January 2019
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  • Day14

    Last breakfast and the journey home

    January 26, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Last breakfast at the Sandbar - for the final one we skipped the healthy smoothie bowls full of fresh fruit and went for the ricotta pancakes.

    Tram and train up to Brisbane (with bonus magpie family on the platform).

    Brisbane goes on my Recommended Airports list. Doesn't have the cultural displays of Incheon or the gardens of Singapore, but it's light and airy, with full height glass all along one side, and half height along both ends. And it's laid out as a park - fake grass, but all the other plants and palm trees are real. Clusters of wooden seats and tables, some park bench style, others individual seats, and some with cushions. Very few people, very quiet music (unless someone's playing the street piano). Relaxing, and some good food options.
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  • Day12

    Scenic point and Heritage wines

    January 24, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Witches falls winery - Tambourine mountain

    2018 Verdhelo , granite belt
    2 yeasts (1 French 1 South African), stainless vat 6 months. Light straw colour, soft yeast on nose with pale tropical fruits. Taste stronger than expected from nose - fruity but with mineral undertone, quite acid but not puckering.

    2018 Co,-innoculated Sav blanc - stainless vat.
    V light colour- barely tinted and just a hint of elderflower nose, elderflower and lemon, hint of greenish tart apple.

    2017 Wild Sav blanc - oaked for a few months.
    Much more straw in the colour, nose a little rubbery, buttery eggy toast. Taste rounder than the co-inoculated, more tropical fruit. Lychee?

    Wild ferment verdhelo - oaked 2016
    Nose butter and gooseberries, then oak burst adds warmth and , with a bit of woody tannin underneath.

    2018 Saignée rose - syrah and black muscat, left on skin for 24 hours. powerfully fragrant - roses and strawberry with a hint of spice. Syrupy soft flavour, a bit more currant than the nose - just a hint. Primarily strawberry, with a lovely creamy texture that's just a little dry at the end.

    2017 Tempranillo wild ferment
    Slightly purplish red, nose of summer pudding with plenty of blackcurran, flavour very close match to nose - slightly sharp.

    2017 Garnasha wild ferment
    Pinky red, warm soft nose, sunned wood, hint of powdery violet. Initially smoother flavour but more tannins as it goes on.

    2016 wild ferment monastrell (mourvedre grape in Grance, monastrell in spain).
    Leather polish and herbs, sweeter on the taste than the nose and less tannin than expected, but flavour grows in size - bit of lamp oil, lots of fruot, sour cherries, dark chocolate, big legs.

    2015 Merlot (prophesy range) barrel for 2 years, dark but not purple, nose of French oak vanilla, BIG flavour, oaky, dark, cherries and chocolate. Tannins definite but relatively brief leaving a fruit finish.

    Moscato rose 8.2%
    Rose and candied pineapple nose, taste of rose and muscat grapes. Lovey drinkable light sweet wine - would go with a light pudding (morrocan orange cake) but good alone.

    Classic Tawny - syrah fortified with brandy. Port style. Add a layer each year. 20 y o. Lovely raisiny port style - sweeter and a little lighter than a typical port. Goss beautifully with mild truffled brie.

    Tambourine mountain Distillery

    Wattle toffee
    Toasted wattle seed liqueuer - 20% gorgous smooth nutty, maply, smoky.

    Limnoncello.

    Chocomint (taste like a bittermint).

    Butterwhisky (more complex butterscotch).

    Wild plum and elderflower (also contains rose).*

    Violetta parma violet).

    Gingerbread (more sweet than ginger - soft), *

    Australian herb.

    * These 2 we were given in a blind tasting - selected from their range of about 40 flavours - and we were able to identify both. Derek got the rose in the plum amd elderflower (a flavour that's not listed) and I got the other 2 components).

    Mason wines

    Verdelho 2017 steel tank.
    Nose has the creaminess of a macadamia, apple with a hint of papaya; flavour much crisper - crunchy apple, sharper than the nose - vinho verde type young flavours . Prob needs food.

    2015 chardonnay unoaked.
    Nose green and herbacious. Taste quite christmassy - satsuma and clove, sharp, bit acidic.

    2016 semillion sav blanc.
    There was a fire at harvest time, so grapes slightly smoked. Go ea are really.good effect. Brings out the umami. Sharp green gooseberry but warmed by the smoke, which really comes through at the back.

    2018 picnic white (vedelho late harvest, 10%).
    Nose mango and dried apricot, taste light and sweet. Not quite pudding wine sweetness but heading that way.

    2018 rosé, cab sav merlot.
    Light salmon pink, soft warmish nose strawberry and sage. Taste a bit sharper

    Picnic red - semi sweet shiraz.
    Almost porty when paired with food, drier alone.

    2016 shiraz red, unspecified grape .
    Spicy, quite tannic, nose warmer and softer than taste. Sharp blackcurrant compote.

    2016 Shiraz cab sav.
    Sligbtly bluer red. Quite savoury and tannic, sour cherry, dense flavour. From a single block in Booth Lane vineyard.

    Petit verdeaux 2014 cellar door collection.
    Nose soft, warm powdery plum and violet, taste is BAM - sharp and tannins, plum stone. Not unpleasnt but oddly citrussy. Grape is used in Bordeaux as art of a blend.

    Late harvest VCV 2016 viogner, chardonnay and verdhelo.
    Dark Greek honeycomb nose, v sweet but not cloying - good acid balance, lemon curd with a clear honey finish

    Heritage wines

    Petit blanc

    Fiano - rare grape, interesting, bit sharp.

    Club red - roses, light summer red. Nose and taste more rosé-ish.

    Tempranillio lot. Edition 2017 - hefty purple red.

    Bootleggers tawny port - raisiny, smooth.

    Moonshine madness - chocolate coffee liqueuer port-alike - pure tiramisu smell. Made with some own-made brandy.
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  • Day12

    Mason wines

    January 24, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

    Verdelho 2017 steel tank nose has the creaminess of a macadamia, apppe with a hint of papaya; flavour much crisper - crunchy apple, sharper than the nose - vinho verde youth. Prob needs food.

    2015 chardonnay unoaked
    Nose green and herbacious. Taste quote christmasy - satsuma and clove, sharp, bit acidic.

    2016 semillion sav blan
    There was a fire at harvest time, so grapes slightly smoked. Brings out the umami. Sharp green gooseberry but warmed by the smoke, which really comes through at the back

    2018 picnic white (vedelho late harvest, 10%) nose mango and dried apricot, taste light and sweet. Not quite pudding sweetness but heading that way.

    2018 rose cab sav merlot
    Light salmon pink, soft warmish nose strawbwrry and sage. Yaste a bit sharper

    Picnic red -semi sweet shoraz. Almost porty when pairrd with food, drier alone.

    2016 shiraz redred Spicy, quite tannic, nose warmer and softer than taste. Sharp blackcurrant compote.

    2016 Shiraz cab sav sligbtly blueer red. Quite savoury and tannic, sour cherry, dense flavour. From a single block booth lane vineyard.

    Petit verdeaux 2014 cellar door collection. Nose soft, warm powdery plum and violet, taste is BAM sharp and tannins, plum stone. Not unpleasnt but oddly citeussy. Ised in bordeaux as art of a blend.

    Late harvest VCV 2016 viogner, chardonnay and verdhelo. Dark Greek honeycomb nose, v sweet but not cloying- good acid balance, lemon curd with a clear honey finish

    Lunch of felafel buddha bowl with avocado, tahini, pumpkin, quinoa, halloumi. Nougat and chocolate ice creams.
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  • Day12

    Tambourine mountain distillery

    January 24, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

    Wattle toffee
    Toasted wattle seed liqueuer - 20% gorgous smooth nutty, maply, smoky.

    Vodka (lemon), Limnoncello. Chocomint (taste like a bittermint), butterwhisky (more complex butterscotch), wild plum and elderflower (also contains rose), violetta parma violet), gingerbread (more sweet than ginger - soft), Australian herb.Read more

  • Day12

    Witches Falls winery

    January 24, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    If you ever find yourself heading for the Gold Coast, immediately contact Helen at Ambience on Tour and book yourself a day trip. She has various types on offer - art, breweries and cheese, distilleries. We chose wine, with bonus wildlife stop.

    She picked us up from the hotel door at just after 9 and drove us up to Tambourine mountain, with a bit of a guided tour on the way. The first stop was Witches Falls winery. Like most of the wineries in the area they grow almost all their grapes some way away, in the Granite belt, but unlike the others they ship the whole grapes up the mountain and do the whole process on site.

    Grapes are first shaken loose from their stems. This releases a bit of juice, so reds and rosés sit for between 4 hours and 2 weeks to macerate in tall, unsealed steel vessels before pressing between 2 large air cushions and then filtering out the skins and pips. For fermentation some are inoculated with 2 strains of yeast (1 French, 1 South African) while others use wild yeasts.

    We tasted:

    2018 Granite Belt Verdhelo
    (coinoculated and 6 months in a stainless steel vat). Light straw colour, soft yeast on nose with pale tropical fruits. Taste stronger than expected from nose - fruity but with mineral undertone, quite acid but not puckering.

    2018 Granite Belt Sauvignon Blanc (coinoculated and 6 months in a stainless steel vat). V light colour- barely tinted and just a hint of elderflower nose, elderflower and lemon, hint of greenish tart apple

    2017 Granite Belt Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc (oaked for a few months).
    Much more straw in the colour, nose a little rubbery, buttery eggy toast. Taste rounder than the coinoculated, more tropical fruit. Lychee?

    2016 Granite Belt Wild ferment Verdhelo (oaked 2016l
    Nose butter and gooseberries, then an oak burst adds warmth and a bit of woody tannin under the fruit.

    2018 Saignée rose - syrah and black muscat, left on skin for 4 hpurs. powerfully fragrant - roses and strawberry with a hint of spice. Syrupy soft flavour, a bit more currant than the nose - just a hint. Primarily strawberry, wirh a lovely creamy texture that's just a little dry at the end.

    2017 Tempranillo wild ferment
    Slightly purplish red, nose of summer pudding with plenty of blackcurrant, flavour very close match to nose - slightly sharp

    2017 Garnasha wild ferment
    Pinky red, warm soft nose, sunned wood, hint of powdery violet. Initially smoother flavour but more tannins as it goes on.

    2016 wild ferment monastrell (mourvedre grape in Grance, monastrell in spain)
    Leather polish and herbs, sweeter on the taste than the nose and less tannin than expected, but flavour grows in size - bit of lamp oil, lots of fruit, sour cherries, dark chocolate, big legs.

    2015 Prophesy Merlot (Prophesy is the premium range) French oak barrel for 2 years, dark but not purpley, nose of French oak vanilla, BIG flavour, oaky, dark, cherries and chocolate. Tannins definite but relatively brief leaving a fruit finish.

    Moscato rose 8.2% rose and candied pineapple nose, taste pf rose and muscat grapes. Lovey drinkble light sweet wine - would go with a light pudding (morrocan orange cake) but good alone.

    Classic Tawny - syrah fortified with brandy. Port style. Add a layer each year. 20 y o. Lovely raisiny port style - sweeter and a little lighter than a typical port. Goes beautifully with the local mild bries that we tried: 1 truffled and 1 ashed.
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  • Day11

    The clock

    January 23, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Our hotel balcony overlooks the Clock Hotel. The notable feature of which is, unsurprisingly, a clock. This lives on a turret on one corner of the building, and at every quarter hour it plays a tune while large but unidenfiable figures parade aound the turret. One saving grace is that it is not the same tune every 15 minutes. There are repeats, but on a cycle of 5 hours or so.

    The tunes have been transposed for clock bells by someone more interested in showing off the number of bells than in a strictly accurate rendition. And I suspect if you asked them to sing the tunes in question there would be significant passages of lalalalalas. Despite these obstacles we have so far identified Brahms lullaby, The Hills are Alive, Edelweiss, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Auld Lang Syne, and When the Saints go Marching In, Greensleeves, and something that might possibly be The Blue Danube, although I'm not sure Strauss himself could swear to it.
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  • Day10

    Why I'm not swimming in the sea

    January 22, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Normally I like to swim - or at least paddle - in every sea I encounter. Even in wintry Vladivostok I found a crack in the ice large enough to briefly dip a finger in the water.

    Surfers Paradise should be perfect for my first dunk in the Coral Sea. The weather (and I assume the water) is warm, the beach is litter free and gently sloping, the sand is fine and soft, the surf big enough for a brief tumble but not enough to pose a threat.

    But there are these all over the beach, and in the water. Bluebottles. Similar to the Portugese man o'war.

    Physalia utriculus is smaller than Physalia physalis - the main stinging tentacle is only about 1 metre long. But the sting apparently causes 'extreme pain, which usually subsides after 20-40 minutes unless the venom gets into the lymph nodes'.

    Think I'll stick to the pool.
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