Oct 27, 2014

Merlot Merlot the much maligned Merlot

Its that time of year again. Its Merlot month! We do enjoy Merlot month as an excuse to look for and drink this wonderful variety.
The other day while out on a wine adventure a Merlot was tasted that stopped us in our tracks. Not that the previous Merlots from this winery were not good, but this is very very good. The 2011 Joyce Vineyards Estate Merlot is just a great Merlot.

Hey Miles, get stuffed!

Merlot is just a great red wine to drink or enjoy with a meal. Sure, there are flashier wines out there, even flashier Merlots but the Joyce Estate Merlot is pretty spot on. Like that spouse you've been married to for a long time, but are still excited to see naked every night. Light some candles, turn on some 80's New Wave, perhaps Spandau Ballet,
Always believe in your soul 
You've got the power to know 
You're indestructible 
Always believe in, that you are 
Gold (gold)  and embrace this Merlot as it engages your taste buds with layers of dark berry, exotic spices and velvety textures. Ripe blackberry, a little allspice, hint of toasty oak and blueberry compote dance on the palate. Pair this with a special friend with or without food. Clothing optional...

Go by the tasting room in Carmel Valley and taste the Joyce range and find your favorite.

Happy Wine Adventures,

Kiwi & Koala

Oct 15, 2014

#WW 2008 Jacobs Creek Shiaz

This weeks week night wine that stood out as a great taste and price balanced wine is from South Australia. The 2008 Jacobs Creek Shiraz. What a great drinking value wine. Excellent fruit with violets, dark berries and black pepper on the nose. Rich, ripe blackberry, purple plum and spice with a full, fleshy mid-palate. Outstanding depth of fruit flavor supported by subtle coffee like oak notes and fine velvety tannin's with easy soft finish. A very enjoyable and distinctive example of an affordable Australian Shiraz. This medium bodied easy drinking enjoyable inexpensive wine rates **** and a solid 6. Perfect to accompany your week night meals even if you have guests this is good enough to share without hesitation.  Good and very inexpensive! Cheers!

Happy Wine Adventures,


Kiwi & Koala

Oct 12, 2014

Wine but no Picnic at Hanging Rock

As a child I visited this amazing place called Hanging Rock, a distinctive geological formation, 718m above sea level (105m above plain level) on the plain just a few kilometres north of Mount Macedon (dinner the previous night at Mt Macedon Hotel), a former volcano. Best known as the site where a party of schoolgirls disappeared in February of 1900 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' which is the story my Uncle had told the night before. It was a drizzling wet cold day as it can be in Victoria in the winter and I remember being terrified we would not find our way out and further the mystery of this place. It is a very scary place and easy to get lost when you are ten years old.

It was also the rumoured to have been the haunt of bushranger ‘Mad Dog’ Morgan. It was made famous by the classic Australian novel and later movie Picnic at Hanging Rock, the mythic tale of the Valentine’s Day disappearance of a group of schoolgirls and their teacher while visiting Hanging Rock in 1901.

The legend endures, and an air of mystery and intrigue still lingers. This mound of massive granite outcrops is riddled with caves, tunnels and overhanging boulders, its shapes and acoustic echoes enhancing its already spooky reputation. It is a mystical place that is for sure.

This trip the weather was no different and although a few decades later a strange trepidation lingers about wandering around this amazing place. After an hour or so I was done being cold and getting wet and decided that a different adventure at Hanging Rock was in order. Done with the Picnic idea it was off to the Hanging Rock Winery that was just down the road a couple minutes and offered a dry spot to taste wine. Much more my style.

A nice place for a taste and a large selection of wine where almost anyone will find a new favorite. My favorite after careful consideration and a number of revisits was the 2008 Kilfara Pinot Noir.

The Mt Macedon area is a cool place to visit with the Mt Macedon Hotel (pub) for food and drink, the Hanging Rock Winery among others and the Hanging Rock area itself to spend some time feeling like you are back in 1900.

Happy Wine Adventures,

Kiwi & Koala

The Cellar Door at Hanging Rock Winery

Oct 5, 2014

An Adventure at Pisoni Vineyards

So this was to be a breakthrough event for us. We were in a position to taste and report on wines that are very hard to get. To ask the hard questions and get answers from an icon of the industry. Talk to the one who has a passion for wine, and for us reinvented Pinot Noir beyond Sideways.  Access to the one who is in the vineyard, to one who is making the wine. We also had access to the one whose vision and passion, gave life to iconic and sort after grapes and wines that come from these vineyards. We even had access to another individual who is part owner of another winery that is privileged enough to purchase grapes from these amazing vineyards. So how did we do?
E P I C    F A I L !
Yeah nah, your eye’s are not deceiving you. Kiwi and Koala have to apologize because we failed. We had the best intentions but, we were led astray and it just did not really happen. What did happen you may ask?  Well the story goes like this...........

Well we arrived as directed way out in the bush of the Santa Lucia Highlands at 12 noon at  the Pisoni Family Vineyards. It is quite the little oasis, including a waterfall and multiple old style roman cisterns with a stone trough between them all the way to the large pond. It was also a beautiful day! We were greeted by our hosts, The Pisoni family. Gary Pisoni, his wife Margarite, his son and vineyard manager Mark, other son and winemaker Jeff. We were immediately handed a really nice Pinot Rosé by Jeff. The perfect starter for the warm afternoon. The event was primarily for the wine club members of Patz and Hall Winery. So as we started to ponder this lovely Rosé that had been handed us we were lured into trying some of Patz and Hall’s wine. Made with the grapes from one of the Pisoni Vineyards, the first was a 2002 Pinot Noir. This wine was excellent and as we engaged in conversation with Russell the general manager of Patz and Hall, we tried the next one, and then the next one, and then a special Library one. Before we could catch our breath Gary Pisoni runs up and pours us a glass full of something from a heavily dust covered bottle and says “you’re gonna love this”, and we did. We know that those who know us will be surprised but by now any real objective and quantitative analysis was basically just not going to happen. Yes we were getting pissed and we just became a couple of blokes drinking with friends having a BBQ. It was great!
A little bit later James Hall comes up to us a pours a Patz and Hall 1998 Pinot Noir. Now we have always believed that Pinot Noir’s should generally be consumed within about five to seven years of release. Again FAIL! This was still amazingly clear bright and had great fruit quality with a soft mouth feel and a seductively soft long finish. Second glass please!
The venue is a work in progress, and although a lot has been done, Gary has plans for a lot more. The original wine cellar is now a massive dining hall or more accurately halls. After a couple hours eating taco’s and cheeses and salamis and drinking copious amounts of awesome Pinot Noir, Gary instructs everyone to grab a bottle of wine and follow him as we head up to the dining hall. Great long tables lined with empty wine bottles with lit candles on top. Once the 40-50 people are settled with another glass of wine, they then file to the next food table for baked citrus salmon with asparagus, pasta and some BBQ chicken. Awesome! Of course there was Pisoni and Patz and Hall wine flowing constantly.

As the afternoon wound down and the bus load of people left Kiwi and Koala had some time to just talk and hang with Gary. This guy is as passionate about his vines and grapes and the wine it’s turned into as any person we have ever met. After thirty plus years the fire has not dimmed. During the conversation about where the water came from (the sixth well to 400 feet), terroir and micro climates (we know poncy) Gary jumps up and says “let’s go, I’ll show you what I’m talking about”. At that point it was into the famous 1960’s jeep and off on an adventure through Gary’s vision. A little like Mr. Toad’s wild ride with a little Mad Hatter thrown in but with an amazing amount of insight and knowledge of the vineyards and their terroir. Spending time with Gary around the vineyards, his passion is infectious and you can’t help being drawn into it.
Quote of the day from Gary Pisoni “I have three rules to make wine here.  You have to 1)be my friend, 2)make good wine, and 3) pay the bills!

As for the rest of the day, well you had to be there. So as the index fingers are cramping we will just finish by saying, what an amazing day with wonderful people and exceptional wines.

Thanks to Michele for helping with the arrangements and getting us there with great directions. To the Pisoni family for being gracious and generous hosts. We hope at some time to actually do a review of some of their wines, specifically to let you know how good they are and let you all know where to get them.


Kiwi and Koala

Oct 1, 2014

#WW Wine Review Hungarian Wine, Leányka White wine,

With summer kicking back into gear here in California it just seemed appropriate to pull a nice white out of the wine fridge. While foraging around looking at what was available this little minx called out. Our friends at the Hungarian Wine Show had sent this to us for a tasting and a review. So here is the review.

As this wine was calling to get our attention it was time to seduce this sexy little number out of the wine fridge and go on a date. This is a white that has a seductive smooth body, displaying plenty of nuance and elegance with a lovely mouth feel, supple and graceful, ending with a burst of flavor and a nice persistent finish and as it turns out an enchanting date. 

The good folks at the Hungarian Road Show describe our new love as follows.
Leányka – Traminer – Sauvignon Blanc – Rhine Riesling – Welschriesling
(Leányka, meaning “damsel”, is a Hungarian wine grape variety.)
If we deep look into the eyes of the wine, we first see “the damsel of Almagyar” looking back for us. Her attendants are Traminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Rhine Riesling, and Welschriesling. All are beauteous, fresh, and youthful, and while each has its individual personality, they move together like a team of cheerleaders.

Not sure we have ever seen the word 'beauteous' used as a descriptor but it is quite accurate and we think it is more a team of exotic dancers rather than cheerleaders. Just going with the theme...

Those two things aside this is a very enjoyable white wine that prefers to be served a bit warmer than some whites at about 58-62 deg so as to let the girls personality loose and not to get locked up (locked, we said locked up not knocked up). 

A very nice **** wine rated a 7 on the scale and a perfect summer wine that will go with Chinese, Thai and even Mexican as well as all the traditional white wine pairings.
A cracking wine, so drink it if you can find it!

Happy Wine Adventures,

Kiwi & Koala