Gibbston Valley Pinot Gris 2012

Gibbston Valley Pinot GrisThe strength of pinot noir from New Zealand’s Central Otago region inevitably makes it difficult for other varietals to compete for the limelight. And while pinot gris may generally be a poor cousin to its headline grabbling sibling, it is a style that generally grows well in the cooler climate yet somewhat ironically, is perfectly suited to drinking in our subtropical Queensland summer!

Gibbston Valley’s winemaker, Christopher Keys, does a pretty good job with his pinot gris offerings. His 2012 Gibbston Valley Pinot Gris has hit the shelves and is at least as good as the 2011 vintage. Like vintages past it’s still typically rosewater scented on the nose with abundant ripe lychees and an understated spiciness across the mouth. There’s a fair bit of weight whilst the wine is on the palate, but when coupled with an almost chewy texture and ample acidity, enables it to be served well chilled without losing its character. There is only moderate residual sugar so it should drink well whether it is on its own, or is paired with spicy Asian dishes. The length and persistence of the finish is remarkable.

At around 14.5%, it might be slightly higher in alcohol than the white wines we generally see from across the ditch, but at a sub $25 price point, is well worth searching for if a summer tipple is on the agenda.

Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is a practice group leader of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, part of the Slater and Gordon group, and lover of fine food and wine

SUPER FUND INSURANCE DOWNGRADE

InsuranceMembers of superannuation funds have generally enjoyed access to very good value Total and Permanent Disability Insurance (TPD) and death cover, through their industry super fund.  But that may be a thing of the past given the recent downgrading of the TPD definition that has been introduced from 1 November by Australian Super.

Australian Super is the country’s biggest industry super fund and have recently changed their definition of “Total and Permanent Disability” which will now require that a member demonstrate that they are not only unable to return to work in their usual job but must now also prove that there is no other job that they can do after undertaking further education, training or gaining further experience.  The effect is significant because not only will it be necessary for a fund member to prove that they cannot do a job that they’ve done all their life, but that they can’t retrain or be re-educated into any new role, even if it is something they’ve never done before or is in a vocation in which there might not be any jobs available.

It is a double whammy for insurance fund members who have seen a 75% insurance premium increase in March 2014 and this rise was not the first for members who took out insurance.

Analysing life and TPD policies and comparing premiums is not something that Australian workers have generally bothered with.  But the significant downgrading of the value of policies attached to superannuation, means that it is now time for all Australians to begin to take far greater interest in what insurance they have and when it can be accessed because otherwise, we could be paying good premiums for insurance of little value.  There may very well be far better options there for each of us, if only we take the time to look!

Travis Schultz
Practice Group Leader
Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, Part of the Slater & Gordon Group
Ph: (07) 5413 8900
Fax: (07) 5413 8958

Seppelt Drumborg Chardonnay 2013

Drumborg Chard 2013 MainCool climate Chardonnay can be a bit hit and miss, but when it’s good, it’s generally really very good!  And it seems that the Northern Grampians region of Victoria have had another stellar year in 2013, at least, in so far as growing conditions are concerned.

The Seppelt Drumborg Chardonnay was exceptional in 2012 and their latest 2013 release is also very good.  There are cashews and lemon meringue aromas on the nose but more restrained sweetly scented woodbine flavours as the palate is engaged.  Perhaps most striking is the flinty acid backbone which the wine is developed on.  The lean body and zippy mouthfeel make the Drumborg a lively yet elegant style of white that will be equally at home served with a Thai prawn salad or just poured on its own.

I really respect the winemaker’s craftiness in giving it the Goldilocks oak exposure – not too much to blow away the fruit, but just enough to give it finesse.  It’s just right.

The Drumborg sells at around $39 a bottle and is best served only lightly chilled so that the quality of fruit and its balance and finesse can be truly appreciated.

Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is a practice group leader of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, part of the Slater and Gordon group, and lover of fine food and wine

THE WORM TURNS IN THE ADVERTISING SECTOR?

advertising

As one year ends and another begins, it’s often a time for reflection.  For those of us in business, it’s a time to refocus our business plans and budgets for the year ahead;  And not least of all, in the budget setting process is the allocation of advertising spent.

It’s been interesting to see that over the last year, print media has actually ended the previous decline in circulation and has seen some small upward trend in circulation volumes.  But perhaps most significantly of all was the fact that online advertising has overtaken TV as the largest advertising category (by spend) in Australia, now accounting for 34.2% of advertising expenditure (compared to TV which now has only 31.7% of the advertising market).

As consumers’ behaviours change, so must business shift its marketing focus.  Those businesses operating in the media sector need to find ways to reinvent themselves or they will very quickly find that their business has about as much life left in it as that woolly mammoth they found in a Siberian ice tomb a couple of years ago!

But with the proliferation of websites in hundreds of thousands of categories, I wonder how advertisers are going to see the online value proposition in the longer term.  At present, search and directory engines online account for about 52% of online revenue whilst general display ads account for about 29% of expenditure and classifieds about 19%.  When there are so many websites for consumers to use, how are advertisers to decide which sites do, and which do not provide value for money.  Where the results are measurable (such as search engines and the like), the value proposition is perhaps more easily understood.  But with display advertising on social media sites, industry sites, media web pages and the like, it will be interesting to see how advertisers view the value proposition in the future, even with targeted advertising through the placement of cookies and data recording.  The value proposition becomes even more vexed with the advent of tools like ‘AdBlocker’ that can now make websites ad free!  Even worse for advertisers is the development of applications like the browser plugin called ‘Adnauseam’ which clicks every blocked ad costing the advertiser even though you don’t see it!

There is always going to be a limit as to what business can afford to spend on advertising and marketing and that has always created competitive tensions between the various forms of media.  With the proliferation of online advertising opportunities and the corresponding dilution of traffic, I can’t help but wonder if over the next couple of years we are going to see a drift back to more traditional forms of media, and a resurgence in popularity of print, TV and outdoor?

Travis Schultz
Practice Group Leader
Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, Part of the Slater & Gordon Group
Ph: (07) 5413 8900
Fax: (07) 5413 8958

FARMER’S FUED AND A FINDING OF NO LIABILITY

Canola FieldThe Supreme Court of Western Australia was recently called upon to consider a rather novel but nonetheless significant claim by a farmer whose organically grown produce was devalued because of the way in which an adjoining farmer harvested their crop.

The scene for the dispute was Kojonup in Western Australia in an area which is about 256 kms to the south-east of Perth.  The Plaintiffs, Mr and Mrs Marsh, conducted an organic farming business where they grew organic cereal crops and sheep.  They held organic status certification pursuant to a private contract with the National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia (Limited) (NASAA).  Their adjoining neighbour was also a career farmer who grew canola crops.  In recent years he had begun growing genetically modified canola, which had become a legal practice and which was done on the advice of a local agronomist.  The benefit of growing genetically modified canola was that it could be sprayed with Round-Up so as to kill weeds but not the crop.

The difficulty with the practice, however, was that on the first occasion that the canola was harvested in a particular way, wind caused the genetically modified canola seeds to be blown onto the neighbour’s organic farm and as a result, the contamination meant that the organic farmers lost their certification with NASAA and could no longer sell their produce as being “organically certified”.  The Plaintiffs suffered a loss of about $85,000.00 which was the difference between what they would have achieved as a sale price of their crop if they had certification and what was in fact achieved.

From a legal perspective, the case was novel.  The escaping canola seed caused no physical damage to the neighbour’s property but what is described as “pure economic loss”.

The Plaintiffs, Mr and Mrs Marsh, claimed damages both in negligence and in “private nuisance”.

Ultimately, Justice Martin of the Western Australian Supreme Court dismissed the claim finding that there was no duty of care owed to prevent pure economic loss through harvesting the canola as the Defendant had done, and as he had not acted unreasonably in adopting that practice and was therefore not liable in private nuisance.

The case is significant because it tends to reinforce the principle that a landowner is generally entitled to use their land as they see fit, provided they are not acting unreasonably and that the law is reluctant to impose a duty of care on one person to avoid doing something which might cause a financial loss (without any physical loss) to a neighbour.

The outcome in many ways seems unfair to the organic farmers who were largely unable to protect themselves from their organic farming property being contaminated, but on the other hand, would it be fair to their neighbour to make them pay loss on sale of the neighbour’s crop even though they had simply farmed their property in an appropriate way?

Travis Schultz
Practice Group Leader
Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, Part of the Slater & Gordon Group
Ph: (07) 5413 8900
Fax: (07) 5413 8958

Apple Failed To Trade Mark “APP STORE”

TrademarkApple has failed to trade mark “APP STORE” after the Federal Court rejected its appeal.

Apple has argued saying that when they initially filed the application for the trade mark in 2008 the term “APP STORE” wasn’t a common term used. They also said that they had been using the term before they even filed the application and that was how consumers distinguished that it was an Apple service.

However, the Court has come back saying that the term “APP STORE” is really only an “expression to describe a store” where customers can use the service. The court has also said that the words were only put to use 8 days before the initial application therefore there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that “APP STORE” in that short amount of time could be distinguished as a Apple’s Service.

Apple still has trade marks for “Appstore” and the logo “Available on the App Store”.

Telstra Found To Be Misleading Consumers

MisinformationA penalty of $102,000 has been paid by Telstra Corporation Limited (Telstra) after it was issued an infringement notice by the ACCC for misleading its customers with its Iphone 6 advertisement.

Telstra placed an A3 advert in The Age newspaper back in September predominately promoting one of its Iphone 6 phone bundles for $70 p/month. However, the phone also had a monthly handset payment of $11 which equates to $81 p/month and was only disclosed in the very fine print of the ad.

The ACCC found that the phone and phone plan bundle price was misrepresented in the advertisement to customers.

“Consumers should be able to understand the true cost of an advertised product so they can make informed purchasing decisions,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“Businesses must be careful about using attention grabbing headline prices to ensure that their advertisements do not mislead consumers about the actual price they will have to pay. This is especially the case for bundled goods and services like phones and plans,” Mr Sims said.

“Advertising that is clear allows consumers to make informed purchasing decisions and improves competition as it gives other businesses the opportunity to compete fairly.”

Shadowy Palms No Cause For Removal

Palm TreesSince the introduction of the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has been overwhelmed with applications by feuding neighbours seeking the removal or reduction of trees and shrubs on their neighbour’s properties.

Recently, QCAT member Professor Ashman has been called upon to adjudicate in an application brought by one neighbour in a south Brisbane suburb who sought an order requiring his adjoining owner to remove some palm trees because they cast “annoying shadows over his patio”.

The trees in question were only about 8 metres high and comprised 4 Alexandra palms and a Bangalow palm. Professor Ashman accepted evidence of an arborist that the trees were in good condition and unlikely to fall over in severe weather events or cause damage. What was more troubling however was the argument raised that the presence of the palms trees obstructed natural sunlight and therefore unreasonably interfered with the Applicant’s enjoyment of their patio.

In what is perhaps good news for Queensland’s tree population, Professor Ashman found that palm trees of this type are common in Brisbane’s subtropical climate and that the destruction of trees could not be justified by shadows of this type – even in winter.

I guess it will always depend on your own personal perspective, but in my view, we would live in a rather desolate environment if every tree that dropped a leaf, lost a branch or cast a shadow was cut down lest a neighbour suffer a little inconvenience!

Tempus Two Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Tempus Two Cab SavI was first struck by the sophistication of Tempus Two when I visited their cellar door in the Hunter Valley many years ago.  Their pewter and copper labels on a range of bottles were as innovative then as they are stylish now.  And I doubt you’d find a more impressive winery in the region!

Their business plan is commendable.  Rather than sourcing their fruit from local vineyards alone, the clever folk at Tempus Two make single region wines from areas that a particular grape does best, rather than trying to make a wine of every style from their vineyards near the winery.

Once such example is the pewter label Cabernet Sauvignon which is made from fruit grown in their Coonawarra vineyards.  The 2012 vintage is perhaps not quite as luxurious as previous releases but has more poise and balance than the cast of the Australian Ballet Company and as much elegance as Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

There’s a dusty licorice aroma on the nose with a slightly minty edge, and herbaceous blackcurrant and tobacco flavours across the palate. I wouldn’t say that it’s bold or full bodied, but what is outstanding is its balance.  The finish is near perfect, perhaps thanks to the influence of 15 months spent in French Oak barriques, and the delicious plumb characters linger and linger until you just can’t resist taking another sip.

The Tempus Two Cabernet is perhaps only moderate value at around $30 a bottle, but well worth a look if not just to be awestruck by the impressive labels and the wine’s incredible balance and persistence.

Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is a practice group leader of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, part of the Slater and Gordon group, and lover of fine food and wine

Online Data Breach – Are you at risk of being hacked?

SecurityIt really goes to show that no matter what company you are and how much money you have to spend on security for protecting your data, hackers will still find their way in somehow.

The recent case of Sony Pictures being hacked really tells us that hackers will try everything possible to gain access to the largest of companies and spill confidential information. At this stage Sony still doesn’t know who has hacked their system and the FBI are trying to find them.

There have been large amounts of personal information including celebrity salaries, interviews and email trails leaked to the public. Other information such as celebrity contact details, budget for films and more.

This is a very severer breach of security and is a reminder to everyone to update your computer and business online security data systems and passwords.