Wine Travel Adventure

Bay Area & California travel blog

Category: Australia & New Zealand

A wine to celebrate with

Greg Norman Shiraz Being in the mood to celebrate, we looked in our wine stash and found something to celebrate with: a Shiraz from Greg Norman Estates. It turned out to be a deft choice. It took a while for it to open up but once it did, it provided rich flavors that were earthy yet smooth. We liked it. We have had other Greg Norman wines, including the sparkling, and there is not a glass we have tasted that we have not liked. They’re top flight.

Greg Norman is himself a top flight former pro golfer, one of the world’s best in his time, whose nickname was “The Shark.” Thus, the red shark logo on the label of the bottle. The grapes for the Shiraz are grown on the Limestone Coast of Norman’s native Australia and based on what we’ve tasted this is no celebrity brand; this is wine with a point of view and character. Good for a celebration—or not. We did not quite make it all the way through the bottle the first night and so the next night, with nothing more than to celebrate than being alive, I finished it off. I may have enjoyed its unfolding pleasures even more the second night.

Want to know how a Sauvignon Blanc resembles a Doris Day song? See more of our wine tasting notes and comments at Tasty Sips. —Kevin Nelson 

4 wheel driving adventures on the beaches of Western Australia

AustraliaBy Jennifer Martin

Do you love driving on the beach? If you do, and you’re traveling in Australia, there is an abundance of 4 wheel driving adventures available to travelers on the beaches of Perth, the capital of the state of Western Australia and a major business and recreational hub of the country.

Perth offers plenty of 4WD tracks in its close vicinity. However, if you are craving for a unique blend of adventure and fun at the waterside, there are three must-go destinations for those who love going four by four: Continue reading

Choosing the best Merlots: A buyer’s guide from Australia

By Niklas Gerste

Editor’s note: Today we welcome a new contributor to WineTravelAdventure, Niklas Gerste, a knowledgeable wine industry veteran who lives and works in Australia. Here he provides advice on selecting the best Merlots: 

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are amongst the most popular red wine varieties in Australia, the United States and throughout the world. When blended together, they form a classic combination that is identified by breeding and distinction.

Eden Valley, Australia.

Eden Valley, Australia.

According to a leading wine producer, the ideal blend of Cabernet Merlot is about 70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 30 percent Merlot. Merlot is a varietal that contains at least 13.5 percent alcohol, but can approach 14.5 percent, especially when it is grown in a warmer climate such as Australia, California or Chile. The wine is often said to have a plummy taste and notes of chocolate. It’s also considered to be smooth and very easy to drink. Among wine aficionados it is considered to be one of the classic varietal combinations in the world of wine.

Cabernet blends are usually dark, rich full-bodied reds. The main grape varietals blended are Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz; Cabernet, Shiraz, Malbec and Merlot; and Cabernet and Petit Verdot, or they can also include Cabernet with Rosé for a lighter color and taste. Most Merlots are easy drinking reds that go well both with food as well as on their own. This is an approachable grape varietal and is often recommended as the first red wine someone new to red wine should drink. Continue reading

Mary Babbitt’s tips on touring New Zealand’s wine regions

Via articleIn an article in the spring issue of Via, Mary Babbitt, host of the syndicated TV series “In Wine Country,” shares some tips for those in search of wine and adventure in New Zealand, particularly “the magical terrain of the Central Otago region,” as she calls it.

Scenes from the two movie trilogies spun from the J.R.R. Tolkien novels The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were shot in Central Otago, which Babbitt describes in words that may have even pleased the late British writer:

            “The crystalline Southern Alps touch clear blue sky; glaciers flow through alpine rock and tussock to beech forest below; lakes and rivers glow turquoise from glacial dust. Vistas like these can feed your soul for a lifetime.”

Central Otago is also spawning words of praise for its wine, which it has only been making since the 1980s. Even so, as Babbitt points out, its terrain and climate are first-rate for growing grapes and the land occupies the same 45th parallel north of the equator where Bordeaux, Piedmont and Willamette Valley reside. A few of the wineries worth visiting (and tasting their wares), she says, are Amisfield, Gibbston Valley Wines, Peregrine, Rippon and the intriguing sounding Mt. Difficulty.

Pinot Noir is the region’s stock in trade. But there are other things to do besides visit wineries when you’re there. At Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown in Otago, there are “some 220 forms of adventure tourism—paragliding, skiing, white-water boating and bungee jumping, to name a few.” As well as bicycling, hiking, scenic automobile tours and more.

Babbitt, a multiple Emmy Award-winning journalist and a former local NBC-TV reporter in San Jose who travels all over wine country to film her program, describes Central Otago as “a special secret.” Well, no more. The cat is out of the bag.

Contact Babbitt on her Facebook page. AAA, the publisher of Via, is offering a 10-day trip to New Zealand and Central Otago starting at $3,549. See its website for details. Photo: An excerpt from the article.