Tuesday, 22 August 2017

New campaign aims to boost sustainable tourism

Did you know it is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development?

Thought not.

To mark this less than memorable milestone (surely they could have come up with a snappier name?) the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is launching a consumer-oriented campaign aimed at raising awareness of the value and contribution that sustainable tourism can make towards development.

The ‘Travel.Enjoy.Respect’ campaign wants to engage tourists in making the sector a catalyst for positive change.

Great idea - but unlikely to work unless the organisation does more than send out a turgid press release.
The main message of the campaign was summarised by the UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai: “Whenever you travel, wherever you travel, remember to: respect nature, respect culture, and respect your host. You can be the change you want to see in the world. You can be an ambassador for a better future."

The campaign, which will run in various languages and outlets around the world, includes a manual of Tips for a Responsible Traveller, developed by the World Committee on Tourism Ethics in line with the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.

The manual provides travellers with a set of recommendations to help them make responsible choices when travelling and have a positive impact on the destinations they visit.

“Today, more than ever, ensuring that tourism is an enriching experience for visitors and hosts alike demands strong, sustainable tourism policies and practices and the engagement of national, as well as local, governments and administrations, private sector companies, local communities and tourists themselves,” added riffing Rifai.

The message will reach consumers through campaign supporters including among others CNN International, the Government of Andorra, the Madrid City Council, Iberia, the Spanish National Railways System (Renfe), Minube, PR MEDIACO, Cleverdis and Air Mauritius. None of them, except CNN, exactly global heavy hitters.

Good in theory - but money trumps sustainability any time; and this may be the last time you hear about this campaign.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Hunter star hits the road to showcase seafood and semillon

Andew Thomas, one of the Hunter Valley's leading exponents of semillon and shiraz, is taking to the road to host a series of Semillon+Seafood waterside lunches showcasing his full range of new-release semillons (with a red to finish).


The lunch series will be launched in Newcastle (Merewether Surfhouse on September 8), travelling to Brisbane (Aria, September 22), Melbourne (The Baths, Middle Brighton, September 17) with two dates in Sydney (Cirrus Dining, September 10 and Ormeggio, September 15).

Thomas believes semillon tastes better when the sun is shining, so to launch the 2011 Cellar Reserve Braemore Semillon and showcase the 2017 single vineyard semillons he's arranged this series of lunches.

Outstanding restaurants with water views and a focus on fresh seafood have been selected to complement the semillons, and Thommo has asked the chefs and sommeliers to create menus that showcase both the wines and local seafood.
The 2011 Cellar Reserve Braemore Semillon is a rare treat. "Each year we release just 500 six packs of this wine,"Thomas says. "It is set aside in cellar-controlled conditions, destined for re-release with six year's of bottle age."

Tickets are inclusive of three-courses plus canapes, paired with the range of semillons. 
Bookings are available by contacting Rowena (02) 49987 134 or by emailing cellardoor@thomaswines.com.au

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Margaret River winemaker starts an international stoush

The real deal
Imagine the uproar if a wine producer in Chile released a new product and called it Margaret River Chardonnay. 

That's exactly what just happened, except in reverse. And the Margaret River winery responsible is playing the publicity for all it is worth. 

Both Chile and Peru claim the delicious distilled spirit Pisco as their national drink, and both claim they invented it.There is a region called Pisco in Peru. 

Harmans Estate in Margaret River recently launched its own version of the distilled spirit and named it Pisco, earning, quite understandably, the ire of the South Americans. 

Winemaker Greg Garnish has been bleating to Today Tonight in Perth, saying: “We are copping a little bit of flak from the South Americans, particularly Peru. 

“A few death threats, which was quite interesting.”

He did not say who made the threats but added: “Pisco is, in our opinion, it is just a drink. It is a style of drink, being a distilled wine.”

Try telling the French that Chablis is just a grape drink; or the Spanish that Sherry is just a name. 

Sorry Mr Garnish, you have got this one very wrong. In my opinion, this is a bad look for both Margaret River and Australia.

The Peruvians have been using the name Pisco since 1764. Chile has had D.O.s (appellations since 1931). 

Why not call the Australian version by the generic name of aguardiente? Except that is not quite so fashionable, is it? 

Saturday, 19 August 2017

A special wine weekend on Tasmania's east coast

Looking for an excuse to visit Tasmania? The Apple Isle's beautiful east coast hosts the Great Eastern Wine Weekend annually to showcase the region’s finest food and wine.

The festivities kick off on the evening of Friday, September 8, with a 'Meet the Maker' tasting at Freycinet Lodge and then continue throughout the weekend with a variety of cellar door specials and events.

Guests can choose between visiting vineyards along the Great Eastern Drive, cruising with Wineglass Bay Cruises and staying at Freycinet Lodge for 'Meet the Maker' and the ‘Great Eastern Wine and Dine’ gala dinner.

Meet the Maker | Freycinet Lodge | Friday, September 8
From 6pm-9pm a range of winemakers from the east coast region will be providing free wine tastings, product sales, information and good conversation the deck of Freycinet Lodge. Delicious gourmet barbecue items will be available for purchase including pork ribs, steamed mussels, crispy duck and freshly shucked oysters by Melshell Oysters.The event is open to the public and bookings are not required.

Wine in Wineglass | Saturday, September 9 
Experience the spectacular Wineglass Bay Cruise from 10am with hosts Tim Goddard and Rick Burge. The cruise includes local wine tastings, morning and afternoon tea, freshly shucked oysters, Tasmanian salmon and a delicious Ploughmans bento box lunch. (03) 6257 0355

Lunch in the Winery | Craigie Knowe | Saturday, September 9 

The brand-new Craigie Knowe cellar door hosts this feast from noon-3pm at a coast of $95pp. This event will be the official launch of both the cellar door and the 2017 wines including a rosé, pinot gris, riesling, chardonnay and white label pinot noir. A three-course wine-matched lunch of local produce including seafood, roast lamb, pig on the spit from Long Name Farm plus homemade dessert and cheese platters to finish. Bookings and enquiries: glenn@craigieknowe.com.au

The Great Eastern Wine and Dine Dinner | Freycinet Lodge | Saturday, September 9
A relaxed sunset feast overlooking Great Oyster Bay starts at 6pm for canapés and pre-dinner drinks, followed by a four-course dinner featuring gourmet Tasmanian shared platters matched to a selection of east coast wines. Each wine will be presented by its respective wine maker. Wine expert Tim Goddard from Cool Wines and Freycinet Vineyard winemaker Claudio Radenti will host the evening along with guest speaker Rick Burge from Burge Family Wines in the Barossa. $130 per person . Bookings and enquiries: sales.destinations@ract.com.au (03) 6236 4311

Accommodation Package | Freycinet Lodge
A minimum two-night stay package is available at Freycinet Lodge from $553.50 for auto club members, and $738 for non-members. The package includes two nights’ accommodation, breakfast and dinner at the Great Eastern Wine and Dine event for two people. Bookings and enquiries: sales.destinations@ract.com.au. (03) 6236 4311

Bubbles, Bivalves and Smooth Tunes at Devil's Corner | Sunday, September 10

From noon-3pm, guests can order fresh oysters and a glass of devilish bubbles, find a spot on the grass and settle in to the finish off the weekend with a relaxing afternoon of music. For just $24 you will receive a dozen oysters and a glass of bubbles to wash them down! No bookings required.

For details see here: www.freycinetlodge.com.au/WineWeekend 

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Central and delightful Sydney accommodation

Five minutes' walk from Town Hall Station. Tick. Five minutes' walk from Darling Harbor. Tick. Five minutes' walk from the Queen Victoria Building. Tick. Five minutes' walk from the major department stores. Tick. 

Mantra on Kent furnished apartments may be tucked away on a quite stretch on Kent Street in Sydney, but they are right on the doorstep of many of the city's major attractions.

With a 24-hour reception service, very helpful staff, on-site cafe and jacuzzi, affordable places to stay in the big smoke do not come much more convenient. 

Guests travelling on business can take advantage of a variety of amenities on offer at the property, such as a business centre and meeting rooms. Wifi is also available - and there are computer stations in the lobby.

Mantra on Kent features 106 air conditioned apartments of various sizes. Ours featured a balcony with some terrific views. All have a refrigerator and a flat-screen TV with a DVD player. 

Sydney's attractions, including St Andrew's Cathedral are easily accessible on foot, as are Powerhouse Museum, the Australian National Maritime Museum and St Mary's Cathedral. 

Comfortable beds, good furniture and a laundry tick a lot of boxes. Recommended for no-frills comfort. 

For details and bookings visit: www.mantrahotels.com/mantra-on-kent

# The writer was a guest of Mantra on Kent 

50th birthday celebrations for Margaret River hit Sydney and Melbourne

This is a very important year for the Margaret River wine region, which is celebrating 50 years since the first commercial production from what is now one of the most famous vineyard districts in the world.

Margaret River was first planted by Perth cardiologist Tom Cullity, who was influenced primarily by a 1966 research paper of University of Western Australia agronomist, Dr John Gladstones.

He examined Margaret River’s suitability for viticulture and believed that the only possible disadvantage of the region could be its heavy winter rainfall which would necessitate choosing vineyard land which had good drainage.

The region is now home to 217 vineyards and 187 wineries and located a leisurely three- hour drive south of Perth.

The planting at Vasse Felix (below) in 1967 signalled the beginnings of a wine industry in the region.

It was quickly followed by Moss Wood (1969), Cape Mentelle (1970), Cullen (1971), Sandalford (1972), Leeuwin Estate, Woodlands and Wrights (1973).

To celebrate the last five decades since the first grape vines were planted, 19 renowned Margaret River wineries will host a series of dinners and wine tasting events in Melbourne and Sydney in early September.

Guests will have the opportunity to experience 11 of Margaret River’s most premium wineries over a stunning five-course dinner at three-hatted restaurant, Vue de Monde on Monday, September 4, and Bentley Restaurant + Bar on Wednesday, September 6.

Winemakers and sommeliers from wineries including Cape Mentelle, Voyager Estate, Howard Park and Woodlands will showcase their flagship varietals, predominately chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.

For Deep Woods Estate chief winemaker Julian Langworthy, the events offer a unique opportunity to bring together some of the region’s finest wines under one roof. “It’s great to see so many fantastic winemakers and wineries taking part in these events. I’m excited to showcase some of Deep Woods’ most notable wines alongside my industry peers,” he says.

Margaret River Wine will also host a tasting in Melbourne and Sydney, presenting over 50 wines from some of the region’s most iconic producers, including Fraser Gallop Estate, McHenry Hohnen, Xanadu and Margaret River’s oldest winery, Vasse Felix.

Guests will taste wines in order of the winery’s establishment, and enjoy a selection of canapés.

Participating wineries in order of establishment: Vasse Felix 1967, Cape Mentelle 1970, Woodlands 1973, Clairault | Streicker Wines 1976, Xanadu Wines 1977, Voyager Estate 1978, UMAMU Estate 1978, McHenry Hohnen Vintners 1979, Pierro Vineyards 1980, Devils Lair 1980, Deep Woods Estate 1987, Credaro Wines 1988, Howard Park 1996, Thompson Estate 1997, Oates Ends 1998, Fraser Gallop Estate 1999, Coward & Black 2001, Hutton Wines grower sourced, Flametree Wines grower sourced.

There is, of course, one elephant in the room. Some of the oldest producers, and some of the biggest names in Margaret River are not involved. Whether Cullen, for instance, and where are Leeuwin Estate, Moss Wood and Sandalford?

Friday, 11 August 2017

Australia's own spirit links up with fashion icons

Forget Grey Goose, Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff or Bacardi. 

Australia’s very own spirit, Vantage Australia, has been selected as the official cocktail sponsor for the Myer 2017 Spring Fashion launch taking place in Sydney on August 17.

The Vantage Australia team has created four special cocktails to serve at the A-list events with the who’s who of Australia’s fashion and social scene set to attend (my invite again went missing). 

The first of two events will be held during the day at a private residence at Coogee where both Aussie and international designers will showcase their latest collections at an exclusive fashion showcase headed sy Jennifer Hawkins. 

Vantage Australia has created a special activated-charcoal black Cosmopolitan to reflect the coastal views of Coogee Beach and its dramatic cliff’s edge.

Vantage Australia will also be having its mixologist on board at the second Myer event taking place that evening at Bronte’s Beach Surf Life Saving Club where guests will be taken back to a quintessential Australian childhood in summer. 

Inspired by some Aussie favourites, such as Frosty Fruits and Ginger Snaps, Vantage has developed three cocktails reminiscent of growing up in Australia: 

Frosty Fruit Granita: Vantage, cold pressed orange juice, pineapple juice and passion fruit  

Classic Vantage and Soda: Vantage, CAPI sparkling, fresh lemon 

The Ginger Snap: Vantage, CAPI flamin ginger, garnished with mint and lime. 

Reflective of the Aussie outback, Vantage white spirit draws its inspiration from native flora. 

For details see: www.spiritofanation.com