Fraser Gallop Estate 2010 Parterre Cabernet Sauvignon

By Travis Schultz

The Margaret River region, 3 hours south of Perth, is undoubtedly among the best Cabernet Sauvignon producing regions in Australia, and possibly the world.  And while it’s the big names like Vasse Felix and Cape Mentelle that attract the eye of the consumer and collector alike, there are some lesser known producers making world class Cabernet that I’m sure is soon to be discovered by the wine drinking public.

Situated at Wilyabrup, the team at Fraser Gallop have slowly but steadily been building a name for their wines since their first vintage in 2002.  I really like their Chardonnay, but the Cabernet Sauvignon is an absolute standout.  Made in the Bordeaux style, the winemakers Clive Otto and Kate Morgan have blended a small amount (13%) of Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Franc with their Cabernet to produce a wine of great elegance and finesse.

You’d have to call it a medium bodied wine, but the blackcurrant fruits are lively and strong although tempered by the spicy cloves and fine French oak tannins that give longevity to the palate.  But the real beauty of the wine is its near perfect balance and structure that has you reaching for the glass just seconds after you’ve put it down.

It’s not surprising that James Halliday gave this one 95 points, and at $35 a bottle, it isn’t fully priced.

To view tasting notes click here.

Meerea Park 2010 “Alexander Munro” Shiraz

 By Travis Schultz

We all have our personal prejudices and, to be honest, mine have been pretty strong when it comes to Hunter Valley reds; after all, the Hunter only produces good Semillon, Verdelho and Chardonnay…doesn’t it?  But then I met the Meerea Park Alexander Munro Shiraz and I have to admit, it was a perception changing experience!

Being the flagship of the Meerea Park operation, you’d expect the fruit that goes into their premium Shiraz to be their best, and the 2010 version doesn’t let the side down.  There’s a touch of the typical Hunter Valley “forest floor” on the otherwise slightly perfumed nose, but the vibrant purple colour of the wine in the glass forecasts a liveliness of fruit at the front.  Although the ripeness of fruit is evident from the outset, there’s none of the overpowering over-ripe if not candied characters that can often be seen in a bold South Australian Shiraz.

The palate is perhaps only medium bodied, but there’s a richness at the back which carries through the creamy rather than tannic oakiness that will support this noble wine as it ages over the next two or three decades.

It’s a keeper for the cellar, but at $70 a bottle, I won’t be quaffing it regularly on a Thursday night!

For tasting notes click here.

David Hook Reserve Barbera 2011

by Travis Schultz

With the climbing mercury and escalating humidity that accompanies the start of the festive season, there’s a natural tendency for many of us to shun the over-ripe, high alcohol, heavy reds that are the staple of our winter hibernation in favour of the lighter food friendly styles that so ably support our traditional summer fare.  And while it’s always tempting to automatically reach for a cool climate Pinot or lightly chilled Rosé, there are taste-bud stimulating alternatives for the vinicultural adventurous.

Take, for example, the David Hook Reserve Barbera 2011.  Made in the true Italian style, this youthful wine is bright in the glass but savoury, that spawned the vines that were the genesis of this wine, rather than raisin-esque on the front.  The soils of the Mount Canobolas Ranges have given the cherry and dried fruit medley flavours a decent head start while the terse acid backbone holds the wine together when the spicy edge of the rose-petal overtones drive their way through the middle and back end of the palate.

The beauty of the David Hook Barbera is the absence of any astringency or oaky taint that sometimes make you chew your value end Italian wine more than the food it accompanies!

At under $30 a bottle, it’s a much cheaper option than a trip to the Italian mezzogiorno.

For tasting notes click here.

Workers entitlements now protected in corporate insolvency

By Travis Schultz

Changes to the tax laws earlier this year, which were aimed to protect workers’ entitlements in a corporate insolvency, are a new concern for the directors of companies that operate unprofitable businesses.

For decades, corporate entities have been used as the vehicle through which many small businesses have been conducted, not only for the obvious tax benefits, but also as a means of personal asset protection.  The recent changes to the legislation that apply from 29 June this year however, mean that directors of companies who become insolvent owing PAYG tax instalments and superannuation guarantee payments to staff, can be made personally liable to make those payments to the ATO.  The new provisions operate by enabling the Australian Taxation Office to issue a “director’s penalty notice” requiring the company to pay an estimate of the PAYG instalments and superannuation guarantee payments and, if the payment is not made within 21 days, to then commence a proceeding to recover those amounts, against both the company and the directors.  In some instances, the ATO can even issue the notice to associates of the directors such as siblings, spouses, parents and children.

Previously, directors who received a notice from the Australian Taxation Office could wind up the company immediately to avoid personal liability for the PAYG and superannuation payments, now the only way to avoid proceedings is by paying the relevant amounts.

While the new laws will certainly go a long way to protecting the interests of both workers and the Australian Taxation Office, they are a very real concern for directors of companies conducting small businesses who will now need to be hyper-vigilant to ensure that PAYG tax and superannuation guarantee payments are always up to date, or risk becoming personally liable for a debt of the corporate entity.

Sevenhill “St Ignatius” 2009

By Travis Schultz

Bordeaux is the largest wine growing region in France and synonymous with dry blends of red wine which has become known as “Claret” in the United Kingdom.  And while Australians have had a longstanding love affair with big bold fruit driven reds, there might be a few converts to the Bordelaise blend if they ever try the Sevenhill “St Ignatius 2009 ($36).

While I admit that the dry, elegant Bordeaux style has rarely “floated my boat”, I’ve had a change of heart since discovering the St Ignatius.  The blend of 56% Cabernet, 20% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 10% Malbec has the hallmark French Oak backbone and balanced sophistication of the traditional “Claret”, but the punch of the Clare Valley fruit and a richness of finish that is rarely seen in a blend of the type.

From the ripe blackcurrants and liquorice at the front, to the bold rum and raisin chocolate in the middle, it’s a wine of great flavour that maintains its integrity throughout and finishes with a cedar spiciness encased in a minty silk cocoon.

The higher than average alcohol (15.5%) probably flatters the mouth feel a little, but this is one seriously good Australian version of an iconic French blend!

There’s no privacy in instantaneous communication!

by Travis Schultz

As Peter Slipper discovered recently, private and personal text messages are not really as “personal and private” as the sender would ordinarily like to think!

Once a text message has been sent, it can generally be retrieved for many years although normally only with a court order or warrant.  And while it was SMS messages that got our former Speaker into hot water due to the recovery of some incriminating content, the same risk applies to any form of instantaneous communication such as email or messaging by social media.

The availability of historical messages and emails varies depending upon the internet service provider (ISP) or telco, however, it is fair to say that some telecommunications companies keep electronic records from the moment that an account is opened.  If the records are retained by the provider, then there is always the potential for them to be recovered at some later point in time.

Whilst this is bad news for those engaged in lewd or criminal activity, it can be a real positive for those in business who wish to protect their commercial interests.  Where contracts are negotiated by email or text message, the scope for dispute is narrowed significantly as a result of there being far less opportunity for argument about what was, and was not said at the time.

From a commercial perspective, there are real advantages to using email or messaging in the course of any negotiations.  Not only are emails less formal and intimidating, but they provide a written record of the transaction, and if used sensibly and tactically, can provide a shield should any dispute arise in the future over contractual terms.

Whilst many of us might resent the fact that personal communications don’t really remain permanently and totally confidential, the application of common sense before hitting the send button is always going to be the best risk management strategy.

Media Release

Tourist wins against car hire company in a landmark case

Friday 16 November 2012

In a decision that is going to have significant ramifications for the car hire industry in Australia, a Brisbane Magistrate has found that East Coast Car Rentals has not only acted unconscionably  in providing worthless insurance to one of its customers, but has also engaged in false and misleading conduct in representing that it offered insurance of great value.  East Coast Car Rentals had refused to pay a claim by a New Zealand tourist who was involved in an accident in Brisbane in 2010 when he inadvertently went through a red light and caused almost $50,000.00 damage to a Mercedes, as well as damaging the hire car.

Mr Bruce Lee and his wife had read on East Coast’s website that ‘the majority of other car rental companies have little or no cover for single vehicle accidents, hail or storm damage or other incidentals which are easily assumed to be covered.  We have the most comprehensive and best value covers available’.  Although the car hire cost only $24.00 per day, the insurance component taken out by Mr and Mrs Lee was $21.00 per day and they assumed that they had bought comprehensive insurance for the duration of the hire.

After Mr Lee found himself in unfamiliar territory in the Brisbane CBD in peak hour traffic and he inadvertently caused an accident, East Coast relied on the fine print of the back of their rental agreement which said that the company would not grant cover if the customer drove without due care or attention or failed to comply with local traffic rules.

Subsequently Mr Lee was sued for the damages to the hire car by East Coast Car Rentals and also by RACQ for the damage to the Mercedes Benz. Both matters were heard together before Magistrate Cull in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Tuesday, 13 November 2012.

When Judgment was handed down on Wednesday, 14 November 2012, Mr Lee was successful in his counter claim against East Coast Car Rentals, and whilst RACQ were successful in their claim against Mr Lee, Magistrate Cull ordered that Mr Lee be indemnified by East Coast Car Rentals.  Magistrate Cull said “It is my view that the offer of the almost worthless damage waiver as comprehensive and best value cover was unconscionable, as well as being false and misleading”.

“East Coast conducts a hire car business.  It has chosen to offer insurance to its customers.  It should honour that offer”.  When making her decision Magistrate Cull stated, “I conclude that in each claim, East Coast is liable to pay for the damage to the cars.”

Mr Lee’s lawyer Mr Travis Schultz from Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers said, “This is a great result not only for Mr Lee, but for any person who hires a car and takes out the expensive insurance generally offered by hire car companies.  People like Mr Lee take out insurance believing they are doing the prudent and sensible thing and with the understanding that should an accident occur they will be covered.”

“This Judgment should go a long way to bringing about changes to the practices of car rental companies who charge exorbitant prices for insurance which actually provide little or no cover at all.  Car rental consumers are the winners from this significant decision and we can only hope that the industry realises that consumer protection legislation needs to be taken seriously”, Mr Schultz said.

East Coast Car Rentals was also ordered to pay Mr Lee’s costs.

End

Media enquiries please contact:

Travis Schultz, Managing Partner at tschultz@stolaw.com.au

Work: 07 5413 8925 Mobile: 0419 441 977

Jennifer Swaine, Marketing Manager at jswaine@stolaw.com.au

Work: 07 5413 8908 Mobile 0438 952 830

Social media for companies is now a minefield

By Travis Schultz

A ruling by the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has found that the same strict rules that apply to corporate advertising, also apply to corporate social media pages, meaning that companies now have a responsibility to carefully monitor the content of their social media sites to comply with all advertising regulations.  The rulings mean that businesses that use social media as part of their marketing strategy, will need to be diligent to ensure that any comments posted by clients, customers or the general public not only comply with advertising standards relating to obscene language, discrimination and false or misleading statements, but also with any industry specific advertising restrictions.

The recent ASB ruling was specifically in relation to Carlton and United’s VB Facebook page, where consumers of their Smirnoff products had posted comments which were found to amount to advertising, but will apply to any other similar business Facebook page.

You can imagine the difficulty for large industry bodies who have enormous followings or “fans” on Facebook.  How does a company with millions of fans who post tens of thousands of comments a week manage content in a timely way?  With the rise in popularity of social media, it is an area in which small business will need to be diligent in developing policies to manage any postings by customers or the public, or otherwise risk finding themselves in hot water with the regulatory authorities.

Shingleback “The Davey Estate” Shiraz 2010

by Travis Schultz

Although Shingleback as a winery has been around since 1995, it was the 2005 vintage of their D Block Cabernet that put them on the viticultural map after winning the Jimmy Watson Trophy in 2006 (for Australia’s best young red wine).

And the award winning style that made a name for their Cabernet has flowed through to their recently released 2010 “The Davey Estate” Shiraz which is medium to full bodied, shows concentrated (but not overripe) fruit and has enough oak and fine tannins to suggest that it will stand the test of time.  The delicious mocha and chocolate aromas that lift the wine at the front somehow seem to forecast the opulence of fruit that drives the middle palate to a veritable fruitcake of flavours at the back end and show just a hint of earthiness at the finish.

At around $25 a bottle, it’s a much better proposition than its price point would suggest.  It’s perfect for your next Barbie and won’t break the budget!

Travis Schultz, is managing partner of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers and lover of fine food and wine

 

Is green off colour?

By Travis Schulz

At both a State and Federal Government level, there have been a number of examples in recent years of schemes and policies that have been implemented to benefit the environment, which have had unfortunate if not embarrassing political outcomes.  Some of these policies of Governments eager to demonstrate their environmental credentials have been flawed from the outset whilst others have encountered difficulties in implementation such that when fiscal belt tightening is required, green initiatives are an easy target for the treasury axe.

The latest victim of budgetary cut backs are the green building tax breaks that were announced in the 2010 Federal Budget.  The scheme provided significant rebates of up to 50% of expenditure on retrofits of existing office buildings, hotels and shopping centres where they resulted in significant energy efficiency improvements.  Industry sources guess that the policy somersault could result in savings of up to $1 billion for the Federal Government who seem hell bent on returning the budget to surplus.

Not only will the removal of these incentives for businesses to achieve an environmentally friendly built environment, disappoint conservationists, but will also place even more pressure on a flailing construction sector in which (at least in South East Queensland) supply dramatically outstrips demand.

Balancing any budget is always just a question of priorities but it seems that at least, for now, the environment is not at the top of the list and being green is perhaps slightly off colour.