Wine: Nothing but the best for top Aussie vintage

By Yvonne Lorkin

When I see one of those chain emails arrive in my inbox I tend to die a little on the inside. But once in a blue moon, among all the cute kitten photos, the latest shopping centre carpark danger warnings and the "forward this to 8 inspiring wimmin in the next 8 minutes and you'll receive instant good luck" emails, a little nugget of something actually useful and half funny will pop up.

Take this little pearl of wisdom for example.

Secret to enjoying great wine:

Step 1. Open the bottle and allow it to breathe.

Step 2. If it does not look like it's breathing, give it mouth-to-mouth.


If you have a spare $215,000 (yes, count the zeros) you could own one of just 12 bottles of the ultra-rare Penfolds Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon 2004.

Actually it comes in less of a "bottle" and more of a hand-blown glass ampoule inside a bespoke plumb-bob suspended in a hand-tooled Jarrah cabinet.

Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago will fly anywhere in the world to assist when you decide to open it: "The winemaker will travel to the destination of choice, where the ampoule will be ceremoniously removed from its glass plumb-bob casing and opened using a specially designed, tungsten-tipped, sterling silver scribe-snap. The winemaker will then prepare the wine using a beautifully crafted sterling silver tastevin," the container's prospectus says.

Four renowned Australian artists were commissioned to create this extravagant excuse for a drink: sculptor Nick Mount, scientific glassblower Ray Leake, metalsmith Hendrik Forster and cabinetmaker Andrew Bartlett.

The Block 42 Kalimna is made from 130-year-old vines from a 4ha block at the edge of the Penfolds Kalimna property in the Moppa area of the Barossa Valley, about 60km north of Adelaide. Watch it in action on YouTube:

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You don't get thighs like mine without being a fan of pudding. But until recently I'd had a rather narrow idea of what sort of drinks I could match with my post-dinner treats and I'll admit, tequila wasn't one of them.

But my eyes were opened following a Jose Cuervo masterclass where I was served tequila-filled churros with a Pedro Xochitl, a cocktail made from Cuervo Gran Centenario Reposado, white creme de menthe, Pedro Ximinez and chocolate bitters.

The flavours were sublime and now I'm total convert. Granted the first commercial tequila licence in 1795, Jose Cuervo is the oldest family business in the town of Tequila, Mexico (pop. 50,000). They're the top-selling tequila brand in the world and they make more than a dozen different varieties of the drink.

The Gran Centenario Reposado boasts an unbelievably smooth, biscuity-rich, silky, peppery taste, probably due to being made exclusively from 10- to 12-year-old blue agave plants.

Agave harvesters known as "Jimadors," manually remove the heavy pina (the pineapple-shaped hearts of the plants), which are then slow-roasted at a low temperature to concentrate the sugars and flavours, then washed, crushed, fermented and "rested" (reposado) in new French oak casks.

Extra for experts: "Jose Cuervo" actually means "Joe Crow". There are 128 tequila distilleries in Mexico, more than 80 per cent of all tequila made is actually consumed there and it takes about 7kg of pina to produce just 1 litre of tequila.


Craft brewers the Yeastie Boys have announced the nationwide release of their first "tea leaf beer".

Dubbed "Gunnamatta" it's an India Pale Ale, and it recently beat 60 other breweries to win the trophy for "People's Choice" at Melbourne's Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular.

"I just got fed up with chocolate and coffee beers being the trend du jour and thought it was time to put tea into the limelight," says creative director Stu McKinlay.

"I grew up in a tea drinking family, so it has always been my hot drink of choice." It's a unique beer that uses Earl Grey Blue flower tea instead of hops -and not wanting to "leaf" anything to chance where quality was concerned, the Yeastie team worked through a variety of potential teas and tisanes with Wellington-based t Leaf T before picking the final Gunnamatta blend.

"We ended up choosing Earl Grey Blue Flower for its pungent perfume of citrus and floral notes, knowing immediately that this would work brilliantly in the type of base beer we had in mind," McKinlay adds.

Originally brewed for an Australian beer festival, the name Gunnamatta comes from a beach break on the southern coast of Victoria's Mornington Peninsula and it inspired Paul Kelly's instrumental opening track on his 2004 album Ways and Means.

It's a surf rock tune that conjures up visions of salty surfboards, good friends, a few beers and lots of cups of tea, according to the Yeasties.

- Hamilton News

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