Dec 24, 2013

Dec 20, 2013

WineWalkabout WW

Having just returned from a trip and not having the wine fridge very well organised, it was with a sigh of relief when looking for something to go with dinner that this lovely Zinfandel was calling to be consumed. This Zinfandel was from Jason Stephens Winery in Gilroy, California.
This is a Zinfandel that swings away from what is now California’s more typical raisin styled flavors. Instead, it is a little lighter and has bright red fruits notes with good acidity and tannins, all with a light kiss of subtle sweetness. This wine scores a 6-7 and ****. This is one of a number of very nice wines available from Jason Stephens.
Head on in to the tasting room and have a taste of everything they are pouring, because you just never know what may take your fancy as Jason puts his personal twist on all his wines. The Tasting Room is open Daily 12-4:45 pm and is closed major holidays and they have a $5/person tasting fee. Stop on by and tell 'em we sent you.

Happy Tasting Adventures,


Kiwi & Koala

Dec 17, 2013

Penfolds Magill Estate Heritage Tour and Taste

While having tasted and toured the Penfolds Magill Estate before, never was the Heritage tour taken as an official tour. That being said, it was time to see what the average taster/tourer gets to experience. With Aussie mate and wine tour newbie in tow, it was off the Estate to experience the Heritage Tour and taste.

Arriving at the Estate gives one a sense of history and importance. The drive up through the Estate vineyards that were replanted to Shiraz in the late 1950's, past the 'Grange Cottage' established in 1844 by Dr Christopher Rawson and Mary Penfold, where Christopher practiced medicine, is one that's sets the stage for the historical significance of this Heritage Listed Property.
There are three official tours available, The Heritage Tour, The Premium Tour (previously taken) and the Grange Tour (may have to take this one next).
We were to start the tour with only 5 people but at the last minute a group at the cellar door decided they would join us, swelling the group to 12. The tour guide who was lucky enough to get this group (wankers an all) was Will.

With group in tow Will took us to just outside the tasting room an started the tour with the Tax Office. Yes the tax office was attached to the cellar door. Tax's have been serious business for a long time. Will then told of the history of the surrounding buildings and also talked about the current production of the facility and how independent the Magill Estate is from the corporate influence. As we were taken around past the Magill Estate Restaurant (need to get back in here again) and to the front of the facility we could oversee the Estate vineyards and past them to suburbia. Will told of how the government forcefully took control of hundreds of acres of vineyards and turned them into homes, and how there would have been none left if in the 1970's the then Prime Minister Don Dunston had not intervened and stopped the suburban takeover.

From here we ventured underground to the barrel areas and to some other underground tunnels. We stood next to an upcoming years Grange bottling still in barrel (about $3 million worth of wine) and then got a look at the history of Grange as each individual release is displayed in sequence. To hear the story of Max Schubert, the father of Grange, being told amongst the very bottles he created is a pretty cool experience.

From the cool (both uses of the word) underground tunnels we then ventured to the concrete vats that helped start it all. Will explained how the grapes were delivered and the process that then ensues for the creation of those lovely Penfolds wines.Next it was into the Cellar Door to get a taste of these very wines. Will was great at herding cats and keeping the information interesting and even when presented with the challenge of the tasting wankers (loud, ignorant and on the mobile) he was up to it.

The Heritage Tour was a great tour and would very much 'recommend' it as well as the previously taken Super Premium Tour. Just hoping to get an invite for the legendary Great Grange Tour next time in town.

Happy Tasting Adventures,


Dec 12, 2013

Yangarra Estate Vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia

Traveling in the back of McLaren Vale and you may get lucky and come across Yangarra Estate Vineyards. A couple years ago while trying to find some other place in the rain, and failing miserably, the sign for Yangarra beckoned a visit. With the fire going it was a wonderfully comfortable and intimate setting. With some time in the bag and a beautiful McLarren Vale afternoon occurring, another visit was in order. 

A better afternoon could not have been ordered as it was a perfect 25 deg C with no breeze and only a few decorative fluffy clouds. Settled in on the deck, a lovely cheese platter with cheese from Alexandrina Cheese Company, was ordered to accompany the wines. Brilliant decision, as the cheese was fantastic and a great compliment to the very nice wines. What a beautiful, tranquil setting it was sitting on the deck enjoying the tasting of wines and cheese. With the exception of some screeching cockatoos flying by once in a while, it was just sublime. After the tasting, a glass of the GSM was ordered to help finish off the cheese,and the beautiful afternoon.
The GSM is a favorite (purchased one to share) not just because its good, but its also good value, punching well above its $28 cost.

There is a tasting fee of $10 per person, guests are invited to sit down and taste through the Yangarra wine range, learning about what they do there and why. Included with your tasting is a Spiegalau Yangarra-branded stemless wine glass to take home as a memento of your time there.

The cellar door is open daily from 10am – 5pm and you should go by and enjoy the deck, the cheese plate and the wines, we 'recommend' you do.

Happy Tasting Adventures,

Kiwi & Koala

Dec 2, 2013

3 days in the Barossa Valley.

Day 1. Barossa Valley South Australia.
Adelaide South Australia. Wine Capitol of the world! Yes you read that correctly. We can hear the cries of 'bloody tossers, wankers, no way, you blokes got a few roo's loose in the upper paddock'. You may have a point, but South Australia none the less has one of the most spectacular wine industries of anywhere in the world. Having spent many hours sampling, and lots of drinking South Australian wine, as well as wines from all over the world, South Australia really pretty much has it all.
To refresh you may want to read - Worlds top ten cities to visit. #9

On this particular WineWalkabout Adventure, the destination in South Australia was to be the famous Barossa Valley. You Me Barossa. There are a number of great regions to visit in South Australia and some even have wine. Why did we choose the Barossa Valley and not some where else. With much consternation and using the latest scientific methods it came down to a contact who had helped on a previous visit to the Coonawarra area and happens to work in the Barossa. On our next visit we will focus on one of the other amazing South Australian areas like Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, the Adelaide Hills, the Riverland or perhaps Langhorne Creek. For now we will focus on The Barossa, With more than 80 cellar doors and 150 wineries, where do you start?

On a spectacular spring day of 30deg C with only some scattered decorator clouds in the sky, it was off on what was hoped, would be a fabulous Adventure!

We (left Kiwi at home and replaced with brother) left the eastern suburbs of Adelaide and headed north on National Highway A20 the Sturt Highway and took the Nuriootpa turn off. As we pulled into Nuriootpa it was decided that some nourishment was in order before we got stuck into some wines, and as luck would have it as we made that decision we saw Linke's Bakery and Tea Room and purchased a toaster sandwich and a pasty with sauce. Delicious!

After our feed it was off to one of the Icons of the Barossa, Chateau Tanunda. This is one heck of a majestic facility with a ton of history, and is considered the birthplace of the Barossa wine industry. This is Australia's largest (37,674 square feet) and oldest wine Château. By the mid 1990's this magnificent facility was abandoned and forlorn until in 1998, John Geber chanced upon it, and bought it and embraced the challenge of restoring this magnificent property to its iconic status. The grounds are spectacular as some of the inside displays of  people and things gone by. Château Tanunda has a great series of wines to taste, with diverse styles and a good selection of variety, enough for all types of tastes. We had a wonderful tasting of this nice range of wines with the lovely Brigitte. She filled our heads with interesting facts about each and every wine and was always ready to go to the next taste when we were.
Also managed to get in a tour of the facilities that was organised by Michelle that was quite a treat. The banquet facilities and winery operations as well as the grounds were amazing, and listening to the history of Australia’s largest Château, built in 1890, was very interesting. Even had a chat to their Chef and discussed their recent winning of a catering award. Good stuff! Definitely "recommend" and well worth a stop! Tours can be had daily at about 11am.

Next up was another iconic facility that we had the pleasure of visiting their Coonawarra facility last year. This year it was the Barossa facility of Yalumba. Yalumba is Australia's oldest family owned winery and the Barossa tasting room, or cellar door as they are known in Australia, is in one of the most beautiful facilities you can experience. A lot of time and energy (money to) has gone into beautifying this historic place. For over 160 years and 5 generations the story of Yalumba has been unfolding. With such a nice environment and a lovely roomy tasting area (used to be the brandy bond store) the wine is really the icing on the cake. Good icing! The staff were generous with their time, and just like in Coonawarra, made a wonderful experience even better (thanks Steve).

With a very nice selection by range and style, a wine tasting here is bound to please almost everyone (always one wanker in a group). Can "recommend" without reservation a stop at this fabulous Cellar Door and enjoy some great wine and hospitality in a stunning facility.

With a little time on our hands we decided to try find another place to discover. Something a bit off the beaten track and quite small. After playing spin the map and pick a spot, and after a couple attempts, we decided on a target took off. After enjoying some great Barossa scenery we arrived at Villa Tinto. Albert Di Palma, owner and winemaker, has successfully combined the vigneron background of his mother’s family originating in Rioja, Spain and later in Mendoza, Argentina into some fabulous wine of top quality. Full bodied Mediterranean style reds that engage the drinker are the norm. Had a nice chat with Albert and his wife and would definitely say "good, would go back" for an interesting and unique Barossa experience.

Feeling particularly accomplished with our stops for the day it was time to find our accommodation.
We were lucky enough to get to experience the spacious comfort of the Elderton Lodge in Nuriootpa. This fabulous fully self contained facility is located just a short walk from the cellar door, and very close to shopping and restaurants. Really a perfectly located place to base a trip to the Barossa from or for that matter just a great place for a holiday. With two good sized bedrooms with queen beds and two single beds in a third bedroom this is perfect for some couples or a family.
As we sat back and relaxed, with a lovely glass of Elderton, Greenock one Shiraz, that was provided for us in the lodge, we discussed our dinner options.

As we sipped and enjoyed our wine we contemplated walking to the grocery store and butcher and getting stuff to prepare in the kitchen and cook on the BBQ or go to a restaurant. We settled on the later this evening and ate at the Vine Inn. Decent food at a decent price although we think it may have been pensioner night with 80-90% over 65. Walked back to the Elderton Lodge and settled in for the night, watching telly and finishing that lovely Greenock one Shiraz before retiring to our respective rooms and comfortable beds and to dream of the Adventures to come.

That was a perfect end to a great day exploring the Barossa, seeing some amazing facilities, meeting some wonderful people, and tasting and consuming some inspiring wines. We were consumed. Till tomorrow Barossa!

Happy Adventures,

Kiwi & Koala

Day 2
Day 3

Nov 28, 2013

WineWalkabout WW Greenock One from Eldertons

This weeks drop comes from the Grenock Creek area of the Barossa Valley South Australia.

Its the Grenock One from Elderton Wines in Nuriootpa. This is the first release of Greenock One, and leaves one wondering how good will this very nice drinking Shiraz be in the future. Shiraz is the number one variety in the Barossa Valley and this is a nicely balanced example. With enchanting Black and purple fruit flavors and nice soft tannin's, this wine drinks nicely. The Grenock One has a medium body, nice fruit and tannin structure with a soft finish, this is a wine to enjoy any time. The oak barrels used are older (second fill) combination of French and American puncheons and the wine lives there for about 15 months.
This wine comes from vines ranging 20 - 35 years of age with low yields, sometimes as low as one tonne per acre.
The vineyard is located in Greenock which is located on the west of the Barossa Valley and was added to the Elderton family vineyards in 2010 and has made a great addition to their portfolio. This 60 acre vineyard has plantings dating back to 1915 and a terroir that has been in demand by many of the Barossa’s elite winemakers.
A very nice wine for any occasion, and priced just outside a four star rating unless you buy a case or so, then it comes in at *** and 7+, excellent value / quality. Go get yourself a bottle or two and enjoy.

Happy Tasting Adventures,


Kiwi & Koala

Nov 22, 2013

WineWalkabout WW

Having recently been to Taste Morgan and enjoying the experience, a couple bottles were purchased for later enjoyment.

Both were from the Lee Family Farm Label. In 2005, Dan introduced a second label, Lee Family Farms, intended to provide a fun outlet for his exploration of “alternative” varietals. These wines were absolutely delightful and at **** prices should be a standard at at everyones dinner table.

How refreshing it was to taste these lovely wines that are also not very common, and that can be had for such reasonable prices.

The purchased wine that was pulled from the wine fridge to be enjoyed and is this weeks WineWalkabout WW, was the lovely 2011 Lee Family Farm Rio Tinto (a blend of 61% Touriga Francesa and 39% Touriga Nacional). On the palate, it is soft and velvet smooth with ripe concentrated blackberry and black cherry flavors, good acidity and a nice soft finish. This wine rates 6-7 and ****. A great drop at a great price!

Go by and visit Taste Morgan, tell em we sent you and say G'day.

Happy Tasting Adventures,


Kiwi & Koala

Nov 19, 2013

Nostalgia Airlines and the return trip update.

On a recent trip back to Australia I was determined to use my Airline miles. Come to discover that a mile is not as long as they used to be, and do not get you as far or as direct as you would imagine. Using miles for regular flights was really like booking as a second or third class citizen. If there are enough seats you may get one and if there are enough business or first class seats you may be able to upgrade. Traveling to Australia this time, a direct rout was secured, coming back is another story. For the second year in a row I was to travel on United Airlines. This is where the term 'nostalgia' Airlines comes in and not in a good way. I can hear the collective 'cricky, what's a nostalgia airline'? The flight was in one of their 747-400's. These old veterans of the air are exactly like flying in the 90's. With only the tiny movie screens down the isle, watching a movie is not very easy. Also when a PG13 or there a bouts is on, the  inserted language just makes the dialog seem obvious and out of character. Yes there are all ages on the plane and that needs to be considered but this is not the experience that one gets on a modern international flight where every seat has a multitude of entertainment choices. The lack of engaging entertainment makes for a long, no, make that very very long flight. Although the flight was smooth and straight forward it is hard to appreciate the nostalgic thread bare feel.

The food on the flight was pretty good with a BBQ sauce covered chicken that was washed down with a quite nice little French Cabernet number. Not a bad drop for cattle class. Breakfast I chose was a scrambled egg over sausage with a potato pie slice. The cabin staff were efficient and relatively friendly. No complains there.

Not impressed with the Club Miles situation and will not be pursuing them anymore. Will be flying next time with a modern airline. Rating of 'If they ask us back we would give them a second chance (sometimes stuff happens)'

Well as it turns out there was still the matter of the return flight from Adelaide Australia to San Francisco US. The best, of the worst case scenarios for my member miles. Depart Adelaide for Singapore on a Star Alliance partner Singapore Airlines. The flight was very nice, with hot moist flannels for the face upon takeoff and prior to landing. Full personal entertainment system and USB charging if you wanted to watch your own entertainment on some electronic device or charge something up. The food and wine were also quite nice with the nice touch of having a classy menu. All this with a warm smile and first class service even in cattle class. With no Star Alliance lounge (United does not have a lounge) allowing a United member to enter, it was a long 6.5 hours of wandering the pleasant and large Singapore Airport (only 4 hours nice). Next it was off to China's Pu Dong Airport near Shanghai. Much less nice than Singapore, this is where the trip really unraveled. While having been told that I would need to disembark, collect my luggage and redo the whole customs thing (China problem not United) I was prepared for that, just not the next problem.

With over 7 hours to kill it would be no problem to use a little time changing and repacking and playing with bags after traveling for 24 hours so far (not really but what are you going to do). But I was not prepared to discover that once outside the airport that upon going up to the United counter only to discover that I was not going to be checked back into the airport for at least 5 hours as no-one would be there from United until 2 hours before the flight (United problem not China). Not only was I stranded with all my luggage in the foyer of a foreign airport there was no WiFi on the outside, only inside the international Terminal. So with no communication ability, and 24 hours of semi sleepless travel I was ready to start an international incident (couldn't was too tired).

Over the next 5 hours I wandered back and forth pacing, as I did not want to fall asleep and miss my flight, and when I did nod off, standing up, I would wake only to find people had gathered around me (very disconcerting).
I was finally checked in and allowed into the inside. I got something to eat as by this time I was starving (had found free water fountains in foyer) and the first edible food I saw was Burger King! Yes, that's what I ate, a #3 meal all $12 of it. Most of the other food was still in its living shape or looking like gas station Sushi.

So now to get on WiFi to let my loved one's know I was still alive. No bueno, not going to happen. Needed to follow Chinese instructions (my Chinese is rusty) Once I was helped to get logged on to the free WiFi by a couple basically non english speaking Chinese girls from the Ice Cream parlor it was going to be a twitter bashing for United. Next problem is there is no access to twitter or Facebook or any of those types of communication apps out of the airport (maybe China). My final flight was now boarding and just as I had feared it was one of those non updated nostalgic 747-400's with no amenities again. 
So in summery there are a few things that stand out;

1. You fly through these other countries international airports yet do not have a lounge for your members.BAD
2. As a member of the Star Alliance there is no 'Alliance' except for a seat on a plane (thats better than your own a plus). No perks and no lounges to be shared. Good, BAD
3. You are OK with just dumping your club members in a foreign airport foyer to fend for themselves instead of using an 'Alliance' to get them checked back in to some amount of safety and comfort. BAD
4. Your planes are from the nineties with no personal entertainment and yet you have the audacity to charge $16 for non streaming WiFi. BAD
5. You do not seem embarrassed by this sub par service. Epic fail.

The trip was not something one would ever choose to do. The Singapore Airlines flights were great and would "recommend" flying with them any time, whereas the United flights and the way the trip was put together by them, just leaves us thinking a downgrade to "move on / don't stop" is more accurate.

Happy Adventures,

Kiwi & Koala

Nov 8, 2013

Taste Morgan Carmel Valley

Having been to Taste Morgan before and enjoying the experience, we felt it was time to go back and taste the latest releases and also to check out the remodeled tasting room. On a nice, sunny Californian autumn day it was off to the tasting room. Arriving at the Barnyard shopping center at the west end of Carmel Valley finding the Tasting Room is fairly easy.

Having scored a park right out front it was in to the newly remodeled Tasting Room. First impressions were very positive, with a much larger tasting bar that was nicely built and looked good as well. The room still has a very roomy feel and some away from the bar comfy chairs to sit at around small tables. Overall impressions of the remodeled space were very positive. The space is well used and remains very service oriented and yet very comfortable.
The next nice surprise was the number of tasting options with one being the Lee Family Farm Label. In 2005, Dan introduced a second label, Lee Family Farms, intended to provide a fun outlet for his exploration of “alternative” varietals. These wines were absolutely delightful and at **** prices should be a standard at at everyones dinner table.

How refreshing it was to taste these lovely wines that are also not very common and that can be had for such reasonable prices. We recon these wines are hit over the boundary for six (home run for you Baseball fans). The current tasting possibilities are
Albarino, Verdelho, Grenache Rose, Tempranillo and Rio Tinto (blend of Portuguese varietals: Touriga Nacional and Touriga Francesca).After the Lee Family Farm Tasting it was on to the big guns of the Morgan Label. The current releases are very nice and although very well respected for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the Riesling was very nice as were both the Syrah's. There were three different tasting options and perhaps you should mark the calendar with three visits and get started tasting some very nice wines.
Left that afternoon having purchased two wines (broke the one bottle rule) for future enjoyment. A simply delightful Lee Family Farm 2012 Albarino, The 2012 Albarino displays a beautiful pale straw color and has aromas of white peach, mango, and little citrus. On the palate lingering flavors of nectarine, nice acidity, and apricot. This is a light bodied wine which is delicious as an aperitif or with light summer fare. Next was a lovely 2011 Lee Family Farm Rio Tinto (a blend of 61% Touriga Francesa and 39% Touriga Nacional). On the palate, it is soft and velvet smooth with ripe concentrated blackberry and black cherry flavors, good acidity and a nice soft finish. Both wines rate 6-7 and ****. Great drops at great prices!

A great way to start a day on the Carmel Valley Wine Trail is a taste at Morgan, some lunch in the Crossroads (without moving the car) and then head on down into the beautiful Carmel Valley. When visiting Taste Morgan, tell em we sent you and say G'day.

Happy Tasting Adventures,


Kiwi & Koala

Nov 3, 2013

Worlds top 10 city to visit. #9 Adelaide

Mclaren Vale.

Recently, there has been a bit of a buzz in one of our home towns, as it was named the #9 of the Worlds Top Ten Cities to Visit by Lonely Planet. That town is Adelaide. Having already told tens of people this in recent years, it feels a bit like validation.

Adelaide Hills
When you grow up in a town, for some reason makes it harder to appreciate. But having been gone for the better part of three decades, those childhood memories take on a more golden filtered hue. Adelaide, or probably more accurately South Australia, from first hand knowledge, has a remarkable number of amazing places to experience. Follow this link for a list of some of the fav's. In the last decade or so, it has become even more obvious with every visit back home that Adelaide is an amazing place to base a holiday/vacation from.

We have written a number of posts about some of our Adventures, and even a couple on areas that we loved. Recently it was decided to try to do a bit more of a travel series on a couple of selected areas. With that in mind the next big decision was, which areas? With only a fortnight to cram it all in, making a choice for the first two features was anything but easy (refer to link).
Southern Barossa Valley
Besides writing about these experiences, there is family to spend time with and friends to visit and hang out with so time is precious.

In the end we decided there will be a Holiday/Tourist trip article on the Barossa Valley, then a series of day trips to places like the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale as well as a few Adelaide City area attractions. We have some exciting things lined up in the Barossa already and can't wait to have the experience, get the story and tell you all about what you can expect when you book your holiday / vacation to the spectacular Barossa. Rest assured there will be great stories! Maybe even some friends of WineWalkabout savings to be had! So stay tuned...

All of the Adventures with people, places and things will hopefully capture your attention and help highlight what Lonely Planet has just discovered and we have know for years. Adelaide, or South Australia is a world class tourist destination with fantastic offerings. You can follow along for the daily / hourly updates as to where we are, and what we are doing, with twitter at winewalkabout@kiwiandkoala

It is with great excitement that in a couple of weeks WineWalkabout will be on the loose in Adelaide. There are so many beautiful places to go and stay and see as well as fantastic food and of course the world renown wines its hard to know where to begin.
If you see us about, come on over and say g'day and tell us about your favorite Adelaide Adventure. If there is someone or something you feel we must meet or experience, shoot us an email, there is always room for one more great story! 

Happy Adventures,

Kiwi & Koala
South Aust Video
Another Sth Aussie Video

Blue Lake