A bottle of Grange ends O’Farrell’s premiership

April 16th, 2014 at 2:15 pm by Jadis

Well the Duke and Duchess are touching down in Australia amidst a political storm.  Barry O’Farrell, Premier of New South Wales has just resigned. O’Farrell’s statement to media says:

“I’ve been advised overnight that this morning at ICAC a thank you note from me in relation to the bottle of wine will be presented. I still can’t recall the receipt of a gift of a bottle of 1959 Grange, I can’t explain what happened to that bottle of wine. But I do accept that there is a thank you note signed by me and as someone who believes in accountability, in responsibility, I accept the consequences of my actions.

“The evidence I gave to the independent commission against corruption yesterday was evidence to the best of my knowledge. I believe it to be truthful and as I said yesterday it’s important that citizens deal with police, deal with the courts and deal with watchdogs like ICAC in a truthful fashion.

“In no way did I seek to mislead, wilfully or otherwise, the Independent Commission Against Corruption. But this has clearly been a significant memory fail on my part, albeit within weeks of coming to office, but I accept the  consequences of my actions. And that is that as soon as I can organise a meeting of the parliamentary Liberal party for next week I will be resigning the position and enabling a new Liberal leader to be elected, someone who will then become the Premier of NSW.

“Whilst I’m sure you have questions, I don’t think this is the time for those questions to be dealt with. There will be other occasions for those questions to be dealt with. But what’s important here is that again I’m seeking to support  the process of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, a body that I’ve always supported throughout my career. I’ve accepted that I’ve had a massive memory fail, I still can’t explain either the arrival of a gift that I have no recollection of or its absence, which I certainly still can’t fathom.   “But I accept the consequences. In an orderly way, a new leader will be elected to take on the position of Premier of NSW.”

So it was the bottle (wherever it may be) and his own thank you note that did it.

o'farrell note

Now the fun part.  Who will be the next Premier?  My pick is Mike Baird.

Is beer healthy?

February 16th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Al Williams at Stuff reports:

The beer belly getting you down? Still parked on the couch and wanting to shed some kilos?

Stop for a minute and forget about it – new research suggests it’s healthy.

While it is widely believed that beer is fattening, new scientific evidence from the United Kingdom suggests it has “nutritional and wellbeing benefits” which are at least similar to wine.

A report was commissioned by the British Beer and Pub Association to see whether beer was responsible for more weight gain than other alcoholic drinks, including wine.

It found that there was growing scientific support that moderate consumption of beer could be associated with health benefits.

It also found that 100ml of a 5 per cent lager contained 43 calories, compared to the 84 calories of the same quantity of a 12 per cent white wine. The rule of thumb was, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories.

Moderation, as with most things, is the key. Few things (except poisons) are totally bad for you.

But I would point out one flaw in the advocacy that beer is less fattening than wine. It is true on a per ml measure – but this ignores the nature of both drinks. You inevitably drink more beer and faster, than you do wine (although I may have disproved that theory last night!). If you drink more than a litre of wine you will be highly unlikely to carry on drinking. But one can drink a litre of beer fairly easily without too many noticeable effects.

A standard beer glass tends to be 330 mls or more and wine up to 150 mls only. So yes beer per ml is less fattening  but a glass of beer is more fattening than a glass of wine I’d say.

Having said that, I generally drink a lot less wine than I used to – mainly because of the calories in it.

Pinot Noir

January 29th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Pinot Noir is the standout variety on the wine scene, with exports of the drink made from black Vitis vinifera grapes doubling in the last decade.

The red wine is big business to New Zealand.

The value of pinot noir sold to overseas drinkers hit $122 million last year, up from only $19m a decade ago.

It is the second most popular variety after our star sauvignon blanc, with pinot noir vines planted on more than a million more hectares than chardonnay.

A four-day festival dedicated to the tipple was launched on Wellington’s waterfront yesterday, with 500 people attending. Pinot Noir NZ 2013 spokesman Robert Brewer said the industry in New Zealand had evolved since the first three-yearly event in 2001.

I was very lucky to be a guest of Visa at the Pinot Noir festival last night. They had dozens of different Pinot Noirs flowing on demand. I couldn’t even attempt to try them all, but did sample a fair few. My favourite was the 2007 Grasshopper which sadly ran out it was so popular.

As if dozens of great wines wasn’t enough, they had 12 of Wellington’s best chefs there including Logan Brown, Martin Bosley and Ruth Pretty. Scallops, lamb, salmon etc. I think I undid a fortnight of exercise in one night – but it was worth it 🙂

Putting aside my personal enjoyment, the NZ wine industry success with Pinot Noir is a great story. 500% export growth over a decade is superb and I’ve noted when overseas how often NZ wine is offered in restaurants as a premium wine.


January 8th, 2013 at 7:02 am by David Farrar


On Monday we headed to Bannockburn, near Cromwell, where we spent the afternoon wine tasting. First stop was Terra Sancta, where former NZX boss Mark Weldon gave us a very knowledgeable rundown on the various grape areas, soil minerals and blends. Sadly as my suitcase was already full, I could only buy a couple of bottles of their lovely Mysterious Diggings Late Harvest Gewurtztraminer. Was also very taken by the Terra Sancta Estate Slapjack Block Riesling, which is unusual for me as I am not normally a Riesling person.


You can actually do a walk through parts of the vineyard.


After lunch we also went to Mt Difficulty and Felton Road. Mt Difficulty also had some great wines. Didn’t get excited over anything at Felton Road, but by then had tried well over a dozen so might just have been a tired palate.

We did lunch at Bannockburn Hotel. It was decent pub food, and pleasant service.

I must mention the appalling service at the (otherwise lovely) Cardrona Pub. We did dinner there on Sunday, and after drinking outside, moved to the restaurant area for dining. The others ordered a bottle of wine which was served up. As I was driving I was on soft drinks, so asked for a diet coke. The waitress said that I should go and queue at the bar to get one. Hugely unimpressed.

My last night in Wanaka was last night. Have been very fortunate with the weather – almost non-stop sun. It is a minor miracle I have not become a lobster.

And the winner is …

February 19th, 2010 at 4:10 pm by David Farrar

In 2008/2009 we had 517 bottles, so 581 is an impressive 12.4% increase in consumption. I put it down to no election to interfere!

The average guess was 538, and I went for 533. The highest guest was Richard on 551.

Of minor interest is both corks and stelvins increased. Corks went up by 35 and stelvins by 29.

Is this not fraud?

October 29th, 2009 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

NZPA report:

An Australian wine writer’s latest book recommends several New Zealand wines, some of which had not even been bottled when it was released.

While reviewing Matt Skinner’s The Juice 2010 in August, The Listener’s wine writer Michael Cooper noticed the review copy had been released earlier than some of the wines it described.

“So, how could they have been tasted by Skinner, who lives in Australia, chosen as his best buys and gone through the whole writing, editing, printing, promotional process before someone like me in New Zealand has tasted them?” Cooper asked.

Cooper contacted the book’s British publisher and was told previous editions had been criticised for being out of date, so this time they decided to confirm the vintage and price ahead of time.

“Just one problem, Matt: you haven’t tasted the wine,” Cooper wrote.

I think authorities should treat this as a case of fraud. Skinner is selling a book purporting to be based on someone having sampled the wine.

Wine Searcher

May 20th, 2009 at 7:29 pm by David Farrar

If you are a wine fan, they Wine Searcher.

It is a specialist search engine, run by a Kiwi company, of 9,849 wine stores with over 3 million wines on offer.

I also use Black Market a lot for really good specials.

And the cork total for 2007/08 is …

April 7th, 2008 at 3:04 pm by David Farrar

I blogged back in February the annual cork counting competition. 2005/06 was 456 and 2006/07 was 496.

Guesses from those who helped drink the wine ranged from 495 to 648, averaging 553.

Guesses on the blog were from 483 to 599.


The result was less than most predicted, but still an increase over the previous year – 512. That includes 240 stelvins. Chicken Little was closest on the blog with 510 and Arnold K in real life guessed 512 exactly.


Those stelvins do made it hard to guess.