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