Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The rosé revolution rolls on

I was hugely surprised when visiting California last year to see more rosé wines available by the glass than whites and reds. 

It seems the global thirst for drinking pink is showing no sign of slowing, with exports of Provence rosé to the US nearly doubling last year to 11.4 million litres.

The trend for drinking pink in the UK is also gathering momentum, leading to a 29% rise in exports of Provence rosé last year, recent data from BMI Research reported by the Drinks Business shows.

Encouragingly, high-end rosés are driving the growth of the category, leading to a record year of exports for Provence - the world’s largest rosé-producing region.

The rate of growth for Provence rosé abroad has been rapid. A decade ago just 0.4 million litres of the wine was exported to the US. 

The wines carry an average retail price in the US of $12 a bottle, and are proving popular with millennials.

Clocking its popularity, producers around the world, from Susana Balbo in Argentina to Chivite in Navarra in northern Spain are responding to the demand with Provençal-style pinks of their own that are dry in style and pale in colour.

Look in any Australian wine store and it is clear that demand for rosé is up and up. The 2017 vintage wines are already being released and three savoury stars to look out for are: Turkey Flat Rosé, Jim Barry Annabelle's Rosé and De Bortoli Villages Rosé. 

Monday, 24 July 2017

Scoot marks merger with $99 fares from Perth to Singapore

So farewell to Tigerair Singapore and hello to a new combined budget airline that will operate under the Scoot brand.

From today, all previous Tigerair flights will be operated under the Scoot brand and Scoot flights will operate under the TR flight designator code.

This marks the completion of the Scoot-Tigerair integration process that began last May when the airlines were brought under a common holding company, Budget Aviation Holdings.

Scoot is the low-cost, medium-to-long haul arm of the Singapore Airlines.

Scoot CEO Lee Lik Hsin said: “As we come to the end of Tigerair’s journey, we open up a brand new chapter for Scoot building on what Tigerair and the old Scoot had achieved since their respective inceptions.

"We are stronger than we have ever been before, and consequently in an even better position to offer our guests more choice, connectivity and value. The enhanced Scoot that we are introducing today is spunky and sassy, and promises to create more travel opportunities for our guests.”

In conjunction with the single brand celebration, Lee also disclosed five new destinations that Scoot will fly to by June 2018.

Among them are Honolulu, Scoot’s maiden United States destination, and Harbin in north-east China. The remaining three are short-haul destinations: Kuching and Kuantan in Malaysia, and Palembang in Indonesia.

Coupled with the addition of the previous Tigerair network, the five new services will bring Scoot’s total destination count to 65 across 18 countries.

Beyond new destinations, Scoot’s crew members, affectionately named Scootees, will be outfitted with new uniform designs.

There is a celebratory sale on right now at www.flyscoot.com with fares from $99 to Singapore from Perth.

A gourmet guide to where to eat in Launceston, Tasmania

Wine lovers will be descending on Launceston, Tasmania, this weekend for the annual Pinot Noir Showcase, a major drawcard organised by one of Australia's boutique wine stores, The Pinot Shop. 

Vinophiles from around the country get the chance to try pinot noirs from over 30 of the island state's finest pinot producers over a five-hour period on Saturday, accompanied by cheeses and canapes. It is a most convivial affair with several associated events held over the weekend. 

Launceston is a small town, however, with limited dining options for gourmets. Three times over the past couple of weeks I've been asked for Launceston recommendations by those visiting either the town or the Tamar Valley. 

Michelle Round, the owner of the Pinot Shop, put together several suggestions for her weekend guests and I've combined her suggestions with my own input to create this mini guide to where to eat in Launceston. 

Stillwater (above) 03 6331 4153. Overlooking the Tamar River, this long-time favourite is a fine diner with a modern twist. Chef Craig Will focuses on local produce, there is an excellent wine cellar and service is top notch. A Launceston icon. 

Geronimo Aperitivo Bar & Restaurant 03 6331 5632. A chic modern eatery with interesting and flavoursome food that has proven very popular with locals. A fun place to eat but with serious wines and food. 

Black Cow Bistro (above) 03 6331 9333. Always busy, this is Launceston's best address for meat lovers with a range of excellent steaks and all the trimmings, along with an excellent wine list and savvy service. 

Mud Bar & Restaurant 03 6334 5066. Chef Don Cameron is a local star and is now based at the Seaport precinct where he serves up Asian influenced snacks and main meals. 

Me Wah Chinese Restaurant 03 6331 1308. In suburban Invermay, this is the original Me Wah, open well before its Hobart counterpart. Think serious Cantonese dishes and an expansive wine list. 

Henry's 03 6334 7757 is a newcomer in the old Northern Club that I have not tried but locals praise its hearty dishes and clubby ambiance. 

Novaro's, Pierre's, Pickled Evenings Indian, Elaia Cafe and Smokey Joe's Creole Cafe are all very popular with locals - and Brisbane Street Bistro has a strong following - while the burgers are excellent at Burger Got Soul. For pre-dinner drinks try either Saint John, a buzzy bar specialising in craft beers, or a cider or two at Red Brick Road

Out of town, the best winery restaurants are Timbre Kitchen at Velo Wines and the restaurant at Josef Chromy Wines (above).  

Sunday, 23 July 2017

$51,000 for a bottle of Australian wine that may never be opened

Imagine paying over $51,000 for an old bottle of wine that may never be uncorked. 

A private collector has paid $51,750 for a bottle of 1951 Penfolds Grange Hermitage, the first vintage made of the benchmark Australian red; and a wine that was never on sale to the public. 

The wine was sold through Melbourne-based independent wine auction house MW Wines.

Nick Stamford, managing director of MW Wines, said fewer than 20 bottles are thought to remain in existence; with even fewer likely to be of this quality, which has been tasted and re-corked by Penfolds winemakers.

“The bottle of 1951 Grange has been verified at the Penfolds re-corking clinic, tasted, and signed by legendary Penfolds winemakers Max Schubert and Peter Gago, who have declared it to be of ‘excellent’ condition',” Stamford said.
Penfolds Grange is one of the jewels of Australian wine and the 1951 vintage represents a significant part of Australia’s wine history. Just 150 cases were produced, and it was not sold commercially. Winemaker Schubert gave most away to family, friends and colleagues.

Wines of this vintage are seen primarily as investments and the bottle may never be opened. 

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Enjoy the comforts of a five-star hotel afloat

The Rees Hotel in Queenstown is one of the finest in New Zealand, with an attention to detail second to none.

Now the Rees has announced a new Auckland-based 84-foot motor yacht, MV Templar, is now available for chartered and private cruises.

Based in Viaduct Harbour in Auckland, the MV Templar by The Rees is a fully-furnished luxurious four-cabin yacht, with en suite bathrooms, accommodating up to 44 people during the day and up to nine overnight.

Mark Rose, the urbane and wine loving general manager of The Rees explains: “We are always looking at innovative ways to offer our valued guests new experiences in line with the high standard and quality of accommodation and service we strive to maintain at The Rees Hotel Queenstown.

"This has included our culinary series dinners, our unique heli-wine tours and heli-weddings experiences and now we are extremely excited to announce this new expansion into Auckland, with the acquisition of our motor yacht MV Templar, offering a range of exceptional experiences on Auckland harbour for corporate events and private charters.”

The MV Templar is available to be chartered for any occasion including day charters or extended cruising, sunset cruises, Champagne breakfasts, fine dining, golf or island transfers, celebrations, weddings, honeymoons, corporate functions, product launches, unique business meetings, team building and staff incentives.

Members of the experienced Rees team will be on deck to ensure everything goes smoothly. Rates can be quoted hourly (three-hour minimum), daily and extended cruise periods and special events on request.

For full specifications and booking enquiries see www.therees.co.nz/yacht/mv-templar-by-the-rees.htm or contact Nathan Brown: nathan@therees.co.nz

Savour South-East Asian holidays tailored with gourmets in mind

Gourmet travel is constantly growing in popularity and Sens Asia Travel recently announced a new range of journeys that are tailor-made for travellers and food lovers looking to experience an authentic taste of South-East Asia.

These holidays are designed for small groups of adventurous travellers who want to catch iconic sights while at the same time tasting intriguing dishes that are only found off the mainstream routes.

Inspired by the mantra “You must taste a culture to understand a culture”, Sens Asia encourages travellers to explore Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos and uncover the flavours, smells, and dishes that are unique to each destination. 

In Vietnam, travellers can expect a 12-day journey from Northern Hanoi all the way to Vinh Long in the deep south. They can join a journey through the old and the new, visiting ancient towns, unspoilt cruising routes through Ha Long Bay and taste local delicacies including Pho Bo, Bun Tom Nuong Xa and Café Trung. 

The culinary and cultural experience in Northern Thailand lets travellers explore the bustling cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Chill out by the canals of Bangkok savouring the spicy flavours of a steaming bowl of boat noodles, enjoy a fresh seafood dinner whilst cruising the Chao Phaya River and discover Issan cuisine at waterfall restaurants in Chiang Mai. 

Those looking to take some time for themselves can join a relaxing trip to Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can treat their eyes to the intricate details decorating the town's ancient temples then treat their taste buds to an array of traditional Laotian dishes such as herb crusted fish steamed in banana leaf or purple sticky rice in coconut milk with tamarind sauce. 

In Cambodia, travellers can experience one of South-East Asia’s most remarkable wonders, Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Guests can explore majestic, ancient temples and rural floating villages whilst enjoying the delicious cuisine heavily influenced by Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese flavours. 

For details and booking information, please visit www.sensasia.com

Thursday, 20 July 2017

World continues its love affair with Australian wine

Drinkers around the world continue to seek out premium Australian wine, the new The Wine Australia Export Report June 2017 reveals.

The report shows Australian wine export value increased by $201 million (10%) in 2016–17 to $2.31 billion, underpinned by strong export growth to China and the United States.

Australia is the world’s fifth-biggest exporter of wine – behind France, Italy, Spain and Chile. In 2016–17, Australia outperformed each of the four larger exporters in its rate of export growth.

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said: "Pleasingly, nearly all price points experienced growth and there were benefits for exporters in all segments of the market.
"The strongest growth was in more premium wines, with all price segments of $10 per litre and above experiencing growth, and the strongest rate of growth for wines $30–49.99 per litre.

"There were a record 1997 exporters last financial year and 69% contributed to the total increase in value shown.

"An interesting development from last year was the growth in the carbonated wine category, which includes varieties (is Moscato a variety or a style?) such as Moscato. Exports more than doubled to $30 million. The United States was the destination for 35% of the carbonated wine exports, with mainland China (15%) and Japan (14%) the other major destinations," he said.