WINE: Time for a taste of top reds

IN THE KNOW: Agnew Wines assistant winemaker Xanthe Hatcher will be at Wickham hosting Saturday’s Audrey Wilkinson and Poole’s Rock tastings.HUNTER Valley 2014 vintage reds have received rave reviews from wine critics and on Saturday the ordinary Joe and Josephine will get the chance to sample 24 of them from 10 top producers.

The wines come from the Andrew Thomas, Audrey Wilkinson, Poole’s Rock, Briar Ridge, Pepper Tree, Tallavera Grove, First Creek, Gundog Estate, Meerea Park and Tinklers brands.

On hand to present their wines and chat with tasters will be Andrew Thomas,First Creek managing director-chief winemaker Greg Silkman, Agnew Group assistant winemakerXanthe Hatcher, Tinklers winemaker Usher Tinkler and Gundog Estate assistant winemaker Nick Connaughton.

TheHunter Showcase of 2014is being held at the Bottle-Oliquor store in Throsby St, Wickham, from 1pm to 4pm on July 16.Admission is $10 and tickets are available at the store and on 4962 5514.

Most the wines available for tasting and purchase are 2014 shiraz reds, which have been acclaimed as among the best of the century.

Providing a note of diversity, Tallavera Grove will be offering a tasting of “Foot Stomped” 2014 Sagrantino – a rare Italian variety planted in the Mount View vineyard of geologist-turned-vigneron Dr John Davis, whose wine empire also includes Pepper Tree and Briar Ridge,

Other offbeat 2014s will be the Audrey Wilkinson Malbec, the Tinklers PMR Merlot, and the Meerea Park Indie, a blend of shiraz and the white marsanne variety.

The shiraz wines on offer are: the First Creek Winemakers Reserve and Premium; the Andrew Thomas DJV, Sweetwater and Elenay; the Tinklers Steep Hill, U and I and Old Vines; the Agnew Group’s Audrey Wilkinson Winemakers Selection and Poole’s Rock; the Briar Ridge Karl Stockhausen Signature and Dairy Hill Single-Vineyard; the Gundog Estate Rare Game; the Meerea Park XYZ and Hell Hole; the Pepper Tree Limited-Release and Coquun; the Tallavera Grove Fenestella and 2014 shiraz.The Gundog Estate 2014 Rare Game Shiraz, the Meerea Park 2014 XYZ Shiraz and the Andrew Thomas 2014 Sweetwater Shiraz will be for sale at Saturday’s tasting.

VALE KEITH BARRYTHE Hunter Valley wine industry is mourning the sudden passing of Keith Barry, one of itsmost skilled and respected viticulturists.Keith, who was vineyard manager for Brokenwood Wines, died suddenly on June 26 at the age of 65. Heworked in Hunter Valley vineyards for more than 43 years and served 24 vintages at Brokenwood.In 2013 he and his daughter Katrina were joint winners of the viticulturist of the year title at the Hunter Valley Wine Awards.

Newcastle Performance Physiotherapy opens its doors in Hunter Street, Newcastle West.

Solo move: Physiotherapist David Renfrew at the doors of his business on Hunter Street, Newcastle West. Picture: Simone de Peak. DAVID Renfrew had a clear goal when he enrolled in physiotherapy at the University of Newcastle.

“I wanted to be the Socceroos’ physiotherapist,” the 32-year-old says with a smile.

Quick to quip that the closest he got to his dream was being within reach of those in the top job, Mr Renshaw’scareer nonetheless includes four years’workwith the Western Suburbs Rugby League Cluband presenting to corporates on workplace injury prevention.

Now he’s fulfilled a fresh ambition: opening his clinic, Newcastle Performance Physiotherapy, in Newcastle West.

“I’ve wanted to do it for a while, it’s just been finding the right timing,” says the 32-year-old father of three.

“And I’ve wanted to have a practice that is more science and evidence based physio, there are a lot of treatments that happen in Newcastle that is at best antiquated.”

Mr Renfrew’s clinic bases all its treatments on scientifically proven diagnostic techniques and methodologies, using different equipment to test a client’s strength, movement and fitness.

“There are scientific ways to measure, explain and treat you so that you get free and painless movement, or peak performance, back,” he says.

“We use this science and modern technology to deliver our pain management and sports injury service –plain and simple.”

After university, Mr Renfrew worked at the old Royal Newcastle hospital before heading overseas to London, where he worked in the public health system and gained a solid knowledge in pain treatment.

Traditional pain treatment still exists, he says, butresearch has shown new and better ways of doing things. In addition, more weight is given tothe neurological and psychologicalimpact of injury, with communication with clients playing a key role.

“Everyone has heard of a slipped disc and can picture it, so when you have a severe back episode your brain will link that to the idea of it, and it can automatically make things worse,” he says of the “threat” factor in pain.

“I certainly am trying to make people feel better as a physiotherapist but a big part of it is expanding the process to them so when they moving more freely again it’s also because they are more aware of their bodies and I have stopped the part where they are afraid.”

His philosophy is that every client –elite athlete or not –should receives the same level of attention.

Mr Renfrew runs a paperless office, with online exercise programs and video technique assessments emailed to clients.

Located in Hunter Street beside Spotlight, Mr Renfrew’s business is, he says, growing organically through word of mouth.

Novocastrians search for key investor and a chef in new Hunter Street venue

Hopes and hops: Justin Clarke, right, and Brad Hilton at 231 Hunter Street, where they plan a bar and restaurant space. Picture: Simone De PeakWANTED: an investor with about $300,000 and a talented chef to help two Novocastrians create a venue they say will raise the bar in Newcastle’s entertainment scene.

Qualified electrician Justin Clarke and hospitality veteran Brad Hilton have put their livelihoods on the line –Mr Clarke has delayed both a home purchase and his honeymoon, while Mr Hilton has sold two homes –to bankroll their dream of opening what they hope will be a city landmark.

The pair are transforminga slice of Hunter Street – number 231, where printerStrait Jacket Press recently operated, and Krempinsseedand garden store once traded –and are hoping to open in Octoberafter a 12-week fit-out.

Standing amid the work in progress, the pair outline the floor plan: on the ground floor, a commercial kitchen, acoal-fired grill for Yakatori (Japaneseskewered meat and vegetables),a “low key” dining area, a bar with craft beers on tapand an outdoor courtyard with a focus onlive music and events.

Up a flight of stairs on the mezzanine there will be a fine diner, a 25-seat private function room, a second bar and a wrap-around outdoor verandah overlooking the courtyard below.

Citing multi-layered Melbourne bars including the Carlton Club and Cookie, Mr Hilton said the yet-to-be-named venue will move away from the trend of prohibition-style bars seen in recent years in major cities.

“We want it to be fun, interactive, a bit in your face -a colourful fit-out to target different audiences,” he said.

He and Mr Clarke are seeking interest from investors with $300,000 “or the equivalent security range” to help them get the project over the line, alongside a chef to put their stamp on the place.

They have development approval, a liquor licence, lease, key staff and contractors engaged and a construction certificate, but need a cash injection from an investor to get them over the line.

“It would be awesome if that person is from here and loves the city as we do, we want to be a part of the revitalisation process,” Mr Clarke says.

Enquiries via [email protected]杭州龙凤419m.

Authors of controversial TAFE report concede possible omission about Australian Careers Network

NSW Minister for Skills John Barilaro. Photo: Louise Kennerley Greens MP David Shoebridge. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Boston Consulting Group has conceded it knew a private college was having financial problems before it completed a controversial $90,000 report for TAFE NSW.

Earlier this year, NSW Skills Minister John Barilaro promoted the Boston consulting report, which highlights the business results of a collapsed private college network whose headquarters were raided in April during a fraud investigation by the Australian Federal Police. ​

The report names private education operator Australian Careers Network as a competitor to the public TAFE network. But it fails to identify the debt problems associated with ACN or the police raids.

Anthony Roediger, a senior partner at Boston Consulting Group, told Fairfax Media that “in hindsight” the company was aware in March that ACN was in financial trouble. This was not mentioned in the report.

He said the police raids took place after the report was written.

Mr Roediger said Boston Consulting Group was commissioned to produce a report for TAFE in January 2015 which it was paid for separately when it was completed last year.

“Then in March of 2016, we were asked … to prepare a summary of that analysis that could be released publicly,” he said.

The contract for the report, completed in 2016 at an additional cost of $90,750, was signed on April 12 and 13 of this year which was the same time the ACN raids were conducted. However, Mr Roediger said the report was completed on March 6 before the contract was signed.

Asked why Boston Consulting charged TAFE an extra $90,000 for a summary of an analysis it had already conducted the previous year, Mr Roediger said it was not simply a rehash of the information, but a summary and “translation” of the same data “for public consumption”.

“What we did was describe the market as it had been and we didn’t go through and update it for 2016 data,” he said.

“There was a lot of work involved doing what we had to do.

“I’m quite comfortable in the value that we added through that.”

Mr Roediger said the reason the report was dated 2015 and not 2016 was because “that’s when all the work was done and that is when the data is from”.

“At the time we did it ACN was a publicly listed company and there was no hint from the publicly available information as to what would happen a year later,” he said.

“We didn’t update the analysis afresh for 2016, so we wanted to signal when the data was done.”

Mr Roediger said the aim of the report was to describe the competitive market in which TAFE was operating.

“At no stage did we say ACN is a benchmark that TAFE should aim to emulate,” he said.

Greens MP David Shoebridge, who obtained information about the report including its cost under freedom of information laws, said: “it looks like the government was only willing to pay once they got the report they wanted, signing the contract a month after the report was written”.

Business shrugs off Brexit volatility, pre-election doubts

Conditions are currently running close to post-GFC highs. Confidence has also picked up. Photo: NABBusinesses shrugged off post-Brexit market volatility and pre-election doubts to report some of the best conditions since the global financial crisis, according to the latest National Australian Bank monthly survey.

Respondents were also confident about the business outlook, despite being surveyed during the turbulent days immediately after Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union.

NAB’s business conditions index rose two points, to 12, in June, while the confidence index was ahead three points, to six, over the month.The trading index held steady at 18 points, while profitability crept up one point, to 12.

NAB chief economist Alan Oster said the results of the survey, taken in late June, suggested that companies were “looking through external uncertainties, choosing to focus on the positives they see in their own business, at least for the time being”.

“It is encouraging to see firms’ sentiment is holding up, particularly as we head into a period of political uncertainty,” he added.

Most industry groups reported a pick-up in conditions, although retailers were a “notable exception”, NAB said, with a sharp, 13-point drop in the headline index, to negative seven. Prices in the sector dropped into negative territory, after a 0.5 per cent increase between April and May.

Capacity utilisation rates across all industry groups slipped back to 81.3 per cent after climbing to 81.9 per cent in May.

“The deterioration in retail coincides with big declines in retail price growth, highlighting the competitive and cost pressures facing the industry,” Mr Oster said.

“However, we should be able to take comfort in the trends we are seeing across many other industries.”

Confidence, too, either improved or held steady in most industries, with retail again an exception, along with construction, which has been buffeted recently by tighter controls on investor lending and reports of oversupply in some cities.

Across all activities, employment bounced back after slumping in May, and forward orders advanced to four index points after languishing at two in April and May. Exports were also slightly ahead, but stocks dropped away.

Despite the generally positive tone of the survey, NAB cautioned that consumer price growth still looked lacklustre, suggesting the Reserve Bank of Australia may opt for another interest rate reduction in August.

“Overall, the survey suggests the RBA should be reasonably comfortable with the present state of economic activity, even in the wake of recent events that cloud the outlook,” the bank said.

“However, the view on inflation is arguably more important at this juncture, and the survey is not suggesting any meaningful turnaround in near-term inflation pressures.

“These trends justify the highly accommodative setting for monetary policy.”