Friday, June 30, 2006

Blue Pyrenees Shiraz 2003

Just finished dinner. We drank the Blue Pyrenees Shiraz 2003 (Avoca VIC). This was one of the wines from the Wine Society I mentioned earlier.

In some ways it was not a fair tasting of the wine. My better-half had prepared tandoori chicken and the smell and tang of the spices overshadowed much of the wine. Over dinner the wine did not have a chance to state its case.

I did however save some until about half an hour (now) after dinner when the smell and taste of the tandoori has subsided. I am glad I did! The wine is much better than I had originally thought.

The wine is a medium red in colour. It is not dark red but certainly not light either. The nose is not big but there was definitely plum and maybe a touch of pepper (spices?) on the nose. The label on bottle talks of licorice but I couldn't find it - but that may just be me or the after-effects of the tandoori.

The palate is commensurate with the nose and there is a touch of oak and, very mild or soft tannins. There is reasonable intensity and length (I actually timed it this time - I can't believe I did that - how anal - oh! around 20 seconds). There is a nice balance to the wine. You couldn't say it had a lot of complexity but what it does have is quite well balanced and structured. It could never be said to be close to being a premium wine but is a pleasant guzzler with no apparent (at least to me) defects.

How this rates on a scale of 20 or 100 - beats the heck out of me - I am still to jump that hurdle and I am sure there are a few of the other wine bloggers that will give me some gratuitous advice on the matter (yep - I have seen the way you have badgered poor Ed).

Would I buy this wine again? Maybe! I may be way off base here, but I seem to recall having a bottle of the 2001 vintage that was a bit better than the 2003 (at least in my mind). I think I will try the 2004 when it comes out just to see.

(Many thanks to Melanie Dickinson from Blue Pyrenees for the photo and the kind permission to use it)

Wine Society Wines - Update

As mentioned in 7 Effective Habits of Highly Successful Guzzler Locaters I mentioned I was a member of the Wine Society. As part of the deal I have a standing order of a case of red wines (guzzlers) every 6 months. One arrives in June and the other December, each year. I like it because there is an expectancy that builds as the date approaches and, because they select the wines, there is invariably a number of wines that I would never choose or have never heard of. Over the last 4 years or so I can count on one hand the number of "dud" wines I have received.

The case arrived just the other day and had 2 bottles of each of:

Saltram "Mamre Brook" Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (Barossa)
Blue Pyrenees Shiraz 2003 (Avoca VIC)
Chapel Hill Shiraz 2002 (McLaren Vale)
4. Norman's 'Old Wine' Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Adelaide Plains)
Brown Brothers Tempranillo 2001 (Victoria)
Orlando 'Gramps' Grenache 2004 (Barossa)

We had the Mamre Brook last night with a Morrocan lamb shank dish. I started to get excited when I was pouring the wine. The light is not the best in our dining room but the wine was an very dark inky colour. It also passed the Robbie's Rule of Thumb Test.

There were strong hints of berries (mulberry?) and chocolate on the nose. There is a moderately complex palate of competing berry flavours, good tannins and huge (14.5%) alcohol (which may detract from it slightly). There is definitley another 5 years in this wine. Good intensity and reasonably good length. I enjoyed it! (I can see I really need to start objectively rating the wines - I think a 20 point system is for me - sorry GW and Murray! I just need to get things clear in my mind as to how I will approach it. Ed's recent post has helped a lot)

I hope to review the rest of the wines received, as we drink them.

(Many thanks to Jeremy Coyle from Saltram for the photo and the kind permission to use it)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Wine Course Reds #4

These are the last two reds that I haven't reviewed from the second night of the Wine Course put on by Tony Harper of The Wine Emporium.

Tyrrells Rufus Stone Shiraz 2004 (Heathcote VIC)

Rasberries and mulberry on the nose (and maybe a hint of eucalyptus - evidence of some terroir?? - either that or a dirty great gum tree in the vineyard).

Big berry fruit sweetness with gentle tannins but still with good length. If I could sum the wine up in one word - succulent!! It was very nice and definitely one of the best Rufus Stone Heathcote vintages yet. At $22 would I buy again? You bet!!

(Many thanks to Maria-Teresa Di Mauro of Tyrrells for the photo and the kind permission to use it)

Mad Dog Shiraz 2004 (Barossa SA)
There was rasberry to the left of me, rasberry to the right - here I am stuck in the middle with you! (Maybe this is a newly discovered talent - using songs to describe wines - although only ever happened
once before but it was at the same wine course with the Provenance Shiraz).

There was rasberries on the nose and your initial taste suggests plush, sweet rasberries. This wine gushes rasberries (there - have I said it enough - do you have the picture?). The tannins were good and firm and there was good complexity and intensity (if you hadn't already guessed). At $35 it is a little on the expensive side compared to some of the value at lesser prices BUT compared to other $35 wines it certainly holds its own! YUM!

Wine Course - Conclusions
I must thank Tony Harper and the Wine Emporium for putting on the course and running it so well - all the wines were superb (with the exception of one Chardonnay - but that is my personal taste).

I must also thank the other attendees of the course for helping to analyse all the wines. As I said in an earlier post, the analysing of the wines and tasting notes was really a collective effort. The notes I have written were mainly reached by consensus amongst the group with some gentle guiding from Tony. All in all it has been a most enjoyable experience and I hope to do some more courses in the future.

The important thing for me is that I believe I did learn a lot. Even though I still struggle to describe what I am smelling and tasting I believe I am getting better at discerning the different characteristics of the different components to each wine. I may well be way off (compared to those who really do know something about wine) in my assessments, but at least the mistakes are my own - I can live with that. Whether you agree with any of my tasting notes or not I have had fun doing the research!!

Until next time - live well and drink well!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wine Course Reds #3

Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (Coonawarra) SA
This wine exhibited chocolate and a hint of cigar box. It was velvety with good level of complexity of aromas and flavours. It was well structured with solid tannins but with some finesse or elegance and could well have another 10 years to go. My extra personal notes say "very good - definite buy" - that really says it all!! ($31 per bottle from the Balnaves website)

Mazzie Badiola 2003 (Tuscany, IT)
This wine was made with Sangiovese and had big aromas - more rustic - leather (old shoes) and other funky aromas (sorry - 'funky' is the only thing I could come up with). The tannins were very big - maybe too big, but still a very complex wine and very enjoyable. It was very nice and at around $25 is another buy recommendation. (I haven't seen so many 'buy' recommendations since the Christopher Skase days).

I have been unable to obtain the permissions I wanted in relation to using photographs from various websites and therefore the reviews appear nude! (Calm down TWC!)

I must congratulate Tony Harper from The Wine Emporium for selecting such great wines for the course. All of the reds were enjoyable and there are still 2 more to be reviewed in an upcoming post.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Wine Course Reds #2

Craggy Range Merlot 2004 (Hawkes Bay NZ)
This wine comes from the Gimblet Gravels area, which has apparently established quite a reputation for producing quality wines.

I checked on their website and whilst the 2003 was at 13% alcohol, the 2004 we tasted was 14%. (At least my notes say we tasted the 2004 and it was 14% but I only saw the 2003 on the website)

This wine was deeply purple and had a big plush(?) nose. Again, if something can smell 'velvety' this does. (I am sorry that I can't describe it better). There was also chocolate on the nose and the palate. Tannins were BIG and there was great intensity of flavour and great length.

I am not a fan of Merlot but this was something to keep me coming back.

(My thanks to Clare McSporran from Craggy Range for the photograph and the permission to use it)

Provenance Shiraz 2005 (Geelong VIC)
This is the most difficult and interesting wine I think I have ever tasted. I still don't know whether I loved it or hated it. After you taste it I think it has to be either one or the other - love or hate!

It's BIG BIG nose was very 'pongy' - a little like sour milk! It was deep red bordering on purple. There were really strong green herbacious flavours and almost some aniseed? Maybe this is more licorice!

It is a very complex and intense wine and has a lot going on but not necessarily in different directions. Most of those attending the wine course hated it. Tony Harper (wine judge and critic) loved it and raved about it. I still can't make up my mind.

A song came to mind when I was tasting it, and I meant to tell Tony (but forgot). So Tony, if you are reading this - remember Rocky Horror Picture Show? Eddy (played by Meatloaf) did a song "A Wild and an Untamed Thing" - this is the song that came to mind as I tasted this wine. It was a wild, untamed ride but not necessarily an unstructured or bad one. Have any of you tried this one??

Please do not get me wrong - I am not bagging this wine at all! In fact I will buy some more just to try it again to see if I can make up my mind. But I am just an amateur, so I will leave the last word to the expert. James Halliday is quoted as having rated this wine 94/100.

(My thanks to Jen from Provenance Wines for the photograph and the permission to use it)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Wine Course Reds

Sorry for the delay in continuing the notes from the wine course and for the fact that there is no accompanying photos - oops! - I accidentally deleted them.

The second night was RED night - I could hardly wait. I was not disappointed! The first wine we tried was

Main Ridge "Half Acre" Pinot Noir 2004 (Mornington VIC)
It was light red in colour and there were rose petals and cloves on the nose. It smelled 'velvety' (?) - at least that was how I wrote it down at the time. I don't know how something can 'smell' velvety - oh well! There were strong acid, yet the acids were fine or pure (not sure of the correct descriptor)? There was great intensity of flavour that seemed to build after swallowing - if that is possible. VERY enjoyable and would definitely go for this one again.

Boireann Grenache/Mourvedre/Shiraz 2005 (Granite Belt QLD)
It is good to see the there God's country does actually produce the odd decent wine. Whilst a long way behind the other states, Queensland is starting to produce some quality wines. These appear to come mostly from the Granite Belt area.

This wine displayed some green leafy, onion (?), chocolote aromas and chocolate was noticeable on the palate. There were good, but gentle (?) tannins and good intensity of flavourand quite good length. All in all a very good wine and I think would still have some life left in it - good for another 4 or 5 years at least. This is another that I would definitely try again!!

There will be more wines to come in later posts - till then drink well and live well!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


My better-half made slow cooked lemon and thyme lamb shanks for dinner the other Friday night. I thought I had better let her into the kitchen for once! Not really – our arrangement, which seems to work quite well, is that she is responsible for all the meals during the week and I am responsible for all the meals on a weekend (The reason for this arrangement is that it takes me about a week to work out what we are going to have for dinner the next weekend).

As I was still on vacation I thought we could get through two bottles of wine, if we started early enough. Whilst dinner was cooking I opened a bottle from one of the first case buys I ever made. When I was reorganizing my wine I found that I still had two bottles of 1998 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon left. I couldn’t believe it!! This wine cost me $10 per bottle back in 1999. It was a huge wine for a guzzler back then and there seemed to be an endless supply of it. I thought it would be totally wasted by now and therefore thought I had better drink it straight away.

To my surprise it was still OK – an oldie but a goodie! The tannins were still very solid and there were definite hints of blackcurrents and berries. Some of the intensity and length were gone but it was still enjoyable even thought the tannins remain long after the taste has gone. Not a fantastic wine, by any stretch, but still enjoyable especially knowing what I paid for it and having cellared it for almost 7 years. I think I will keep the second bottle for another year, just for a lark, and see how it is at that time.

The second bottle we drank was a 1998 Tatachilla Cabernet Sauvignon (from McLaren Vale) that was also found during the great wine cleanup. This wine was purchased in 1999 or 2000 for around $15-18 (from memory). There were intense berry aromas and still a hint of smokiness about it. The tannins were still very strong and the flavours followed the smell, however the intense fruit flavours fell away quickly and, like the Koonunga Hill, it seems that the tanniny(?) dryness lasted a lot longer than the flavours. Does this mean there are problems with ‘balance’? I am not sure but it was still an enjoyable wine and quite big, but falls down a little on the intensity and longevity of the flavour. The recommended drinking (per the bottle) was from 2000 to 2005 and maybe it has past its prime.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Last of the White Wines!!

Even though I am a 'white wine' type of bloke, I was finding the course interesting and there were even ones I would consider buying like the Vermentino or the Voyager Estate Semillon Sauvignon Blanc.

The last four whites we
were the Kilikanoon Riesling 2004 (Clare Valley), Peter Lehmann Reserve Riesling 2001 (Eden Valley), Salitage Unwooded Chardonnay 2005 (Pemberton WA) and the d'Arenberg "The Lucky Lizard" Chardonnay 2005 (Adelaide Hills).

1. Kilikanoon Riesling 2004 (Clare Valley)
This was a very clean and pure looking and tasting wine. There were good citrus and floral aromas and taste with quite good length. It was also a simple wine - not a lot going on. Enjoyable but not one I would probably buy for myself.

2. Peter Lehmann Reserve Riesling 2001 (Eden Valley)
A very complex wine with some toasty-honey and lots of fresh lime juice and minerally/ wet rock aromas. These followed through to the palate. There was good length. It was quite a complex wine and extremely enjoyable - AND - I can't believe I am saying this - I would go out and buy this one. This, and the Voyage Estate (see last post) were the two best wines of the evening, both of which I would quite happily purchase and drink again.

3. Salitage Unwooded Chardonnay 2005 (Pemberton WA)
The winery's tasting notes say "Fruit driven, stone fruit and tropical fruit flavours. Full mouth feel with balanced acid and long flavour length". I can only agree with the "fruit driven" comment. My only tasting note is "YUCK"!! Not very professional I know but I really did not enjoy this wine - it was sweet and very one dimensional.

4. d'Arenberg "The Lucky Lizard" Chardonnay 2005 (Adelaide Hills)
For a chardonnay (I really do not like any of them) this was very good. I doubt that I would buy it but would be willing to give it another try. There were tropical fruit, spices and something minerally on the nose and tongue (sorry that I can't describe things better, but I am learning - I hope).

To wrap it all up I think the first evening of the wine course was very good. I got a lot of good information from Tony and it was really great to bounce ideas off everyone else and listen to the different adjectives that people used to try and describe the wines. At the end of the evening I still found I was thirsty - mostly for more information.

Have any of you tried any of the wines noted above? If so tell me what you thought of them and if your tasting notes compare. I would love to know.

Next we will look at the reds from the second evening. Until then, drink well and live well!!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


The next pairing of two white wines at last Tuesday’s wine course with Tony Harper of The Wine Emporium were the Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon 2005 (Margaret River), and the Voyager Estate Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2001 (Margaret River).

There are about 10 people doing the course and the following notes reflect a collective effort to describe the wines. The notes were achieved more by consensus than anything else – an interesting exercise but one, despite our amateurism, that resulted in an analysis that is quite close to the mark (according to Tony).

Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2005 (Margaret River): This was a clear and clean wine with strong citrus and apricot aromas. Noticeable acid, moderate intensity and length and fresh citrus flavours.

Voyager Estate Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2001 (Margaret River): The extra age showed up in a slightly darker straw colour than the Cape Mentelle and there was a bouquet of flowers, herbs and cigar smoke. An intense and complex wine – very enjoyable but was a little out of balance. Most people found the cigar smoke smell and taste was a little overpowering and they didn’t like it. I didn’t mind so much, but even Tony agreed that it seemed a bit “clunky” and felt that because we were drinking it at room temperature (instead of slightly chilled) that the oak had become a little ‘out of whack’. I definitely would like to try this wine again because I thought it had enormous potential and appeal.

A funny thing happened with the Voyage Estate. As we were all reaching for adjectives to describe the aromas and taste, MY better-half came up with ‘cigar smoke’. As soon as she said it everyone agreed – sort of like a small “aha” moment. Even Tony agreed and from then on he admitted that all he could smell was the cigar smoke. He complained that we had just wrecked this wine for him, as it was one of his personal favourites and now all he could smell was cigar smoke. Well done darl!!

Next time we will look at Kilikanoon Riesling 2004 (Clare Valley) and Peter Lehmann Reserve Riesling 2001 (Eden Valley) and possibly even the two chardonnays. After that I will share our notes on some of the reds that we tried on the second Tuesday night.

Until then live well and drink well! Cheers!

Monday, June 12, 2006


Earlier I mentioned that my wife and I had booked in, with some friends, to an introductory wine course with Tony Harper from the Wine Emporium to be run over two consecutive Tuesday nights. Yes it is hard to believe - I may actually learn something about wine!

Last Tuesday night the better-half and I ambled off to the Wine Emporium’s Wine Room in Constance St, Fortitude Valley. This is a small retail outlet, office and small function room whist their main store is just down the road at the Emporium development.

This first evening looked solely at White Wines. Therefore, I feel obliged to apologise to The Wine Commonsewer (TWC) who said, in a comment to one of my earlier posts, “lips that touch white wine will never touch mine”. All I can really say is “Phew! I dodged a bullet there!”. Whilst I prefer reds (in fact I haven’t bought any white wine in over two years, apart from the odd bottle of champers ‘sic’) it was a very interesting evening and there were a couple of wines that weren’t bad and I could quite happily drink again.

Tony (I told you, you should have smiled for the camera – Oh and sorry about the red-eye) works with the Wine Emporium and is quite a well known wine judge around these parts. He provided us some basic instruction on the Appearance of a wine; Aroma/Bouquet and breaking it down into three categories of: the grape, the winemaking artifact, and age; and Taste, that it should follow the aroma of the wine, the importance of freshness regardless of age, and the meaning of intensity, length, balance, and complexity.

While we the wines he took time to point out all these various quality parameters as well as giving information on the basic making of wine, the structure and characteristics of wine. Tony also discussed the basic differences between barrel fermentation and tank fermentation, as well as talking about secondary or malolactic fermentation. He also covered, oak aging, lees aging and no aging (Hi to all you cheap chardonay drinkers!!). I feel like I learnt quite a deal. The information really helped me put together a few things that I was tasting, smelling and seeing that I couldn’t explain. For example, I always had thought that the ‘buttery’ after-taste you got in some wines had something to do with the age and type of the oak used. How I came to this assumption I cannot recall. However, I learned that this “buttery” effect was a result of a compound called diacetyl (I think this is how you spell it) being produced during the malolactic fermentation.

The first two wines we tasted were a Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (Marlborough, New Zealand) and an Ariolas “Costamolino” Vermentino 2004 (Sardinia, Italy). Both wines apparently retail for around $25 in Australia. The first difference you notice is the colour of the wines. The Sauvignon Blanc was almost devoid of colour whilst the Vermentino was almost an amber colour. You could be forgiven for thinking the Vermentino was a lot older than a 2004. This alone tells us a little of the difference in the wine making approaches. Obviously the Vermentino has been allowed greater contact with the lees at some stage through out the process. The aroma was equally different, even after allowing for varietal differences. The Sauvignon Blanc had a fresh, fruity and citrus aroma whilst the Italian wine had a very rustic aroma. It smelled of mushrooms(?) and an earthiness that is not unlike many of the Bordeaux reds. Both wines were intense in flavour and had good length. The New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc lasted for at least 20 seconds and the Vermentino almost that long. I must say that of the two I preferred the Vermentino.

In an upcoming post I will look at the next three wines we tasted. Until then, drink well and live well!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Happy Endings!!

As I said before I left for holidays, the fabled (read first post, second post and third post) 252 bottle Kitchener wine cabinet has arrived!! At last! Now all I need to do is to rearrange my wine from 3 smaller cabinets, two cupboards and a dozen or more cardboard cartons or pine boxes. Where should I start and how should I arrange them in the new cabinet? Which ones to leave out and fill into the 2 remaining smaller cabinets and the cupboard?

I am going to take the opportunity to do a bit of a stocktake and ensure my records are up to date. I used to use a James Halliday Cellar Organiser but I have realized that you cannot export the data to any other program or even print out a full listing with all the information on it and have not kept it up to date for the last year or two. Therefore, I have decided to start again with my own cellar book. I decided to use a spreadsheet, like any good accountant would!

I note that the Red Wine Bigot has developed one for MS Access which he will share with anyone who asks him, but I have decided to go with my own. A spreadsheet will allow me to search by the parameters I set up (eg winery, label, vintage, region, variety etc) but also give me a sub-total or total of bottles and costs according to those parameters (It sounds like I have too much time on my hands). I will also be able to keep tasting notes attached to each wine as a “comment” attached to a cell.

I am currently about half way through the project (see photo right) and have emptied my three older wine cabinets (one of which has died), catalogued their contents and arranged them into the new wine cabinet. I have also catalogued all the wine laying around in cartons and boxes. All told, I have so far catalogued just over 200 bottles (they are not all in the cabinet). I think there is somewhere close to this amount left in the last cupboard (an old kitchen cupboard that I saved during a kitchen renovation).

I AM impressed with my new acquisition. This wine cabinet actually WILL HOLD WHAT IT ADVERTISES it will hold! The shelves of the new wine cabinet will hold a maximum of 32 bottles [except the top shelf (28) and bottom shelf (64)], however I have left room on the second shelf to add premium wines at a later date so that each new acquisition will not cause a total reorganization of the cabinet. I know, for example, that I have half a dozen Bordeaux’s from the 2003 en-primeur arriving soon (2 each of the 2003 Ch Branaire-Ducru, Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Ch Pontet-Canet) as these were all that were available to me at them time, because I was a late starter. Another couple of pleasing points about the cabinet is that it is lockable and the outside of the front door is made from the same material as whiteboards, so you can leave cellar notes on the door and clean them off later.

Later today I have the task of emptying and cataloging the last cupboard’s contents and then deciding which of these wines, together with all the ones that weren’t in any cupboard or cabinet, should go into the new cabinet, then into the older wine cabinets and which may have to go back into the old kitchen cupboard.

I must say that whilst the work is tedious it is still fun and a not a little unlike Christmas. You pull out a wine at the bottom of the cabinet and go “Wow, I can’t remember still having this. I thought I had drunk all of these.” There have already been some really nice surprises, like finding I still had a half-dozen 1997 Tyrrell's Vat 9 Shiraz lurking (I love a good wine that knows how to 'lurk' - lurking is much better than 'skulking') in a pinewood box underneath a heap of other cartons. I think there will be a happy ending to this saga after all!

Live well and drink well!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Last night we had Rob (of Robbie’s Rule of Thumb fame), Lisa and the girls over for dinner. I decided to prepare a Beef Wellington with roast veggies and a baked cheesecake with peaches.

With this meal I brought out a Langmeil "The Blacksmith" Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon and a 1999 Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz.

The Beef Wellington used an entire eye fillet, which was seared in a very hot pan and covered with around 1/4 cup of Brandy (ignited and poured over the meat and the flames allowed to die out - pretty spectacular to watch). Once the meat cooled sufficiently I topped it with peppered cheese and some liver pate that had been
mashed with the pan juices. I then wrapped the meat in puff pastry and cooked for around 35-40 minutes.

Earlier in the afternoon I tried my first ever baked cheesecake. Our oldest boy (we call him B1 and he is 4 years old) and I had a lot of fun making it and I think it turned out rather well. B1 crushed the biscuits (ie cookies, for all my American friends) and once the butter was mixed in, helped me to make the shell. I feel a little ‘ripped-off’ though as B1 did not want to lick the spoon (he said he didn’t like it) and I greedily thought there would be more for the better-half and I. B1 then turned about a demolished a couple of pieces after dinner and was backing up again before we stopped him. Over the last couple of days I think he has had more than anyone. He is only allowed a small piece if he eats all his meat and vegetables. I have never seen a four year old ‘wolf’ down broccoli and carrot as he has the last few days.

The wines were fantastic! We started with the Langmeil which was a good Barossa Cab Sav. It was a medium bodied wine with hints of ripe berry. The Chalambar (an onld favourite - but can be a little 'up and down') was also good and complemented the pepper and the beef well. There were ripe plum and berry aromas and flavours. It also was a medium bodied wine with just a hint of oak and soft tannins. Very enjoyable!! However, I do find that the better the food and the conversation, the better the wine drinking experience often is. Do you find the same??

Tomorrow I will share my recent travails in relation to my wine collection and my new wine cabinet(hey, look, yes, I know I am just a bloke who really doesn't have a clue about childbirth but bring this wine cabinet into fruition has been a real 'labour' - you know!). The next few days after that I would like your comments on some of the stuff I have been learning at the wine course - see you then!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


The brief sojourn to Burleigh Heads is over and it is back home for another week before I head back to the office to terrorise the staff. It was tough to leave the coast. However, one of the benefits of living where we do is that Burleigh Heads is only an hour away. (photos are taken from Burleigh looking up to Surfers Paradise and towards the heads)

The weather was fantastic!! I lived in shorts and a short sleeved shirt and slept the same way without any covers – not bad for the first few days of winter, huh? The water was around 22C - 23C and therefore still fine to go swimming in.

The kids had a wonderful time too! We took them fishing and caught a couple of winter whiting and a bream, although they were all on the small side and we threw them all back. We also took them to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on our annual pilgrimage to see, amongst other things, the wombats, kangaroos, koalas, dingoes, emus and crocodiles.

photos are of (1) above left- a koala (aboriginal word meaning 'no water' as the koala rarely drinks water getting its fluids from the eucalyptus leaves); (2) above right - southern hairy nosed wombat (which looks like a few politicians I know!); (3) left - is the cute (ie ugly but attractive) Tasmanian devil;(4) below right - is our youngest boy (we call him B2, the oldest is B1) patting a very young kangaroo; and (5) below left - is an emu (pronounced "e-mew" - a large, flightless bird, but fast runner - an old Aussie song has it that an old man emu can 'run the pants off a kangaroo')

We took a dozen bottles of wine to cover the week and we came back with two which were promptly drunk on Saturday and Sunday – we must be slipping! There will be more on the wines in later blogs. Since we have been back (and I still have another week of vacation) it seems I have been busier than ever and have found it hard to find time to finish my blogs.

We arrived home on Saturday and went out for dinner to Rob's place in the evening. On Sunday we caught up with a few things around the house in the morning and then I spent all afternoon in the kitchen again (you will have to wait for the next blog to find out what I cooked).

Monday, a doctor's appointment, sneaking into the office for a few hours and looking after the boys took up the day.

Tuesday, I started to re-catalogue all my wines and start moving the best ones into my new wine cabinet. This is turning into a bigger job than I thought - more about this in later posts. Tuesday evening (last night) the better-half and I went to the first night of our Wine Basics Course run by Tony Harper from the Wine Emporium - what a great night. More on this and next week's course in posts to follow. We tasted quite a few wines and covered a fair bit of territory. I have a lot to share with you all and it will take quite a while to catch up.

This morning (Wednesday) I spent all morning as the roster-parent at B1's pre-school. I spent my time playing with the 4 and 5 year olds - what a blast!! Tonight, as I am still on vacation I will be attempting a new dish (ie new for me) - Chicken Kievs in filo pastry not in bread crumbs. Till next post - Drink well and live well!

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