Macho Gaucho Torrentés 2013

Macho Gaucho TorrentesArgentina is the world’s fifth largest wine producing country and has a proud history of viticulture since the Spanish colonisation and the influence of Christian missionaries in the Sixteenth Century.  And it’s the Mendoza region in the foothills of the Andes ranges which is the local industry driver, with over 144,000 hectares under vine and accounting for about two-thirds of the nation’s total wine production.

I’ve always enjoyed Argentinian reds like their Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, but from time to time, white varietals like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc reach our shores.

An interesting Argentinian variety is the white fleshed Torrentés grape that is growing in popularity, especially in the United States.

The Macho Gaucho Torrentés 2013 is available in some of our major retailers (let’s not name them!) and is light (almost to the point of translucence) in the glass and a very lively style.  The floral scent of a bunch of muscat table grapes hits the nose with the power of Epsom smelling salts, but there’s a more subdued fruit medley of stone fruit and citrus when the wine first crosses the palate.  Through the middle, the peach characters become slightly overripe, but the finish is well balanced and has enough acid to provide a crispness consistent with its dry style.

The only downside is that there is perhaps a slightly decaying pineapple or peach taint as the wine lingers on the finale which detracts somewhat from the good work done by the vivacious fruit at the front, but put it with food and you’ll probably never notice.It’s still a drinkable style by any standard and if you’re the adventurous type, the $17 price point makes for an inexpensive experiment.

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

LEAF DROPPING TREES HAVE TO GO

TreeA stand of eucalyptus trees in Kuluin on the Sunshine Coast recently faced the axe as a result of a decision by QCAT in November last year.  The trees were situated on a suburban block of land in Fremantle Place at Kuluin on a property which adjoined three residential properties whose owners claimed to be unreasonably impacted on by the eucalypts which not only dropped leaves, but blocked natural sunlight.

In handing down his decision, QCAT Member McLean Williams was required to apply the provisions of the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011 which gives the Tribunal power to order pruning or removal of a tree where it causes substantial, ongoing and unreasonable interference with the neighbour’s use and enjoyment of their land.  It was found that the eucalypt trees did, in fact, cause unreasonable interference to all three complaining neighbours and ordered that ten out of the thirteen trees be reduced or removed.  The Tribunal had received evidence from the neighbours to the effect that the trees constantly caused the accumulation of leaf litter in their swimming pool, littered their outdoor entertaining area and filled their roof gutters with leaves.  For one of the neighbours, the trees also caused severe shading which made the installation of solar panels on the roof of their house, unviable.

The decision is in some respects surprising given that for at least some of the trees, the independent arborist appointed by QCAT had recommended severe pruning rather than removal but the presiding Member went so far as to order that they be cut down completely.

No doubt readers will have differing opinions as to the merit of the decision and whether trees should be preserved at any cost, but it could be suggested that one’s home is no longer one’s castle when a local tribunal can tell you to cut down your trees lest a neighbour suffer some leaf litter or shade!

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

La Cuvee du Chat 2013

La Cuvee du ChatIn these warm summer months, many of us red wine lovers struggle to sit on a savvie or a chardonnay, but instead look for the lighter, lower alcohol styles that can be served slightly chilled and with a wide range of cuisine.  And while Pinot Noir and even Rosé prove popular at this time of year, the more adventurous wine consumer often looks abroad for styles that suit our Aussie climate, but still tittilate the taste buds and stimulate the senses.  Like Beaujolais.

It’s a French Appellation (AOC) found just to the north of Lyon and loosely, is a part of the Burgundy region.  The Gamay grapes that are primarily used in its creation have only a very thin skin meaning that it exerts much less tannin and makes it lighter colour in the glass and rather undemanding on the palate.

If you like a youthful light red with a bit of oak exposure then the La Cuvee du Chat 2013 may be your soul mate.  It’s a light and lively colour in the glass and smells of rose petal and maraschino cherry on the nose.  If you’re patient enough to allow it time to develop in the bottle or the glass, there are some soft savoury raspberry characters on the mid palate that meet a hint of cocoa and marmalade and some soft tannins on the finish.  Like most French wines, the front is restrained but very proper, and will appeal to those who prefer organic farming practices.

The La Cuvee du Chat is not widely available in Queensland, but the lighter red like Beaujolais is absolutely in season and you’ll find a large range on the shelves of most of our major retailers.

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

EMPLOYER LIABILITY FOR SOCIAL MEDIA BULLYING

BullyingIt is well established under Australian Law that an employer can be “vicariously” liable for the mis-deeds of their employees whilst they are performing work in the course of their employment.  And it is also well established that an employer can be legally liable for workplace bullying and harassment where the conduct of an employee is a deliberate course of conduct designed to ridicule, hurt or harm another employee.  But with the advent of social media, the Law has had to develop on a case by case basis in determining whether an employer can also be liable for social media posts made by their employees outside of working hours.

Recently, the Fair Work Commission was called upon to decide this issue in a long running case involving allegations of bullying against some employees of DP World Melbourne Limited.  The particular employees alleged that they had been subjected to bullying conduct which included allegedly offensive posts being made on Facebook.  Those posts had not been made during the working day but out of hours and were in relation to “work” issues.   In handing down its decision, Fair Work Australia has confirmed that for the purposes of the anti-bullying legislation, the term “at work” simply means “whilst performing work”; irrespective of whether it occurs in the workplace or during work hours.

Consequently, it was found that conduct that occurs in the course of an employee’s personal life can expose the employer to being liable for a breach of anti-bullying legislation, if the employee making the post was “performing” work at the time. The DP World Melbourne case has not been finally decided, but it will no doubt be watched with great interest by employers and employees alike.

This development of the Law is perhaps, unsurprising, but has reinforced the need for all employers to craft anti-bullying and harassment policies which also prohibit offensive conduct outside of work hours where there is any connection at all to their place of employment.

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

WORKPLACE POLICIES REQUIRE CONSISTENCY IN APPLICATION

Using Mobile at WorkThe majority of sophisticated workplaces have documented policies with respect to everything from safety issues, to human resources, discrimination and harassment and even use of social media, but if the goal is to protect from any prospect of being exposed to legal liability, then employers need to be aware that the policy itself is only half the battle.

Once a policy is documented and established, an employer has an obligation to instruct and train all staff with respect to the policies and to then ensure that it is implemented in a fair and even handed way.  If the employer fails to do so, then the employer can still be exposed to the risk of litigation.

A good example can be found in the recent case of some employees of BHP who were sacked for using mobile phones at work.  BHP had a Mobile Electronic Device Procedure which precluded mobile phones in the workplace.  When two of BHP’s operators at the Goonyella Riverside Mine were found to have breached the policy, their employment was terminated immediately.  One of the employees gave himself up by posting on Facebook from his mobile device during work hours whilst the other was discovered to have his phone in a work vehicle he was in.

When both workers applied to the Fair Work Commission, their employment was ultimately reinstated because it was found by Commissioner Paul Spencer that BHP had not properly trained workers in the mobile ban, impressed on them the “zero tolerance” nature of the policy, and had not given the employees a chance to respond to the misconduct allegations.  Commissioner Spencer found that the policy had been applied inconsistently as other employees who had been found to have breached the policy had not had their employment terminated.  The Commissioner accepted that the policy was a reasonable one and was justified for safety reasons and found that the reason for dismissal was valid but nonetheless, ordered reinstatement because of these shortcomings in BHP’s application of the policy.

Whilst decisions like this might seem somewhat harsh from the employer’s perspective, the message from the Fair Work Commission seems rather simple; fairness to all requires consistency in the application of policies and all staff need to know exactly where they stand.

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

 

Zonin Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2010

Amarone della ValpolicellaMaybe it was the cheap Chianti cloaked in a straw basket that we drank in the ‘90s that gave me such a poor first impression of Italian wines, but having recently tried some of their modern day reds, I am glad I gave their viticulture a second chance!

Where the old style Chianti was very dry, loaded with tannin and often bereft of flavour, modern Italian winemakers are experimenting with different blends and new techniques and are having tremendous success.  Take for example the Amarone della ValpolicellaIt’s a style developed in the Veneto region in North-Eastern Italy and is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes.  None of these three amigos is capable of providing much body to the wine or any degree of intensity of fruit flavours: so local winemakers developed a trick of drying their grapes after harvest to remove water, concentrate sugars and flavours and give some real depth to the end product.

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 resulting Amarone wines are high in alcohol and muscular  yet still mouth caressing and while maintaining a balanced tannin environment.

Some good Amarone can be extremely expensive at as much as $300.00 to $400.00 a bottle, but others, like the Zonin Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2010 is available locally at around $50 a bottle.  The cuvee is 60% Corvina, 35% Rondinella and 5% Molinara and hails from the Valpolicella region of Veneto.   It’s a deep red colour in the glass but displays a Christmas cake of rich fruit flavours right across the palate and gives a really nice mouthfeel, perhaps because of its near 15% alcohol content.  Best of all is the seamless passage of the opulent fruit characters as they march like raisin soldiers across your mouth, before lingering like a sweet perfume until the next sip is taken.

I fear this may become my new favourite style, but thankfully, there are a few less expensive examples of the Amarone wines that hit Australian shores from time to time.

Leaving Children in Hot Cars

Child in carAmbulance services in Victoria have said that more than 200 children have been locked in cars since the beginning of the year.

Victorians can face penalties of up to “six months in jail and fines of almost $3,700 if caught intentionally leaving children under the age of 12 unattended in a car”.

The Ambulance services said they are frustrated that the message isn’t getting through to people that it is dangerous and “gambling with their children’s lives”.

In 2014, Victorian paramedics rescued over 1,100 children from being locked in cars. Testing has proved that on a 29 degree day, the temperature inside a car would hit 44 degrees in 10minutes and up to 60 degrees in 20minutes.

Ambulance services are warning parents not to take the risks and to not leave their children alone in the car.

Trade marking foreign words in Australia

shutterstock_81193486Trade mark registering a business name in Australia containing a foreign word in should now be easier with the recent decision made by the High Court in Cantarella Bros Pty Limited v Modena Trading Pty Limited. The concerning trademarks were “ORO” and “CINQUE STELLE” which mean “gold” and “five stars” respectively in English.

However, the High Court has said that the registering of any trademark with a foreign word must be assessed in the same way as any other English word, “namely by examining whether the word will convey a “tangible” meaning to anyone in Australia and the “ordinary significance” of that word to anyone who will encounter the goods in Australia.”

Extended Warranties and Misleading Representation

shutterstock_115808962Fisher & Paykel Customer Services Pty Ltd (Fisher & Paykel) and Domestic & General Services Pty Ltd (Domestic & General) have both been hit with a $200,000 penalty after misleading their customers into believing that their products won’t be protected against repair costs after the warranty expires.

The following was part of a statement that was included in the letter sent to customers who had purchased one of the Fisher & Paykel Products:

“Your Fisher & Paykel [appliance] is now a year old, which means that you have 12 months remaining – after that your appliance won’t be protected against repair costs.”

Justice Wigney held “that the letters contained a false or misleading representation to consumers that they would not be protected against repair costs for their appliance after a period of two years from the date of purchase (being the period of the manufacturer’s warranty), unless they purchased the extended warranty. In fact, under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) consumers may be protected beyond the manufacturer’s warranty period without the purchase of an extended warranty.”