Category Archives: Wine

Joy takes over in marketing

Everyone feels. In 2012 my research with my friend and colleague Lyn McDonald PhD demonstrated how everyone’s life is made up of feelings and how understanding these feelings is essential for marketing (on the one hand) and purchasing (on the other). These feelings range from Anger, followed in decreasing strength by Fear, Sadness, Joy, Surprise, and Love.

Now it seems some big name brands are cottoning on.

Take a look at this new television commercial from scotch maker Johnnie Walker, which features a hero character named Joy.

So I looked through our video archives (oh all right, they’re called “the Internet”) and discovered it’s been a quiet trend for some time …



Cadbury Feel The Joy Advert from JustCuriousTV on Vimeo.

There’s even an advertising agency called Joy

If you have a favourite Joy advertisement, please link it in a comment (below) or email me the link and I’ll publish it here with your name.

And be joyful today — it doesn’t hurt a bit!


A June Dozen

We’ve been eating, drinking, testing and tasting and the fruits of our labours are coming here soon. Watch our video … perhaps you’ve visited these places too? Love to hear from you, John and Pip

Dripping with produce


We spend a lot of time knocking back cheese and wine and so when we received this email share … well, we couldn’t resist!

On Sunday we ventured north-west to the Talbot Farmers’ Market outside Ballarat and it was a revelation of the happy kind.


We’ve visited this tiny rail stop on off-days (as have friends) and it’s practically dead. You could fire a gun up the main street and not hurt a soul. But on market days, it’s humming! Wine, food, flowers, produce and nic-nacs … all there.

We noticed VRail was opening their new station that day, perhaps that helped?

But the find of the trip was on the way back home to Ballan, at the tiny locality of Coghills Creek.

There we stopped at the 30-year-old vineyard Eastern Peake and yarned with owner Norman Latta over a glass or two of his excellent wines. Norm and son Owen offer a range of classic wines with made-up names such as “Pinot Tache Blanc du Noir” (a delightful rose) and “Appellation Ballarat” (an inviting pinot noir, 2010 was the year for us).

And for lovers, they’re having a Valentine’s Day party: details here. The Victorian countryside is practically dripping with produce this season … take it in!


It’s nearly Spring … the flowers know

Spring starts on Sunday and the flowers are getting ready to celebrate. Our snowdrops were out first, followed yesterday by the daffodils, and we can see new buds on the rose bushes in our long garden.

Pip’s pruned them all on July 7 and those “in the know” out here say 154 days from then, we’ll see the first flowers on the bushes on December 8, 154 days after pruning. We shall see … but the first shoots shot out this week and they look strong and healthy.

pips wild chair

More pruning and shaping happened last week when Pip attended her first Wild-Wood Chairs Workshop organised by the Wombat Regional Arts Network in the Shire of Moorabool. Here’s her glorious chair, shaped, drilled and nailed using found timber and her own hands. Might look rickety but it’s tough and strong and now occupies pride of place on our veranda.

Pub Grub

We’ve been frequenting the “locals” in the Ballan district now since the start of the year and we can report back on eating experiences.

Hudson’s in our hometown Ballan has recently re-opened its dining room and looks like becoming a familiar haunt. Host Kathleen is encouraging a local music group (of which I could become the humble keyboard player) which tries to rehearse weekly and had an acoustic afternoon last Sunday. Ah, beer and music! So far we’ve tried the lamb shanks (cooked to perfection to falling-off-the bone stage), pork chop, salt-and-pepper calamari and mixed grill and not been disappointed in quality or serving size.

The Royal Hotel in Meredith is a nice place to stop off between our base and our friends to the south in Lethbridge and Bannockburn. Quiet dining room and easy parking.

We enjoyed our visit to the Gordon Hotel in Gordon (now there’s a surprise) because lunch was easy, pleasant and warm and it set us up just nicely for our magic visit to the Old Trout Hat Shoppe over the road.

The Farmers Arms Hotel in Daylesford holds happy memories because we enjoyed lunch with new friends and so far have been there twice. Established in 1857 (according to its website), it claims the prize as the oldest pub in town. It probably boasts the most extensive menu and beer+wine list among the crop we’re reviewing today and you’d expect that in a tourist town like Daylesford.

And our surprise find of the month is the Wallace Hotel (yes, in Wallace, just up the road from Gordon and Ballan). It’s like Dr Who’s Tardis: bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside. There’s the very respectable dining room at the front and a pub bar, then whoa, a huge restaurant and functions room at the back, big enough for any country wedding. So far we’ve enjoyed two Sunday lunches there and then met the good folk at the Ballan Chamber of Commerce at their monthly dinner. Let’s see: we’ve had the fish and salad, vegetable soup, Margarita pizza and steak pie … good nourishing and tasty fare, what more could you ask? Well, how about the ornate pressed-metal ceiling and the welcoming fireplace?

The pubs round here? We’ll be back!


Queen’s Birthday on the wine trail

prosecco road

The Queen’s Birthday Weekend (last weekend) was our chance to visit the King Valley Prosecco Road wine trail in north-eastern Victoria, a much-awaited return visit to Beechworth and a chance to return to favoured old haunts are well as to sample new places.


We started at Brown Brothers winery for a tasting of their non-vintage Prosecco  and to soothe an old wound. You see, last time we visited in March, the place was so busy we couldn’t get a shoulder in edgewise at the tasting bar and actually left disgruntled and in a huff … which takes a bit of doing at such a gorgeous winery.

This time, on Friday June 7, and around 10am, we found much more attention from the tasting room staff and much more room to move. The ladies serving were at the top of their game and ran us graciously through the tasting list. We tried the latest Patricia Chardonnay (the launch of which had interrupted our previous visit, it turns out) and a Banksdale single-vineyard Chardonnay … We also tried a Tempranillo blend and came away with two bottles and a membership of their wine club. Persistence pays off for winemakers as well as shoppers.

This was the day before the King Valley region’s seasonal festival Wines Fit For a King and a more winery specific festival Chrismont’s Festa Rustica right at the end of the promotionally named Prosecco Road.

So really it suited us because we could still find the wineries in their finery, still enjoy tastings, but beat the expected crowds!


We certainly beat them to Paul Bettio wines near the top of the valley. There we found only Helen Bettio behind the counter and we had her undivided attention. Helen told us she was the wife of the winemaker of the eponymous Paul Bettio Wines and they had been making wines there for the past 19 years since Bettio senior and the family stopped growing their lucrative tobacco crops and turned to grapevines and wine instead.

A wistful note of nostalgia sounded in her voice as Helen recalled what she said where the profitable days of tobacco, and we noticed that out the front there was one of the many property “For Sale” signs we saw along the road that day. What we didn’t know at the time was that this weekend of all others was the moment of their final wine and equipment clearance sale …

We got in early with a bottle of their delightful Barbera style red and another of a cheery and pleasantly dry rose. Helen showed us round the winery engine room, including the presses, barrel room and even the lab.

Gary Nash First National real estate signs were growing like weeds in the King Valley the day we visited, so he’ll clean up if they all sell.


While in Beechworth this time we stayed two nights at the La Pausa luxury B&B. Look for the artfully decorated lounge room complete with a fascination with Coco Chanel. More about this later …


On night #1 we enjoyed pre-dinner drinks at the Cellar Door Wine Store and dined just up the street at the Tanswell’s Commercial Hotel. Innocent Bystander Pinot noir accompanied three mounds of Irish sausage and mash, a lamb shank and a roast duck leg, followed up (for me) by a glass of Laphroaig Single Malt peated whisky from Islay, claimed to be the most richly flavoured scotch whisky in the world. As a bit of an aficionado of such items I reckon that’s an arguable claim … Oban is a stiff competitor. But what the hell, they’re both delightful.

With a neat segue we retired to the back bar as the pub held its monthly one-mike open-mike music night and among acts that caught our eyes and ears were Kissin Cousins and Whiskey Dram.

Great newgrass sounds and friendly endearing musos had the crowd’s toes tapping and hands clapping. If you get a chance to hear these guys … who seem to have at least one member in common … take it. They’re great! Reminiscent of Crooked Still, one of the frequent plays on our CD machine.

ox and hound

Next night we dined at the Ox and Hound bistro.

What did we enjoy? 2 serves of pork shoulder, 3 of the trout, 1 of the roast chicken. We matched the meals with Yarra Valley wines all round: the chicken and trout went with Rob Dolan Pinot Gris 2012 and the pork (and the chicken) went superbly with a Toolangi Pinot Noir 2010. Desserts were the chocolate mousse and panacotta. Check the menu here.

Above our heads we noticed artfully arranged tungsten filament bulbs in wattle branch light holders. Our waitress made the evening enjoyable with lots of gossip about the chef, the shop and the food, and speedy service. I guess we’ll be back!

Wine by the glass, by the bottle … oh, is that a crate?

It’s like an Ark, or a flood of wine

WINE COMES into Eat Drink Sleep Shop Australia like animals into Noah’s Ark, two-by-two. Perhaps it’s not so unusual since one of us likes white and the other prefers something pinker or redder.

But as the bottles trundle in for sampling and enjoyment, their labels and other accoutrements also tell stories, so we’ve prepared a little picture gallery to accompany today’s yarn.

For instance, the iconic and very popular Ten Minutes by Tractor winery and cellar door on the Mornington Peninsular south-east of Melbourne includes a tractor logo on nearly everything, including its metal screw caps. Cap art is not new but it’s normally words: this is the first time I’ve seen an embossed illustration. Let us know if you’ve seen any …

On the back label, TenX (as they seem to abbreviate the brand) has adopted the now-common Quick-Response codes to steer shoppers to their website.

And for a quick review: the 2010 Estate Chardonnay impressed us as our Wine of the Christmas Season (we went back for more) and the Rosé was lovely, lightly fruity but still dry enough for our taste.

THIS MONTH we ventured into the wilds of Carlton North, Melbourne, to Enoteca Sileno and the 60th birthday of what the locals probably regard as an institution: a corner wine shop, a deli and a restaurant in Lygon Street. Their menu offerings captivated the three of us on a Saturday evening but the wine was an even more alluring call. We fell prey to the 2011 Jacot Friulano “Ronco Calaj”, from north-east Italy and which tasted of chardonnay but also of sunshine; and a cheeky little prosecco, Furlan, also from the north-east.

WE don’t normally have to go far for quality drops … down the end of our street to Auburn Wine Cellars, Hawthorn East. So on the way home from work on this Friday I chose a Spanish 2010 Garnacha (visit and a delightful 2009 chardonnay from Dixons Creek in the Yarra Valley. The wine tasters at home immediately ordered me to purchase more.

WHY GO OUT when the wine man can come to us? We received a call from Stuart, a roving rep for the Pieroth winery, who lugged his chiller box into Hawthorn for our benefit. There was at least half a dozen varieties hidden in there from Europe, New Zealand and here in Australia but we settled on a Te Atanga New Zealand sauvignon blanc (13% alc/vol) and a 2005 Victorian “Big Mamma” Red Diamond with a delightful 15.5% alcohol kick. Hmmmmm. Been drinking these ever since.

LAST but definitely not least is the journalists’ offerings in the Eat Drink Sleep Shop wine round-up. We stopped in at Get Wines Direct (161 Burnley St  Richmond) and lo and behold, there is a pinot noir called Headlines (from Griffith) and a chardonnay called Bylines (from Margaret River). If you’re a journalist and understand the significance, please comment and let us know you’re there … another one for the wine list.

Keep drinking …

A Meal that Will Go Down in History


WE LINED up last month for the Degustation menu at Lulo Tapas and wine bar in Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn. It was a Saturday night, our friends were in town, we were looking for an outstanding night out. Five diners: four women and The Bloke.

Ambiance was lively without being too noisy, and we could talk quietly among ourselves. We admired the pine-box shipping cartons as interior decor along the back wall, as well as the whisk lights and red bull figures under the bar. Settings of timber tables, no covering. Simple, bit of fun. Seats comfortable.

First round, the oysters. Ideally, we could have done with more but then … we would never have finished, would we? Beautifully fresh.

Next, sous-vide spanner crab, covered with molecular foam on metal spools. Frothy tasty morsel, spoon-licking.

A little twist, octopus in tins – Carla wouldn’t try it. Nice but probably wouldn’t select this again.

Chicken ribs … never seen them before, but came with chili caramel and corn smear, crushed nuts.

Paprika bread and oil as palette cleanser.

Back to the menu … Jamon Iberico Pata Negra … beautiful, but it usually is. Alluring dark wafer thin meats.

Gypsy salad … lettuce, egg, olives, nice & refreshing, cleansing.

Deep-fried stuffed zucchini flowers … crispy, tasty, specially added to the menu. Nicest stuffed zucchini flowers we’ve ever had.

Then the big item … Wilderness beef ribs and carrot salad – delicious, superb, complex with pomegranate seeds … try this as the “side” to your roast dinner any day … the ribs melt in your mouth, taste was just perfect, Pedro Ximenes sherry cauliflower puree, nice crunchy bits at the end … perfection. If her husband was here he’d hog the beef to himself.

Another side … Yuca frita … she said “the best chips I’ve had in a long time”. Better than a potato and sweet potato chip. Avocado and smoked yoghurt.

Ice cream – raspberry, vanilla, sherry, passionfruit, nougat … split verdicts … nougat (CE), sherry (PH) great prunes and consistency/mouthfeel, passionfruit (LM)

We drank two bottles of 2009 Badger’s Brook Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley, Victoria) @ $48 each. Well priced.

Value for money? Most Degustation menus cost more than this, the servings were generous, none particularly hard to cook, not “cheap” but really good value for money. About right for amount.

Service: very good service; the girls loved the waiter’s accent and authenticity. Our team included 2 women and one man and their pace was perfect. Their explanation / interpretation of the menu items was very helpful. And at the end, he used his iPhone to calculate the split bill … very accommodating in a way which is currently unusual.

We’ll be back 🙂

Spanish flash in the pan

One night in 2010: The recipe was Paella, calling for seafood (esp mussels and squid), special Calasparra rice, lots of peas and secret spices, an enormous pan and … friends to share. The itinerary started at Brisbane’s Black Pearl Epicure in Baxter Street, Fortitude Valley; then it was off to Samies Girl seafood on the river at Hamilton, and finally to the West End chalk & cheese bottle-o for the liquid refreshments and a few (extra) nibblies.

And the results … thanks to head chef Pip!

OK, let’s branch out

Our wine-tasting + shopping expedition to the Hunter Valley, New South Wales in 2011 took us to this cute little village named Wollombi … and the General Store … a mixed business with a post office inside to boot (below right). Wollombi also turns out to be the home of the boutique Australian publisher Exisle. I met the sales and marketing manager, Benny Thomas, later that year and discovered some of the titles they produce … feel free to visit and link.


Soup and gum trees

Lovely lunch and wine tasting + attentive service at Merricks General Store on the Mornington Peninsular, served by Maria in the restaurant and Joyce at the tasting bar. We matched the Baillieu 2009 shiraz with the Merricks platter of terrine, meats, cheese and olives and wasn’t it a pleasure!

But what’s this outside on the porch (right) … the weirdest barrow load of pumpkins we’ve ever seen? They’d be wasted in a soup … more at home as a table decoration.

After lunch we wandered over the road to the Stonier Wines cellar door and selected a 2010 pinot noir for $28 and a 2009 Halcyon chardonnay ($45) while we admired the glorious flowering eucalyptus in the garden (below) … now if only someone can tell me the name of the variety of eucalyptus. Apparently others have asked. Love to know.

Here’s the “top shelf” offerings back at the General Store … talk about vintage!

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