual Handpicked Festival (above) in Langhorne Creek attracted a record 5000 visitors. Kimbolton Wines will also open the region’s eighth cellar door this weekend.

Langhorne Creek Grape and Wine Marketing Manager Marina Goldsworthy said cellar door statistics across the region had shown growth in visitor numbers of 10 to 15% year on year since 2016.

She said wine and music events such as Handpicked and the growing populations of nearby Mount Barker and Strathalbyn were helping to attract many first-time visitors to the region.

“We’re definitely getting a lot more traction in the marketplace and it’s being seen as a destination that’s different and authentic with an old-fashioned country feel,” Goldsworthy said.

“We don’t have a Seppeltsfield or a [d'Arenberg] Cube but the experiences we have are good wholesome country food, great wine that’s really good value and we’re not far from the city.”

Ironically, there is no waterway called Langhorne Creek. The small township is near the Bremer River and Lake Alexandrina, which provides irrigation water and cooling summer breezes. It is named after rogue drover Alfred “The Liar” Langhorne who drove his stock across the Bremer at what became known as Langhorne’s Crossing.

Since then, Langhorne Creek has become home to some of the world’s oldest cabernet sauvignon vines and produced the fruit for the inaugural Jimmy Watson Trophy in 1962 – Australia’s most famous wine prize – when Stoneyfell’s 1961 Metala Cabernet Shiraz beat all-comers.

Wolf Blass also won three successive Jimmy Watsons in the 1970s using Langhorne Creek fruit.

And the success has continued.

Grape growers in the Langhorne Creek region since the 1880s, the Follett family has won more than 50 trophies at major Australian wine shows since it started making its Lake Breeze wines in 1987.

This year, Bleasdale Vineyards, the oldest winery in the region, has won seven trophies at major shows including the Max Schubert Trophy for best red wine at the Royal Adelaide Show. 


“The industry has always thought highly of the region and we’re starting to get traction with the punters and we’ve been working a lot on product awareness and educating people about the region,” Goldsworthy said.

This Sunday, Kimbolton Wines will join Bleasdale, Lake Breeze, Bremerton, Vineyard Road, Angas Plains, The Winehouse and Rusticana to become the region’s eighth cellar door.

It follows the opening of the Vineyard Road cellar door in 2016.

Run by brother and sister vignerons Nicole Clark and Brad Case, Kimbolton began making wine commercially in the early 2000s with a presence in the shared cellar door now known as The Winehouse, which is home to several local brands including Heartland, Ben Potts, Gipsie Jack and Meechi Brewing.

Great, great grandchildren of Bleasdale founder and Langhorne Creek pioneer Frank Potts, Case and Clark run a 57-hectare vineyard, which includes a small part of the original Potts land and produces between 500-600 tonnes a year. 


Most of the cabernet and shiraz they grow goes to Treasury Wine Estates for its Pepperjack and Wolf Blass brands while alternate varieties such as montepulciano are sent to smaller producers including Alpha Box & Dice and SC Pannell.

Small parcels of premium fruit are kept to produce Kimbolton Wines. Production is currently about 1500 cases a year but Clark said it was hoped the new cellar door would create demand for 3000-4000 cases a year within a couple of years.

She said the cellar door would specialise in cheese and wine flights.

“Really it’s been the last three years that the label has really grown and we’ve got 12 different products under that label now and that’s really what made us decide to spread our wings and have a cellar door in our own right,” Clark said.

“We’ve spent a fair bit of time pairing our wines with cheeses – if you get the right wine and cheese matches it’s an amazing experience.”

Set among the gum trees and overlooking the vineyard, the new cellar door is gearing up for a busy summer season.

“People are starting to understand that we are only 50 minutes from Adelaide and it is a beautiful drive,” Clark said.

“We’ll have our rooftop deck open by Christmas and that will be another feature that will give people the feeling they are almost sitting among the vines.”

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The key guide for wine lovers visiting Tasmania

With the Tasmanian wine industry booming there are more cellar doors than ever for visitors to explore.

But because Tasmania is a small state, not all tasting facilities are open seven days a week. Which means interstate guests need to do their research.



The island state's peak wine body, Wine Tasmania, has just launched the 2019 Tasmanian Wine Trails guide, featuring 70 cellar doors and vineyards, together with complementary dining and visitor experiences.


The guide has been published annually since 2008 and continues to grow in popularity, flying off the shelves at the Visitor Information Centres, airports, cellar doors, accommodation and attractions throughout the State. The guide also attracts significant visitation to its digital version.

Wine Tasmania’s CEO, Sheralee Davies, noted that visitor numbers to the island’s cellar doors continued to growth strongly and even more quickly than the number of overall visitors to Tasmania.

“Over the past year to June 2017, just under 300,000 of our interstate and international visitors called into a cellar door as part of their experience," she said. "That’s 23% of all visitors to Tasmania and reflects the continuing global interest in our wines.”

“While Tasmania only produces a modest quantity of wine, it has created records in 2018 in terms of the value of its wine,” she said.

Wine Tasmania’s 2018 vintage survey reported a record average price paid for Tasmanian wine grapes of $2,977 per tonne, with Tasmania producing just 0.91% of Australia’s total wine grapes but representing 4.37% of its value.

“Tasmania has built its reputation on outstanding quality wines and this reputation directly contributes to increasing demand for our wines and growing high-value visitation to our cellar doors,” Davies said.

The free Tasmanian Wine Trails publication reaches more than 250,000 people through the printed and interactive digital versions.

Copies are available by contacting Wine Tasmania on 03 6223 3770 or mail@winetasmania.net.au, visiting www.winetasmania.com.au/wine_trails, and from cellar doors, airports, tourism outlets and visitor information centres.

A special Scotch whisky release to mark the Year of the Pig

Johnnie Walker, the world’s best-selling blended Scotch whisky, is marking the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Pig in 2019 with a special, and eye-catching, blue label release with a blue pig label.

China, is, of course, now a major market for high-end wine and spirits and the annual commemorative Lunar New Year Limited Edition Blue Label Design series is now in its sixth instalment, inspired by the Chinese Zodiac.

The publicity blurb says that only one in 10,000 casks in Johnnie Walker’s reserves of over 10 million maturing Scotch whiskies "has the richness and depth of character required to intricately craft Johnnie Walker Blue Label"

The Blue Label blend comprises rare hand-picked single malt and grain whiskies from the four corners of Scotland, including Caol Isla, Benrinnes, Cardhu, Clynelish and the ‘ghost’ whisky Port Dundas.

In Chinese astrology, the Pig is a symbol of prosperity, generosity and abundance, and the limited-edition Johnnie Walker bottle’s unique and intricate design brings to life the animal bringing good fortune to mark the arrival of the New Year.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Year of the Pig Limited Edition Design will be available to purchase nationally from major liquor retailers from early December, RRP $260 for a 750ml bottle (40% ABV).

# Johnnie Walker is sold in more than 180 countries around the world.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Take a cultural break in Sydney and enjoy the works of the Masters

AccorHotels has partnered with the Art Gallery of NSW for a ‘Masters Of Modern Art From The Hermitage’ experience.

Sydney cultural getaways start from $200 per night including accommodation, breakfast and exhibition entry. 


Masters Of Modern Art From The Hermitage will run at the Art Gallery of NSW until March 3, 2019.

The exhibition presents a selection of works from towering figures of modern art including Monet and Cezanne. 

The artworks are drawn from the collections of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and explore the origins of modern art, from the bold experiments of Cézanne, to the radical innovation of artists like Matisse and Picasso. 

AccorHotels is offering exclusive cultural packages at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour, Mercure Sydney and ibis Sydney World Square starting from $200 per night, including buffet breakfast and tickets for two. 

Monday, 26 November 2018

Taking eco-friendly accommodation to the extreme in Tasmania

A new holiday house on the north coast of Tasmania takes eco-friendly to a new level. 

Greens Beach Solar Home is an emission-free, totally off-grid, homestay. 




At first glance the two-bedroom property is a contemporary, architect-designed home. Yet its looks are eclipsed by its serious sustainability credential. 
The house has all the comforts, amenities and appliances of a modern home, but is completely self-sufficient for power, waste, and water.
"Greens Beach Solar Home is quite possibly the world's first modern all-electric, completely emission free, totally off-grid house," says architect and homeowner David Macfarlane. 
"It's a luxuriously-appointed, state-of-the-art solar-powered house which is naturally comfortable all year round – fresh and cool throughout summer, but warm and cosy in winter - without a wood fire, gas heater (or cooker), or back-up generator."
Guests at Greens Beach Solar home can enjoy the veranda at the rear of the property, while evenings see curious wallabies grazing on the front lawn. 

Inside the solar-powered home, there's a large master bedroom with a king-size bed and French doors opening onto the veranda. 
The fully equipped kitchen includes an induction glass cook top, convection/microwave oven, fridge/freezer, dishwasher, DeLonghi coffee machine, stainless steel cookware. 
The bathroom has a full-size bath that can be filled with piping hot Tasmanian rainwater from the tank on the property. The passive ventilation system circulates a constant supply of fresh air.
In-house entertainment options include a flat-screen TV/DVD player, a library of more than 200 DVDs, over 100 books, and fast, free wireless Internet. 
The house is just a few minutes' walk to Greens Beach, a quiet and sheltered swimming spot. There's also a nine-hole golf course, public tennis courts and access to a coastal trail through Narawntapu National Park.  The area is known for its native wildlife. 
Every booking at Greens Beach Solar Home includes early check-in (any time after 11am) and late check-out (until 4pm). Bookings for stays of seven nights or more attract a 10% discount plus a complimentary bottle of wine from the Tamar Valley, Tasmania's major wine-growing region.
For more information and bookings visit: www.greensbeachsolarhome.com.au

Hunter winery marks its birthday with a charitable approach

Many wineries throw lavish parties to mark significant milestone, but boutique Hunter Valley producer Gundog Estate has opted for a more charitable approach to celebrate its 10th birthday.

Gundog Estate owner Matt Burton has formed a partnership with Newcastle not-for-profit Path 2 Change to help local homeless young people create sustainable futures.


The unique strategic partnership will stretch across a number of projects, from work experience programs at Gundog Estate and mentorships for local youth at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness through to joint development of social enterprise concepts.



"As owners of a small business you travel a challenging personal journey and then suddenly you reach a point where you realise how privileged you are," Burton said.


"Once you realise that, it becomes a really obvious path to find a way to give back to the community.

“To mark 10 years of success with Gundog, I wanted to do something more. I wanted to put a greater emphasis on our role within the local community and step into a leadership position.”

Burton launched Gundog Estate's first vintage as a 26-year-old in 2008 and then  established a Hunter Valley cellar door in 2011.

Path 2 Change executive manager Jennifer O'Sullivan commended Gundog Estate's decision to look for a partnership that has the potential to stop homelessness before it takes hold in a young person's life.

"It is inspiring that Matt and his team are leading the way by taking up the challenge of responding to homelessness at a community level by investing in our youth to create life-changing opportunities,” she said.

Path 2 Change is a not-for-profit organisation established over 35 years ago. It is committed to reducing and preventing homelessness, supporting those at risk of, or experiencing homelessness, to overcome barriers towards a sustainable future.

“We’re excited by the way that Path 2 Change is involved at the grassroots level in the local area," Burton said. "We were looking for a charitable partner where we had an alignment and connection between ourselves, the organisation and those they are helping."

Sunday, 25 November 2018

The most expensive glass of Cognac in the world


Would you pay $4,450 for a small shot of Cognac?

The M Restaurant Group is offering Rome de Bellegarde 1894 L’Eveil des Sens Cognac, which holds the record as the most expensive in the world, at £2,514 for a 10ml shot.

Produced by Le Domaine de Rome de Bellegarde, the 1894 L’Eveil des Sens Cognac is made from four eaux de vie all aged over 70 years. Only 67 bottles were ever created, with the spirit this year entering the Guinness Book of World Records after a 40ml measure was bought for £10,014.




The shot was bought by businesswoman, Ranjeeta Dutt McGroarty, at the Hyde Kensington on March 21 at a party in support of the charity Globals Make Some Noise. The sum was entirely donated to a charity.

The previous Guinness World Record for the most expensive Cognac sold was for 68,000 Hong Kong dollars (£7,072) at the InterContinental Hong Kong, China, on November 9, 2016.

From November 27, guests at either the Victoria or Threadneedle sites of M Restaurant in London will be able to purchase either a 10ml shot for £2,514, or a one-litre decanter for £250,000, The Drinks Business website reports.

“This is an extremely exciting partnership for M and we can’t wait to start selling such an incredible cognac,” M Restaurant director at Threadneedle Street, Zach Charilaou, told The Drinks Business.

“Our members and regular diners at M are very distinguished regarding their drinks choices so I have no doubt that they will be keen to try Rome de Bellegarde."

Friday, 23 November 2018

Two hotels in one set to open in Melbourne

Guests at one of Melbourne's most-anticipated hotel openings can choose between two different hotel experiences. 
The new-build Novotel and ibis Melbourne Central is now live on www.accorhotels.com and is taking bookings for stays from December 1, 2018.
Located on Little Lonsdale Street, AccorHotels' new address combines leading mid-scale and economy hotel brands under the same roof.

Featuring 483 guestrooms, the 35-floor tower is AccorHotels Australia's first vertical new-build multi hotel development where two brands will share guest facilities. 
Ibis Melbourne Central (above) will comprise the lower tier of the tower and make up 270 premium-economy guest rooms, whilst Novotel (below) will open from level 20 with 213 4.5-star guest rooms and suites.

Food and beverage outlets will be shared and are inspired by the city's rich ethnic history, with Pretty Boy Italian Steak House and Floyd's Italian, while Goldie Asian Canteen + Brews will be open from dawn to dark.
Complex general manager Michelle Bradshaw said: “We're so excited to be opening a purpose-built dual-branded, vertical hotel complex, taking the mid-scale and premium-economy hotel sector to the next level, providing a fresh, vibrant and accessible destination to all travellers. 
"The hotels will offer the latest in-room technology and exciting food, delivered by the best culinary talent in Melbourne.”
Novotel and ibis Melbourne Central is due to welcome its first guests in December 2018 and opening rates start from $186 per room per night. 

Thai resort island moves against plastic and foam

The Thai holiday island of Phuket is aiming to make a stand against polution with public and private sectors having signed a ground breaking "No Foam No Plastic"' initiative at the Phuket Sustainable Tourism Blueprint meeting. 


The MOU was signed by key private and public sector stakeholders on the island including Phuket Province and heads of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket Office, Phuket Tourism Council, Thai Hotels Association Southern Chapter, Phuket Industrial Council, Patong Hotels Association, Kata-Karon Hotels Association and the Phuket Chamber of Commerce.

TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn, said: "This is an important step in the right direction in line with the Thai government's Thailand 4.0 sustainable tourism development goal. Hopefully, Phuket will be a positive case study that the whole country could follow.

"The importance of Phuket as one of Thailand's most high-profile tourist destinations shouldn't be underestimated."

The Phuket Sustainable Tourism Blueprint 2018 group discussed the direction and time frame on the collaboration from all stakeholders towards sustainable tourism development. 

It outlined a strategy of SCG: S – Safe and Smart, C- Clean and Convenience and G- Green and Global. 

Under the MOU, the local administration plans to promote a 'No Foam, No Plastic' effort with local shops and the people from February 14, 2019, which will see them stop using foam containers for food or other items. 

Then, as from October 1, 2019, this effort will be encouraging people to switch entirely to paper or eco-friendly bags and straw.

The tourism sector will also inspire business partners to do the same. 


Thursday, 22 November 2018

Discover a spirited new destination in Hobart

Fancy a Tasmanian Buck (Poltergeist gin, gentian, Fuji apple, Dubonnet, lemon and ginger ale), or perhaps a Dare to Be Different (Monkey Shoulder whisky, mezcal, dark cacao, falernum, lime and mint)?

If so, you've come to the right spot at Evolve, the new upmarket spirits bar in the MACcq 01 Hotel on the Hobart waterfront.




Not only have ace bartender Dan Gregory and his team crafted some enticing cocktails, there is also the city's largest collect of fine spirits, from Tasmanian gins, to Scotch singe malts and curiosities from Japan.

The list includes over 400 rare and speciality spirits, showcasing Tasmania in a global context - and the mood is relaxed with an eye-catch collection of 37 fossils in an intimate Victorian-inspired lounge setting.

I was lucky enough to attend an opening function and was hugely impressed jot only by the drinks, but also the professional bar team overseen by Gregory (below).



The fossils on display including an 2.5-metre Russian Cave Bear, a Saltasaurus egg, Mammoth tusk, and Triceratops nose horn.

“The fossils date from 550 million years old to 50,000 years old and it is very special to be up close with these incredible creatures from millions of years ago – it's actually quite difficult to comprehend,” said Federal Group GM Greg Farrell.

Fortunately, your fellow drinkers are not at all fossilised and there is a welcoming and inclusive vibe with a glass of Provencal rosé costing just $11 a glass, and you can also check out the stellar new Bay of Fires 2017 Pinot Noir by the glass.

Good work from F&B manager Liz Thomas and her team.

The new bar is not a museum but it does serve up a museum-worthy spirit collection from Tasmania and around the world including one-off bottlings of Glenfiddich and Balvenie whiskies, Glen Grant single malts from 1950, pre-phylloxera cognac dating over 100 years old, and often-unattainable Tasmanian releases from Tim Duckett's Heartwood whisky and Sullivan's Cove.


This is your chance to check out Hartshorn Sheep's Whey Vodka and Nonesuch Hemp Gin, along with other boutique Tassie spirits. 

Guests who purchase from the list of rare spirits will be able to store the bottle securely in one of the bar's 48 x Spirit Keeps.

“Nowhere in the world have I witnessed a bar with so much charisma and style – we're all incredibly excited”, says award-winning barman Gregory.

“We'll focus on built and stirred spirit beverages and fine spirit tastings, but we also offer a smaller selection of wines, beers, ciders and food accompaniments." 



Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Are you ready to splash out $1500+ per person on dinner?

New Year's Eve is always one of the most expensive nights of the year but if you feel like really pushing the boat out then the recently refurbed Quay in Sydney has an offer you might not be able to resist. 


With its superb setting, magical views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, and the impeccable food of chef Peter Gilmore, Quay has always been one of Sydney's best fine dining options. I recently enjoyed a most memorable lunch with superb service.

This New year's Eve, diners are being offered the chance to enjoy an exclusive dinner in the Quay Green Room with private access the terraces on the upper level with uninterrupted views of the 9pm and midnight fireworks displays and Sydney Harbour. 

Green Room guests will enjoy canapes and a five-course menu by executive chef Gilmore, paired with Champagne and premium wines and entertainment from a jazz band. 

Th menu will include hand-harvested seafood with pickled cucumber and succulents; congee of blue swimmer crab with palm hearts; roasted Champagne lobster with lemon emulsion and brown butter; Blackmore Wagyu beef with lion's mane mushrooms and dessert canapes. 

The evening will commence at 8pm with Champagne and savoury canapes and conclude at 1am. Prices (shared tables of 10) are $1450 per person including beverages. 

Throw in tips and a nearby hotel room and you'll be up for a couple of grand each for the night. But what the heck, it's New Year's Eve. 

You can book here: www.quay.com.au/functions/ Tell 'em I sent you. 



 





New look as Taste of Tasmania marks its 30th birthday


Tasmania's biggest festival of food wine and entertainment, The Taste of Tasmania, will celebrate its 30th birthday this summer on the Hobart waterfront.

The Taste of Tasmania has unveiled its largest-ever program of stallholders and free entertainment including live music, circus and street entertainment, activities for children and the whole family as well as reserved seating for those wanting a guaranteed prime position.

And best of all, entry is completely free. Thank you Hobart taxpayers.

Taste of Tasmania director Brooke Webb said: “The Taste of Tasmania program is an adventure for the all the senses. From a full culinary program where foodies can enjoy exclusive experiences and get hands on with Tasmania’s leading chefs and culinary influences, to the largest selection of stallholders ever seen at The Taste all proudly showcasing Tasmanian’s best dishes, to a huge program of entertainment and activities for the family and our New Year’s Eve Speakeasy Ball, there is something for everybody at this Year’s Taste.”

This year The Taste of Tasmania launches a new concept space known as ‘greener grass.’ Greener grass is a new concept that develops small business through incubation and innovation whilst creating opportunities for emerging businesses to grow and develop.

Greener grass is a dynamic space where businesses have shorter stays and can showcase for three days, four days or seven days depending on their resources.

Running from Friday, December 28 to Thursday, January 3, 2019, all culinary offerings are proudly 100% Tasmanian, with 112 stallholders, an increase of 35 stall holders from 2017.

Among the produce being showcased: seafood, cheese, berries, cool-climate wines, craft beers and ciders, gin and whisky. Attractions will include Bream Creek Vineyard (which has attended all 29 previous Tastes, and regular award-winners Home Hill Wines.

Gourmet farmer stars Matthew Evans and Sadie Chrestman from Fat Pig Deli will be serving farm-fresh deli-style platters in The Atrium, while Porky Duck will appear for the first time with crispy duck, duck waffles and duck rolls.

Also look out for Seven Sheds beers; Rukkus Fried Chicken and palawa kipli, serving up Aboriginal-inspired street food.

A full list of stallholders can be found here: www.thetasteoftasmania.com.au/stallholders

For the best seat in the house The Taste of Tasmania offers reserved seating for visitors wanting a guaranteed seat among the action. With three, four-hour sessions on offer each day, reserved seating costs $25 and is located in a prime waterfront location.

Every night of the festival there will be a headline performance from some of Australia's best party bands play main-stage including: four-times ARIA-nominated powerhouse Mojo Juju and the most exciting new RnB artist in Australia, Kaiit.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Discover the surprising wild side of Hong Kong

Think Hong Kong and your mind probably zeroes on on high-rise apartments and busy roadways.
It is a little-known fact that three-quarters of Hong Kong's landmass is actually countryside, and a vast network of hiking trails is easily accessible from every corner of the city. 
Behind the bright neon signs, buzz of the city streets and towering skyscrapers, lies a diverse range of natural experiences waiting to be explored, including Plover Cove Country Park (below).

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has teamed up with National Geographic to bring these hidden gems to the forefront as part of the Great Outdoors campaign to encourage visitors to get out of the city to explore.
The campaign features 13 of the city's most stunning landscapes, as picked by National Geographic's photographers and trail experts. Another feature includes a free guidebook, Your Guide to Hiking & Cycling in Hong Kong, with insights from the National Geographic experts.

HKTB Regional Director for Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, Andrew Clark said Hong Kong has a lot of surprises for visitors. 

"From panoramic city views with verdant mountains; and traditional villages with natural flora and fauna; to beautiful landscapes with stunning seascapes, we want to prove firsthand that there is so much more to Hong Kong than just the metropolis," Clark said.

Your Guide to Hiking & Cycling in Hong Kong can be accessed via www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/plan-your-trip/travel-kit/guides.jsp#outdoors or at any of the HKTB Visitor Centres located around the city.
For more information about Great Outdoors Hong Kong visit
www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/great-outdoors/index.jsp

Christchurch aims to attract Australian tourists

When I think of flying into New Zealand, I, like most Australians, I suspect, usually consider Auckland or Wellington as my primary destination, or perhaps Queenstown.

Now New Zealand and Christchurch tourism bodies are aiming to encourage Aussies to fly into Christchurch Airport as part of a new tourism campaign.



The spiel goes like this: "Australians, listen up. We'll help you swim with dolphins, taste some of the world's finest wines, go punting down a river, soak in natural hot pools, eat world-renowned cuisine, see progressive art and hike up million-year old mountains. It all starts in Christchurch."

Together with Christchurch Airport and economic development and city profile agency ChristchurchNZ, Tourism New Zealand is encouraging Australian visitors to book a holiday in Christchurch in autumn 2019, with day-trip itineraries that take in all the above sights and experiences.

“Australian visitors are a key market for us," says Andrew Waddel, Tourism New Zealand's general manager for Australia.

"In the past, there has been a perception the South Island could only be experienced over a fortnight or month, but recently we've been able to prove to Australian travellers they can have amazing experiences in the South Island, no matter how little time they have.

“Christchurch is a vibrant city experiencing rapid change and growth, and international visitors are exploring the city to see the exciting transformation. It is the perfect base for Australian visitors and start from in the South Island – especially in autumn.

"There are very few places on earth where you can experience such an array of activities within a few hours of your base. We have compiled itineraries offering experiences as day trips from Christchurch.”

The campaign features a new video that follows an Australian couple as they explore the region, including the farmers' market in Lyttelton, wine tasting in Waipara, jet boating and hot pools in Hanmer Springs, swimming with dolphins in Akaroa, punting down the Avon River, and enjoying street art and food.


Christchurch Airport's Chief Aeronautical and Commercial Officer's Justin Watson says Australians are a major contributor to Christchurch's economy.

“This campaign is the third time we have partnered with Tourism New Zealand on a Christchurch campaign, and previous campaigns have proved very successful in increasing the profile of the region and boosting the number of Australian arrivals in autumn." he said.

"With increased air capacity and direct flights from most Australian ports, Christchurch offers an easy getaway for Australians and autumn is a wonderful time to visit with gold and red hues dominating the region and vineyards harvesting – it's picture-perfect.”

The campaign runs until December 2 and promotes travel to Christchurch between March-May 2019.

Trade partner Virgin Australia has provided special flight deals from Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne, and is supporting advertising for the length of the campaign.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Hobart's new destination for delightful things

It is part art gallery, part museum, part antiques store. Anyone who enjoys lovely things will want to spend some time exploring the two floors of delightful goods at Lauder and Howard Antiques and Fine Art.

After nearly four decades of dealing in rare antiques and fine art in Western Australia, Leslie Lauder and Mark Howard have moved their business and love of all things beautiful to Hobart in Tasmania.

The store opened last month on Campbell Street, between downtown and North Hobart and is home to everything from Ottoman urns to Art Deco bookends and restored furniture.

The new shop-cum-gallery houses an eclectic mix of fine antiques of diverse provenance dating as far back as the 17th Century with the occasional antiquity.

Clients can discover antique pieces from England, Scotland and Ireland, from the Georgian and Regency periods to the Art Deco era. Current stock includes a George III-style satinwood-glazed cabinet with sterling silver handles and mouldings, attributed to British maker Waring & Gillow and dated London 1902, and a rare 1825 Irish brass mounted secretaire bookcase from Cork.
There are pieces from France and Continental Europe, plus a large collection of Chinese and Japanese ceramics, also bronze figures, carved marble and antique glass. Australian history is well represented too, – with a selection of colonial furniture.


Art includes British and European works from the 17th Century to the mid-20th Century, plus early to mid 20th Century Australian paintings, with an emphasis on those by female artists.

Ottoman Empire is Lauder & Howard’s brand within a brand, with a focus on Turkish and Persian rugs, cushions and textiles, many antique and hand-made. There are also large antique terracotta pots, copper vessels, iron grilles and distinctive marble pieces.


Lauder & Howard Antiques and Fine Art will host an exhibition of works from Italy by Andrea J. Smith, an award winning Australian artist straddling the traditional and the contemporary in still life and portraits, from December 6-January 20, 2019.

The gallery is open Wednesdays- Saturdays 10am – 5pm and Sundays 1pm-5pm.

www.lauderandhoward.com.au

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Marketing madness is killing our country

I felt like an ice cream after lunch. So I went to the supermarket and grabbed a Magnum. 

It was not until I got home that I realised that I had invested not in a dessert but a Raspberry Chocolate Truffle designed by Romance was Born for the Fashion Collection. 

It's an ice cream, for heaven's sake, not part of a fashion collection. 




Then, came an email from Domino's, claiming they were "the official pizza of summer". This is part of a new menu launching on Saturday.

As if anyone can be the official anything of summer. What a ridiculous claim. An insult to the customer's intelligence, maybe.


Here is some of the Domino's email PR guff:

"Whether your thongs experience a blowout, you get sand in places you didn’t know existed, the summer fling won’t call you back or you’ve got work Christmas party regret, no one understands the need to be there during the summer moments more than Domino’s. 
 
"The ‘Official Pizza of Summer’ menu serves up an enriching and decadent selection of Domino’s finest foods while capturing all the feels and memorable moments of summer."


It sounds more like the script of a bad Bachelorette episode than something designed to make me splash out on a pizza, particularly the self-designated Official Pizza of Summer. 

C'mon marketing types. Lift your games. 


All change as the Barossa gets a new wine destination

The Artisans of the Barossa are shutting up shop at their Vine Vale cellar door and opening a new wine room and bar in central Tanunda.

The change happens on December 31, and the new destination will be known as Vino Lokal.

Calabria Family Wines, expanding their operations from the Riverina, will move into the former Artisans space (below), where they will join Harvest Kitchen.


Then, in April, construction will begin on the eventual new home of Artisans of Barossa, which will be located at Kroemer’s Crossing at the top end of Tanunda.

That operation is scheduled to open in early 2020, and Vino Lokal and Artisans of Barossa will then operate in tandem offering two different ways of enjoying Barossa wine and food.

The first set of new doors to open for Artisans will be at 64 Murray Street, Tanunda (below), in a building once known as Roger’s Shoe Store and then for a time as Nosh.


Vino Lokal is being described as "a melting pot of ideas, opportunities and possibilities".

It will feature Barossa wine along with some imports, as well as being somewhere to snack and graze from a compact wine bar-style menu.

The doors at Vino Lokal will be open 11am-8pm Monday to Thursday, and 11am-10pm on Friday and Saturday. Sunday will be an 11am-6pm affair.

There will be over 50 Barossa wines by the glass and plenty more by the bottle. Food will be prepared by Ryan Edwards, formerly of Appellation.

How about a pre-Christmas wine tasting on Sydney Harbour


Leading Clare Valley winery Taylors Wines wants to help wine lovers chill this summer while enjoying a glass or two of vino on a world-first floating cellar door on Sydney Harbour.

For one weekend only, the award-winning family-owned winery will host tasting experiences aboard a custom-built glass-lined tasting room set upon a floating barge in the middle of the harbour. 

Taylors aims to show the lucky few who get a spot how important temperature is to enjoying a wine at its best.

Taylors Cellar Door at Sea hopes to prove that popping your red wine in the fridge actually isn’t taboo, but necessary to achieving the perfect balance of flavours and aromas in your shiraz or pinots all year round.

“For years now we’ve hoped to shed a light on a misconception about red wines – that they need to be served at ‘room temperature’. This is an antiquated recommendation from way back when that actually has a negative impact on the enjoyment of our classic Aussie reds,” said third-generation managing director Mitchell Taylor.

“Taylors Cellar Door at Sea is heading out into the middle of Sydney Harbour to prove just how delicious chilled reds can be, especially during summer. 

"And by combining the perfect view in one of the world’s most notable destinations, we have all the elements to create the perfectly chilled wine experience.”

Guests will depart via exclusive water taxi from the Sydney Opera House jetty. They will arrive at Taylors' floating cellar door and enjoy a temperature-themed wine tasting using the newly-released Riedel Extreme range of glassware. 

Taylors Cellar Door at Sea sets sail Friday, December 7 to Sunday, December 9 with bookings for 60-minute group temperature tastings between 11am and 9pm daily.

Tickets start from $60 + booking fee per person, including return water taxi service, wine tasting and "curated" canapés. 


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Are you ready to be beguiled by Burgundy?

There is no doubt that Burgundy, or Bourgogne as the French call it, is home to some of the world's finest - and most expensive - chardonnay and pinot noir.

But a recent visit from key people from the Bureau Interprofessionel de Vins de Bourgogne was aimed at encouraging Asutralians to re-try not Domaine Romanee Conte, Domaine Leroy, Henri Jayer and other benchmarks, but instead to sample entry-level and affordable wines.


Wines from communes like Mercurey, Givry and Irancy have cleaned up their act in recent years. Instead of typically whiffy characters, many of the village and Bourgogne rouge and blanc wines are fresh and clean.

Headed by Amaury Devillard (left) from Domaines Devillard, which owns wineries in Givry and Mercurey and vines across the region, the mission also aimed to promote wines made from lesser-known Burgundy varieties, including Sauvignon de St Bris, Bourgogne Aligote and the gamay/pinot noir blend formerly known as Passetoutgrains but now labelled Cotes de Bourgogne. Also Cremant de Bourgogne, the region's sparkling wines.


Devillard said: "People recognise that Bourgogne wines are very good, but also see them as being very expensive. Our message today is that there are a lot of hidden gems within the region.

"Beautiful wines exist that offer classic expresssions of Bourgogne without the high price tags.

"There are wines with freshness, balance, and also depth and length that are available. 

"The key is in finding these wines and discovering them." That quest will be aide by the fact that yields were up substantially in both the 2017 and 2018 vintages.

"Both years had beautiful quality and style," says Devillard. "Even though 2018 was a hot summer we were very pleased with the balance of the fruit."

Devillard points to appellations like Pernand-Vergelesses, Marsannay, Mercurey and Montagny as offering particularly good value.

"A lot of Macon wines are also very good, and what we believe is a good bottle of Burgundy wine is an empty bottle. The message is that you do not have to spend a fortune to find a wine you are pleased to come back to.

"Wines from Bourgogne also shine with food. Many are also perfect to enjoy now. They don't need to be cellared for years."

The various Burgundy AOCs are classified from carefully delineated grand cru vineyards down to more non-specific regional appellations. 

The practice of delineating vineyards by their terroir in Burgundy goes back to medieval times, when various monasteries played a key role in developing the Burgundy wine industry.

Chardonnay-dominated Chablis and Gamay-dominated Beaujolais.are formally part of the Burgundy wine region, but wines from those sub-regions are usually referred to by their own names rather than as "Burgundy wines".



The big names are eye-wateringly expensive. When the 7.53-hectare Clos de Tart vineyard in Morey-Saint-Denis sold last year it fetched $311 million. 

Fortunately, however, there remains that gap between the top of the pryamid and those in the regional Bourgogne appellation. Something for all wallets.

"The consumer has never had so much opportunity to get a good experience without spending spending a lot of money," says Devillard.

Among the sins of the past, sharp tannins have disappeared, along with farmyard aromas, even if unreliable corks still remain an issue. 

"The winemaking evolution in Bourgogne has been a real revolution," says Devillard. "Winemakers have travelled a lot, and learned a lot; young people came back to Bourgogne knowing what they had to do, and what they do not have to do. 

"There was a real change in that in the past young people were trained by their parents, for better, or worse. Now, the new generation has a clean, pure and very different vision." 

See www.bourgogne-wines.com