Monthly Archives: October 2011

Sunday off in London

4.28pm, Sunday 30th October, internet cafe, Bethnal Green Road, East London, UK

With today off, I thought it was time I went to one of the touristy spots in London, so I chose Brick Lane, as I could hook 3 buses together to and from London Bridge and see some of the city. The buses are a great way to get around, as you get to see all the interesting stuff at street level.

So I went down to the train station this morning, bought my ticket up to York for tomorrow, then took the 40 bus to Aldgate Station, the 254 from there to Bethnal Green, then the 8 on to Brick Lane. One of the things I’d heard about was this 24 hour bakery that made boiled beigels (bagels).

So that’s where I started for morning tea – with cream cheese. Apparently the ‘salt beef’ (thats corned beef back home, but over here corned beef is a different thing altogether, and not great!) is magic. It looked really good, and later in the day, the queue was blocks long!



Then I fossicked around the lane ways, and believe me when I tell you that there is everything you can imagine on sale in the Brick Lane area. I found a travelers souvenir at a junk stand – Concorde badges nail clippers, bought my first reggae CD from another bloke with a musical stand, and long sleeve black t shirts for 1.20 each! Bargain. And a neat day out.


So now it’s a case of backtracking the buses back to the hotel, and packing everything up for 8 days up in the ‘Grim North’ – some of my favorite turf, and this trip we will be in York, Sheffield, Huddersfield, and across toward Manchester. See ya when we’re safely on the train going north from Kings Cross station.

The Wine Gang at Vinopolis

8.05am, Sunday 30th October, London Bridge, London, England

Didn’t get anywhere near the computer yesterday folks – slept in and did the domestic chores before walking down to Vinopolis at The Wine Wharf below Borough Market to the big Wine Gang Xmas Fair event. Val the PR dynamo for us in the UK held the fort downstairs at the tasting table and I did a masterclass in one of the vaults upstairs. It was “The Icon Wines of Yalumba” and was pretty much a focus on our Viognier and our Cabernet Shiraz blend worlds


This was Val’s lovely set place for each taster, and I got so wrapped up in doing the tasting that I completely forgot to take a photo of the sold out session.

Schooooooooool’s out! For…EVER!


9.19pm, Friday 28th October, back at London Bridge, London, England, UK

Got back into London, folks, and read my favorite London book – “Time Out” – cover to cover. Thrilled to bits to find that the touring Alice “Welcome to my Nightmare” Cooper has got himself involved in the BFI London Film Festival. How? He hosted a session on his lifelong love affair with horror/slash/thriller/schlock movies, as well as using some film clips that gave a bit of an insight into where the character Alice came from. Then a really long question and answer moment where he just kept talking … well done the film festival for this event … what a great storyteller. He was going to follow with a second session introducing the screening of the original Halloween movie, but I had to pull the pin as we have a big job at Vinopolis tomorrow as part of The Wine Gang Xmas Fair.

But he is doing a special Fright Night concert tomorrow night here in London, so we may get along and try and recapture our youth. Who hasn’t sung “schooooooool’s out foooor EVA!” along with Alice on the car radio at some stage of the game?

Goodbye Tartan Town … for now

9.23am, Internet kiosk opposite Caffe Nero, Edinburgh Airport departures, Scotland the Brave

Morning folks – no free wi fi today, so it’s back to the coins in the slot and be quick. What a fab 4 days in Scotland – and I haven’t even been near the Highlands yet. Huge thank you to the ringmaster for Wine Importers Neil and the boys that babysat me this last bit – Graeme, Charlie, Jonny and Ian. Ive had Scottish history, arts, literature and geography plus some really handy relationship advice, and that was just in the cars getting from one spot to another! I had a feeling that Wine Importers were the operation for us! Weve also won a stack of Scottish hearts and palates for Yalumba, and caught up with some old friends we havent seen in a while. And as for our big dinner at Kyloe (thats “highland cow” in Gaelic) last night, what an excellent way to cap this 4 day run. More when I can get to the photos.

So see ya later Edinburgh, Glasgow, Crieff, Paisley, North Berwick, Gullane and Dollar, thanks for being so good to us – and with any luck we will see you when it’s your summer.


Here’s peak hour traffic at Edinburgh airport

In Golf Country

3.08pm, Gullane, Scottish Borders

just dived in to the local Super fry chippy for a piece of haddock and chips as we get around the wine stores in between the golf links.


Another top day – this time it’s Glasgow

8.53am, Friday 27th October, The Haymarket, Edinburgh, Scotland

OK here we go with a quick recap on what was a fabulous second day ever for me in Glasgow – the first was about 6 years ago. One thing is for absolutely sure – it won’t be that long before we’re back! We started at Rogano – an Edinburgh dress circle restaurant established in 1935 and with the decor and atmosphere based on the art deco dining room that was being built at exactly the same time on the River Clyde as part of the stately lady of the day ocean liner “Queen Mary”. Now when you walk in through the doors fitted with the sea horse etched milk glass portholes, you really do just slide back in time. It’s everything really. The mirrors that were spirited from the construction site, the music, the attention to detail with the authentic original art deco menus – if you’re in Glasgow ever, you must put the time aside to do something at Rogano – oysters at the champagne bar, a group of you for lunch in the booths, or a dinner for two over a low candle in one of the romantic hidey corners. Hopefully this gives you a bit of an idea.



And if a Manhattan / New York City experience is your thing, there’s always ‘ 29 ‘ upstairs next door, where Jon has our Yalumba Signature Cabernet Shiraz fitting right in on the menu. Check out the David Coulthard formula one driving suit on one of the walls.

On out to the country, and the old mill town of Paisley – yes the town that gave us the ‘paisley print’ – the feature look of the hippie 60s and 70s fashion moment. The old original Anchor Mill has been re furbished and is home to some folks doing nice things with our wines – sending them out to a set of 20 odd stores throughout the Scottish Mid and Low lands.

Here’s Anchor Mill – then and now.



Whilst out in the countryside, we also showed some new wines to the boys at Mar Hall – very much the granite bluestone jewel in the crown of the forested Renfrewshire countryside. They are already a bit in love with the Yalumba Bushvine Grenache, and what a lovely address for our hardworking raspberry rosemary middleweight to be. Don’t take my word for it though – have a look at this!


And then it was back into the city, tonthe West End of Glasgow and a consumer tasting at the new Quel Vin wine shop, a play on the store’s location just off the Kelvin Bridge. Lucky for us – good karma is with us so far on the trip, touch wood – they’ve just had a Belgian fine chocolates cabinet set up the same day we arrive, so it’s a wine and truffle tasting actually. But then it gets even better. We start our tasting with some early arrivals, and I duck in next door to the sensational Philadelphia chippy and get enough cod, chips, haggis sausage and chips to keep everyone happy. Yes folks – you should always have wine with food – it’s the responsible thing to do! Here’s the before – a parcel that smelled so good!……and the after ready to eat from left to right – cod & chips supper, haggis sausage & chips supper, and half a dozen potato fritters crisped just right! No wonder really that we get folks back to our tastings.



What did we show with our fish and chip feast at Quel Vin? – Jansz NV Sparkling, 2010 Pewsey Vale Riesling, 2005 Pewsey Contours Riesling, 2008 Heggies Chardonnay – lovely with the cod – 2009 Y Shiraz Viognier, 2008 Bushvine Grenache, 2008 Scribbler Cabernet Shiraz, and just for a nice sweet finisher offerer – the 2009 Heggies Botrytis Riesling. Thanks a huge amount to Jin & Jill who are the passionate about their world ….now including fab chocolates …..for having us on the night and on the shelves, and everyone for turning out on a chilly school night to see what we do in our part of the world. And it’s all sorted – we will be back ( hopefully July 2012) for the second great Quel Vin Yalumba wine loves fish & chip supper! See ya when it’s a Scottish summer in the West End.

And where is Quel Vin? On the end of Kelvin Bridge, next to the Parmigiana Italian restaurant, two doors down from the Philadelphia chippy, and with Roots and Fruits the organic store on the other side.


Ah yes – the glamorous traveling life!

6.48am, Friday 27th October, The Haymarket, Edinburgh, Scotland

Got in late last night from working the day in Glasgow folks, and just got woken up by a call from Australia, so thought you’d like this look at yesterday.


Getting on the train at Haymarket station – ‘Margadh an Fheoir’ – Edinburgh at 8.17am heading for Glasgow Queen Street


Getting back to the Haymarket station in Edinburgh after a massive – but memorable for all the right reasons – day in Glasgow.

All the good things that Jon – our man from Wine Importers in that part of Scotland – to follow, but first I’m going to go and polish off a poached egg – no bacon.

Speaking of Tartan!

10.11pm, Tuesday 25th October, The Haymarket, Edinburgh, Scotland

This is the Smith Tartan. I needed a scarf as it’s a good deal colder and windier up here, and I bought The Black Watch last trip. This time I bought the ‘mother ship’ tartan, as it’s the Hill Smith family that owns Yalumba, and it’s actually a bit of a fashionable look! What do you think?


Big second day out and about around Tartan Town

9.36pm, Tuesday 25th October, The Haymarket, Edinburgh, Scotland

Just walked through the door folks after a magic masterclass in the cellar at Whigham’s Wine Bar in the centre of town. We showed : 2009 Y Riesling – a very pleasant snappy citrus surprise for folks expecting something in the traditionally semi sweet German style. This is where I used my first geological term for the evening – ‘igneous extrusion’ or volcanic pimple that didn’t burst – to describe the rock range with very shallow topsoil of Eden Valley, where a lot of the fruit for Y Riesling comes from.
: 2009 Eden Valley Viognier – an introduction to this variety for most folks, and something that will go really well with the icon Scottish home cooked seafood dish of ‘Creamy Cullen Skink with flakes of smoked haddock and chunky Border’s potato’ **skink is a skinny fish not unlike garfish
: 2009 Bush vine Grenache – is a house favourite at Whigham’s , and again was something new for most of our tasters. It did do a top job with the mini ‘moneybag’ deep fried haggis canapés.


: 2007 The Cigar Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon – this was where I used my second impressive geological term of the evening ‘paleo shoreline’. This was to describe the limestone ridge that Coonawarra the winegrowing region sits on, created by 300 years of being the beach in ancient times whereas now the coastline is about 60 km further out.
***Why do I mention running out these geological terms? Because besides explaining why these wine growing regions are so unique and the contribution that the soils make, it turns out that I have a table of geologists and engineers from Cairn Energy along, and it turns out that the Head Geologist endorses my explanations!! Yay, I can do dirt talk!!

With The Cigar, it’s in fine form, and the 2007 is moving really nicely with cassis dominating the nose and the palate softened out but long. Here’s a happy table of Cairn Energy professionals – new fans of The Cigar.


: The Museum Muscat was the big finisher offerer for our masterclass, and was a raisin, honey maple syrup, dried apricot & fig, burnt sugar toffee, clean cool spirit driven roller coaster that was screaming for either a cream brûlée or sticky date pudding to take it out to dinner! It’s special, and showed up to play!

So a big thanks to Neil – our Sales Manager at Wine Importers – for doing the pouring tonight, Whigham’s for pouring the Bush Vine Grenache every night, and to the folks who came along on a school night to see just a bit of what we’re up to at Yalumba. See you all next trip.

Oh, and before I forget. What did I do today? I went out and about with Charlie from Wine Importers. Where? To see Alistair at Dollar (Clackmannanshire) and to see Sue & Simon at Harrisons Fine Wines in Crieff (Perthshire).


Harrisons – that’s Charlie and Simon Out front

And just in case you’ve never been out this way, it’s ruggedly special This is Loch Earn this afternoon.


Big First day in Tartan Town

9.12pm, Monday 24th October, Haymarket, Edinburgh (Tartan Town), Scotland

OK that’s Day 1 finished in Scotland, and Tartan Town has been extremely good to us! Graeme – our Wine Importers man – was my baby sitter today. The easiest way to describe the 4 days that we’ll be up here with our distributor is that it will be like playing “Pass the Parcel” – and I’m the parcel! Charlie, Neil, Jon & Ian will be the babysitters through until Friday, and it looks like I’ll be in very good hands.

So what was in our wine bag today? 2009 Y Unwooded Chardonnay, 2009 Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier, 2008 Yalumba Eden Valley Shiraz Viognier, 2008 Yalumba Scribbler Cabernet Shiraz, and the Antique Tawny.

The easiest way to run through the day is to do it with pictures – don’t know why I haven’t done it like this before. Here we go:

1. Drink monger- anyone that’s anywhere near Bruntsfield should pop in and see Kami & Jamie at this new shop – very nice wines out front, very very very nice wines out the back!


2. The Bon Vivant Companion – is wines with a deli (nearly gave in to the Smoky bacon and chilling jam rolls!) and spirits with a special cocktail bent. You need to see Jamie & May – but go in with some time up your sleeve, there’s a lot going on!


3. Angels with Bagpipes – up on the Royal Mile, which takes you right to the gates of Edinburgh Castle – you’ll find this top restaurant right next to Roxburgh Close. (made me think straight away of my boy Richard Roxburgh – excellent Australian actor who may very well be about to start filming the second series of the magic TV show ‘Rake’ . Cleaver Green will be back on the job)
We’re thrilled to bits to have two wines on here by the glass – The 2008 Scribbler and the 2009 Eden Valley Viognier. Thanks David, for supporting Australian wines across the board. A very nice address 16000 km from their ‘point of origin’.



4. The Whisky Trail – are Whisky specialists – we’re still up on The Royal Mile, but they have a hefty wine store as well. All I’m going to say is that Bailey the Red is one of the great characters in this city, and really knows what there is to know about Scotland’s spiritous world. Dont take my word for it though, go and introduce yourself, and let him take you into his world. And it looks like he’s pretty quick on the uptake when it comes to wine as well – parallel worlds of aroma, flavor and texture stuff really.


5. Cornelius – beer and wine specialists – I always learn a lot out on the road, and at the end of my day, it was the massively successful but still tiny Scottish brewery Tempest that I added to my ‘must do whilst I’m in town’ list. This is what happens when there’s folks like James who own their own store, and only stack on the shelves what they like to drink themselves. Nice!


6. Magnum Pub – I knew I was in the right place for dinner – thanks Graeme – when as soon as I sat down to read the dinner menu, Thin Lizzy came on the sound system with ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’. Phil Lynott is still with us folks. Then I got talking with the absolutely delightful blokes behind the bar, they knew our wines and it turns out that the chef is Australian. Things just kept getting better by the minute! So I decided to take the plunge, and see what an Australian take on haggis looked like. I chose the small starter serve of ‘Traditional Haggis with creamy potato mash, neaps, and Whisky & Thyme cream’. I have to be really honest here folks……..its actually top stuff! But filling. I would have liked to try the ‘Chocolate & Cherry Bakewell Tart with Chantilly Cream’ but just couldn’t! Good reason to go back really. There’s a reason why the Magnum was jumping on a Monday night! Thanks boys for making me feel like a local.

And that was Monday!

And for my Scots mate Jan……hope this last pic makes you homesick! Yum!