T’Gallant Tribute Pinot Gris 2008

T'Gallant (422x487)By Travis Schultz

Pinot Gris is generally a richer and more opulent style than its much leaner Italian Pinot Grigio cousin, which is made using the same grape. And if ever there was a complex and decadent Alsacian style of Pinot Gris, it is the T’Gallant Tribute Pinot Gris 2008.

I really like the dried fruit and herbaceous nose that leads to a luscious front palate reminiscent of peaches coasted in sugar syrup and a lashing of citrus peel. There is a delightful texture that is more chewy than sleek, but which benefits from a lees derived complexity that introduces confectionary and creamy characters along with a hint of honey and nougat at the back.

It is a perfect wine to serve with spicy Asian foods, but also very easily enjoyed as a pre dinner aperitif. Fairly good vale at $25-$30 a bottle, and definitely ready to drink now!

Alyssa Bull is the March winner of the Schultz Toomey O’Brien Student Athlete Awards

Alyssa Bull

Photo courtesy of the Sunshine Coast Daily

Alyssa Bull has been named the monthly winner for March 2013, in the Schultz Toomey O’Brien Student Athlete Awards.  Alyssa is in year 12 at Siena Catholic College and is involved in Surf Lifesaving and kayaking.

Alyssa has been involved in Surf Lifesaving since she was six years old. With a training regime that would frighten many of us she trains six mornings and five afternoons per week.  Her training sessions include swimming, board and ski paddling and kayaking.

Alyssa has just finished competing in the Telstra Ironwoman Series where she won at Noosa. She is also the youngest competitor in the current Ironperson series to have won a round. Adding to all of those titles she has previously won the 15 , 17’s & U19’s Coolangatta Gold events & is the current U17 Australian Board Champion. As a fitting tribute to one so young and talented, Alyssa has been selected as an ambassador for SLSQ.

Alyssa will be competing later this year in the National Kayaking Titles with a goal to qualify for the Australian team to compete in Canada.  She will also take on the Coolangatta Gold in October this year with the aim of standing on the podium once again.

Having a good school supporting her endeavours has been critical in Alyssa’s success and Siena Catholic College is behind her all the way.   They offer varying degrees of support to ensure she stays on top of her school work and also support her at race meets and celebrate and share her outstanding results with the rest of the school community.

Michele Akers, the school Sports Co-ordinator, said “Alyssa is a wonderful role model for her peers as she balances her commitments of training, competing and always completing her school work on time with no excuses. She is a very humble person and always puts other people before herself. “

“She is a Senior Leader at Siena Catholic College and demonstrates, through her actions the importance of being a dedicated member of our school community. An example of this was given just recently when she won the final round of the Ironwoman series but was also able to attend the Yr 12 camp and swam for our school at the District Interschool Swimming Carnival.” Ms Akers said.

Alyssa will be presented with a cheque for $1000 for being the monthly winner of these awards and Siena Catholic College will also be the recipient of $1000 which they can use towards further improving the sporting needs of the school.

Well done Alyssa!

QLD’s Cash Flow Crisis

1-189By Travis Schultz

With the current LNP Queensland Government determined to cut expenses, balance the budget and ultimately, reduce debt, it seems inevitable that Queensland is headed for a cash flow crunch.

In order to balance the books, the State Government relies heavily on revenues it receives from State based taxes, fines and penalties which supplement the income flows that the State receives from the Federal Government.  In the wake of a global financial crisis and subdued economic conditions, statutory bodies have found it more and more difficult to recover outstanding debts, especially within sper (the State Penalties and Enforcement Registry which is charged with the responsibility of collecting fines and penalties) and with respect to land tax.  While the State does have some security in the form of a charge against property where land tax is concerned, a secured debt accruing interest, doesn’t help to pay the bills, especially when the State has self imposed borrowing limits.

If the current government remains committed to not increasing debt, it seems likely that in the near term we will see a far more “hardnosed” approach to collection of debts and taxes, such as the issuing of garnishee notices by the Office of State Revenue to not just your property owners but to their financiers to direct that debts be repaid within time frames as short as 21 days.  The historical policy of leniency by the State in debt collection matters might be reviewed as the coffers become depleted!

For business operators, these State Government cash flow pressures are likely to mean that there will be far less leniency with respect to outstanding taxes and penalties in the future and as a result, budgets and cash flow projections set for the 2013/14 financial year will need to factor in prompt payment of State Government revenues.

Policies on grooming and uniform require caution

hat (640x427)By Travis Schultz

Ever since the Fair Work Commission handed down its decision in the Virgin Airlines case where they were found to have unfairly dismissed an employee, Mr Taleski, who refused to cut his hair, questions have been asked as to whether grooming and uniform policies are actually enforceable.

It is not at all uncommon for large employers to have a pre-determined set of standards as to what is expected and required of their employees in so far as presentation is concerned. After all, in industries such as Airlines, the way in which the cabin staff present themselves reflects very significantly on the impression that customers have of the Airlines. In those circumstances, you would think that it is perfectly acceptable for the employer to have requirements about issues such as hair length, body piercings, visible tattoos and the like.

In the Virgin Airlines case, Commissioner Cribbs found that Virgin had no valid reason for termination of the employee who had claimed that he could not cut his hair due to a medical condition called “Body Dysmorphic Disorder”, This concern about body image was said to be a psychological condition for which he was being treated by a psychologist. The employee had initially claimed that it was religious beliefs that prevented him from cutting his hair to a length that was acceptable to Virgin’s grooming policy but later he produced medical certificates to suggest that it was the psychological condition that precluded him from complying with Virgin’s demands. The employee had offered to even wear a wig when he flew so as to attempt to appease his employer however Virgin’s grooming policy was silent as to whether this was permissible. Evidence was called that another employee of Virgin had been permitted to wear his hair longer than the grooming policy required and it was suggested that Virgin was singling out the applicant, Mr Taleski in terminating him due to his refusal to cut his hair.

While the Virgin case is probably the “high water mark” in the Fair Work Commission’s sympathy towards employees (and is understood to be the subject of an Appeal), I do not think it can be interpreted as meaning that grooming policies are not enforceable. On the contrary, it was never suggested that Virgin’s grooming policy was unreasonable, but rather, Virgin simply had not demonstrated that the employee had failed to comply with reasonable management directions regarding the provision of documentation or that the employee had no intention to comply with the requirements of his role and that they had not afforded him procedural fairness in dismissing him in a premeditated way at a meeting that was called to discuss the issue.

If your business is one which requires staff to interact with the public, then an appropriate policy regarding grooming standards, presentation and attire, will be enforceable but it must be applied consistently to all employees. If an employee is to have their employment terminated due to a failure to comply with that standard, then it is necessary to act reasonably and to open – mindedly consider the individual circumstances that result in a particular employee being unable to comply with the relevant policy.

Loom Crowded Hour Shiraz 2011

Loom Crowded Hour Shirazby Travis Schultz

The “budget” end of the red wine market has become a cluttered space in recent years.  With the ready availability of so called “cleanskins”, online sales, auctions and heavy discounting by the stores owned by the major supermarkets, the Australian consumer is spoilt for choice at the sub $15 price point.  But buying a case of inexpensive red, sight unseen is always a bit of a lottery!

So when the Loom Crowded Hour 2011 McLaren Vale Shiraz arrived on my doorstep recently at only about $10 a bottle, I didn’t have any expectation of drinkability, let alone enjoyability, but what a pleasant surprise it was.

On the nose, a pungent cedary sweetness becomes a bouquet of smokey stewed cherries on the palate.  There’s plenty of generous fruit and a subtle spiciness upfront before the dark fruit and Christmas cake flavours dominate the taste buds across the middle, but fall away pretty quickly at the back.  There may be a couple of flat spots on the palate and a slight taint to the oak, but as a $10 quaffer, it’s probably unfair to judge it against the world renowned McLaren Vale Shiraz that are ten times the price.  I reckon it’s an ideal wine for Friday night takeaway in front of the footy!

Balgownie Estate Black Label Sparkling Shiraz 2008

Balgownie Estate Black Label Shirazby Travis Schultz

While it may be the French who can lay claim to producing the best “Méthode Champenoise” (sparkling white that is bottle fermented) white wines in their “Champagne” region, I doubt that many countries can produce a better sparkling red than Australia.  After all, our Shiraz and Cabernet grapes are amongst the world’s best and with a bit of flair and artistry on the part of the vigneron, producing a sparkling red of an international standard seems a relatively small step for a talented winemaker to take.  And perhaps predictably, it was some Sunshine Coast locals, Des and Rod Forrester and their mate, Bill Freeman whose Balgownie Estate Black Label Sparkling Shiraz is putting the sparkling red style on the viticultural map.

Made from grapes sourced from the  Bendigo and Heathcote regions, the 2008 vintage is as bright as a button in the glass but shows those rich, deep and ripe characters that make Australian Shiraz such an appealing wine to drink on its own.  The balance is terrific as the fizzy environment allows the lifted raisinesque  flavours to show their sweet berry best, yet a dry tannic handcuff restrains the back end and gives an appealing tightness to the finish. It might not be French, but it’s eminently drinkable and a bubbly to savour.

I might be enjoying it with an Asian stir fry, but at around $26 a bottle, I reckon  it’s the perfect summer compromise for the red wine drinking aficionado.

Google has a landmark win over ACCC

Travis SchultzBy Travis Schultz

Most Australians probably heard the enormous sigh of relief that emanated from Google’s head office at Googleplex in Mountain View, California when on 6 February this year, the High Court handed down its decision in Google’s appeal against the findings of the Full Federal Court of Australia.

In issue was whether Google had breached the Trade Practices Act (as it then was) by engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct between 2005 and 2008 in displaying sponsored links in response to search enquiries.  The Full Federal Court had found that in displaying and publishing the misleading sponsored links, it had itself engaged in conduct which was misleading and deceptive and in breach of the legislation.  In doing so, the Full Federal Court overturned the Trial Judge’s decision who had found that although the representations in the sponsored links were misleading and deceptive, those representations had not been made by Google because an ordinary and reasonable member of the group of consumers who saw them would have understood that sponsored links were advertisements and would not have considered that Google had been responsible in any meaningful way for the advertisements’ content.

The High Court agreed unanimously with the views of the Trial Judge in holding that Google was not responsible for the content of the advertisements and had not therefore, itself, engaged in the misleading and deceptive conduct complained of.

While the decision is obviously an important one from Google’s perspective, it has ramifications for any business that allows advertisements to be published on its website as it will mean that the publisher is not automatically responsible (at least insofar as the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 is concerned) for the content of advertisements it hosts.

Laughing Jack 2009 Greenock Shiraz

Laughing Jack ShirazBy Travis Schultz

Unless you’re related to one of its 685 residents, you’re unlikely to have heard of Greenock, a town nestled in the north western edge of the Barossa Valley, but you’ll certainly be hearing a lot more about their wine if they can replicate vintages like the 2009 Laughing Jack Greenock Shiraz!

Owner and vigneron Shaun Kalleske named the winery after a resident flock of Kookaburras at their Marananga vineyard, but has taken the fruit for the Greenock Shiraz from the region around the township named after a village bearing the same name situated on the Clyde River in Scotland.

The Barossa typically produces a plump and ripe style of Shiraz and while that’s true of the Laughing Jack, the 2009 vintage of the Greenock exhibits intense chocolate and raisin flavours across the palate before the combination of French and American oak provide an ever so slightly cedary tannic backbone through the finish.  The real attraction of the current release is the way in which the ripe dark fruit emboldens on the palate, fills the mouth and stimulates the taste buds without a hint of flabbiness or alcohol burn.

It’s a full bodied style best enjoyed with a cheese platter or red meat dish, but at $35 – $40 a bottle, it’s not really sold at a “drink me now” price point.