Archive for the ‘Drinking’ Category

Like to know what’s in Grange? Most years Penfolds has to break the law to tell you

December 5th, 2016 Comments off

Grange. Australia’s most famous wine. The red that put our country on the world’s quality wine map. Yet most years Penfolds has to break the law to tell people what’s in it.
If you think that sounds like madness, well, yes, it is. Yet Wine Australia, the federal government body that controls how wine is labelled and promoted does, outlaw telling the truth about Grange and many other wines blended from different regions.
This is the idiotic bureaucratic regulation that defines the offence:

(Click to enlarge)
And the section of the Australian Grape and Wine Authority Act 2013 that the regulation refers to:

The problem arises because the grapes that end up in Grange regularly come from more than three regions as the company website explains.

So Penfolds is in breach of the law with this reference in its tasting note for the 2010 Grange:

VINEYARD REGION Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Magill Estate

Oh no! Five GIs mentioned when you are only allowed three.

I wonder if and when the regulatory bulldogs of Wine Australia will threaten Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago with jail like they have the proprietors of that little Baross winemaker

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James Halliday as Wine Australia would censor him

November 14th, 2016 Comments off

The repressive attack on freedom of speech by Wine Australia has not yet reached the level of stopping wine journalists giving sensible information to consumers. But should a wine maker or retailer dare to quote the words of James Halliday, the country’s most famous wine writer, they would face two years in jail.
To give you an idea of just how ridiculously draconian Wine Australia’s censorship powers are, we reproduce below how a recent Halliday column would need to be censored to conform with Wine Australia’s law.
And if you think you know what the blacked out words are, enter Censored by Wine Australia’s competition by sending your guess at what the illegal words are to: 

There are $50 wine voucher that can be redeemed at for correct and/or witty entries.
Click on the column to enlarge it.

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What is the name of the Sparkling Wine from East of Paris – up around Epernay?

November 14th, 2016 Comments off
By David Farmer
I returned to Tasmania in 1970 after 5 years overseas and was by then very interested in wine. Enough to find out what was happening in Tasmania, so father, who knew everyone set up a meeting with the Department of Agriculture in Launceston.
I was told viticulture had no future as it was far too cold but a ‘crack-pot’ was planting a vineyard at Pipers Brook and the location was worth going to see. I did not meet the ‘crack-pot’ Andrew Pirie but I did meet his brother David who was propagating vine cuttings. I also went to the La Provence vineyard.
So naturally I have followed with great interest the growth of the Tasmanian wine industry.
The early to late 1980s were ……….. years and over a six year period I led the pack that producers two award winners of the professional class of the Australian Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de ……….. (C.I.V.C.), Chris Shanahan (1983) and Adrian Marsden Smedley (1986).
Thus I know a lot about sparkling wines and ……….., enough to tell you that the cheap French cooperative ……….. which have been flooding the local market are not worth your money. These are the ones with oddly familiar but made up names and have the initials CM on the label.
Tasmania is the place where you should be looking and Wine Australia says: House of Arras, Delamere and Pirie. These are wines of breed and complexity: age-worthy wines that take the classic ……….. blend…..that makes them unique……The wines are sough-after (sic)… and offer a value quotient that puts equivalent quality ……….. or ……….. in the shade.
As readers know this site is censored by Wine Australia and since what I have told you is advertising copy not wine writing, the words which will offend you must be dotted out and this is true even when I quote Wine Australia.
I thank customers who have sent in emails of support and report that this stupidity continues. Alas I have a fear Wine Australia want to dilute your interests as a consumer.
If you would like your views on this absurd censorship to be known by the federal government that supposedly control Wine Australia then click the Send Email bottom on the top right and let the relevant minister know.
And email with the censored name i.n the headline and you could win a $50 win voucher from David Farmer’s business.
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Wine Australia chairman’s company breaking own law that carries a two year jail term

November 10th, 2016 Comments off

They might proudly call it Méthode Tasmanoise but the Hill-Smith family, who purchased Jansz in 1997, seem quite keen to stress a French connection. You will notice, for one thing, that their sparkling is made by the Méthode Tasmanoise rather than the Tasmanian method. But that’s a minor dipping of the lid to proper champagne compared with other French references on the Jansz website.  References like this:

In 1986, esteemed Champagne house – Louis Roederer partnered with the owners of Heemskerk Wines to produce Tasmania’s first premium vintage sparkling wine. They saw the similarities between the climate here and the famous wine region of their homeland.

And this:

It could be argued we’re completely mad growing grapes in the wild and unforgivingly cold Tasmanian environment. But there’s méthode to our madness.
The climatic conditions of the Jansz vineyard rival the famed French wine region of Champagne. In fact, it was originally with French contribution that Jansz became Tasmania’s first sparkling made using the traditional Méthode Champenoise.
Today we call it, Méthode Tasmanoise. It’s the essence of a partnership between the environment and our winemaker. Just as the cool Tasmanian climate creates spectacular beauty in nature, it is also instrumental in the creation of art in bottles.

All that’s quite accurate and reasonable in my opinion but that’s no defence under the draconian laws administered by Wine Australia. The Hill-Smith family, whose wines usually carry the Yalumba label, have clearly breached what Rachel Triggs, Wine Australia’s Legal Counsel, describes in this way:

Under the AGWA Act and Regulations, it is an offence to sell, import or export a wine with a false description and presentation, or with a misleading description and presentation (sections 40C and 40E respectively). This extends to advertising on a website and would extend to the use of third party material, such as articles by wine critics, used to present and describe your wine and subsequently to promote and sell your wine.
It is important to clarify the differences between ‘false’ and ‘misleading’ use, as the interaction between these two elements is often misunderstood. The AGWA Act clearly states that the description and presentation of wine is misleading if it includes a registered geographical indication and the wine is misleading as to the country, region or locality in which the wine originated. It is often argued that certain unauthorised use of a GI “could not possibly mislead anyone” and, therefore, should be permitted. The description “A Barossa version of a Cote-Rotie”, for example, makes it absolutely clear that the wine is from the Barossa, not from the GI protected for France.
However, the Act provides an addition level of protection where the use of a GI is false for the purposes of the Act. This places a blanket prohibition over the use of a registered GI in relation to a wine that did not originate in that GI, regardless of whether the use is misleading as to the origin of the wine (with some small exceptions).
Such exceptions include pre-existing trade mark rights, terms used as part of an individual’s name or winery address, and common English words. …
This situation was clearly explained when the Act was introduced to Parliament, notwithstanding the example used was ‘Chablis’, rather than ‘Cote-Rotie’. A description such as ‘Australian Chablis, Product of Australia’ could not possibly mislead a reasonable person as to the true origin of the wine but is false use of the Chablis GI and constitutes an offence under our Act.
Penalties of up to two years’ imprisonment apply in relation to false or misleading statements or (or in addition to) $21,600 for an individual, and five times that for a company. Cancellation/suspension of export licences may also apply where the wine is being exported and any interested party, including AGWA, may make an application for an injunction restraining a person or a company from selling a wine that uses a GI contrary to the legislation.

If you want to read all of Ms Triggs’s opinion you will find it HERE

This breach of the law should be highly embarrassing to Wine Australia’s chairman Brian Walsh. As the Corporation’s website notes, “Brian boasts a 24 year career at Yalumba, spanning roles of Chief Winemaker, Director of Production and Director of Strategy & Business Development as well as 20 years working in winemaking and management positions in McLaren Vale.”

It suggests to me that Mr Walsh is unaware of the law he is charged with administering. He should be urging the federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce to change the Act so that consumers can be given information that helps them make sensible wine buying choices.

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Win free wine in the Wine Australia censorship contest

November 8th, 2016 Comments off

The federal government body Wine Australia has decreed that the website cannot use certain words when trying to give consumers an honest opinion of a wine’s merit. Thus thick black lines have started appearing on the small Barossa winery’s tasting descriptions.

Harem ‘Fatima’ Barossa Grenache Mataro 2012

Ben got a lot of pleasure from taking the initial building blocks and assembling them on the tasting bench to make the final ‘Fatima’ blend. The ‘Layla’ style of Grenache appeals to me and I am thrilled with the result, whereas the ‘Fatima’ is a deep rich,                              style which will last.

Grenache no doubt dates back to the 1830s and was much liked in the days of making fortified wines as it gives heavy crops with high sugar. Smart wine makers have been playing with the rich heritage of old vines left over from this time and at last the winemaking artistry has clicked with the vines awaiting discovery. The model is the famous wines of the                             ,                                               , and those now made in McLaren Vale and the Barossa, equal or surpass these wines.

This censorship madness sees Wine Australia threatening a two year jail term for the South Australian winemaker/retailer if he continues to use words on his website like those blacked out in the examples above. The offending words are not misleading about where the wine comes from or mentioned on a wine’s label. The Wine Australia bureaucrats argue that the very mention of specified words on a website or in a printed description of a wine is illegal under legislation to ratify an agreement between Australia and the European Union.

So what are the words behind the blacked out sections? The Owl has five $50 vouchers you can use at to give away for answers in his Wine Australia Censorship Contest.
Email your entries to The Owl will reward entries based on accuracy, wit and wisdom.
Categories: Drinking Tags: ,

Wine Australia wants to censor small Barossa winery from giving consumers an honest opinion

November 7th, 2016 Comments off
Wine Australia is threatening to have a South Australian winemaker/retailer sent to jail for two years if he continues to use words like these on his website:

‘This Tasmanian sparkling wine represents far better value than most champagnes.’

The offending word is champagne even though it is not mentioned on the label. The wine bureaucrats argue that the very mention of the word on a website or in a printed description of a wine is illegal under legislation to ratify an agreement between Australia and the European Union.


By David Farmer

All wineries keep records which allows a check that wineries are doing the right thing and one role of Wine Australia is be the inspector or auditor.
It is unexpected that they also have another role which is to control the use of particular terms and phrases which are grouped under a banner called geographical indicators often shortened to GIs.
The Wine Australia email specifically mentions; Rioja, Champagne, Cote du Rhone (including Rhone), and Cote Rotie, terms I have used in my selling descriptions.
It goes on to mention that usage is also restricted for Australian regions.
For 35 years I have been aware that the French are very protective of the use of wine terms to which they feel they have ownership. This first flared up in the late 1970s when local wineries labelled light red styles as Beaujolais.
At the time the business Farmer Bros. was a big importer of French Beaujolais and of course sold the local ‘Beaujolais’ wines as well. I watched the buying habits of customers with great interest.
I can report customers never had a doubt as to which Beaujolais was French and which Australian. This observation has edged me closer to the school of marketing which says; all publicity is good publicity.
Another example is that in recent years the French have been aggressive in protecting use of the word Champagne.
As the exports of Australian wines began to grow part of the agreement to gain entry to the European Union was to phase out the usage of common European wine terms on Australian labels. In other words the European are wanting to protect what it believes is its intellectual property.
At some time later this trade legislation has been strengthened to restrict not only the use on labels but how these terms can be used in the media.
The Australian Grape and Wine Authority or AGWA which operates under the name Wine Australia, came into being on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 following the merger of Wine Australia Corporation and the Grape and Wine Research Development Corporation.
My suspicion is that at this time a blanket ban was placed into the legislation controlling the use in advertising, as distinct from wine writing, of the large number of agreed geographical terms or GIs.
Over the next few weeks we took advice from a number of sources and replied as follows.

Wine Australia replied on 16th September.

We took the approach of letting them tell us explicitly what the problem was and it came in this form.

This email interested brother Richard and he sent the following thought to a colleague on the 27th August:
The draconian nature of trade agreements between Australia and other countries is well illustrated by recent actions of the federal government body Wine Australia.
Wine Australia is threatening to have a South Australian winemaker/retailer sent to jail for two years if he continues to use words like these on his website:
‘This Tasmanian sparkling wine represents far better value than most champagnes.’
The offending word is champagne even though it is not mentioned on the label. The wine bureaucrats argue that the very mention of the word on a website or in a printed description of a wine is illegal under legislation to ratify an agreement between Australia and the European Union..
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Censored by Wine Australia – Surprise Email from Wine Australia Creates Concerns

November 4th, 2016 Comments off
Wine Australia is threatening to have a South Australian winemaker/retailer sent to jail for two years if he continues to use words like these on his website:
‘This Tasmanian sparkling wine represents far better value than most champagnes.’
The offending word is champagne even though it is not mentioned on the label. The wine bureaucrats argue that the very mention of the word on a website or in a printed description of a wine is illegal under legislation to ratify an agreement between Australia and the European Union.
By David Farmer
If I have learnt one thing after 41 years of selling wine it is that wine is easy to make but very hard to sell.
For over four decades I have gone about my business of copy writing which sets out reasons why the wine being described has appeal.
Since I have a vast fund of knowledge it is useful for customers to know what I think about each wine.
On the 17th August, 2016 an email from the legislative body Wine Australia and tagged ‘high importance’ was sent to myself and my wine making colleague Benjamin Parker.

This email is not about the wine in the bottle matching what is on the label or ‘label integrity’ but something else which says there are rules about what you can say in advertisements about a wine.
Not whether comments are misleading but that certain terms may not be used in advertising copy and that some of the place names I use are controlled or not allowed.
I sent a copy to my brother, Richard Farmer, a man with vast experience in so many areas.

Is this to be taken seriously? eg at times I may mention in copy references to French DOC regions and Australian regions.

He replied thus:

I will have a look at the legislation that establishes Wine Australia and get back to you. In the meantime have a look at other websites – eg First Choice and Dan Murphy – and see if they are doing the same thing as you when it comes to comparisons and locations.

And a day later added.

I will have a look at some of Halliday’s writing. This is a real free speech issue. We can have some fun about bureaucrats going mad.

It seems that after selling wine for 41 years, Wine Australia is telling me to change how I sell wine, when I thought their job would be to help in selling more.
This email from the Wine Australia is quite disturbing since it implies censorship and believing this will interest Glug customers I will keep you posted.
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The bureaucratic hypocrisy of Wine Australia – do as we say not as our directors do

November 3rd, 2016 Comments off

Wine Australia is a federal government body supposedly under the control of the Minister for Agriculture and his Assistant Minister.  It is charged with regulating and promoting the local wine industry. The current aims of Wine Australia seem to be kowtowing to the French and supporting local producers who claim to be the fine wine people. The result of both aims is to prevent consumers being given an accurate assessment of the real merits of both imported and local wines.
Wine Australia is trying to prevent anyone who sells wine from giving advice about wines from one region compared with wines from another.
It is currently threatening my brother David Farmer, who runs a small winery in the Barossa, with a two year jail term because he dared to suggest, for example, that a Wrattonbury cabernet might be as good as one from Coonawrra. You will find the details on David’s website HERE.
Meanwhile, a member of the Wine Australia board, is committing exactly the same so-called offence.
Mr Edouard Peter, the Wine Australia board director who is the majority shareholder of Dural Wines that controls Kaesler Wines with headquarters, like glug, in the Barossa, has his company defying the same laws that sees the directors of glug are being threatened with the full force of the law and facing a two year jail terrm.

Tut, tut. The reference to Graves is in defiance of Wine Australia’s “geographical indications” law.
Go to jail. Go directly to jail and pay a tens of thousands in fines while you do so.
And cop another sentence for daring to mention Bordeaux in this description.

And while Wine Australia is on its Big Brother vendetta it better begin the prosecution of that other board member Brian Croser. Brian, poor fellow, has dared to use a prohibited word in promoting one of his products.
The mists of Mersault indeed. The slammer for you Brian.
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A truly meaningful stand-off between the upper and lower house

December 7th, 2014 Comments off

I am pleased to see that in the mother of parliaments disagreements between the two chambers take place on matters of great principle.

Champagne wars in the Lords as peers say no to a cheaper vintage | Politics | The Observer.

It has emerged that a proposal to save taxpayers some money by making peers and MPs share a catering department has been rejected “because the Lords feared that the quality of champagne would not be as good if they chose a joint service”.

The disclosure, made last week by Sir Malcolm Jack, clerk of the Commons between 2006 and 2011, as he gave evidence to a governance committee examining how the palace of Westminster should be run, was met with gasps and open laughter. The astonished chair of the committee, former home secretary Jack Straw, asked: “Did you make that up? Is that true?” Jack responded: “Yes, it is true.”

Were the Lords right to bee so sniffy, asked another committee member,mber, Demad Democratic Unionist

MP Ian Paisley? Jack, who had responment responsibility for catering procurement in the Commons, responded: “I don’ton’t think they were; we were very carefulul in our selection.”

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Memories of KB, DA, Flag Ale and even Fosters Lager

December 3rd, 2014 Comments off

Memories of popular beers past. They came flooding back to this old liquor store owner when I read on the net this week: Budweiser’s fall from grace, visualized. It told how America’s self-proclaimed “King of Beers” is looking more like a pauper than a prince these days.

Budweiser sales have fallen each and every year for nearly a decade now, according to data from market research firm Euromonitor. The decline is such that Americans drink nearly 40 percent less of the famously mediocre mass brew than they did 10 years back. And it’s even worse when considered on a per person basis: Americans, on average, now drink only 18 cans of Budweiser per year, more than 13 cans fewer than in 2004.

Very much like a repeat of the Australian Fosters story. From the moment the brewer started promoting the hell out of it the drinkers began turning off. Can you even buy it these days? I expect VB will be the next to fade into oblivion. There’s been too much of that hard earned thirst.

Bring back Resch’s Pilsener is what I say.

Note: You will find other eating and drinking items on the restaurants, wine and food australia blog that I am slowly developing.

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Using football to combat cocaine addiction and winning on and off the field

November 6th, 2014 Comments off
Scotland has the highest rate, per capita, of cocaine use in the world, according to the United Nations’ World Drug Report 2014. Hamilton Academicals hosts regular meetings for recovering addicts, giving away hundreds of tickets for the families of those affected, advertises Cocaine Anonymous  as well as providing meals for the homeless.

Scotland has the highest rate, per capita, of cocaine use in the world, according to the United Nations’ World Drug Report 2014. Hamilton Academicals hosts regular meetings for recovering addicts, giving away hundreds of tickets for the families of those affected, advertises Cocaine Anonymous as well as providing meals for the homeless.

While Celtic, the giant of Scottish soccer attracts 50,000 spectators to a game and has sponsors paying millions, the Academicals average 1000 fans and promote a driving instructor

While Celtic, the giant of Scottish soccer attracts 50,000 spectators to a game and has sponsors paying millions, the Academicals average 1000 fans and promote a driving instructor

  • Scottish Club Hamilton Academical Combines Soccer and Sobriety – “… this season, after an unlikely ascent to the Scottish Premier League, Hamilton Academical, or the Accies as it is known, had risen as high as first place. The club moved up to the top of the league with a surprise 1-0 victory over nearby Celtic … About 10 years ago a group of local businessmen bought the club for £1 (about $1.60) and committed to building a team with young players that was intimately connected to the community. McGowan vowed to use the club to help overcome what he saw as the biggest problem facing Hamilton — and, more broadly, the country. “I’m a co-owner of the football club, but I’m also an alcoholic and a drug addict,” he said. “I’ve been in recovery for 31 years. I don’t forget the pain and suffering I caused others. I’m putting a wee bit back in.” … Hundreds of addicts have come through the club, he added. Not every case is a success. “Some relapse, some die, some take their own lives,” he said. “There’s always going to be casualties. But it’s the ones that make it.”

5-11-2014 yamazaki

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Tracker status remains at El Niño WATCH level. The current observations and model outlooks indicate the chance of a weak to moderate El Niño remains at least 50%, meaning there is double the average likelihood of an event occurring by early 2015.

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Tracker status remains at El Niño WATCH level. The current observations and model outlooks indicate the chance of a weak to moderate El Niño remains at least 50%, meaning there is double the average likelihood of an event occurring by early 2015.

  • Warm tropical Pacific Ocean, but ENSO remains neutral – The Australian Bureau of Meteorology reports: “The existence of warmer-than-average water in the tropical Pacific sub-surface supports a continuation of the current near-El Niño conditions. International climate models surveyed by the Bureau suggest that warmer-than-average tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures are likely to persist. Three of eight models reach El Niño thresholds in January 2015, and two remain just shy of thresholds. Australian rainfall and temperature patterns show some El Niño-like impacts, with the country generally warmer and drier than usual over recent months. Warmer central tropical Pacific waters late in the year typically result in warmer and drier weather for parts of eastern Australia, an increase in bushfire risk in the south, and average to below-average numbers of tropical cyclones in the Australian region.”
  • Why Your Brain Wants To Help One Child In Need — But Not Millions
  • Apple borrowing billions to pay shareholders is everything wrong with capitalism today

Forget about having that cold beer outside – Proposed new Vietnamese law

October 9th, 2014 Comments off
Vietnam plans rule to keep temperature in beer parlours below 30C | World news | The Guardian:

“A Vietnamese government official is proposing that the temperature in restaurants selling beer should not exceed 30C (86F), a rule that will be hard to enforce considering outdoor beer parlours are hugely popular in the country’s big cities.

The Tuoi Tre newspaper quoted Nguyen Phu Cuong, an official at the ministry of industry and trade which was drafting the regulation, as saying the rule aimed to “protect consumers”.

Many drinkers, however, say the proposal shows how out of touch officials are because of the popularity of the outdoor bars.”

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Big brewers pretending to be small

August 1st, 2014 Comments off

We had a classic proof earlier this year that Australian brewers don’t mind engaging in a little bit of deception. And the practice, it seems, is international among the big brewers.

In April the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) in relation to ACCC concerns that it represented that Byron Bay Pale Lager was brewed by a small brewer in Byron Bay when this was not the case. CUB paid two Infringement Notices to the value of $20,400 in relation to this conduct.

Now media reports from the United States give details of how declining sales of mainstream brews sees roll out phony craft beers—brands like ShockTop and Blue Moon—and buy up legit craft brewers like Chicago’s Goose Island. Writes Mother Jones:

Other ersatz “craft” beers include Leinenkugel, Killian’s, Batch 19, and Third Shift. The strategy has been successful, to a point. Bloomberg reports that InBev has seen its Goose Island and Shock Top sales surge.

But there’s a catch: These stealth Big Beer brands aren’t “putting the microbrewers who started the movement out of business,” Bloomberg reports. Rather, “the new labels are taking sales from already-troubled mass-market brands owned by the industry giants peddling these crafty brews.” In other words, consumers aren’t dropping Sierra Nevada or Dogfish Head and reaching for the Shocktop. Rather, ShockTop sales are being propped up by refugees from Bud Light and the like.

Misleading Byron Bay beer label

Description on the back label
The Byron Bay Brewing Co is located on Skinner’s Shoot Road in Byron Bay. We’re housed in a historic location, a birthplace of much of the fame and spirit of Byron Bay which has attracted local and international musicians, artists and alternative thinkers since the ‘70s. Next time you’re in town, drop in and have a beer.
Brewed in NSW by the Byron Bay Brewing Company and its Licensees

The Australia experience, as explained by the ACCC, was that in 2013, CUB began supplying Byron Bay Pale Lager with labelling that incorporated the name Byron Bay Pale Lager, a pictorial representation of a lighthouse, text regarding Byron Bay and a map of the Byron Bay region showing the location of the Byron Bay Brewing Company. In fact, the beer was brewed by CUB at its brewery in Warnervale, some 630km away from Byron Bay.

The Byron Bay Brewing Company is a small brewery that, via its parent, licensed to CUB the right to supply Byron Bay Pale Lager Australia wide. The Byron Bay Brewing Company only brews Byron Bay Pale Lager for sale on tap at its site in Byron Bay.

“Many small brewers cater to consumers who prefer to support small, niche businesses. When large companies portray themselves as small businesses, it undermines the unique selling point that such small businesses depend upon, and it misleads consumers,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC will be writing to other participants putting them on notice of this matter in order to ensure that marketing and labelling in the beer market appropriately reflects where and by whom beer is brewed.”

In providing the enforceable undertaking, CUB acknowledged that the labelling may have misled consumers. CUB has agreed to cease distribution of product with the misleading labelling. More generally, CUB has undertaken that it will not make false or misleading representations concerning the scale of the brewery in which its products are brewed or the place of origin of its products.

CUB will place corrective notices on its website and in trade publications, and it will also provide a corrective notice for retailers to display at point-of-sale.

“This is an outcome that protects the interests of both beer buyers and small brewers.” Mr Sims said.

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A benefit from the booze

June 9th, 2014 Comments off

A good news story for the day. Researchers have found that alcohol may protect trauma patients from later complications. That’s a finding of such significance I thought I should run the press release from the University of Illinois in full.

Injured patients who have alcohol in their blood have a reduced risk for developing cardiac and renal complications, according to a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. Among patients who did develop complications, those with alcohol in their blood were less likely to die. The study is published in the June issue of the journal Alcohol.

“After an injury, if you are intoxicated there seems to be a substantial protective effect,” says UIC injury epidemiologist Lee Friedman, author of the study. “But we don’t fully understand why this occurs.”

To better understand the link, Friedman looked at medical complications that are associated with dying in the hospital in relation to patient blood alcohol levels. Other studies have demonstrated that up to 64 percent of post-trauma deaths are attributable to a limited set of later complications.

Nearly 85,000 trauma patients with measured blood alcohol levels were included in the retrospective study, which analyzed 10 years of cases at level I and level II trauma units in Illinois. Children under 16 and patients with certain injuries, such as burns and superficial wounds, were excluded from the study.Patients’ blood alcohol content ranged from 0 to 0.5 percent — a life-threatening amount, more than six times the level of legal impairment in the U.S.Overall, 3.2 percent of the patients studied died. Mortality was substantially higher for those who developed complications compared to those who did not (10.3 percent versus 2.1 percent). Among those who died, 43.2 percent had at least one complication.

Blood alcohol concentration was associated with a reduced risk of developing any complication, and with fewer complications overall. In patients who had alcohol in their blood, cardiac complications were reduced by 23.5 percent. Renal complications were reduced by 30 percent.

The study raises important questions for treatment of traumatic injury.

“Even though alcohol is metabolized quickly by the body, it appears the protective benefit lasts long after there should be only trace amounts in the body,” said Friedman, who is assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at UIC. It is unclear, he said, if alcohol’s protective effect comes during the initial period after injury, when alcohol is still present in the blood — or if the benefit comes from alcohol’s metabolites, in tandem with the body’s compensatory responses to both the alcohol and the injury.“

The current analysis shows there were reductions in medical complications dominating the cardiovascular system and kidneys, which provides clues to solving this interesting and potentially life-saving puzzle,” Friedman said.

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A Gordon’s with a touch of elderflower and other news and views for Friday 25 April

April 25th, 2014 Comments off


  • Gin Craze Returns to London With Small, Domestic Batches – “Craft distillers like Sipsmith, Hendrick’s, and Sacred Spirits — produced in a north London living room — are changing all of that, inspiring even mass-market brands like Diageo Plc (DGE)’s Gordon’s gin to tweak their formulas. The domestic production revival brings the drink full circle from the 1700s, when a rash of homemade brews made it the favorite tipple of the city’s poor and earned it the nickname ‘mother’s ruin’.”
  • Europe braces for first EU-wide vote since 2008 crash – “Europe’s elections are just over a month away. Campaigns have started, but with a whimper. There are few signs, so far, that the European electorate is engaged. For the moment it is a ghost campaign – apart from the struggle for the top jobs in Brussels. Mainstream parties will argue over tax and spending and appeal to their traditional supporters, but in many countries this will be a referendum on the European project.”
  • Climate policy targets revisited – “The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report estimates lower costs of climate change and higher costs of abatement than the Stern Review. However, current UN negotiations focus on stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases at even lower levels than recommended by Stern. This column argues that, given realistic estimates of the rate at which people discount the future, the UN’s target is probably too stringent. Moreover, since real-world climate policy is far from the ideal of a uniform carbon price, the costs of emission reduction are likely to be much higher than the IPCC’s estimates.”
  • With New E-Cigarette Rules, FDA Hopes To Tame A ‘Wild, Wild West’ – “The Food and Drug Administration is proposing to expand its regulatory powers to e-cigarettes and other popular products containing nicotine.”
  • Bracing For A Battle, Vermont Passes GMO Labeling Bill
  • Tweet Suits: Social Media And The Law – “Now that folks are posting and tweeting — and retweeting — complaints and grievances around the clock, is every negative experience a possible class action? If someone has a bad experience with a bank or someone gets food poisoning at a restaurant or someone has a problem with a prescribed medicine, he can immediately find others with similar outrages. Are social media making it easier for plaintiffs to band together?”
  • Russia’s tit for tat – “In reaction to the Crimean crisis, the EU imposed certain sanctions on Russia. Russia responded by blacklisting EU and US officials. This column discusses the comparative vulnerability of the EU and Russia amid this tit for tat pattern. In purely economic terms, the EU is in a much better position than Russia. However, political regimes also matter. The autocracy score for Russia dampens the impact that the economic sanctions would have politically. The democratic nature of the European governments would translate the sanctions imposed by Russia into great political pressure for the EU. This makes the Russian tit for tat threat realistic.”

Wine drinkers genuinely prefer the taste of cheaper wines rather than exclusive expensive vintages

April 7th, 2014 Comments off

When it comes to wine Brits like to sniff out bargain and most will not pay more than £6 for a bottle, research reveals | Mail Online:

‘via Blog this’

I doubt that things are much different in Australia!

Most Britons refuse to pay more than £6 for a bottle of wine while only one in three can name a single grape variety, it is claimed.
The shift to cheap plonk has brought claims that Britain, which imports more wine than any other nation, is effectively dumbing down as a wine nation.
Some 80 per cent of all wine sold in the UK sells for less than £6, which leaves very little profit for the producers once tax – at 60 per cent – and shipping is taken out of the equation.
Today, just 7 per cent of us are prepared to part with more than £10 for a bottle of wine, according to research by drinks specialist Harpers.
The research found that a third cannot name a single grape type and only four per cent can name more than 10. Overall, women were far less knowledgeable than men.
It might be assumed that the reason most people opt for cheap wine is a result of a five year cost of living squeeze, coupled with confusion and ignorance about what tastes good.
However, there is some research to suggest that a nation raised on big brands like Jacobs Creek, Blue Nun and Piat D’Or genuinely prefer the taste of cheaper wines rather than exclusive expensive vintages.
A study found that eight in ten people in blind taste tests preferred a bottle of wine costing £4.99 over a £19.99 option which was made from the same grapes.
Six in ten thought the £4.99 version was just so delicious that it must be the more expensive of the two, according to research by the London Wine Academy.
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The beer drinking decline continues in an Australia sobering up

April 5th, 2014 Comments off

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released this week show that on a per capita basis there were 9.9 litres of pure alcohol available for consumption per person in 2012-13, 1.6% less than the amount in 2011-12 (10.0 litres) and 8.2% less than 2007-08 (10.8 litres). As a standard drink consists of 12.5 mls of pure alcohol, this is equivalent to an average of 2.2 standard drinks per day per person aged 15 years and over.

2014-04-05_percapitabyyearThe long term trend:


(a)includes rtds


The long term decline is he result of a dramatic fall in the consumption of beer. The volume of beer available for consumption decreased 1.8% between 2011-12 and 2012-13, from 1,762.4 million litres to 1,730.1 million litres. The volume of full strength beer decreased 2.4% while low strength beer decreased 9.4%. Mid strength beer recorded an increase (up 3.7%).

In terms of pure alcohol, consumption of beer has more than halved since the peak in the mid-1970s, and is now at the lowest level since 1945-46.

For wine, there has been a steady increase in people’s consumption over the long term but recently this trend appears to have plateaued, and in fact, per person consumption of wine has decreased slightly over the past three years.

Ready-to-drink beverages have also seen a drop over the past five years, while consumption of spirits has remained relatively steady,

(b) includes rtds


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Americans finally understand that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and other news and views for Thursday 3 April

April 3rd, 2014 Comments off


  • Americans finally understand that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol – “A new Pew survey out today provides yet another illustration of the failure of America’s drug war. By a nearly five-to-one margin, Americans agree that alcohol is worse for you than marijuana… On the relative dangers of marijuana and alcohol, the public is now in line with what medical researchers have been saying for years. A 2010 study in the journal Lancet, for instance, graded common drugs on sixteen criteria relating to how harmful the drugs were to users, and how harmful they were to society overall. On both measures – harm to self and harm to users – marijuana scored significantly lower than alcohol.”
  • Indonesian presidential hopeful Jokowi leaps ahead in opinion polls – “Support for Jokowi leapt to 45 percent after his party named him as its candidate, from 35 percent before, according to a survey released Wednesday by Roy Morgan International. The survey showed support for rival Prabowo Subianto, a former general, holding at 15 percent, while tycoon Aburizal Bakrie trailed with 11 percent.”
  • Apocalyptic prophecies drive both sides to Syrian battle for end of time – “From the first outbreak of the crisis in the southern city of Deraa to apocalyptic forecasts of a Middle East soaked in blood, many combatants on both sides of the conflict say its path was set 1,400 years ago in the sayings of the Prophet Mohammad and his followers.”


  • Why Aging and Working Makes us Happy in 4 Charts – “There are remarkably consistent patterns in the determinants of subjective well-being across people within and across countries and cultures around the world. One of the most striking of these is the relationship between age and happiness (which is good news for those of us who are already on the “back-nine”). There is a U-shaped curve, with the low point in happiness being at roughly age 40 around the world, with some modest differences across countries. It seems that our veneration of (or for some of us, nostalgia, for) youth as the happiest times of our lives is overblown, the middle age years are, well, as expected, and then things get better as we age, as long as we are reasonably healthy (age-adjusted) and in a stable partnership.”
  • U2 Joshua Tree album added to US archive
  • Stop, Thief! When Colleagues Steal From The Office Fridge

A quotation for the day:

In the aftermath of the discovery of evidence for gravitational waves the theologian Giles Fraser has argued that science is becoming like religion: it argues that asking what came before the Big Bang is a non-question, just as monotheists argue the question who created God is a non-question.

– Tim Johnson at Why do we take physicists seriously?

How Japanese Single Malts Surpassed Scotland’s Finest – Bloomberg

March 20th, 2014 Comments off

Considering there are only seven active single-malt distilleries in Japan, the variety of styles is startling. All share a basic DNA with traditional Scotch: Japanese whisky also starts with malted barley imported from Scotland, because it’s the best and the cheapest.

And yet there are differences. The Japanese don’t acquire whiskies from other distilleries to make their distinctive blends, the way the Scots do. Instead, each distillery creates its many in-house variations using an array of copper pot stills and wooden barrels.

The resulting whiskies are more floral, with softer, silkier textures, than those from Scotland. At Nikka’s Yoichi distillery, the pot stills are heated by coal fires, as opposed to steam, which gives their single malts richer, peatier flavors.

And the Yamazaki distillery’s use of virgin mizunara barrels contributes aromas of temple incense and sandalwood. Climate and landscape are also key flavor influencers. Whiskies produced at higher elevations, such as those at Suntory’s Hakushu distillery in the southern Japanese Alps, are notably clean and crisp, as are those from the Fuji-Gotemba distillery, which uses snowmelt from Mt. Fuji.

via How Japanese Single Malts Surpassed Scotland’s Finest – Bloomberg.

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Minimum alcohol pricing – how the poor pay and gain most

February 15th, 2014 Comments off

Australia is one of several countries where health officials are considering a minimum price policy for alcohol* with major argument of opponents being a lack of evidence of effectiveness and the potential effect on responsible drinkers plus concerns around the possibility of large effects on individuals with low incomes. This week a group of academics headed by Dr John Holmes of the UK’s Sheffield University published in The Lancet research aiming to assess the effect of a £0·45 (83 Australian cents) minimum unit price (1 unit is 8 g/10 mL ethanol) in England across the income and socioeconomic distributions.

Their interpretation of the findings was that, irrespective of income, moderate drinkers were little affected by a minimum unit price of £0·45 in their model, with the greatest effects noted for harmful drinkers. Because harmful drinkers on low incomes purchase more alcohol at less than the minimum unit price threshold compared with other groups, they would be affected most by this policy. Large reductions in consumption in this group would however coincide with substantial health gains in terms of morbidity and mortality related to reduced alcohol consumption.

Overall, a minimum unit price of £0·45 led to an immediate reduction in consumption of 1·6% (−11·7 units per drinker per year) in our model. Moderate drinkers were least affected in terms of consumption (−3·8 units per drinker per year for the lowest income quintile vs 0·8 units increase for the highest income quintile) and spending (increase in spending of £0·04 vs £1·86 per year). The greatest behavioural changes occurred in harmful drinkers (change in consumption of −3·7% or −138·2 units per drinker per year, with a decrease in spending of £4·01), especially in the lowest income quintile (−7·6% or −299·8 units per drinker per year, with a decrease in spending of £34·63) compared with the highest income quintile (−1·0% or −34·3 units, with an increase in spending of £16·35). Estimated health benefits from the policy were also unequally distributed. Individuals in the lowest socioeconomic group (living in routine or manual worker households and comprising 41·7% of the sample population) would accrue 81·8% of reductions in premature deaths and 87·1% of gains in terms of quality-adjusted life-years.


*See: Australian National Preventive Health Agency. Exploring the public interest case for a minimum (floor) price for alcohol: draft report.;

Department of Health. Steering group report on a national substance misuse strategy.,

Canadian Public Health Association. Too high a cost: a public health approach to alcohol policy in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Public Health Association, 2013.

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What does a 30% off wine prices ad actually tell you?

February 14th, 2014 Comments off

If you needed proof that Woolworths slug consumers with huge profit margins when you buy a single bottle of wine at one of its BWS stores have a look at this morning’s full page newspaper advertisement.

14-02-2014 wineprices30% off the single bottle price when you buy any six!

You can be certain that with 30% off that Woolies liquor is still doing nicely, thank you.

The sooner the drinking restraint lobby in this country gets on to the UK campaign of stopping quantity discounts for alcohol sales the better.


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The wine man with the nose of a blood hound

December 19th, 2013 Comments off

The Man Who Duped Millionaires Into Paying Big Bucks For Fake Wine : The Salt : NPR.

He was the man with “the nose of a blood hound,” as one wine critic once put it.Rudy Kurniawan was once the toast of the fine-wine world, renowned for his ability to find some of the rarest — and priciest — wines in the world.

He was also, prosecutors allege, a fraud who duped some of the country’s wealthiest wine purchasers with counterfeit bottles of wine that he manufactured in his home laboratory.And on Wednesday, a Manhattan jury agreed, finding Kurniawan guilty of fraud in connection with selling counterfeit wines and of defrauding a finance company.

The sensational trial began Dec. 9 in a Manhattan federal court. Prosecutors have argued that Kurniawan used his exceptional palate to blend together younger wines with older French wines of poor vintage. He then slapped counterfeit labels on the bottles, prosecutors say, and passed them off as some of the rarest wines on Earth. When these bottles turned up at auctions, the excitement of coming across them often overshadowed bidders’ skepticism of whether they were the real thing.

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Now that’s what I call a proper Friday night drink – Boswell entertains at home

November 29th, 2013 Comments off

On October 13, 1783 there were three men at dinner at Auchinleck, and between them they polished off three bottles of claret, two bottles of port, two bottles of Lisbon, three bottles of Mountain and one bottle of rum. Three days later six men sat down to dinner, but did not rise until they had emptied seven bottles of claret, two “Scotch pints” of claret (each of which was equivalent to three English pints, and thus to approximately two normal bottles), three bottles of port, one bottle of Lisbon, two bottles of Madeira, one bottle of Mountain and one bottle of rum.

You might think that, after such indulgence, a day or so of dry toast and herbal tea might be just the thing. But the following day seven men were at table, and if anything they exceeded the potations of the previous evening. They again drank seven bottles of claret, two Scotch pints of claret, and three bottles of port, before varying the conclusion of the entertainment with two bottles of Lisbon, one bottle of Madeira and no fewer than three bottles of rum. Boswell’s journal entry after this debauch says something for his stamina:

I drank a great deal of wine without feeling any bad effect…While I kept the highest pitch of jollity, I at the same time maintained the peculiar decorum of the family of Auchinleck.

From Boswell’s Life of Dissipation  – the latest column delving into matters alcoholic by Saintsbury in Standpoint that looks back into the cache of Boswell papers which surfaced during the last century at Malahide Castle in Ireland that includes the manuscript book in which Boswell kept a record of the guests he entertained at Auchinleck, and of what they drank on each evening.

A columnist worthy of putting on your “must follow” list.


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Uphill Battle: New Machine Could Save German Vineyards

November 27th, 2013 Comments off

Steeply Sloped German Vineyards Hope Technology Can Save Them – SPIEGEL ONLINE


Cultivating steeply inclined vineyards requires time-intensive manual labor, often with cables akin to those used for rock climbing. All together, one hectare in one season can cost around 1,500 hours of labor. On flat land, where vintners can use tractors and automated harvesting vehicles, they can cultivate the land for about 180 hours of labor. “You can hardly compensate for this difference by charging more for top-quality wines from sun-kissed hillside vineyards,” says [Hans-Peter Schwarz, 53, head of the Institute for Technology at Geisenheim University.]

Even more pressure on owners of sloped vineyards is coming from Brussels. The European Union wants to liberalize the wine market and gradually phase out a regulations that has thus far created comfortable breathing room for grape growers. Specifically targeted is Germany’s legally mandated freeze on developing new vineyards. The law caps the land space allowed for viticulture at just over 100,000 hectares. Anyone who wants to enter the grape-growing business must either take an already cultivated vineyard or prove that a similarly sized vineyard in the same region has been shut down.

The researchers at Geisenheim University believe their vineyard-climbing vehicle Geisi could streamline the operations of sloped vineyards, encouraging their owners to continue cultivating their difficult land.

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Now, they were proper wine magnums

November 23rd, 2013 Comments off

Ancient Wine Bar? Giant Jugs Of Vino Unearthed In 3,700-Year-Old Cellar : The Salt : NPR.


It looks like our ancestors from the Bronze Age were way bigger lushes than we had ever realized.

Archaeologists have discovered a personal wine cellar in a palace that dates back to 1700 B.C. It’s the oldest cellar known, and the personal stash was massive. …

Each wine jug found at the palace in Kabri, Israel, could hold more than 13 gallons, or 75 bottles, of wine.

More than 500 gallons of wine were once stored in a room connected to the palace, located in modern-day northern Israel, scientists said Friday at a conference in Baltimore. That’s enough vino to fill 3,000 wine bottles …

These Bronze Age winemakers weren’t just making plain-old wine. They got creative.

They were infusing their drink with oils and resins from herbs, nuts and wood, says archaeologist Eric Cline of George Washington University. “It was a resinated wine, like the Greek wine retsina.”

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Communist top tipple heads down market

November 22nd, 2013 Comments off

The Chinese Communist party’s favourite drink, ultra-luxury baijiu, is heading downmarket to supermarket shelves and restaurants as a result of Beijing’s ban on top-end white spirits. The ban is part of the government’s anti-corruption campaign, which is hitting sales of luxury goods from watches to mooncakes.

via Communist top tipple heads down market –

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At the last supper, which grape variety produced the wine of blood red colour?

November 20th, 2013 Comments off

In Israel Dr. Shivi Drori is searching through the ancient grape pips found by archeologists going back hundreds and thousands of years in an attempt to compare them with all the local grape varieties that he can find, whether they be wild or cultivated vines. In this search for wine makings Holy Grail, Dr Dori has so far has trawled up no fewer than 150 samples. Some are from cultivated vineyards, others from lone wild vines found growing up trees, or even from someone’s pergola on a private balcony. Suffice it to say, writes Adam Montefiore in the Jerusalem Post, that no vine in Israel is safe from his research.


So far, he and his colleagues – and he is assisted by a team of many of the leading local experts – believe that six varieties have the potential to make wine.

They are Marawi (a.k.a. Hamdani), Jandali (sometimes written Djandali) and Dabouki, which are white varieties, and Balouti, Zeitani and Karkashani, which are red. Historically, Dabouki was the most planted. I remember it was also used for the distillation of brandy in years gone by.

The whites are table grapes with large berries, but they have the aromatics for wine potential. Of the reds, Balouti and Zeitani are small-berried grapes. In Hebrew, balut means “acorn,” and zayit means “olive,” which are presumably names given because of the size of the grapes. They may even prove to have more potential for wine than for food.

When the first domestic and small wineries opened in the mid-19th century in the Old City of Jerusalem, these were some of the very same varieties they used to make their wines.

In Israel, notes Montefiore, everything is connected, and a story about a mere grape can go back to the dawn of history. It was from the Valley of Eshkol, from the same Hebron area where the Shor Winery was founded in 1848, that more than 3,000 years earlier the spies brought the bunch of grapes to Moses. It was so big that it had to be carried on a pole between two men. Referring to the Promised Land, they said, “It is a land of milk and honey, and this is the fruit!”

Have you ever wondered which grape variety it was? It was probably a table grape because of the size of the bunch and the berries. Maybe Muscat of Alexandria, one of the oldest varieties?

It is questions like that Dr Drori is trying to answer

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