No Burning Man Party: Bitch (Grenache) & Bubbly (Chateau Ste Michelle Blanc de Pinot Noir)

Burning Without The Man

The Man Burned Without Us

Somehow, all the hard core Burners I know stayed home from the Burn this year. Even Alan Sailer, who graced Yahoo’s news coverage and showed up on the New York Times on line coverage last year Continue reading

R Winery’s Luchador Puts Up a Fight!

Art Predator hit 21! That’s 21,001 hits as of 8/10/08! I can drink now! Whoo-hoo! Good thing I’m legal since I consumed quite a bit of wine, like the Luchador below, tonight at the Animal Fair Party!

My favorite of course was an Aussie shiraz–R Winery’s Luchador Shiraz 2006! Pictured is “El Jefe;” we drank “Gigante”–there’s 4 different Luchadors to choose from!

No surprise this came from Grateful Palate Imports and was PERFECT for the tritip BBQ, roasted corn, chili beans! Luchador shiraz  can stand up to ANYTHING you might throw at it since it has so much flavor, liveliness, PERSONALITY!

We were battling for the bottle, I admit! At 15.5% alcohol, it’s a tad hot (and I didn’t get a chance to cool it a bit before we drank it), but remarkably well-balanced (at least that’s what several people remarked!)

And what a conversation starter! Seemed like everybody there had at least a taste as we shared glasses and conversation amongst good friends (like, wow, this is really good! for example…). You can find it for about $15, which is a great price for a wine with this much pizzazz. But hey, it’s a Chris Ringland wine–what else would you expect?? Continue reading

A New Path to the Waterfall & trout for breakfast

Day 10: trout for breakfast

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Footsteps on the gravel in our campsite wake me.

THWACK! Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

It is 6:37am. We are at the BLM’s Tuttle Creek Campground a few miles and a thousand feet or so up from Lone Pine toward Mt Whitney Portal. Last night when we climbed into bed, it was raining and windy. Naked, listening to the rain on the roof of the van, looking out at the stars, smelling the wet sagebrush, hearing the creek nearby, full belly content after a wonderful meal at the Still Life Cafe in Independence, we realized we’d forgotten to pay the $5 for the campsite.

Which explains the THWACK–a ticket most likely lay under our windshield wiper. Continue reading

Tsharke Only Son 2005 Tempranillo & The Still Life Cafe

Day 9: Flash floods, Still Life Cafe, last bottle of Aussie wine

While a flashflood watch was in effect when we were fishing in the eastern Sierra south of Bishop, turns out it was a deluge the previous night which closed Highway 395 just north of Independence, and slowed traffic to an escorted crawl.

Even though this flashflood was 24 hours old, only one of four lanes on 395 was open and the thick mud, black with soot from last year’s fires, surrounded us; plentiful water flowed and had yet to run clear. Continue reading

Wishin 4 Fishin

Day 9: wishin 4 fishin

After five nights at Reds Meadow, it’s time to pack up and head out to the Eastern Sierra for one last night of our 10 day trip and some more fishing!

Rain threatens. From the Mammoth Mountain ski area parking lot, the Big Monkey rides off down the trail to meet us at the Visitor Center in town five miles away. In the van, we’re protected from the sprinkles, then a downpour, then hail! When he rolls in, he’s drenched and exhilarated.

Before we leave Mammoth, we stop at Burgers! for yes, burgers–a big juicy one which the Big Monkey and I share; the boy enjoys a grilled cheese sandwich off the kids menu, and we all take sips from the chocolate malt which comes with a sidecar. Burgers! is located across from the Village on Route 203.

Under stormy skies, we descend Sherwin Summit on Highway 395. The Sierras are gloomy and we’re glad we’re not in the back country on this day. We stop in Bishop at a sporting goods shop for some ideas about where to fish before our planned dinner at the Still Life Cafe in Independence. A clerk informs a flash flood has closed 395 just this side of Independence so we might as well pull over and fish awhile! We thought those clouds were ominous! Continue reading

Brothers in Arms 2002 Shiraz: Thai green curry & more surprises

Day 8: last night, Reds Meadow, Brothers in Arms shiraz

What is it about these Australian wines (or is it Grateful Palate Imports wines??) that they offer so much creativity in what could be a boring enterprise—the label of a wine bottle?? For example, Boarding Pass,

from R Winery, which we enjoyed before dinner in early July the night Dave Staeheli flew in from Alaska to pick up his son, which has a ticket around its neck and a boarding pass on its belly! Yummy too, before dinner; with our steak dinner we downed a bottle of another Australian, “Red Edge” Cabernet in honor of the Big Monkey who used to be a red head—“Now THIS is GOOOOD!” he said. “What is this? I really like it! It’s not as fruity as that other stuff.” Cabernet, I told him, you prefer cabs over shiraz. “Yes,” he agreed. Since I bought it thinking it would be one he’d like, I was glad to be right!!

The Red Edge is a classy package but not going to win a beauty contest or stand out on the shelf or on the table in any way that will spark a conversation while Boarding Pass, which looks like a boarding pass, will catch your attention and likely fly off the shelf into your shopping cart.

Tonight I am about to open a bottle of Brothers in Arms 2002 shiraz which I just retrieved from where it was nestled in the rocks and under the alders in the creek to cool it to cellar temperature of about 60 degrees; I imagine, after this warm day, it would be in the 70s otherwise–yuck, especially for a high alcohol wine like this one (15%).

The cap is remarkable—embossed on top: two hands clasp, shirt sleeves rolled up, muscles flexed, and along the bottom on a tangerine tape it reads in black script “Brothers in Arms” with a red postmark for Langhorne Creek South Australia. The label is cream with the black script and red postmark, and the top and bottom of the label looks ot be hand torn. This label also has wine spilt from a broken bottle but that just adds to its charm as it does to Dead Letter office, another one of my favorite labels (and shiraz too!) The text on the back explains that five generations have grown grapes there and now brothers turn those grapes into wines like this one.

A wine can’t be all fancy label and braggadaccio. The wine in the glass must be at least as good as the bottle it came from. The bottle of 2006 Ringland Ebenezer shiraz is beautiful, graceful, evocative—and the wine is bold, rich, inviting, and rewarding, its promise fulfilled.

As the sun breaks through after many rambunctious thunders (no lightening from our vantage point of our fishing spot along the San Joaquin River) and some scattered rain (enough to make the sagebrush and the Jeffery pines break out the perfume), I break the lead carefully so that the top is still attached for show, I manipulate the broken corkscrew to release the cork, I pour a small amount into the Mexican green glass (I really should have brought a real wine glass on this trip!!)

Hmmn, unusual! Reminds me of spice, and herbs– Thai spices: galangal ginger, lemon grass, green curry, coconut milk, mint. No kidding! And some of that Thai green curry spice lives on from the nose to the palate. But don’t let me scare you—it’s really good! Rich and creamy, fruity of course but not as fruity as others. The richness here is meaty and fatty, almost like a porkchop (or a lambchop with mint jelly?) The label says the wine is typical of the region and I can’t wait to find out if Thai green curry is typical of the region. If I wasn’t in the middle of nowhere, at least an hour drive and 2000′ elevation gain up to Minarets summit and again then down into the town of Mammoth, I would google this wine and find out if anyone else tastes Thai green curry in this shiraz. Hmmn, I wonder how this shiraz would be with Thai food?

The remaining question is: how will it be with the trout I am hoping the Big Monkey will return with any minute for dinner?? Otherwise, we’re having pasta from the van’s pantry…which I better put on to boil just in case! With a wine this tasty, it doesn’t matter what else we might have to eat!

Minaret Falls

Day 8: Minaret Falls

“Wake up! Wake up!” says the small boy. “It’s time to go fishing! It’s morning time and the fish are awake! Quick let’s wake up Dad!”

The two scamper off, the young red head and the old red head, hand in hand, to take the trail to Sotcher Lake, but return a few hours later empty handed–no one was catching fish this morning, even the guys on the inflatable rafts.

With some of my homemade blueberry corn pancakes in our bellies, we’re off to hike to Minaret Falls and do some fishing along the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River.

Since we’re getting such a late start, and we have a small boy, we take the shuttle to the Devils Postpile NPS Ranger Station to cut off about 1 mile from our proposed 3 mile round trip hike. From the Ranger Station, we hike southwest a bit, then cross the river on a bridge. We climb a bit on well made, well signed trail of pumice gravel and decomposed granite under ample pine tree shade. Within no time, we’ve scrambled off the trail to the base fo the falls, and the boy has his feet in the cool water. We put his red Teva river shoes for a better grip on the slippery rocks, and soon he’s wet and happy.

According to one source, the falls cascade some 250 feet in a series of white water, while another source says 300 feet or 90 meters; they seem as broad as they are long. The noise makes you shout to be overheard.


As glorious as they may be, we don’t stay long in the cool spray and environs–the Big Monkey has fish fever, so we head down stream toward the confluence with the San Joaquin river. Just upstream, we find a nice hole where the fish are jumping like crazy and we watch, somewhat agog, as they flip, flop and fly after the bugs!

The boy, bored more quickly than Dad, finds a tunnel like trail through the willows which is too fun to pass up, so I go with him. The trail comes out at Minaret Falls campground–18 roomy spaces, gorgeous views, flush toilets, potable water, and great fishing within a few minutes walk.

A rumble of thunder gets a glance skyward–it looks and sounds like a big storm is coming so we scramble our way through the willows back to the Big Monkey who had noticed little in our absence except the constant flash of fish…fish getting away. So far none for dinner.

I convince him we should catch the shuttle back to camp before we get drenched since we neglected to bring rain gear and the boy has already soaked his way through his clothes. Since all the campgrounds are strung between the road and the river, we walk down the road toward the Minaret Falls campground shuttle stop. It’s quite a walk, and when I look at the map realize that there’s a trail along the creek which leaves one end of this campground and arrives quickly at the other end of the Devils Postpile shuttle stop. But we’re already at the road waiting. Next time!