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    Organic wine

    Here in Australia we have a vibrant wine industry including an increasing number of vineyards producing organic and/or biodynamic wine. We are especially keen on the wines from Mudgee in central NSW. This is a dry inland region that is ideal for organic growing due to the lack of humidity which reduces the amount of mould and fungus problems compared to locations closer to the coast, these are generally treated using chemical sprays. One of the oldest is Botobolar, they produce a range of affordable wines that are great examples of big red's, not too subtle but good value drinking. The vineyard is unirrigated and has been much affected by drought in recent years, sometimes picking no grapes at all for a season.

    Our favourite vineyard in Mudgee is Lowe Wines, these are really classy organic wines and the cellar door experience when the owners Jane or David are around is definitely worth making the trek for. They are very passionate about their wines, especially the award winning Zinfandel to which we have become quite attached. The 2003 Zinfandel won an international award, beating off well established makers from the US and elsewhere. These are hard to come by now, we recently opened a bottle to ensure that it was keeping well and were blown away, its still a fantastic wine. Now we have to hide the 5 remaining bottles from ourselves or they will all go the same way.

    Also worth a mention is Thistle Hill. There are many others around the country and a great place to find them is Recently major chains have started to see the light and are experimenting with stocking some organic wine. Last week the Vintage Cellars chain advertised a Sauvignon Blanc they have sourced from a co-operative in France. Its a pity they haven't chosen to promote a local label, still I am keen to try it. For an international overview view of organic wine have a look at the Organic Wine Journal.


    In season zen cooking

    Nice post here at Mother Earth News Stop Putting Off Chickens

    In season down in Sydney at the moment (from the Slow Food Sydney newsletter)

    • Strawberries
    • Spinach and watercress
    • Valencia oranges
    • Asparagus

    Ethical Eating book reviewed in the Eco Pages of the Sydney Morning Herald

    We rented a great DVD - How to Cook Your Life should be very interesting to anyone who still has a yellowing copy of the Tassajara cookbook or bread book as it features Ed Brown who also wrote those books back in the 70's. Ed has been practising Zen and cooking for over 30 years and the video is full of insights.


    Permaculture and online learning

    After years of exposure to Permaculture and having spent several years a decade ago implementing a disparate set of its common patterns at our previous property in Northern NSW, I am now taking a much deeper dive into it after enrolling in Geoff Lawton's Online Permaculture Design Course. Its been running a few weeks now and my partner and I are both finding it a revelation. So many concepts and themes that we had previously read about but not really understood are suddenly making sense. Geoff's an excellent teacher and the online format works perfectly for a couple of introverted types. We can take our time and review material as we go.

    There were elements of classic internet marketing1 wrapped around the promotion of the course that had me a little worried, those concerns have proven groundless and I can understand that using the marketing approaches that work makes sense when your goal is to get this material out to the widest audience and in a sustainable way.

    As a taster, check out this video Absolute in Abundance, they will want your email address however if you are at all interested in this stuff you will get a steady stream of really good links and content as a result.

    I would highly recommend that anyone who has been interested in doing a PDC but not found the time or the right teacher consider taking one of Geoff's courses.

    Meanwhile, check out the many videos and resources that are freely available at the Permaculture Research Institute. The links to several excellent related documentaries can also be found here. The site is an aggregator of several of my favourite authors including George Monbiot who has a new book - Feral - A manifesto for rewilding the world.

    Surfers interested in Permaculture should enjoy this chat with Geoff about the links between surfing and permaculture.


    Krinklewood biodynamic wine

    The Krinklewood vineyard was recently given a positive review in the local media so I thought I would give it a try. We would have gotten around to it anyway as we are very keen on organic and biodynamic wines. So last night I picked up a bottle of the 2007 Verdelho which we tried with some high quality lebanese food at a local restaurant. Wow, this is a delicious wine. I haven't drunk much Verdelho and was not sure whether I would find it interesting. So we were pleasantly surprised to find a light crisp taste with definite citrus/passionfruit characters. To my palate it was not unlike a mild sauvignon blanc. Highly recommended and very good value at around $A21. Importantly there were no negative effects the next morning :)

    Here a few notes on the winemaking (read more on their website) "The fruit was picked in the cool of the night at optimum ripeness and was crushed with only the premium free-run juices being used. Fermentation took place in Stainless Steel tanks under cool conditions. The wine was bottled early to retain freshness of the primary fruit characters with very fine filtration" Its good to see bottles boldly declaring their biodynamic origins prominently on the label.

    Until recently many makers of organic and biodynamic wines were loathe to promote this aspect of their wine, apparently many wine buyers were of the view that this was synonymous with poor quality. Its also encouraging to see biodynamic wine of this quality coming from the Hunter Valley region. I've written previously about the inland region of Mudgee where many of the organic/biodynamic fruit is grown successfully, partly due to the lack of moisture related problems that are difficult treat with the limited arsenal available to the organic/biodynamic grower.


    Urban chickens

    Eating Locally: Backyard Chickens at Keeping chickens in the urban backyards was commonplace in Australia during the depression and war years and is making a welcome comeback. I wonder how many people are actually able to kill and eat their chickens. I have tried and it takes some getting used to!. Having the chooks for eggs alone is the easier route and very worthwhile as we have posted about before.


    Seasonal Eating

    The way to keep the food miles down is to eat in sync with whats in season for your region. Its a simple idea that would once have been the only option for most people. In modern first world countries it now requires an effort to know what is in season and to track down local producers. If you have a local farmers market then patronise it well so the producers keep going to the trouble of turning up.

    Slowfood Sydney has a useful blog that regularly posts information on seasonal produce, here is the latest entry.


    Chinas rising soybean consumption-reshaping-western-agriculture

    Disturbing article by Lester Brown on the PRI website

    "..Put simply, saving the Amazon rainforest now depends on curbing the growth in demand for soybeans by stabilizing population worldwide as soon as possible. And for the world’s more affluent people, it means eating less meat and thus slowing the growth in demand for soybeans…"

    Where was once pristine Amazon rainforest, soybean harvesters march across the landscape instead.


    Biodynamic wine in the news

    Michelle Gadd of has a good summary of recent coverage of biodynamic wine in the Australia media.

    With lots of recent media interest in biodynamic wine producers the rest of the world is starting to discover the absolute quality of biodynamic wines.

    She is offering some excellent mixed cases of Australian biodynamic wines including the Krinklewood Vordelho mentioned here on Slowlane recently.

    Her new Catalog also has a special on a mixed box of Tamburlaine organic wine. I ordered one of these a few months ago and was very pleased with the value for money.



    Slow food university

    When Slowlane joined Slow Food recently they sent a booklet outlining their various initiatives, The Slow Food Companion. Two ventures that sounded particularly interesting were the University of Gastronic Sciences (UNISG) and the Terre Madre. The university is based in Piedmont and claims to be the first academic institution in the world dedicated to the study of gastronomy. Subjects include Botany, Food Technology, History of Agriculture, Sensory Analysis and Anthropology. The curriculum combines humanities and sciences with food technology and culture. An article appeared today in the Sydney Morning Herald about a local man who is studying at the UNISG, he is living a simple life in the local village, going to the market three times a week and practising what they are learning by cooking for fellow students in the evening. Also mentioned in the article was the Terra Madre, an annual Slow Food gathering in Turin that bring together thousands of artisanal food producers, farmers, fisherman from 150 countries, cooks, academics from over 200 universities, representatives of NGOS, journalists and of course slow foodies of other descriptions. This years Terra Madre promises to be huge, I hope to attend one of these in the next few years. Sounds amazing.

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