Monthly Archives: January 2019

Quaffers: Canberra brewers spring into action

Canberra’s brewers generally greet spring with a slew of new brews.

BentSpoke, Braddon, offers Farrer’s Wheat, its first wheat beer, and Reflector, a malty, hoppy beer made by a bunch of dads on Father’s Day.

The Wig and Pen, Llewellyn Hall, offers Aviator Bock, a strong beer for heroes, alongside mid-strength Aqua Amandi wheat ale for the lunch crowd; English Brown Ale and London Porter for cooler days; and Grassy Eider, a hand-pumped, high alcohol (6.6 per cent) variant of Irish red ale.

Pact Beer Co is launching 42.2 Summer Ale at the Old Canberra Inn on November 5, as part of Canberra Beer Week. “It’s a refreshing lawn-mowing beer with enough hops to keep the beer nerds happy,” says brewer Kevin Hingston.

Christoph Zierholz offers Old Fashioned Bohemian Lager and a Burragorang Bock, both contract brewed for George IV Inn, Picton, but available also at Zierholz Fyshwick and Canberra University outlets.

Greene King Abbot Ale 500ml ★★★★ $7.99

Suffolk-based Greene King brews beer and runs pubs, restaurants and hotels across the UK. Its mid-amber coloured Abbot Ale offers fruity and malty aromas and flavours on a generous, warm palate. After a few sips, a refreshing bitterness begins to build, offsetting the malt sweetness deliciously.

Konig Ludwig Weissbier 330ml ★★★★½ $4.90

Konig Ludwig, an outstanding example of the Bavarian, bottle-conditioned wheat style, comes from the Warsteiner​ brewery. Be seduced by its cloudy, pale golden colour; abundant white head, sweet, fruity aroma and rich, creamy palate with a zesty, ultra-fresh finish.

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Chris Shanahan: Simao and Co Vintage Fortified 2014 is wine of the week

Simao and Co Vintage Fortified 2014 Alpine Valleys and Glenrowan, Victoria $48 ★★★★☆ Points: 94

This is the story of a seventh-generation winemaker, six grape varieties, purple feet and a totally slurpy wine inspired by Portugal’s vintage ports. In 2013, winemaker Simon Killeen left the old family business, Stanton and Killeen, and shortly afterwards struck out on his own. Like his late father, Chris Killeen, Simon loved Portuguese port. Inspired by a vintage in the Douro Valley in 2012, he made Simao 2014 by applying traditional Portuguese techniques – including foot-stomping of crushed bunches, stalks and all, and hot fermentation – to shiraz, tinta roriz, alicante bouschet, tinta barroca, durif and touriga nacional. He fortified the wine with neutral brandy spirit. This brought the alcohol content to 20.5 per cent, arrested the fermentation and left around 60 grams per litre of sugar in the finished wine. The result is a ripe and vibrantly fruity wine, made even juicier by its slight sweetness and cut by the racy tang of brandy. It’s in the approachable, elegant style of Portuguese vintage port, but should age gracefully for some decades.

Vickery Riesling 2015 Zander family Quarry and Kosi blocks, Eden Valley, South Australia $23 ★★★★½ Points: 96

Last year MD Wines launched Vickery Watervale Riesling 2014, made jointly by former Leo Buring riesling maker, John Vickery, and Phil Lehmann. In 2015, the pair produced two rieslings, one from Watervale (reviewed two weeks back), the other from the Eden Valley. The Eden Valley lies a little further south on the Mount Lofty Ranges than Clare and, being cooler, produces a different style of riesling. The 2015 shows a highly aromatic, floral side of the variety with a strong but delicate, dry palate combining apple and citrus-like varietal flavours and powerful acid backbone.

West Cape Howe Two Step Shiraz 2013 WCH Langton vineyard, Mount Barker, Great Southern, Western Australia $24-$28 ★★★★ Points: 94

For good reason shiraz remains Australia’s most widely planted grape variety. Our vignerons harvest around 400 thousand tonnes of it every year, putting it a nose in front of chardonnay’s 380 thousand tonnes, but streets ahead of nearest red rival, cabernet sauvignon’s 220 thousand tonnes. Almost every region has its shiraz, in styles driven largely by climatic differences. In Western Australia’s deep south, West Cape Howe 2013 combines bright, fresh red-berry flavours with the black pepper character seen in cooler climates. There’s a savoury element, too, so it all adds up to an appealing, distinctive expression of our national red specialty.

Toolangi Chardonnay 2014 Toolangi vineyard, Dixon’s Creek, Yarra Valley, Victoria $25.65-$28 ★★★★ Points: 94

Garry and Julie Hounsell planted Toolangi vineyard at Dixon’s Creek, Yarra Valley, in 1995. They hand the fruit over to various winemakers including, for chardonnay, David Bicknell of Oakridge and Willy Lunn of Yering Station. Bicknell makes the higher priced “Estate” chardonnay ($38), while Lunn makes this classy drop, which is also estate grown. It shows the juicy nectarine-like varietal flavour of Yarra chardonnay bubbling through the textures and flavours derived from fermentation and maturation in oak barrels. Taut acidity pulls all the flavours together into one enjoyable whole.

Schild Estate Grenache Mourvedre Shiraz 2013 Barossa Valley, South Australia $14.25-$18 ★★★½ Points: 90

Who can resist the sweet, ripe fruit flavours of the Barossa in a favourable vintage like 2013 – a year marked by warm, dry conditions “but without any significant periods of severe heat”, write the Schild family. Their 2014 blend leads with the appealing aromatics and ripe, red-currant-like flavours of grenache. The other varieties come into play on a solid, earthy palate, backed by mourvedre’s​ rustic tannins and spice and the generous flavour and softness of shiraz. This is an easy wine to love – and the price is right.

Willow Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Willow Creek vineyard, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria $33.25-$40 ★★★★ Points: 94

Established in 1989, Willow Creek arrived in the comparatively early days of Mornington Peninsula pinot noir. At the time grape growers and winemakers were learning how to manage the variety in the vineyard and winery. The blossoming really began in the 1990s, followed by a great finessing this century, as ever-better fruit arrived in wineries. In Willow Creek 2013, winemaker Geraldine McFaul​ captured the fruit flavour of a warm season in a cool climate. The seasonal heat shows in the great ripeness and richness of fruit flavour and firm, grippy tannin structure. This powerful combination should nourish the wine through a long cellaring life.


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Sam Burgess’ family not expecting him to return to NRL any time soon

South Sydney prop Tom Burgess expects his brother Sam to play out the remaining two years of his English rugby union deal before considering a return to the NRL.

Burgess, who has also been linked with a move to Super League side Leeds, was the target of heavy criticism during England’s disastrous Rugby World Cup campaign and there has been speculation he was set for another code switch since the hosts crashed out of the tournament after losing to Wales and Australia in pool matches.

The future of the former Rabbitohs superstar was even the subject of an advertising billboard for Irish betting agency Paddy Power in Manchester last Saturday, where the Super League grand final was played at Old Trafford and England met Uruguay at Etihad Stadium in their final match of the World Cup.

The billboard featured a photoshopped picture of Burgess in his English playing kit with his thumb hooked like a hitch-hiker and holding a sign which read: “Old Trafford”. Alongside him were the words: “I’m a rugby league player. Get me out of here!”.

​But Tom, who is in camp with the England league team ahead of its upcoming Test series against New Zealand, said Sam remained committed to Bath and was determined to ensure his time in rugby union was a success.

“I get asked about a hundred times a day in Australia, especially from South Sydney fans,” Tom said. “It is a bit of a talk of the town at the moment about whether Sam’s going to come back to league or not but at the moment it’s just speculation.

“It’s what everyone wants in league but at the end of the day it’s his decision and he’ll make the decision based on how he’s feeling. He’s signed up for two more years at Bath so that’s it.”

Tom, who caught up with Sam before attending the Super League grand final, said his brother was unaffected by the criticism of his selection and performance at centre for England in the World Cup.

“The tournament has been massive and there’s been a lot of pressure around that,” he told PA. “I think he’s handled himself very well. To get in there in the first year of rugby union is pretty outstanding to be honest. I’m proud of him.

“The experiences that he’s had this last year have been awesome for him. I don’t think he’d change that now. For him to play in a World Cup as a dual international, I don’t think he’d regret that.”

Bath coach Mike Ford, who played halfback for the now defunct South Queensland Crushers, predicted earlier this week that Burgess would stay in rugby union until after the 2019 World Cup in Japan but England league coach Steve McNamara has no doubt he will return at some stage.

“At some point I am sure he will come back – whether that is six months, 12 months, three years, five years, who knows,” McNamara told the BBC. “It is the game he was brought up with.”

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Bulldogs Curtis Rona has no regrets about leaving Cowboys as he celebrates Kiwis call up

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Curtis Rona may regret his decision to leave North Queensland. That, if he had hung around for just one more season it may have been him instead of current Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt scoring THAT try in the greatest grand final of them all.

But after being selected for the New Zealand Test side in a breakout season in which he scored more tries than anybody other than Fijian flyer Semi Radradra, you’d understand why Rona isn’t looking back.

“There are no regrets there,” Rona said.

“[Feldt] scored a good try, [Michael] Morgan gave him the flick pass of his life. I know people spoke about me leaving, [saying] I should have stayed and won a comp with the Cowboys. But there was no certainty of a starting position there and I was there for two years.

“They did offer a contract but I needed a fresh start and I got that down here.

“I had an opportunity to get game time at the Bulldogs and that’s why I’m counting my blessings, I’m so grateful they gave me the opportunity to do what I do out on the field. My family has moved down to Sydney and we’re happy to be here, I’m grateful for everything I’ve got.

“Full credit to the Cowboys that they won the comp, their maiden premiership. I’m happy to see J.T. [Johnathan Thurston] get it because he’s wanted it so bad and you can see from his outstanding year and Dally M that he’s the player that deserves it the most. It was a good win by the Cowboys.”

Injuries to regular wingers Manu Vatuvei and Jason Nightingale gave Rona the chance to join the Kiwis’ 23-man squad for their tour to England. While Stephen Kearney didn’t hesitate to extend an invitation, Rona’s wife Jacinta needed some convincing. The couple are expecting their first child on November 7, right in the middle of the Test series.

“It’s been really hard for us – we’ve been speaking about it for months,” Rona said.

“We’ve put in procedures there where we have family support to help us if the baby comes while I’m away. It wasn’t an easy choice but sometimes you’ve got to look after your family in other areas as well as being there for them.

“She was proud of me making the squad but it’s not like she was excited about me leaving. She’s supported my career and I’m so grateful we’ve worked out a solution.”

The 23-year-old had to make another hard decision when he got the call from Kearney. The Waitara product, who scored 23 tries in his first season at Canterbury, represented the Junior Kiwis in 2012 but is also eligible for Australia after spending much of his youth in Perth. However, the chance to pull on the black jersey again proved irresistible.

“You don’t just do it for yourself but your family and friends,” he said.

“It represents your culture and where you are from.”

After a stunning start to his career under Des Hasler, Rona will be a heavily marked man next season. However, the 195cm, 105kg flanker isn’t daunted by the challenge.

“It was good on a personal note to have a full season of NRL so people know what I can do,” he said.

“I think the best is yet to come for myself. Next year is going to be a bigger and better year. I know people say that, that it’s a cliche, but I know how the system runs at the Bulldogs with the players and environment around me. It’s going to be exciting for 2016.”

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Racing NSW mulling Kevin Moses appeal as trainer braces for sale of stable star Zoutenant

Racing NSW is still considering whether to appeal the overturning of a disqualification handed to Randwick trainer Kevin Moses, whose stable star Zoutenant could be sold before lining up in the Brian Crowley Stakes on Saturday.

Only days after having a 12-month disqualification for a cobalt positive quashed by the Racing NSW Appeals Panel, Moses’ joy could be slightly soured with one-time Magic Millions hopeful Zoutenant an uncertain starter at Randwick.

The veteran trainer was hoping to use the listed sprint as a potential springboard to the group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes on Derby Day.

Moses has swiftly moved on from the cobalt positive incurred by Felix Bay in a restricted race at Hawkesbury in April after his disqualification was reduced to a two-year suspended sentence, provided he does not incur another prohibited substance breach in that time.

He is unlikely to challenge the $20,000 fine imposed on him by the Racing NSW Appeals Panel.

“I can appeal, but that will have to go to a judge and for something that should never have happened, it’s already [cost a lot],” Moses said.

“I sponsor a couple of guys [who work in the stable] and we’ve got staff that are all close together. They were all happy with the decision.”

Moses has maintained a regime of vitamins and supplements triggered Felix Bay – whose water intake has been kept to a minimum after incurring a three-month ban for bleeding in 2013 – exceeding the 200 micrograms per litre of urine threshold in a pre-race test.

The Racing NSW Appeals Panel wiped the disqualification on the grounds no conclusion could be established on how the excessive levels of cobalt came to be in Felix Bay’s system.

Chief steward Ray Murrihy said the governing body was still considering whether to appeal that decision and escalate the case to the Racing NSW Appeals Tribunal.

“Racing NSW will obviously look at the reasons for the appeal decision and will make that call,” Murrihy said.

The long-awaited hearings into the Victorian cobalt positives will begin when training partners Lee and Shannon Hope face the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on Thursday, two days before the Caulfield Cup.

Moses’ Zoutenant beat home all bar arguably Australia’s best colt Exosphere in the Roman Consul Stakes last start, fuelling the trainer’s confidence for the Brian Crowley hit out.

But the owners are considering a lucrative offer for the Wyong Magic Millions winner, who will have Tim Clark on board should the sale not proceed before Saturday.

“At this stage he will be running,” Moses said. “He’s come through [the Roman Consul run] very, very well and I couldn’t be happier with him. We haven’t had to do much with him.

“He’s fit and he’s poking along enjoying himself. You’re not going to get them fitter than what they are, so you’ve just got to keep them happy.”

Chris Waller’s San Domenico Stakes winner Japonisme will shoulder 58.5 kilograms as topweight for the Brian Crowley should he be an acceptor when final fields are declared on Wednesday morning.

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