Making a Movie & Drinking Hutton Vale Grenache Mataro 2000

huttonvale I have been MIA on Wine Predator and busy posting on Art Predator!

And what have I been busy posting about? Getting the Best Job In the World–as Island caretaker on the Great Barrier Reef! Which doesn’t exactly encourage me to go on and on about AUS wine!

To be in the running for the Island caretaker job, applicants had to produce a 60 second or less video highlighting their qualifications, including why they want the job, and sharing a little about the Great Barrier Reef. In addition to years writing the Art Predator column and now several blogs (this wine one with lots about AUS wine!), plus other journalism and creative writing experiences, I had my own TV news show in high school, I’ve written scripts for PSAs and produced 7 spoken word videos.

So as soon as I heard about the job, I got right to writing a script. And rewriting. And revising. And writing completely different scripts. I won’t tell you how many. I drank quite a bit of wine while working on all this and neglected to take adequate notes to describe them to you!

I enlisted the help of a friend, Imre Juhasz, the father of my son’s best friend Shimon. Imre works on films all over the world, most recently for the Discovery channel. He knows his way around a video camera AND is skilled with final cut pro.

Once we meshed our schedules, we had to work around the weather (rain, rain and more rain). My family being under the weather meant I had to revise the script so that it required very little of the man of my life who was down with the flu, and the small boy wasn’t well either.

So there went the funny script with both of them or even including them in much of the way of anything, certainly not anything athletic or adventurous!

We started at the beach down the street from Imre’s house. While our boys played, we played too with some camera angles and ideas, and filing the sand writing sequences.  We considered going to Channel Islands NP but ended up scoping out my mom’s house as a rainy backup with expansive views.

The next day, Valentine’s Day,  we met again at sunset, this time with the whole family and our bikes to shoot the cycling scene and the closing scene with the globe beach ball. Imre drove his car with his son sleeping in the back–that was our steadycam!

The third day of shooting we did in the backyard and then hiked up to Two Trees. Marshall was too sick so we shot him close to the car then he waited for us there while we hiked up.

The fourth day we couldn’t get together until after the kid were asleep. So at 830 I came over with a bottle of Hutton Vale Vineyards 2000 Eden Valley Grenache Mataro blend I picked up for around $10 at the last Grateful Palate sale. Hutton Vale is one of those wineries GP dropped over the summer, and if this wine says anything about what they produce, it was a mistake! It came in red tissue paper with s sticker closure and the wine was sealed in red wax. Very classy presentation! I also chose it because Imre and I had some very unimpressive and bland Coppola Tempranillo the night before (regularly $16 on sale at Vons for $9) and I’d raved to him about how much I enjoy GSMs which he was unfamiliar with.

So the Hutton Vale Grenache Mataro I figured would be perfect for the task–something wonderful as we edited the video.

And I was right! From the first sniffs to the last sediment filled sips, the wine was quite a pleasure. The nose had that funny musky rich Mataro thing with some sage thrown in going on which at first raised Imre’s eyebrows but then he settled right into it happily and with amazement. The grenache gives the mataro a fine balance with its spicy fruitiness. It was so good that I’m practically desperate to go find more!

The wine lasted through three hours of editing, then we called it a night and I headed home with the empty bottle and a promise to get more!

On the fifth day, we worked about 12 hours on it, on and off during the day. We stopped for a pizza and I picked up a bottle of Ecco Chianti (regularly $12,on sale for $8) and we were all unimpressed–the memories of the Hutton Vale too strong on our palates! About midnight we finished and ready to upload when Imre started having trouble getting it to be the right size without distortion. It took over 3 hours to get it right, then I headed up to post it on the site–at 4am!  Unfortunately a day or so later, it was rejected –some sort of YouTube problem and they asked me to resubmit. Back to the drawing board with Imre and another 3 hours down the tube trying to get the right size without distortion. Another late night ensued for me when the site went down for maintenance when I was ready to upload it! Finally I heard the news that it was accepted and live. Because the site gets so bombarded, it is easiest to watch it on YouTube in HD:

Now just waiting to hear whether I make the 50 shortlist!

Go here to read a review of the 2001.

Greening Valentine’s Day with organic treats, homemade gifts & local, sustainable, organic, biodynamic wines of course!

Even though Valentine’s Day screams RED: red roses, red foil chocolates, red sweaters, red hearts, and RED ink in your checking account, GO GREEN and SAVE GREEN this year! Turn your Valenfree trade chocolatestine’s Day GREEN with some of these tips from LIVE Earth: Save a Little Love for the Planet on Valentine’s Day (photo by LA Green Girl). Wine Predator’s additional tips and commentary are in bold and italics.

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching! February 14th is Saturday and you want to be prepared, but while you’re at it why not show some love for the planet too. It doesn’t take much to green your Valentine’s gifts and festivities. You will be surprised at how much love you can spread around the world. Here are some great tips you can use to show your loved one you care about them, and the planet.

1. So you’ll want a card to go with the wine. Buy valentine cards from local artists who make greeting cards out of recycled material.

artlifekissessm2Most art galleries feature a selection of cards by local artists: around here, I find my favorites at Farmer and the Cook in Meiners Oaks by a local cycling activist artist or at Buenaventura Art Gallery on Fir by the Post Office. Or download my kisses poem and send me a donation; you could also send your loved one a link to my Kisses poem (and show me a little link love too while you’re at it by linking to Kisses on your site!)

2. Make your own valentine cards with recycled items and things from nature such as dried flowers, satin ribbons, fabric hearts.

Try going to the beach or the snow and handwriting your message! Photo the message and send it to your loved one! Or print it out!

3. If you like to enjoy your wine by candlelight, use eco-friendly fragrance free candles. Beeswax or vegetable based candles that are biodegradable and smoke-free are a good choice.

Beeswax candles also clean and clear the air of pollutants and they smell wonderfully while they burn. I find mine at our local farmers markets; I keep them near sunlight so as they warm during the day, they exhale a rich sweet scent.

4. Choose wine or champagne that’s  organic, biodynamic, or sustainably produced. If there is a vineyard near,  buy from there. You will be supporting a local business, cutting down the use of packaging for shipping and probably saving some money too.

images-2Organic isn’t the only GREEN wine around–look for biodynamic wine or wines produced from sustainable vineyards, wineries and businesses.

One “green” red  I enjoyed recently over New Years weekend in Joshua Tree is RN13 Vin de pique-nique which indeed is perfect for a Valentine’s Day picnic! Made from 40% cabernet, 40% syrah, and 25% grenache (and sometimes mourverde)  grown organically in the south of France (Languedoc-Roussillon), the blend brings out the best of all three–it’s a spicy, silky,  full bodied,  full of fruit, full of fun!

I found the wine in Joshua Tree for $15 at a funky little cool cafe and shop on the corner across the street from the strip mall in Joshua Tree where you’ll find a thrift store and a natural foods market. We enjoyed it during a cloudy, wind whipped sunset in Joshua Tree and with a dinner of bolognese, salad, and stuffed portabellas. If you’re not in the neighborhood of Joshua Tree NP, try a Whole Foods Market.

The unusual way it’s bottled makes it easy to reuse as well! And each time you reuse the bottle, you will remember your special “picnic”!11ojai

Yesterday at a Santa Lucia Highland’s tasting in LA I tasted dozens of wonderful wines–mostly chardonnays like Bernardus full of character and pinots like Belle Glos with its lipstick red dripping cork seal and amazing nose plus a few intense syrahs like Wrath or Novy’s 2006. I also discovered Hahn’s sustainably grown wines. Unfortunately,  by the time I made it to their table, they were packing up. They did give me some seeds which they use as a cover crop and we will plant for Valentine’s Day!

You’d be surprised how many biodynamic, organic and sustainable wines that are being made in the US these days and beyond! Go here to learn about biodynamic wines from Quivira in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma.

You’d also be surprised at the number of wineries scattered across the country; I know I am! I’m lucky since in my backyard I have world-class wine and winemakers like Manfred Frankl of Sine Qua Non and the up and coming Michael Meagher at Vino V, and long-time local winemaking guru Adam Tolmach at Ojai producing wine from grapes typically sourced within 50 miles of my house.

5. For dessert, buy Organic or fair trade chocolates treats, (if you can buy from companies whose profits go to helping endangered species) or make your own chocolate treats with organic chocolates, nuts and fruits.

chocolate-strawberriesMaking your own customized chocolate treats like chocolate dipped strawberries with pecans really is easy! Finding organic strawberries this time of year is simple also since now is when they are really coming in season. While my favorites “Harry’s Berries” aren’t certified organic, the family follows sustainable and organic practices. You can find a recipe here.