Krinklewood 2010 Semillon

KrinSemSz0

The weather had a touch of the apocalypse today, it was greenhouse humid -horrid sweaty and insect prone. I was aching for a nice white but unsure what to choose. The weather just had a touch of the ‘global warming’ to it; super typhoon Haiyan was ploughing through the Philippines and it felt imperative to get something that was conscious of it’s place in the environment.

The first thing I noticed about this Semillon is it’s aroma, it is very strong and full of heavy tones, almost Chardonnay but with that Sauvingon Blanc capsicum pungency. The aroma is, nutty with smoky tones that become hard to ignore while drinking it.

The flavours are subtle enough and enjoyable enough to counter act the effect of aroma, the lime is the strongest tone the more of the wine you taste the more it seems to be citrus rather than straw like; this leaves the impression that the wine has its own singular personality:  A quiet thinking type an individual separate from the crowd, a unique wine, something to make you ask a few questions about how things are done in the wine world.

The wine is, certified bio dynamic and the winery is ethical in the way it produces the wine. To some people this might not matter so much but I have worked in the Hunter Valley for a vineyard who really didn’t care much about environmental issues and who were totally corporate in their outlook in making wine.

It does in the end make a difference to the outcome of the wine, after all the grape is a plant and reacts to the environment around it, more care in how the vine is tended and consciousness about the wine making process can make all the difference in the wine.

The wine is not what I expected in a Semillon it was something that left me thinking about the variety of Semillon as a whole, which is more than you can expect from a wine these days.

McWilliam’s Blue Label Mount Pleasant Hunter Valley Semillon 2006

704150_0_9999_v1_m56577569845423799

After working in the Hunter valley for a while it became clear that one variety stood tall and proud and exhibited the most intricate flavours that it garnered from the region.

Semillon is the Hunter Valley’s flagship variety, and I often found it odd how many people did not recognise this, locals and tourists alike.

The Hunter Valley geographically is not an obvious place that Semillon should excel, the region is prone to horrible fluctuations of weather, each year radically different weather has created some odd results that often is a surprise to those who try the wine.

The first thing you notice when you look at this wine is that beautiful, darker straw like colour, it’s age has given it this delicious tone that gives you hints about what flavours are in the glass.

It has a surprisingly dull aroma, you literally have to dunk your nose into the wine to collect any aromatic information. The best I could fathom was an obvious straw fragrance.

It’s flavours are subtle like the aroma, they lack a little complexity but make up for it by still exhibiting the peppery, lemon and straw like delicateness that is unusual for a wine at this age.

The wine lacks the heavy flavours that come with age, but they are emerging.

This is the sort of wine I would buy on bulk and even wait a little longer to see what happens, it seems to have a little time left on the clock and could even turn into (after 7 years) something that might really be worth trying.

I can’t help feel that there is a little secret here with this wine, that in it’s earlier incarnation 7 years ago over the counter it wasn’t really that impressive.

I am guessing a savvy winemaker made a wise decision to cellar this wine and has totally made the right decision.

You can for $21.95 (at Dan Murphys) have the privilege to enjoy a Semillon that most other Hunter Valley vineyards charge much more to enjoy.

Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2011

1z

I have mixed feelings about the heavy flavours of the Chardonnay, the first taste of wine I ever experienced was a Chardonnay.

My mother handed me a plastic picnic glass, filled with cask Chardonnay the odd smell at that time reminded me of vinegar, sadly turning me off wine for much of my early drinking years.

Many have told me of the pleasures of the Chardonnay, but even within the wine fraternity the feelings are sometimes strained. The problem is not so much the fault of the poor Chardonnay grape, but the worrying force of the market or to be more blunt; popularity. The 80’s left plots of Chardonnay dotted all over Australia that even now vineyards eye with strange uncertainty.

This Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay, grown in the Adelaide hills has shrugged free the deep oak heaviness of the 80’s chardonnay. It reminds me a little of the mineral like Chablis, but with light straw and butterish flavours exhibiting beautiful peach and apricot tones, it has a overall honey effect with all the flavours combined.

The wine reminds me of a very nice Champagne like the Veuve, which has a very small percentage of Chardonnay.

The only negative is that you can still taste a little of that back palate bitterness, this is overtaken by the light and relaxed feel of this wine.

This is a wine that unexpectedly grabbed my attention, it oddly reminded me of a wine with some cellaring, much like a 6 year old (or older) Semillon.

Because of that cellared taste this wine gave me one of those wonderful experiences in life, that of finding a hidden and unexpected gem.

A personal cul-de-sac, short stories and poetry

1766871325c9573de4fd1fb5ac7d6eed

I am at this point in my life thirty seven, for large swathes of my life, I have imagined for some egotistical reason that I could be a writer.

Like many an ambition in life, I just imagined I could do it and never really put any serious work into improving my writing or learning with some proper aim the art of the written word.

I too often would read of a great writer who sat down and just ‘started writing’ somone like Hemingway or Hunter S Thompson, around them coffee cups and cigarette butts would appear and out mist like magic a novel.

It is arrogant to think I could just write something important without any practice or patience, my position reminds me of people I have met in my life who never went to university but have often told me they could easily complete a degree. This kind of thing is easy to pontificate about but to actually complete, well that is a very different proposition.

As a result I have here a collection of very short stories and poetry that never went anywhere, a collection of dead ends.

Some of these are nearly 20 years old and are written in diaries and notebooks I have collected over the years. Some of the material was written during difficult times in my life, some I don’t even remember why I wrote it or what it was about.

Even if none of the stories are completed or I don’t remember my original aim they display a personal narrative, an enjoyment of writing that I feel should be part of this blog.

Pines (2002)

A great pine panorama opened out neatly in all directions as far as he could see. The bright blue sky above and the deep green ocean of treetops below. The cicadas sung away in two separate rhythmic chants. One chant seemed to be in discussion with the other and the harmony slightly altered with each wave of noise, small birds chirped cheerfully in the tree canopy as he felt himself drop downwards.

All at once he felt his being collapse and drop beneath the ground; there under the carpet of brown pine needles among the rocks dirt and gravel he was part of the dark underworld, he felt uncomfortable and felt the gnawing of the rocks and sand.

Jye opened his eyes finding himself facing downwards on the pine green couch, the cushion cover was a dark green polyester which was extremely itchy and uncomfortable to the skin. He pulled himself to a sitting position and itched lethargically his red cheek.

He walked over to kitchen feeling the cold tiles on his bare feet and became aware that there was something or someone else walking behind him .

Judith walked past on her way to the bathroom which was at the back of the house behind the kitchen.

“hey dude” she said smiling

“hey Judith”, Jye said equally cheerfully taking another swig of water.

She disappeared and he heard the squeak and rattle of the old pipes as that shower came into being, he for a short time tried to imagine her naked under the shower, but he had never seen her naked and had a difficult time trying to imagine what shape colour or texture of the image of this picture. It played out in his mind like a censored video and the whole image felt a little odd.

Ghost In the Coal (2000)

Tom watched Greg carefully extract his packet of drum tobacco. He very gently put his fingers into the packet and pulled out very thin cigarette.

Greg had a certain stance that his whole body formed while he smoked a cigarette, his body relaxed as he pushed his groin forward and spread his legs apart.

Out of the silence he let pass an almighty burp, one that could of been heard some distance away.

“There not much we can do but wait mate” Greg said while blew smoke in towards him.

Tom just gave a nod of understanding, knowing any conversation would be strained and difficult.

Greg’s shoes made a distinctive crunching sound of movement

“I’m going up in into the cab to listen to the footy” he darted with enthusiasm up the cab of the loader flicking the butt  of  his cigarette into the coal heap, the bright white butt object stood out in stark contrast to the coal, it smoldered away sending small decorative smoke patterns into the air.

The door made an almighty crash, and he started up the machine.

It became noisy; Tom walked over to a small generator some distance from the loader, there it was silent and sat on the tow bar arm and felt totally blank.

The was a massive mountain of black coal in front of him and he grabbed for a small piece in front of his shoe.

He gripped at the fragile, sharp shiny piece of coal and closed his eyes and imagined the green world of the Carboniferous period. Somewhere around 250 million years ago this pile of black rock was alive, thriving even.

It was odd, he thought, to be surrounded by the fossilized remains of dead forest.

Looking at the black material it took some imagination to perceive that forest, it seemed to Tom like such a calm beautiful place, green and natural, no noisy humans.

And now this… Tom looked at at the neat pile of coal about 5 stories high towering above him.

Manchester Not

It was the afternoon and Stan had decided to observe the beach and its transient population. He took a position in a small dip sandwiched between two groups of people enjoying the sun. The area was a narrow channel of about six metres from the ocean, in this channel his head operated like an automatic fan slowly observing the tiniest fragment of interest.

His head jerked; confronted by a brunette in a small colourful bikini who meandered so close to him that her shadow was on his blue and green beach towel. Stan paused in an internal gasp as the blue sky enveloped this bronze beauty. She was well proportioned, her skin it had a reflective hue that reminded him of a dry wetsuit.

The girl seem to pause purposefully there in front of him, spending an eternity with her hands on her hips scanning the panorama. She slowly moved her delicate hands outwards and ran headlong into the cold surf, the water seemed to reflect off her skin like that of sea mammal and she took off into the sea like it was her natural habitat.

He gazed at the ocean as it swallowed the girl and imagined a tsunami headed towards the beach, a asteroid hitting the ocean, a warship opening fire, a giant fracture in the earth opening up and swallowing the beach, a volcano erupting and an army of piranhas headed directly for the swimmers in the surf.

It occurred to Stan that whenever he went to relax, he often began running through different disaster scenarios.

Stan turned his head and checked on his sunbaking girlfriend, she lay silent face down in the sand in her chocolate brown bikini, for the last half hour she had been giving grunting noises for answers to his questions.

He picked up a small cup full of sand and let it spill out slowly onto his leg, he observed his hands for a long period of time. They where thick fat and white. They looked battle worn,  his fingernails where dark black from the coal dust and the lines in his hands where stained by coal dirt that soap would never reach.

Cold white 

Cold white milky marble, hands together in prayer eyes shut prepared for the afterlife.

An effigy I became transfixed by at the Louvre

Ready to open her eyes and see heaven for eternity, Death Lovingly captured.

My mind races as I imagine her thoughts at her own effigy.

Did she pause over herself with grief, or take comfort in her pious repose.

Tumbleweed (1998)

Tumbleweed, twist and turn

Strike my lighter watch you burn

Dusty path, has ended here

Fade away, you disappear

Stone and Brick (1998)

Stone and brick

Mortar and tower

Iron, steel and aluminum

Personality, no persons

A polis, linked by trade

Pitching battles

We give our will

Penitus (2000)

Downwards from the concrete bridge.

A drowsy shoal, a petrol-shimmering plasma ebb.

Lines across the breadth of river like undulating layers of geography

Eddie currents in motion

Purple paisley kaladascope surface

White packet of tiny teddies floating undulating in the breeze

Small sprites around the peer, untied split second

Sprites uneven explosion on the surface of the water.

Cars come by so close distract attention, people on bikes

Cars thrushing, thrashing, meshing, wind, whoosh, speed, exhaust noise

Urban river, no natural state

Man made sandstone bank

Artificial man made bank

Worn industrial past.

Smooth sandstone, mud bank with mud just a couple of inches back from the wash

People on bikes, wind in trees.

Dirty Granny

Dirty-Granny-Cider-Bottle

It is late August in Australia, and we are not used to the cold, it’s like putting a camel in the middle of Antarctica we are just woefully ill equipped for anything below 10 degrees.

Today, finally a warmer day came along, and it oddly coincided with me listening to some warm sounding reggae music, it’s cheerful and happy and it’s time to put the cold days behind me.

It is in this environment, that the apple cider ‘Dirty Granny’ skips along and places itself in front of me, the deliciously dark bubbling glass of apple effervescence.

I feel marketing is a little misleading on this one, it’s not particularly bad marketing in fact It is certainly one of the best labels and marketing efforts I have seen so far in the cider realm, the question I ponder is does this type of marketing fit what is actually in the bottle.

Dirty_Granny_cider

The marketing is cheeky, clever and has a youth fresh feel, even though it is called ‘Dirty Granny’ it is marketed with a smile, the label and the typeface is cleverly all crochet giving us the warm fuzzy feeling of going to nanna’s place,  once you are there nanna is sinking down a half dozen apple ciders.

On the back of the label it reads (GRANNY SMITH APPLES MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN USED IN THE MAKING OF THIS CIDER) it was at this point I really started to have a good chuckle Matilda bay, matured cider, granny smith apples Dirty Granny – nice.

The cider however is a little different to the marketing it is a deep and brooding cider, it is a premium product and one that makes you really ponder over it’s different flavours.

Maybe a dark brown studious feel, Cambridge lecture goer, intelligent cider appreciator some script delicate lines sort of thing.

This is the first time I have had the chance to have a properly matured cider and I was impressed. Matured ciders unlock some flavours that make the realm of apple cider infinitely more interesting and worth exploring.

It made me wonder what would happen if you took a cloudy cider like James Squire Orchard Crush and matured it, I am sure it would create something that would leave other ciders miles behind.

I easily sank 5 of these ciders on a Friday afternoon, this was a really pleasant drop and easy to drink, nice work Matilda bay.

India Pale Ale Hop Hog

0003965_feral_brewing_company_hop_hog_india_pale_ale_330ml

There is something about Hops heavy beer that reminds me of the smell of marijuana or to be specific the bud of marijuana. The aromatics of hops, rain forest ferns and a bowl full of buds are strangely similar.

There is no secret that funky inner city people who love craft beer have been partial to the ganja in their past. More and more craft beers have gotten heavier on the hops and I am wondering if this is a kind of marketing pitch of sorts with the flavour of beer.

This is Brendan Varis head brewer at Feral brewing company, he is obviously fairly young and maybe this explains the more experimental hops flavors.
Brendan Varis head brewer at Feral brewing company.

Beer is a delicate balance of flavours, if you add too much hops you drown out other important beer flavours that give the beer a complexity.

Hops is in no way relaxed it is by far the most overbearing of beer flavours, so in this way if you add too much hops you change the character of beer you create something very un-beer like.

The label design isn’t very sophisticated, the colours look rather lacklustre and on the cheaper side, the image of the pig reminds me of something that has come out of a shooting and hunting magazine.

You may have noticed by now that I am very fickle when it comes to the marketing of the products I buy and the sight of a rampaging bush pig on the label  is one that nearly turned me off getting the beer altogether.

I was interested in this beer and I could see that underneath the hops was the structure of a very nice beer indeed, I am prompted to look more into the Feral Brewing company.

http://www.feralbrewing.com.au/

James Squire Orchard Crush Apple Cider

images

There is something oppressive about the apple, put there in your lunch box as a kid while you jealously watch others have Tiny Teddies or Milky Ways.

Apples are there with you through your life, in lunch rooms in the workplace wherever western civilization is the apple is. I have never been excited in my life to have an apple, it’s the filler of foods the uninspiring commonality and it’s supposed to be good for you!

So I guess it shouldn’t be a big surprise that so many apple ciders are just as uninspiring to drink, most try to get away with being like an alcho-pop which are very alcoholic and give a hangover equivalent to one really bad bottle of $8 wine.

However every now and then a cider rises above the other,  James Squire orchard crush is one of these.

Looking at this label, I would never in my life have guessed this was the cider to end all ciders.

The label makes me think ‘Coles supermarket fresh food people’ and it very nearly made me miss this cider altogether. However the quality of James Squire brand spoke for the quality of the cider.

The first thing that separates this cider from many others is it’s cloudyness. It’s milky and the apple flavours permeate throughout the drink giving it many complex flavours.

The cider flavour has a crisp delicate sharp edge, it is spicy sometimes pear like but never so much that the pear takes over.

It is super refreshing, and I felt pretty overwhelmed by just complex this cider was.

This is a premium cider, if you are a cider lover I would suggest you get your hands on as much of this as you can.

http://www.maltshovel.com.au/#/home/

Tim’s Lost Shoe – Article from Urchin Magazine 2005

tims-lost-shoe

I wrote this article in 2005 for a small youth arts magazine in Newcastle called Urchin, which was run by group called Octapod.

I attached this design from the magazine, because I also designed the article when I was starting out as a graphic designer. (Yes the image is of me)

Tim’s Lost Shoe.

I am acutely aware of my surroundings today.

I feel unusually creative. Like the 300 metre tsunami that engulfed half of Mexico (or at least what we know as Mexico) 250 million years ago. It has engulfed me and flooded the forests of everyday life without giving even the smallest insect of boredom or triviality a chance.

Sure I lost my shoe, and I really liked those shoes, still it’s only half bad, I can still look at my one remaining shoe and remember the times they were together.

Yesterday I was dehydrated and wandering amongst the bright sand dunes of Stockton beach, following the small mammal tracks that seem to just stop, without explanation.

There was a point where after a few hours, the whole world I knew disappeared, and I became a speck on the landscape. I became distinctly aware of this when an F/18 hornet screamed overhead. I wondered what my lone figure in the dunes looked like from above, but I suspected the pilot had some tactical objective to complete, and was contemplating the amount of degrees to come in at when bombing a strategic location, only having a mere second to contemplate his position on our earth.

It was at this point that I made a kind of holy ascension above my worldly domain, and looked down on the earth from above. It was like a 3D computer modeler looking down on a landscape he had just created. Panning around from different angles, I became aware of something other than ‘I’. My surroundings and being was more than simply perception and awareness – I felt placed in some kind of computer game, in which I had very little control.

I sat down and began to wonder what freedom meant. I might really know what freedom was if I was locked up as a prisoner of war, or in a small room, for a long period of time. With my normal freedom (freedom of movement and control) starved I might have some unique vision into what freedom actually is.

What is freedom? Those of us who have read even the smallest snippets of philosophy are aware of the idea that freedom is a myth. Philosophers since the 15th century decided that we are merely machines, plopped into this world, with little choice or freedom. On close inspection, this revelation seems somewhat true. Look at our lives – we are prisoners to our body and mind. Some of the things we imagine give us freedom are simply things our bodies and social pressures dictate that we feel. Even love can be seen in purely chemical, social and biological ways.

If love were universal, and not attached to social and biological needs, then why not love sand, or telephone poles, or even other species with the same passion and determination that humans place on their counterparts.

Was I free, here, wandering around without any real objective? I still had worldly issues to worry about. I was thirsty because the heat and sand gave my tongue this coarse feeling, distinctly reminding me of an old Abbott and Costello movie, where they had joined the foreign legion and got lost in the dunes of Sudan. It always made me want to drink gallons of water.

Also, I was aware that I was 800 metres or so from my car – my ticket back to civilization. It’s like that when you go camping or on holidays, and you need some firm root back to the real world. Some safety blanket that grounds you there, in ‘civilisation’, where things move along quite nicely, waiting patiently for you to return to pay its bills, taxes and fines, to read its papers, and generally feel warm and fuzzy in front of your computer or television, in the quiet safety of your house.

Walking back, I looked at the city of Newcastle. I shut my eyes just so the world became a blur, and imagined what it looked like before settlement. But it was hopeless. The landscape has changed so much that it’s hard to get any real picture. I had the faintest image from viewing a few paintings by convict and artist, Joseph Lycett. They reminded me of the scrub a little bit up the coast that nobody really notices or cares about.

Australia before Europeans must have been such a quiet, unified place – the land whole, even pure. With what feels like an almost abstract life force of its own, the Aboriginals respected this. These dunes were like this 1000 years ago. This gave me some pause for thought, because I had no real need to squint my eyes. This is how they looked for so long. However, I was acutely aware of the 4wd tracks and scattered beer bottles and assorted little heaps of trash every couple of metres, which where actually quite fascinating. They were a record of people’s days at the beach, and camping trips. There in the sand for all time. Were they any different to the Aboriginal shell middens just a few hundred metres away?

The dunes were talking to me. But the safety of civilisation was calling, and as I slowly returned, my shoe fell from my bag. Soon to be engulfed by the slow moving sands.

My Wife’s Bitter

702038_0_9999_v1_m56577569845803185

The thing that attracted me to this beer, was the label design. I just love it, it reminds me of a sailors tattoo, and it goes well with the name of the beer.

I have mixed feelings about the name, this is how the website put it:

“My Wife’s Bitter? Yes, we’re talking about Peta, Brewmaster Brennan’s wife. And we don’t mean she’s in any way sour, resentful or angry. This beer is Brennan’s gift to her!”

When I showed my wife this beer, she was horrified and we both began to ask questions about the marketing of the Burleigh brewery.

Is because they are from Queensland? Are they actually that witty? Or are they just bogans with a great marketing team? Not sure but the beer itself is certainly worth a review.

This beer has a Newcastle Brown Ale feel to it. It is based on a traditional English bitter but it is a little special in it’s own way. It has something a little spicy a little more enticing, it still has that dullness of an ale while remaining bitter enough to expose the hops. I am not one for the darker ale but I found myself being drawn into the heavier flavours.

The beer doesn’t feel in anyway Queensland in style. Using Queensland’s favorite beer as an example, XXXX bitter is full of bubbles which is super light and has no flavour. XXXX is designed to be thrown down after a hard days work in the stinking Queensland sun.

It probably doesn’t matter so much these days with so many craft breweries popping up all over the place, but it is interesting to note that a heavy cold weather brown ale is coming from Queensland.

My Wifes Bitter

Saluna Cafe

251082_431961790235202_211123737_n

This cafe on king street is the little sister of the very popular Rolador cafe on Beaumont street. The original Rolador was and still is a trend setter of Newcastle, people line up every Saturday to get some of that amazing coffee.

Rolador was way ahead of itself and it is usually packed out with every arty type in Newcastle. Because Rolador was so ahead of the curve, I really sat up and took notice at Saluna’s especially because of its position.

It is on King street, a tricky spot for cafes and businesses. Many have come and gone from this street it is littered with the scars of past attempts at life.

The model is a little like Rolador, self made alternative furnishings like crates and old electrical wire holders for tables, plywood everything and cheerful interesting hipster staff.

The coffee like Rolador is hands down the best in Newcastle, the food here is a little different and notch above Rolador.

197351_391679050930143_1903882531_n

Saluna’s is the sophisticated inner city sister, it’s more laid back in’s own way and once again it’s ahead of the curb. You can tell this cafe is going to work mainly because of all that hard work and experience gained from Rolador.

It’s probably fitting that a cafe like this is just around the corner from the bones and spirit of the Lucky country hotel, it is absorbing all that alternative energy it once abounded in.

This cafe is a sign of Newcastle’s future, people are starting to head back into the inner city and it’s so damn exciting.  Well done Saluna!

https://www.facebook.com/SalunaCafe