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Sydney summer-time sipping

Sip Your Style, Veuve Cliquot Airstream, The Garden Bar by The Corner House Veuve Clicquot Airstream alongside The Garden Bar by The Corner House

By Katrina Holden

The forecourt of the Sydney Opera House offers some  rather unbeatable views and makes for an ideal spot for stylish summer sips.

Each year, during the Festival of Sydney, the Opera House turns their forecourt into a relaxed bar and dining area, as part of its Summer at the House program.

Sip Your Style, The Garden Bar by The Corner House. Image credit: Daniel Boud.

This year, Bondi operators The Corner House have been granted the ‘keys to the quay’ so to speak and are running ‘The Garden Bar by The Corner House’. The all-day pop up bar is family friendly by day, with sand pits and entertainment for the kiddies, while at night, it is cocktails and champagne for the grown-ups! Be quick to sample for yourself- the summer fun ends on 27 January.

Sip Your Style Veuve Clicquot Airstream alongside The Garden Bar by The Corner House

Food options come in the way of a range of tasty mediterranean-themed garden picnic plates, or Sydney rock oysters; and to sip there’s a wide selection including Pimm’s Cups, Garden Bar Mules, Tanqueray and tonic, and Pampero rum cocktails served in a fresh coconut.

Alongside the Garden Bar by The Corner House is the bright and fun Veuve Clicquot Airstream – a 1950s style luxury trailer serving Veuve Cliquot Champagne. Treat yourself to some champagne as you kick back in the bright, signature-coloured orange bean bags – and soak up the sunshine and sensational scenery of Sydney Harbour.

Yes indeed – summer sipping at its finest.

Sip Your Style, The Cru, Garden Bar by The Corner House L-R: Jeanine Bribosia, The Cru and Katrina Holden, Sip Your Style

Garden Bar by The Corner House is open 7 days, from 9am till 27 January.


Or follow The Corner House on Facebook

Veuve Clicquot Airstream is open (till 27 January):

5pm-11pm on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

5pm – midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Shaw + Smith Shiraz 2012

RRP: $44

ABV: 13.5%

Region: Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Wonderfully balanced, this cool-climate Shiraz offers lively and aromatic raspberries, blueberries and violets on the nose. Medium-bodied, it has a layered palate and long, lingering flavours that unravel in the mouth with subtle hints of spice and black pepper. Seamless and effortless to sip.


Hahndorf Hill Winery Gruner Veltliner 2013

RRP: $28

ABV: 13%

Region: Adelaide Hills, SA

This is a great example from Adelaide Hills winery Hahndorf Hill of the extremely food-friendly white wine style, gruner veltliner – which they have termed ‘Gru’ for short. Layered and complex, there’s aromas of pears, pineapple and stone fruits such as nectarines – all backed up with a kick of spicy white pepper. There’s a lovely textural and ‘crunchy’ quality to this stylish sip.


Can-do Canberra

Smoked duck and pinot noir at Poacher’s Pantry

By Katrina Holden

A recent visit to the Canberra Wine District revealed what a beautiful region it is and the exciting cool-climate wine styles that are being made there.

Longer established producers such as Helm Wines and Clonakilla have long been regarded for their winemaking excellence. Today though, it’s exciting to see newer producers also gain their place in the sun – wineries such as Eden Road, Collector Wines, Nick O’Leary, Mount Majura, Capital Wines and Lark Hill – gaining deserved recognition for their riesling, chardonnay, shiraz, pinot noir, tempranillo and gruner veltliner wine styles.

Italian ceramics at the Shaw Vineyard Estate cellar door

As a region to visit, it’s rather straightforward to navigate ones way around and the vineyards are also a comfortable and close drive from the Canberra CBD – meaning if you’re in the capital to take in a show, festival or visit one of the national galleries or museums, then you really have no excuse to not squeeze in some wine-sipping time at local cellar doors. It would be rude not to!

There’s a number of great dining spots too to complete the experience. The ‘Flint in the Vines’ restaurant at Shaw Vineyard Estate is a cosy spot – overlooking the vineyards and with a relaxed atmosphere. You can also enjoy a tasting at cellar door with the Shaw family, trying their award winning cabernet or riesling. They also have the largest collection in the Southern Hemisphere of authentic Italian ceramics for sale.

Poacher’s Pantry

Poacher’s Pantry is a beautiful, romantic and rustic venue to dine  - founded by Susan and Robert Bruce and now run by their children Katie Crook and Will Bruce. Susan Bruce, with English heritage, had been a stockbroker and businesswoman in Sydney. Her and her husband Bruce came across the farm where Poacher’s is located and wanted to make it work as a business. Susan’s brother, a chef, over for a visit from England, noted there were no smoked meats available for chefs. So in 1991, Susan and Bruce started up Poacher’s Pantry specialising in smoked meats for the trade. After a challenging start – where their biggest customer was Ansett, daughter Katie said mum learned, “not to put all her eggs in one basket” and so the business expanded to eventually include the restaurant. With sprawling grounds and garden sculptures, the site is a popular spot for weddings.

Poacher’s Pantry also sell a range of wines under their Wily Trout label – with the wines made under contract by award-winning winemaker at Eden Road, Nick Spencer.

Sculptures in the gardens at Poacher’s Pantry

Meanwhile Grazing restaurant at Capital Wines has been running now for ten years and boasts the first urban cellar door licence in the state.  The enterprising Jennie Mooney and husband Mark brought the historic Royal Hotel Gundaroo site in 2003, where the Grazing restaurant now trades, in 2003, overseeing six months of restorations. The award-winning Grazing is run by chef Kurt Neumann and his wife Tanya, who serve dishes with thoughtful and stunning aesthetic appeal. There are lots of Capital Wines to try (including their merlot for which they’ve built a strong following) whilst either dining at Grazing or at the cellar door itself – there’s also a more casual café located on site which Jennie and Mark run.

Fine food can be found at Grazing at Capital Wines

Over at Lark Hill, you’ll find the stylish and lively Sue Carpenter and husband Dave who founded their winery in 1978. The former mathematicians have worked hard to build their certified organic vineyard and winery – and son Chris is also now involved in the business. With a restaurant that overlooks a magical view from the deck, you can try their fresh and lively wines including the wine they are perhaps best known for – Gruner Veltliner – an Austrian variety that is said to be one of the world’s most versatile food-pairing wines.

At picturesque Lark Hill
Me with Dave (left) and Chris Carpenter in front of the Gruner Veltliner vines at Lark Hill

Lerida Estate also has a homely and cosy café where you can kick back and take in the sweeping views. Owned and established by husband and wife team Jim Lumbers and Anne Caine in 1997, the pair have a commitment to developing the finest pinot noir possible. Indeed their flagship pinot noir, the Josephine, is named after Anne herself – Josephine being her first name. The winery also plays host to a number of events and festivals throughout the year and with Anne being a mad-keen baker, the cakes are so worth a nibble for any self-respecting sweet tooth.

Mount Majura wines

Newly opened cellar door at Four Winds Vineyard is also worth a visit – with a wood-fired pizza oven, room for the kids to run wild and sustainable design elements, it’s a relaxing spot to try winemakers Bill and Jaime Crowe’s riesling and sangiovese (among others) – and they whip up a pretty decent coffee too. In November, they were awarded winners of the Visitor Experience Award at the Canberra and Capital Region Tourism Awards.

Also worth the visit for its wines Mount Majura,  where you can try their 100 per cent Estate made wines by Frank van de Loo  - go for the Silurian Sparkling, riesling, TSG, shiraz or the wine on which they’ve built a firm reputation, their tempranillo.

For more information or to plan your visit, head to Canberra District Wine. 

For a full gallery of images from my visit too, view the album here.

Tolpuddle: an exciting new Tassie wine label

By Lisa Johnston

I am sure that we have all experienced it! That purchase made at that moment of compulsive insanity that ends up leading to something brilliant. For most of us, it is something relatively small, in Shaw + Smith founder Michael Hill Smith’s case, it was a vineyard that has an incredible history and happens to produce stunning wine.

The story goes that Shaw + Smith’s Hill Smith went to Launceston on Saint Valentine’s Day, apparently with no intention of buying a vineyard.  While at dinner, winemaker Andrew Pirie brought out his computer and the conversation turned to soil, climate and the best vineyard sites in Tasmania.

It must be said that this is one of those arsey pickups. Tolpuddle Vineyard was the third vineyard to be seen that trip and was not for sale. The team just wanted to see this acclaimed vineyard along with some of the others in the area, to kick the dirt and gain some insight into the wines and how the vineyards sit in the cool gentle landscape that is Tasmania. A landscape that at first glance is not so dissimilar to Shaw + Smith’s stomping grounds in the Adelaide Hills.

At the time, Tolpuddle was owned by Tony Jordon, Gary Crittenden and the Casimaty family, who planted it in 1988. It is a vineyard with great pedigree having been included in many great sparklings such as Arras and Heemskerk and was recognised in 2006 as the winner of the inaugural Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania’s Vineyard of the Year Award.

Whilst the name sounds like it has been romantically plucked out of a Tolkien classic, the history of Tolpuddle Vineyard is perhaps more interesting and definitely more grounded. The vineyard’s roots are intrinsically entwined with the fate of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. The Martyrs were sent to Tasmania as convicts after being found guilty of swearing oaths to each other to form a ‘friendly society’ to campaign for better wages for agricultural workers in Dorset in the South of England.  The leader of the Tolpuddle Martyrs was George Loveless who, it has been reported, worked on the property where tolpuddle is planted during his incarceration.

The newly released wines have been bottled to stand alone under the Tolpuddle Vineyard label rather than under the umbrella of the Shaw + Smith brand.  According to Global Sales and Marketing Manager, David Lemire, they ‘wanted to maintain the integrity of the dirt.  The fruit backs up their belief in the quality of the site.’

Shaw + Smith has become well known for having a tight varietal focus which has allowed them to produce some of Australia’s most elegant examples of chardonnay, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and shiraz, all sourced from their Adelaide Hills vineyards. By producing only chardonnay and pinot noir from the Tolpuddle Vineyards, the team has continued this focus in the midst of the growing popularity of other varietals from neighbouring Coal River region wineries such as Domaine A’s and Clemens Hill’s sauvignon blancs and Frogmore Creek’s extensive range which includes several styles of riesling.

Global Sales and Marketing Manager at Shaw + Smith, David Lemire,

The Tolpuddle Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 ($65) has a citrus and stonefruit elegance that captures the imagination with its fresh pure Tasmanian fruit acid line filled out with judicious oak to give it a soft creaminess.  Some age will flesh out the wine some more.  Equally as fresh is the Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 ($75). Perfumed with raspberry and thyme, the vibrance of the fruit has been calmed with spicy vanilla on the finish. It is good drinking now and over time the complexity of this pinot will continue to unfurl if you wish to hold on it a few bottles.

‘Tasmanian wine is coming of age,’ as Lemire tells it, ‘there is a sense of intensity but not bigness.’ To listen to Michael Hill Smith, ‘These wines are more brooding in essence.’ Making wines from Tasmania that have fruit purity is not the challenge – making wines with purity and ‘X-factor’ apparently is.

Well, if this is the case, this double act is a sure bet to get across the board red ‘Xs’ in the grand final.


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