The Gold Standard

On the first day of the Hunter Valley Wine Show, Major Al Lynch, in full military fatigues, explained to the wine judges what was expected of them: “if you are given an order you will follow it without question.” I’ve judged wine competitions in many different settings but this was my first time in an army barracks. Thankfully our host was describing what we should do in emergencies, rather than…

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Ventoux: wild wild East

“Bonjour!” beamed the skinny young monk as he hurried past me down the steep dirt path, his brown habit flapping behind him. It turns out the local monastery had only been finished 10 years ago. I’d have thought there were sufficient monasteries in France to house today’s crop of aspiring monks, but apparently not. It’s not just men of the cloth that are being drawn to Ventoux – what was once a…

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