Monthly Archives: March 2016

Goodbye Florida…..Baltimore here we come!

1.27pm, Wednesday 30th March, Park Avenue, Winter Park, Florida, USA

Afternoon folks, and in a couple of hours, I’ll be catching a ride up to Baltimore from Orlando airport – just sorry I didn’t have a chance whilst in this part of the country to do Disneyworld! Maybe next time! But we did have a chance to re introduce ourselves to the Orlando area, seeing as we’ve not had a representative on the ground in Florida for a couple of years now. First was the trade and distributor lunch at The Capital Grille, which I posted yesterday……..then it was off to the original Tim’s Wine Market in Orlando……with Tim himself and some brave wine loving souls that braved the torrential rainstorm that dropped in out of nowhere!

  

Before……

  
10 minutes later….the torrential downpour hits, and stays for an hour – whilst we head for Tims Wine Market, and the hard core of red wine fans who have braved the weather and come out to see what we’re doing in the bottle

  
Thanks a million folks, and we’ll see you when I’m back in town – possibly around September. Then we may even screen the old 1950s Yalumba documentary for the locals……and find some caramel popcorn and interval snacks to go with it! So thanks Tim, and the Winter Park hard core Yalumba wine fan club – you know who you are – see ya when it’s later on in the year.

And Southwest…..I’ll see you very shortly for the hop up the coast to Baltimore. Crab town, here we come!

Tampa yesterday – today Orlando…..still Florida

12.12pm, Tuesday 29th March, The Capital Grille bar, International Drive, Orlando, Florida, USA

Just a quick check in folks as I have a quick bite at the bar before meeting the folks from our new distributor for Florida, and some of their clients over here in Orlando. We have our own part of the dining  room at the Capital Grille to showcase some of our top reds, and this establishment does a great job of making you feel like you’re in Chicago or New York back in the 1940s through 1960s. Maybe it’s the leather chairs, the lighting, or the Frank Sinatra meets Billie Holiday soundtrack….. 

 
  
And they do great steak! You can tell that by the house favourite – the Capital cheeseburger, diced steak and bacon with home made garlic butter, sauce and mustard

  
And with the Paradox Shiraz, Signature, FDR1A, Bushvine Grenache, Cigar Coonawarra Cabernet, and Patchwork Shiraz stretching their legs……it should be a top combination. 

See you when it’s afterwards, and we’re doing an in store tasting at Tims Wine Market

Stormy & Steamy – welcome to Tampa, Florida

6.51am, Monday March 28th, Dunkin Donuts, Busch Ave, Tampa, Florida, USA

Morning folks, can’t sleep – still 5 hours ahead of the local clocks – still on London time. It’s a warm and steamy morning out there already, it’s been raining overnight, and I’m thankful that we’ve missed the worst of the storm front that’s been dumping up to 7 inches of rain on Orlando and points north through central Florida. We’ll be up there tomorrow, so let’s hope the weather gods blow it all out to sea by then. So here I am at the nearest Dunkin Donuts – thanks for the free wi fi, clean bathrooms, and coffee that’s consistently drinkable. And that’s in a country that seems to do coffee pretty weirdly on a daily basis. How can a caramel frappe latte be a coffee!! So on coffee, I found the proper Cuban style cafe con leche in Ybor City – the old cigar rolling Latino part of Tampa – yesterday, and asked for strong and sweet. The stuff was thick, creamy and gave all the chambers of my heart a quick  slap. I could do with one of these each week. If you’re ever in Tampa, find the main E 7th Avenue of Ybor City, then track down the Tabanero Cigar rolling room, or find this sign…..and down the back is the coffee stall….

  

  
And the cigar rolling process is fascinating. I don’t smoke, but the power of the tobacco fragrances just about spin your head on a swivel when you walk in to the rolling room from the street. For Cabernet Sauvignon lovers, it gives you a whole new perspective on the depth, power and variation in ‘tobacco leaf’ characters that we see in those wines. I feel like I’ve added several Cab descriptors to my repertoire, just by breathing in and out at Tabanero yesterday

  
  
So by accident, in search of a serious coffee, I got a bit of an insight into how cigars are made, and the three different sets of leaves from the tobacco plant and how they’re used –  top stuff exposed to the sun for the power or nicotine, mid leaves that give up the aromatics, and the base leaves for the combustion. And yes, I bought one – invested 4 US dollars on a mild, aromatic number with a sweet agave tip……and maybe one day….I’ll smoke it!

I’m heading back into Ybor City now to have breakfast at the quite legendary La Tropicana Cafe, that’s been in the same spot on 7th Avenue since the 1960s. Then we start the USA leg of our Yalumba events tour, with the simply fabulous wine team from Berns – Steakhouse and Elevage. See you when it’s later on

South Florida time….

7.49am, Sunday 27th March, Highway 41 South, Tampa, Florida, USA

Morning folks, and I’m still on London time, so by 7am this morning I was already up, and knocking on the door of the local Dunkin Donuts…..and here’s a new product evaluation, just for those who think that cheesecake is an appropriate breakfast item! 

 
This folks is the new Strawberry Cheesecake Square donut….the expected fluffy DD outer donut casing, with a soft creamy and frankly quite tangy strawberry cheesecake centre….and then the unexpected also soft and crazy strawberry loaded mini chocolate cupcake buttons on top! Technically as it’s all about strawberry, I count this as a fruit group!

So there you go folks……breakfast on my South Florida time day off!

Delayed in New York 

3.48pm, Saturday 26th March, Gate C65, Terminal 2, JFK airport, New York City, USA
Afternoon folks, and it was a beautiful day here in New York when British Airways dropped me off at JFK airport……all I had to do was get through border security – magic! First time in three entrances that I didn’t have a secondary interview, which often means up to an hour and a half to establish that you’re a legitimate business visitor. Excellent result, so next job was to ride the air train around to Terminal 2, have some lunch, catch up on the local news, and pick up my 3.30pm flight across to Tampa, Florida …..where we start our US tour on Monday. 

Look – lovely day at JFK in NYC!

  
Then the weather gods got involved! There’s some nasty weather down the bottom end of Florida, so all the flights to Fort Lauderdale and Tampa are delayed. We’re not moving until at least 5pm, so it’s all the folks off to link up with Caribbean cruises and me….stuck here for the afternoon! This folks, is the less glamarama side of the job! So I’ve got a great chance to catch up on the local news…..the Presidential election thing…
 
   

Goodbye London….for now

6.28am, Saturday 26th March, Gate G26, Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport, London, England

Morning folks, and it’s the middle of the holiday weekend, and security here is on seriously high alert after the recent tragic events in Brussels. I was unlucky enough to overhear two of the security screening staff talking about details of their morning briefing which outlined the status of Heathrow and Gatwick as targets across this weekend, and I for one will be very pleased this evening when I’m on the ground in Tampa, Florida – where we start the USA leg of the tour. I suspect I’ll end up in a cafe in Ybor City – the old cigar factory part of town – drinking coffee that lands with a thud, and eating one of those magic pressed Cuban sandwiches. That’s the plan anyway!

But for now, I said goodbye to London in the most proper local fashion yesterday – fish and chips with friends at Olleys, a good way south of the Thames in Herne Hill. And look at the day London turned on for us….

  
On the way back to town, I jumped of the bus at Brixton station and paid my respects to Ziggy Stardust, the Diamond Dog, and The Thin White Duke…..who hasn’t sang along with Jean Genie or Rebel Rebel on the car radio, wondering where on earth you picked up the words?

  
So London – Lesley, Lorraine, Mick, Paul, Alex, Ryan, Chris – you know who you are…..thanks for looking after us so well.And to Vash and the folks 

at Cork & Bottle, the team at Bordeaux Index, the sommelier crew from 67 Pall Mall, M Winestore, Ram and all the crew at Bread Street Kitchen, Laurent and his crew at Cinnamon Club, the boys at Vinoteca , and Sophie and the whole team at Granger & Co – thanks a million for having our wines on your shelves…..they are very nice addresses to be at!!

  
  
  
So goodbye London – for now – and I’ll see you when it’s the New Year 2017

  
PS you’re so easy to get around at 4.30am in the morning!

Spring has sprung us a top day in London

10.39am, Tuesday 22nd March, Granger & Co, St Pancras Square, Kings Cross, London

Thanks a million to the folks at Granger and Co here on Pancras Square, Kings Cross, London – we can have a fab breakfast, put up the blog, and say “thanks a million” for having our wines on the list at this little patch of laid back Australian – ness  in one of the busiest corners of the city. So thanks – lovely to see the Bush Vine Grenache with prime spot on the shelf

  
And there’s a reason why the Corn Fritter breakfast is a ‘Classic’

  
Even the coffee is fabulous!

  
So off onto the London streets with Chris and a full wine bag – Vinoteca next……..and we end up out at Cranleigh in the wilds of Surrey at the 17th century pub The Park Hatch for our Yalumba wine dinner with long time supporters Taurus Wines.

See you when it’s later on