Thank you and farewell

To begin at the end

It’s Tuesday morning, the 1st of August. For me, it’s been a very long 24 hours, during which the realisation that life is ending has made itself known loud and clear. Not in a couple of years, or few months, as I thought 10 days ago, but soon.

I cannot stand without support, have no appetite, and have only tackled what I think is my last TKR in the periods when morphine is not dulling the wits and the pain is not harsh enough for me to want more.

These are the most meaningful words I can muster: I thank you all deeply for everything you have done for me over the years, plus your support for TKR. Farewell.

Samples for review

Please stop sending them. I’m sorry for those that were sent but have not had reviews published.

The pre-wake

I feel as if I have tricked you about having a pre-wake on Sunday 29 October. Honestly, I didn’t. At the time, and on medical advice, it was looking as if I would live that long. Now I am not so sure. If I’m still around it will go ahead. If I’m not, someone will let you know.

The team

The TKR team is me, myself and I in the office. Outside of that environment there all those who have provided background for articles over the years. Thank you for trusting me to not misplace that trust.

Very importantly, and often overlooked, is the editor. The first of these was Jenny Stonier, to whom I paid full tribute when she left the role. Without Jen, TKR would not have been. My debt to her is immense.

After Jen, Siboney Duff became my editor. Boy, she was tough, teaching me a lot about the English language. I also paid her due homage when she left.

For the past six years or so, Simon Webster has rapped the Keys knuckles and turned gibberish into sensible reading. Simon, I thank you deeply. You have been greatly appreciated and will be again for this last edition.

Silent scream

I find it amazing when a request for comment is met by silence. Does the person or organisation being asked not know that a long period of silence allows the questioner to speculate?

I have had two instances recently in which email requests for comment have been ignored. Of course, I realise my use of the word “ignored” is, in itself, speculation. My requests for answers to questions could have somehow disappeared into cyberspace.

I am assuming there is such a place. When Gran used to take us to Southend on the train from Liverpool Street, Cyberspace wasn’t one of the stops.

I accept with stoic countenance and a wry smile that emails originating from TKR might somehow get diverted into junk folders, but let’s move on.

Andreas Clark, CEO of Wine Australia, had always responded to my emails. Until I sent the following:

  • 11 July. TKR to Mr Clark: The naming of Australia as country of honour for 2018 Hong Kong Vinexpo. I’m not sure if these feature countries have any value, I think it hard to judge. Do you, as in Wine Australia, have criteria you use? Also, how much extra will it cost and is the extra cost divided up between the exhibitors or borne by WA?
  • 24 July. TKR to Mr Clark: A couple of weeks ago I sent you an email with some questions… It’s unusual for you not to answer, so wondering if it went astray?

As we move into August, what is the issue? Is being featured nation at the Hong Kong Vinexpo such a huge financial drain on Wine Australia that it’s better to keep silent about it? Or is it because those wanting to book space are as yet unaware that there will be an enormous surcharge?

Such speculation, and all of it emanating from silence.

Andrew Wilsmore is head of risk and reputation at the Woolworths-owned Endeavour Drinks Group. Like Clark, he has always responded to my emails. Also like Clark, not always with the answers I was looking for, but that is part of the process with which we learn to live.

Wilsmore has been on holiday, so has not been directly involved in this. The emails were redirected to his colleague, James Scott-Mackenzie. The first email was sent to Wilsmore and Andrew Caillard MW on 17 July, concerning one Mr Scott Evers, who rates himself highly, as this, from his Linkedin profile, shows: “I, along with only a handful of other industry people from around the globe, have been chosen to be personally trained and mentored by the world’s leading Wine Authentication and Wine Fraud expert, Maureen Downey. On completion of our training, I will be the only licensed and accredited TCM Master Wine Authenticator in Australia & New Zealand.” 


Extracts from the email:

“I’m [TK] sure Langton’s goes to great lengths to make sure the wines they auction are what they should be. I’m not happy with this Evers and his self-promotion.

“As to the question, what lengths do Langton’s go to re authentication, I need to know your side, as I feel this guy is out to do damage.”

Answer from Scott-Mackenzie, 17 July: “I’ve passed your note on and you should have a response from Andrew Caillard in due course.”

TK to Scott-Mackenzie, 24 July: “Due course arrives when?”

It’s looking as if Vinexpo and wine authentication are lost in cyberspace or silently screaming.

Loud and clear

Not silent this past week, but screaming loudly, was the news from the Sydney Royal Wine Show that the John Hughes-produced Rieslingfreak ‘No.3’ Clare Valley Riesling 2017 had won:

    • The KPMG Perpetual Trophy for the Best Wine of Show
    • The Albert Chan Memorial Prize for Best White
    • The Douglas Lamb Perpetual Trophy for Best Riesling
    • The RAS of NSW Annual Prize for Best Young White
    • The Tucker Seabrook Perpetual Trophy for Best State Show Wine

I haven’t tasted the wine but do find it amazing that a riesling wine from this year’s vintage can be showing so well at this stage. But then I’m not a show judge.

Looking at consistency, the following names from various vintages have been on the trophy lists of many shows across the nation for many years. In no order, who is not surprised when they see:

Tyrrell’s Stevens Semillon

De Bortoli Noble One

St Agnes Brandy

House of Arras

Congratulations to all winners of trophies or other gongs at the Sydney or other shows. So long as the money that wine companies invest in shows returns the emotional payback required, that’s fine. TKR will continue to say that shows promote shows, and until the wine industry wakes up to that fact, it will remain evermore the simpering sycophant.


A must-read this week is Simon Hughes’s column (Max Crus) in the media section, which includes this: “What a bunch of whingeing Nigel South Australians with their Alexander Downer accents and their ‘Look Mum, no convicts’ self-righteous ancestry.”



Good karma



11 thoughts on “Thank you and farewell”

  1. Tony, it is very sad to hear of your struggle. I’ve enjoyed reading your rants and sage opinion. We had a small tete a tete over a wine show result – and with no reluctance, I’ve since agreed with you. We got that one wrong!
    We will miss you.
    John Ellis

  2. Dear Tony

    You have been an absolutely pleasure to read over the years, giving so much of yourself in your writing that it feels we, the reader, are part of your close family.

    That makes it exceedingly sad to read this post and learn of the further deterioration of your health.

    Thank you for all your enthusiasm and love for the great Australian wine industry. You’ve never been afraid to ask the hard questions or valiantly defend. Without your discomfort, we probably wouldn’t have looked in the mirror as hard or pushed to improve our position as we did.

    I’ve thoroughly valued your analysis of weighty documents and reports and the insights you’ve gleaned from them. You’ve uncovered many gems.

    Wishing you and your family all the very best in this difficult time,

    You will be missed by all


  3. Hello Tony. I am very sad to hear your news. What can I say other than I hope you don’t suffer too much?
    Just on Andrew Caillard, I don’t think he would mind me passing on his comment to me –
    Hi Richard,
    I have seen a few things about this but I can’t be bothered with it…
    They are all opportunists and exaggerating the problem for their own advantage.
    All the best
    Andrew Caillard, MW
    and later….
    Hi Andrew,
    I totally agree.
    …but while I am travelling I have the time to respond and I absolutely hate the doubt these people sow in the minds of everyday wine buyers.
    Do you understand?
    Sure do!
    The fake news era!
    Andrew Caillard, MW

  4. Very sad news Tony. It reminds me when Bob McLean passed away but had arranged for an email advising rumours of his demise were true. I’ve kept as a reminder that some like you and Bob will forever make me smile and kept political correctness well away from the truth. I just hope you and Bob get to enjoy the long tasting bench upstairs or wherever you end up.
    By the way I didn’t think of replying in respect to the so-called “honoured” standing for Australia at Vinexpo Hong Kong because many years ago the same happened in respect to the HK International Wine and Spirit Exhibition. What wonderful recognition – a bunch a dignatories swanning past all smiles knowing that all it meant was more money in their “port barrel”. I commented at the time to the consulate – seems I had missed the point. So like you I’m waiting to hear what it all means at Vinexpo HK.

  5. Dear Tony,

    Sorry to hear of your ongoing struggles health wise. Can I say that I have always appreciated the candor and the manner in which you have laid it out there. The industry is better for those who like yourself who “challenge the bullshit and rhetoric” and disassemble the flowery words and hype in press releases. There are times when I swear to God I could have screamed at some of those releases and asked the question “But is the wine made from grapes?’ You know the sort, nuances of nutmeg, cinnamon, cigar box ash etc. etc.

    I wish you all the best moving and hope that you are able to have some quality of life in what is clearly a most difficult time.

  6. Tony I have always appreciated our chats over the years and odd email exchange. You have had a positive impact on my wine business journey and I want to thank you for that. I will personally miss you and your views on the world and wish we had time for another glass and chat.
    All the best sincerely Sam Holmes

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