Seppelt Jaluka Chardonnay 2011

JalukaChardonnay_mainThe Henty region in Victoria is just about the most “southern” viticultural area of mainland Australia and perhaps unsurprisingly, is producing some of the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that our sunburnt country has to offer.

And if you’re a Chardy freak like me, you’ll be pleased to hear that the outstanding 2011 Jaluka Chardonnay is not only on the shelves, but is visiting the Seppelt display at the Noosa Food and Wine Festival on 16 and 17 May.

Sourced entirely from Seppelt’s vineyards in the Henty District, the Jaluka is a delicate and understated style that will appeal to connoisseurs and tipplers alike.  It’s a pale colour with a greenish edge in the glass which tends to create an expectation of juvenile liveliness, but the meringue and lemon zest characters that reveal themselves on the nose are perhaps more subdued on the front palate than you’d expect for a wine with such a youthful appearance.

But as the wine develops across the palate, characters of citrus blossom and loquat open up and deliver a cascade of ripe lime and Granny Smith apple flavours corralled by hazelnut oakiness on the finish.  The beauty of the cool climate influence is the crisp minerality that balances the wine’s natural creamy texture and allows a lingering cleanliness to prevail until the next sip is taken.  And with wines of this quality, my next sip is never far away – especially when the Jaluka retails at only around $25 a bottle.

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

Nepenthe Pinot Gris 2014

Nepenthe Pinot Gris 2014Delicate entrées with subdued flavours are a wonderful prelude to a full bodied main, but can present a real dilemma for the dinner party host in choosing a suitably understated white wine to be its partner.  After all, an aromatic Sauvignon Blanc would be too fruit driven and sweet, and a texturally chewy Viognier too heavy or oily to allow the dish to be the star of the show.  And a wooded or creamy Chardy just wouldn’t cut the mustard where seafood or salads are the order of the day.

But the adventurous bon vivant need not be concerned, as the perfect partner for the daintiest of dishes comes from the Adelaide Hills:  the Nepenthe Pinot Gris 2014.

Despite the pale yellow colour of the wine in the glass, the nose is only slightly honeysuckled, but the unmistakable scent of summer is intoxicating.  And while there is ample stone fruit and peach characters across the palate, the natural acidity and the quality of the fruit from this dry vintage result in a crisp, dry finish with enough zing to keep the taste buds entertained.

The winemaker, Alex Trescowthick, has (rather cleverly) allowed a portion of the fruit to ferment in used French oak barriques, giving some weight to the middle and texture at the back end.

At only $15 to $20 a bottle, it’s an underpriced example of an understated style.

Nepenthe “The Good Doctor” Pinot Noir 2012

Nepenthe Pinot Noir 2012I’ve always maintained that good Pinot isn’t cheap and that cheap Pinot isn’t good, but having recently tried the Nepenthe “The Good Doctor” Pinot Noir 2012, I might have to adjust my mantle!

It’s not your classically lean and elegant Burgundian style or the highly cherried and aromatic type that emanate from regions like Central Otago or Marlborough across the ditch, but at its $20 price point you wouldn’t exchange four or five of these for one of those highly priced French blue bloods!  And it may not tick all of the good Judges’ boxes, but to my palate, the ripeness of the fruit is a welcome surprise.  On the nose there’s stewed rhubarb and a hint of strawberry but across the palate there are juicy figs and a woody, if not slightly musky edge.

But for me, the real appeal of the wine is the finish where strawberries meet sarsaparilla with a savoury herbaceous undercurrent.  It might not be a sophisticated or suave example of the Pinot style, but it is eminently drinkable at the $20 price point.  Don’t let the wine snobs talk you out of it!

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

Urlar Pinot Gris 2013

Urlar Pinot Gris Certified OrganicNot to be confused with its Queensland namesake, Gladstone, at the southern end of New Zealand’s North Island, is quickly developing a reputation as a reliable producer of high quality and richly concentrated wines.  The Pinot from the area is world class, but it was one of their Pinot Gris that caught the attention of my taste buds at this year’s Noosa Food and Wine Festival.

The Urlar Pinot Gris 2013 hails from a vineyard that is committed to organic and biodynamic practices.  It’s a dry style of white blessed with an attractive creamy mouthfeel that belies its technically acidic backbone.

There is a hint of kiwifruit and guava on the nose but an abundance of nectarine, peach and pear flavours across the palate.  And while the fruit is aromatic and attractive, it’s the texture and weight that give the Urlar its rock star appeal.  The time spent on lees pays big dividends and produces a mouth filling if not  voluptuous complexity. It’s somewhat understated but a hint of French oak becomes evident on the edges and provides balance through the finish.  It’s not the lean style of Pinot Gris that we see so often amongst French styles (or, for that matter, the Italian Pinot Grigio), and would be perfectly suited to Sichuan quail or even pork belly and apple sauce.  It might be hard to find at the major outlets but you can certainly get it from Salty Dog Cellars for around $26.00. It’s well worth the trip!

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

2013 Pepperjack Porterhouse Graded Shiraz

PepperjackAn hour from Adelaide and with a population of less than 700, you’d hardly expect Langhorne Creek to be the epicenter of epicurean and viticultural excellence, but I have to admit to being just a little surprised at the sophistication and style of some of the town’s Shiraz and Cabernet wines.  Far from being jam in a bottle, the local reds are complex and austere, yet true to their varietal expression of ripe, sweet, dark fruits.

And if you’re prepared to take a slightly more expensive step above the Saltram Pepperjack Shiraz ($24 a bottle), the 2013 Pepperjack Porterhouse Graded Shiraz is worthy of the finest cut of rib eye your butcher can supply.

It’s a vibrant purple plum colour in the glass which gives an impression of youthfulness, but the ripe berries that appear on the nose become distinguished preserved fruits on the palate, nicely supported by chalky tannins and a web of oak characters.  There’s an air of austerity about the wine which suggests that it will only improve with time in the cellar, though I doubt this one will last long in my house!

Best of all is the wine’s length of finish as the balance of minerality and acidity allow the seamless passage of dark fruit flavours across the back palate and into your next sip.

At the $45 plus price point, it’s a special occasion proposition, but its style, versatility and quality mean that the price tag is unlikely to be a bridge too far.

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

ADAPTING TO THE CHANGING WORKFORCE IN AUSTRALIA

CommunicationRecently I have been involved in two common law legal cases relating to migrant workers being injured in their workplace while working in Australia.

Relevant in both of these cases was the fact that both injured workers did not speak English and despite this the workers had only been provided general workplace policies and procedures and OHS material from their employer in booklets written in English only.

Since 1945 the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Australia has facilitated the permanent migration of more than 7 million people from overseas to live in Australia.  Statistics from the Department also show that today, approximately one in four of Australia’s population of more than 22 million people were born overseas.  The percentage of workers in Australia that either cannot speak English or have limited English speaking skills is likely to increase in the future.

Recent studies conducted in the United Kingdom  by the Trades Union Congress show that migrant workers – mostly employed in the agricultural, cleaning, construction, health care, IT and manufacturing sectors, received only basic training, such as short induction sessions, while about a third received no training at all.

The same study found that workers from overseas were likely to work when ill, often more than 60 hours a week, were likely to hide any differences they have with English for fear of losing work and were often harassed or racially vilified by supervisors or co-workers.

Employers have a unique opportunity hiring workers from non-English speaking countries who are often extremely talented, have great work ethics and can be a valuable addition to any workplace.

In doing so, employers have a duty to be aware of any language and related cultural barriers that might impact on workplace communications and take adequate steps to address them to avoid problems in the workplace and, importantly, workplace injuries.

Employers must ensure that they take into consideration the need to ensure that such a worker is appropriately inducted into the workplace.  Employers need to consider ways of ensuring employees are informed and trained, responding to the specific needs of migrant workers to ensure that they are trained in ways that are not a simple tick and flick process but the adoption of non-verbal methods of training such as demonstrations, picture guides and pictorial signs.

Employers should also consider having documents translated into the relevant languages in their workplace, and also think about offering cultural training to make certain their existing managers and staff are equipped to manage multi-cultural teams.

Taking the time to consider the workplace health and safety of migrant workers to ensure that appropriate protocols are put in place to protect their interests will make the workplace safer, make employees safer and put employers in much stronger positions in cases where there are accidents and investigations and or legal actions are undertaken.

Peta Yujnovich
Senior Associate
Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, Part of the Slater & Gordon Group
Ph: (07) 5413 8900
Fax: (07) 5413 8958