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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

TRADE TASTING: Sip and Savour Ontario Wines, June 16, 2009

The Time and Date: Tuesday, June 16, 2009  2 PM to 4:30 PM

The Event: Sip & Savour Ontario, celebrating Ontario wine week.

The Venue: Fermenting Cellar, Distillery District.

The Target Audience: wine trade in the afternoon, consumers at night.

The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are available through the winery, but very few from the LCBO. Surprisingly, there was a Vintages table pouring some wines.

The Quote/Background: There were different wines poured at night. The showcase in the afternoon was toward wines being marketed to restaurants.

The Wines: Because of check-in delays and a prompt closing time, I was unable to taste all of the red wines that I wanted to. My apologies to some of the wineries affected, especially since I told them that I would be back AFTER I had finished with the white wines.


**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Calamus Estate White 2007 (C-PG-Ge), $17

-Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay Musque Estate Bottled 2007, $16.95

-Creekside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

-Fielding Estate Viognier 2007, $30

-Hidden Bench Estate Chardonnay 2006, $30

-Hidden Bench Estate Riesling 2007, $26

-Konzelmann Estate Gewurztraminer 2007, $17

-Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay 2006, +36806, $40

-Legends Sauvignon Blanc 2007, $15.50

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Merlot Reserve 2007, $55

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Chardonnay Reserve 2007, $38


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (8890 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Peninsula Ridge Estates Viognier 2007, +662601, $14.95 Vintages

-Alvento Winery Elige 2004 (CS-SF-M), $20

-Alvento Sondra 2006, $30 (M-CF)

-Calamus Estate Pinot Gris 2008

-Cattail Creek Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007, $19

-Chateau des Charmes Sauvignon Gris Estate Bottled 2007, $19.95

-Coyote's Run Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Gris 2007

-Coyote's Run Black Paw Vineyard Chardonnay 2007

-Flat Rock Twisted 2008, +1578, $16.95

-Flat Rock The Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2006, +1552, $24.95

-Hidden Bench Terroir Cache Red Meritage 2006, $35

-Jackson-Triggs Proprietors Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008, +618413, $13.95.

-Kacaba Vineyards Riesling Reserve 2008, $17.95

-Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay 2006, +33936, $30

-Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir 2006, +33894, $30

-Mike Weir Chardonnay 2007, +26, $15.95

-Palantine Hills Estate Riesling Traminer 2007, +58602, $13.95

-Palantine Hills Estate Gewurztraminer Proprietor's Reserve 2008, $13.95

-Ravine Vineyard Estate Cabernet Franc 2006, $34

-Riverview Cellars Gewurztraminer 2008, $16.95

-Southbrook Vineyards Triomphe Chardonnay 2006, $21.95

-Stonechurch Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, $19.95

-Strewn Chardonnay Barrel Aged 2007, $12.95

-Wayne Gretzky Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2007, $18.95


*** Three Stars (8587 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Malivoire Chardonnay Musque 2008, +129759, $11.95 half-bottle Vintages

-Alvento Vio Viognier 2007, $35

-Creekside Reserve Merlot Butler's Grant 2005

-Creekside Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006, +53371, $18.95

-Fielding Estate Riesling 2008, $16

-Flat Rock Pinot Noir 2007, +1545, $19.95

-Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir 2007, $45

-Jackson-Triggs Delaine Vineyard Gewurztraminer 2007, $22.80

-Konzelmann Estate Merlot Barrel Aged 2007, $30

-Lailey Niagara River Chardonnay 2006

-Legends Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2002, $22

-Pillitteri Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2007, $18

-Riverview Cellars Angelina's Reserve Chardonnay 2007, $31.95

-Rosewood Estates Gewurztraminer 2008, $18

-Southbrook Vineyards Triomphe Sauvignon Blanc 2007, $18.95

-Strewn Riesling Semi-Dry 2008, $11.95

-Wayne Gretzky Estate Riesling 2007, $17.95


The Food: four artisanal breads from Stonemill, and three Ontario cheeses from Dairy Farmers of Canada (but why Ontario gouda? Ontario asiago? But the Upper Canada Cheese Co.'s Comfort Cream was phenomenal)

The Downside: we were late in getting started because the seminar ran over. Eventually, they let us in while the seminar was wrapping up, but we also had delays with the check-in procedure. We were asked to leave on time, but we should have been allowed to stay on, to make up for the lost time. At any rate, I was not able to taste all the wines that I wanted to taste.

The Upside: our once a year tasting of VQA wines, the frequency of which is shameful.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 85.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

LUNCHEON TASTING: MADEIRA wines in Toronto, June 10, 2009


 The Time and Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2009   11:30 AM – 5:30 PM

The Event: Madeira Wine luncheon and tasting, sponsored by IVBAM from Madeira, the European Union and the Portuguese Trade and Tourism Commission.

The Venue: Jacobs & Co. steak house, King St West

The Target Audience: wine writers and sommeliers, restaurateurs.

The Availability/Catalogue: most of the Madeira in the tasting were for show, with the possibility of some orders for the future. Prices were not always known.

The Quote/Background: Five wineries were included – the Madeira Wine Company, Henriques & Henriques, Vinhos Justinos Henriques, Vinho Barbeito, and Pereira d'Oliveira. Together they market well over a dozen different labels, and many more styles (Ten Year Old, 5 Year Old, Rich, Old, Colheita), plus the various names of the grapes of sercial, bual, verdelho, terrantez, malmsey or malvasia AND the many labels such as Cossart Gordon, Blandy's, Leacock's, and Miles.

The Wines: I did not try all the wines.


**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Henriques & Henriques 10 YO Sercial (Cavima Ent.)

-Henriques & Henriques 15 YO Sercial (Cavima Ent.)

-Henriques & Henriques 15 YO Verdelho (Cavima Ent.)

-Justino Broadbent Bual 1978 (RKW Wine Imports)

-Justino Colheita 1996   (RKW Wine Imports)


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (8890 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Cossart Gordon 5 YO Sercial

-Leacock's 5 YO Sercial

-Blandy's 10 YO Verdelho

-Pereira d'Oliveira Harvest Bual 1980

-Pereira d'Oliveira Harvest Malvazia 1990

-Pereira d'Oliveira 15 YO Sweet

-Justino Boal 10 YR  (RKW Wine Imports)

-Justino Sercial 10 YO, $40  (RKW Wine Imports)


*** Three Stars (8587 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Cossart Gordon 5 YO Bual

-Justino Old Reserve Fine Dry 10 YO, $35 RKW Wine Imports


The Food: For the lunch, the only downer was the consommé. Only "double consommé" can stand up to Madeira, and we just had regular consommé. Maybe next time. Meanwhile, I added some Madeira to my soup, and it picked up. The hors d'oeuvre comprised salt cod fritters, red pepper and goat cheese on broche, steak tartar, lobster rice paper spring rolls (where was my lobster? I couldn't find it) – all served against Henriques & Henriques 10 yr Sercial. The second course had some of dry-aged beef that Jacobs and Co does (USDA prime roasted tenderloin, Oakleigh Ranch wagyu striploin, and Alberta wagyu bavette). I liked the bavette the best. Unfortunately, there was only ONE Madeira to try with three styles of beef. I cross-sampled with what I already had (10 year sercial, 10 year verdelho, 15 year verdelho). Next up[ came a cheese course, with two unidentified cheeses, both quite good with the 5 yr bual and the 10 year bual. Dessert was rich chocolate three ways, with Justino's Colheita 1996 and Justino's Broadbent Bual 1978, both superb

With the stand alone tasting, there were skewers of meat and about a dozen different Portuguese cheeses. Unfortunately, there were no labels to explain what these cheeses were. I could read some incomplete packaging, but of course, they were all in Portuguese. The cheeses tasted pretty good, even better with the Madeira. Buals were the best choices for cheese. The Downside: the luncheon was very crowded, and service was consequently slow. Also, I had to request a spit bucket: there was no way I was going to swallow different fortified wines after tasting. There were 7 wines to sample with the food.

The Upside: great food matches.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 92.


Friday, June 26, 2009



...all reflect a boom in the cookbook publishing business. A paperback
reprint will lower the cost to the purchaser, and also give a publisher
a chance to correct egregious errors or add a postscript. Some will
reissue a book in paper covers with a new layout or photos. Others will
rearrange existing material to present it as more informative text
while keeping the focus tight. Here are some recent "re-editions"...
16. PLATTER'S SOUTH AFRICAN WINES 2009; the guide to cellars,
vineyards, winemakers, restaurants and accommodation (The John Platter
SA Wine Guide Ltd; distr. by Wines of South Africa Canadian Office,, 416-461-6016, 567 pages, ISBN 978-0-95-845067-
6, $30CAD (includes shipping) hard cover) is the recognized authority
on South African wines. It has been published for 29 years. For this
latest edition, there are now 17 tasters – all identified, and with
initials after tasting notes. Some of the tasters have changed over the
years. Some 6000 wines are here evaluated (800 are new to this
edition), along with new wineries. One-quarter of all top ranking 5
star wines are now being made by mom-and-pop operations, a remarkable
achievement. Even the large co-ops are making more credible, limited
collections of superior wine. The contents of the guide are
straightforward: there are chapters on the wine industry, vintages and
styles, touring (accommodation and food, all in some 75 pages) followed
by some 400 pages of dictionary-arranged wineries, detailing most
aspects. To quote, "Wines are entered under the name of the private
producer, estate, co-operative winery or brand name of a merchant, and
listed alphabetically. Entries feature some or all of: producer's name,
address, phone/fax number, email address, website; wine name, colour
and style, grape varieties, vintage, area of origin; selected recent
awards and star ratings. Where applicable, other attractions to be
enjoyed on the property, such as meals and accommodation, are
highlighted." The book also has an indication of organic wines
available for sale and sketch maps to show the location of all the
wineries. The index at the front is by grape, so you can see at a
glance what is the top performing pinotage, or cabernet sauvignon, or
sparkler. Quality/Price Rating: 95.

17. RIVER CAFÉ COOK BOOK EASY (Ebury Press, 2003, 2008, 269 pages, ISBN
978-0-091925321, $39.95 Canadian soft covers) is by Rose Gray and Ruth
Rogers, the two owner-chefs of the River Café in London. They founded
it in 1987. They have had previously successful cookbooks, and a TV
show. This book is a straight reprint of the 2003 issue. God forbid
that we need another "easy Italian" cookbook…what's different here?
Well, the photos are very good and the large print is terrific. The
"easy" part is explained by the premise that the food should be easy to
shop for, and you can get it all on the table within an hour or two.
The 200 recipes here rely on a well-stocked pantry (checklist is
included here) plus fresh seasonal ingredients. The bruschetta section
has 24 preps (all photographed) plus 15 antipasti. Soup, pasta,
risotto, seafood, meats, potatoes, and verdure are completed by lots of
desserts. The source list and the measurements are all UK. Try chicken
with nutmeg, fig arugula bruschetta, Sardinian bottarga, or gnudi
bianchi. Most, but not all, of the photos are
for final plating. Quality/Price rating: 83.
18. SANTA FE SCHOOL OF COOKING; flavors of the Southwest (Gibbs Smith,
2006, 2008; distr. Raincoast, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-0470-9
$24.99 soft covers) is by founder Susan Curtis. The School has been
operating since 1989. Her co-author is the school manager, Nicole
Curtis Ammerman. The 2006 book was originally titled "SOUTHWEST
FLAVORS; Santa Fe School of Cooking", but this time out, they retitled
it. Otherwise, it is the same book. The emphasis is on lighter foods –
100 preps in all. Her typical classes are described: she covers
Mexican, Spanish, Native American, New Mexican, and Southwestern US
cuisine. Many of the preps come from some of the area's notable chefs,
such as James Caruso of El Farol and Eddie Lyons of the Pink Adobe and
Galisteo Inn. The theme and foundation, of course, is the chile. There
are glossary notes on equipment and larders, a bibliography for further
reading, and a directory of US sources for food ingredients. Only US
weights and measures are given without any metric conversion charts.
For more details, go to
Try blue corn tamales with calabacitas filling, sunset soup with red
pepper (black bean soup and sweet corn bisque), nopales and golden beet
salad, or tumbleweed of sweet potato. Large typeface, but the deficient
index has not changed. Quality/Price rating: 83.

19. MOUTH WIDE OPEN; a cook and his appetite (North Point Press, 2008;
distr. Douglas & McIntyre, 410 pages, ISBN 978-0-374-53143-0 $16.50
Canadian soft covers) is by John Thorne, well-known culinary writer
living in Massachusetts. He is assisted by his wife Matt Lewis Thorne.
This is his sixth book, and like all of them, is derived from his
newsletter "Simple Cooking" with some autobiographical and memoirish
pieces. "Pot on the Fire", one of his earlier books, won a James Beard
Book Award. He picks his food choices carefully. Here he details
pistachios, falafel, Scottish marmalade, bagna caoda, salted anchovies,
improvised breakfasts, minestrone, and midnight snacks. He has prepared
us for many scenes along his food journeys. His writing style is
impeccable and iconoclastic; he delights in everything he thinks is
good. And wants us to think of them as good too. He says he does not
follow recipes, but rather he interacts with them. Here he gives us
about 125 preps, all listed at the front and indexed at the back. There
is a bibliography of his favorite food and cookbooks. And the index is
stunning in its detail – you can find his thoughts on a wide variety of
food matters in an instant. This is literary food writing at its
finest. Please read it in small doses, just before nodding off at
night. Quality/Price rating: 94.
20. CRÈME BRULEE (Chronicle Books, 2005, 2009; distr. Raincoast, 96
pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-6682-8, $14.95 US hard covers) is by Lou Seibert
Pappas, who has written several dozen cookbooks for Chronicle Books.
This book was originally published in 2005; here, it is simply
reissued. It is a collection of some 50 different varieties, beginning
with the classic vanilla bean crème brulee and moving through similar
creations such as mango crème brulee, cherry risotto crème brulee,
toffee crème brulee, and some savoury: mushroom and goat cheese crème
brulee, gorgonzola and leek crème brulee, sun-dried tomato and olive
crème brulee, and roasted onion and gruyere crème brulee. As with any
single food cookbook, you've got to like the end creation a lot. There
are photos of some of the final platings, plus the usual primer advice
on how to make crème brulee and spin off the variations. There is a
table of equivalents for the avoirdupois measurements. If this is your
bag, then – at this price level – this is your book. Quality/Price
rating: 85.

21. THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE POTATO (Vintage Books, 2009, 315 pages,
ISBN 978-0-099-47479-1, $23.95 Canadian soft covers) is by John Reader,
an author who has specialized in popular anthropological studies. Here
he tackles the ubiquitous potato. The book was originally published in
the UK by William Heinemann, under the title "Propitious Esculent"
(which means "benevolent edible"). It seems to have had rave reviews
from everywhere in the UK. It is a scholarly book, with endnotes, a
sterling bibliography of books and articles and websites, a good index,
and some black and white plates of photos and archival drawings. The
story begins in South America of course (pre-Incas, 8000 years ago),
and moves to Europe (Spanish Conquest spoils, Irish famine). Reader
looks at it all via human ecology (the extent to which culture and
social systems are influenced by environment and food production
systems). Readable. Quality/Price rating: 89.

OPENING: Event space at Thompson Landry/A Taste of Quebec in Distillery District, June 25, 2009

 The Time and Date: Thursday, June 25, 2009   6Pm to 9PM

The Event: A Taste of Quebec/Thompson Landry Gallery Cooperage Space Grand Opening of New Venue

The Venue: Cooperage Space, Building 32, Distillery District.

The Target Audience: private clients, selected media

The Quote/Background: The 3,000 square foot art gallery showcases Quebec artists and sculptors. The emphasis tonight was as its alternate function, an event space for up to 200 people, in co-operation with Distillery Restaurant Corp.

The Wines: We had two good beers, Blanche de Chambly and La Fin du Monde (both from Quebec). Wines included the straight forward Red Knot Shiraz 2007 McLaren Vale ($19 Lifford) and the mature Francis Ford Coppola Bianco Pinot Grigio 2006 (2008 is $12 Lifford). Other beverages included Ciderie St. Nicolas Cider and Ciderie St. Nicolas Ice Cider, plus Pinnacle Ice Cider 2006 (a bit sweeter than the St. Nicolas).

The Food: caterers were showing off their signature dishes. 10tation served cremoni mushrooms and braised short ribs; they also did a rich chocolate hazelnut torte with strawbs. Daniel et Daniel had one of the healthiest dishes, with grilled shrimp on a bed of cooked greens and edamame. Presidential Gourmet did a substantial spiced lamb and beef on truffled polenta (with a Pinnacle iced cider as accompaniment). Barbara Murphy was showing off her St. Nicolas with rabbit terrine. Jean-Pierre + Co did a Caribbean cod cake with two habanero sauces (one a hot relish, the other an aioli) followed by a cucumber shooter chaser. Jayne's did a crab salad in a double martini glass. There were also liver mousse cones, cucumber nibbles, and oysters. A Taste of Quebec had both Quebecois foods from their new Chef Pierre of Café du Lac on the Lakeshore, and a coffee bar with real coffee, espresso, etc. A Taste of Quebec specializes in cheese from Quebec, and Tom the fromagier led me through a tasting of Bleu Moutonniere (raw sheep), Miranda (organic raw), Fleur des Monts (raw sheep), Migneron (pasteurized cow), Reserve La Perade (organic raw), Vieux Charlevoix 3 year old cheddar, and Bleu Benedictin. I asked him what went with my espresso; he paused and then got me a slice of Chevre Noir cheddar-style. It went perfectly. Kudos to the cheese section and selection!

The Contact Person:;

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 92.



The Event: New Zealand Wine Fair in Toronto, May 21, 2009

The Time and Date: Thursday, May 21, 2009  1:30 PM to 5:30 PM

The Event: New Zealand Wine Fair in Toronto

The Venue: Design Exchange, Trading Floor

The Target Audience: wine trade

The Availability/Catalogue: most wines are available through agents or the LCBO. The catalogue was its usual splendid self, with full details on the wines and their availability. And as usual, it suffered from last minute price changes, wines that never arrived, substituted wines, and the like. Some, but not all, agents proffered updated order sheets. EVERY AGENT SHOULD BE DOING THIS IF THEY WANT ORDERS – assuming that said agents are computer literate.

The Quote/Background: There was a self-pour, self-tour trade seminar on 15 Sauvignon Blanc wines, with a large booklet of details derived from a Powerpoint presentation. A first-rate job, complemented by excellent sandwiches.

The Wines:


**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Esk Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2008, $20.99 (PMA Canada)

-Neudorf Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Nelson 2008, $19.95 (Rubaiyat)

-Omaka Springs Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2008, $21.99 (B & W Wines)

-Seresin Marama Sauvignon Blanc 2007, $39.95 (Dionysus) [woody]

-Kawarau Estate Reserve Chardonnay Central Otago 2007, $29.95 (Living Vine)

-Millton Vineyard Opou Vineyard Chardonnay Gisborne 2007, $24.95 (Living Vine)


***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (8890 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Clos de Ste. Anne Chardonnay Gisborne 2007, $37.95 (Living Vine)

-Clos de Ste. Anne Pinot Noir Gisborne 2007, $37.95 (Living Vine)

-Mt. Difficulty Sauvignon Blanc Central Otago 2008, $25 est. (Small Winemakers)

-Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Waipara 2008, $35 (Empson Canada)

-Villa Maria Reserve Wairau Sauvignon Blanc 2008, $29.95 (PMA Canada)

-Paddy Borthwick Chardonnay Wairapara 2007, $21.90 (Conoval)

-Churton Pinot Noir Marlborough 2007, $29.95 Licensee (Merchant Vintner)

-Elephant Hill Sauvignon Blanc Reserve Hawke's Bay 2008, $28.95 (HHD Imports)

-Elephant Hill Syrah Reserve Hawke's Bay 2007, $34.95 (HHD Imports)

-Gibbston Highgate Estate Dreamer Pinot Gris Central Otago 2007, $32 (Amethyst)

-Kim Crawford SP Spitfire Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2008, $24.95 (Vincor)

-Schubert Marion's Vineyard Pinot Noir Wairapara 2007, $39 (Hobbs & Co.)

-Spy Valley Gewurztraminer Marlborough 2008, $19.95 (Kylix)

-Spy Valley Envoy Chardonnay Marlborough 2007, $29.95 (Kylix)

-Staete Landt Chardonnay Marlborough 2007, $38.95 (Lifford)

-Summerhouse Chardonnay Marlborough 2007, $21.95 (Amethyst)

-Te Kairanga Swing Bridge Pinot Gris Gisborne 2008, $20 (Small Winemakers)

-Villa Maria Cellar Selection Syrah Hawke's Bay 2007, $37.95 (PMA Canada)

-Richmond Plains Pinot Noir Nelson 2007, $19.95 (Living Vine)

-Kawarau Estate Reserve Pinot Noir Central Otago 2007, $34.95 (Living Vine)

-Millton Vineyard Te Arai Vineyard Chenin Blanc Gisborne 2007, $24.95 (Living Vine)

-Millton Vineyard Riverpoint Vineyard Viognier Gisborne 2008, $24.95 (Living Vine)


*** Three Stars (8587 in Quality/Price Rating terms):

-Clos de Ste. Anne Syrah The Crucible Gisborne 2007, $37.95 (Living Vine)

-Brancott Terroir Series Festival Black Sauvignon Blanc 2008, $27 est. (Corby)

-Churton Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2008, $19.95 Licensee (Merchant Vintner)

-Gibbston Highgate Estate Soultaker Pinot Noir Central Otago 2007, $32 (Amethyst)

-Mount Fishtail Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2008, $17.50 (Vergina)

-Ngatarawa Alwyn Chardonnay Hawke's Bay 2006, $28.95 (Whitehall)

-Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir Central Otago 2006, $25.75 (Churchill Cellars)

-Ra Nui Pinot Noir Marlborough 2007, $29.95 (Churchill Cellars)

-Spy Valley Envoy Pinot Noir Marlborough 2006, $35.95 (Kylix)

-Neudorf Tom's Block Pinot Noir Nelson 2007, $26.95 (Rubaiyat)

-Richmond Plains Sauvignon Blanc Nelson 2008, $15.95 (Living Vine)


The Food: sandwiches at the trade seminar, cheeses and breads and crackers at the show. Water coolers were present for an unending supply.

The Downside: it seemed a little light, and the crowd was different too.

The Upside: the spit buckets were constantly being emptied, as fast as I could spit.

The Contact Person:

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 92.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Event: Come Walkabout Media lunch, sponsored by Wine Australia, Tourism Australia, and Emirates.

The Time and Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2009  12 PM to 3 PM

The Event: Come Walkabout Media lunch, sponsored by Wine Australia, Tourism Australia, and Emirates.

The Venue: Crush Wine Bar, King Street

The Target Audience: media

The Availability/Catalogue: the wines accompanying the lunch were generally thought to be available, although prices were not discussed.

The Quote/Background: Australian Chef Mark Olive and Crush Chef Michael Wilson created a traditional Australian menu. Geoff McFadzean, Canadian Market Development Manager for Wine Australia, provided some wine discussion. Short speeches were proffered by Anita Stewart who had taken gastronomy courses in Australia, and Chef Michael Smith from PEI, who was promoting his Chef Abroad TV series with a segment on Australia.

The Wines and Foods: during the reception we had glasses of DeBortoli Emeri Sparkling Shiraz NV, which was sweetish and useful if you didn't eat the food. A more sensible aperitif was Skillogalee Riesling 2008. Platters of lamb medallions on toasted brioche came along, while the polenta-based layered vegetable slices with macadamia nuts enhanced the Riesling. The starter was oven-roasted wild barramundi with pickled ginger and a mango salsa. D'Arenberg Hermit Crab Viognier/Marsanne 2007, though light, worked well with the off-dry food. Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2007 from Margaret River was the traditional accompaniment. The main was hot-spiced kangaroo loin (tails were not available) with peas, carrots, and sweet potatos. The beverage of choice was Alkoomi Blackbutt 2004, a Bordeaux blend, which ate up the competition (Wakefield Cabernet 2006). Yalumba Museum Muscat NV, a Brown Muscat, was a highlight with the lamingtons (sponge cake, choclate sauce, chantilly cream). Then we adjourned to the bar for some Australian cheeses, such as Roaring Forties blue, Sea Bay Triple Creme, and Stokes Point Apple Cheddar, accompanied by a plum paste and grissini, plus a botrytised Nugan Cookoothama Semillon 2006.

The Downside: well, it's not named Crush for nothing – we were wall-to- wall during the reception, with no room to move.

The Upside: a chance to try some yummy food and Oz spices.

The Contact Person:;

The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 93.