Again 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!
This is the wine you need for Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, and maybe for all the sinners on your list: Twisted Oak’s River of Skulls, a mourverde with a little syrah thrown in.
Not just because the bottle itself is impressive. Which it is–the graphic was created by El Jefe’s son Andrew Stai when he was 16, with all that intensity for which 16 year old boys are known. (Andrew, by the way, has made it to 20). The punt of the bottle is sensually curved and ribbed, asking you to run your finger around its rim. The shape of the bottle itself calls out to be held, grabbed, carressed, and slugged. Really. It is the perfect wine for a pirate and begs for a candle when it is downed and out.
I first tasted this wine with El Jefe at Doug Cook’s birthday celebration at the Wine Blogger’s Conference last weekend at Santa Rosa. We were talking between pours and he pointed out the bottle which I’d been admiring for awhile, not even knowing it was his wine, or a mourverde (recall my fondness for Quivira’s? Or even better, the RBJ 2002 theologicum mataro? Now that’s a wild wine…)
So El Jefe opened it up lickety split and poured. Considering the powerful wines that had crossed my palate from Doug Cook’s cellar that night, it stood its ground (of course, mourverdre will do that for me!) There was a some left in the bottle so El Jefe let me take it home–lucky me!
It was the first red wine I enjoyed when I returned–with a dinner of cioppino and brown rice and a salad with blue cheese, walnut, and apple. Some lovely musky earth and spice balances the fresh lively raspberries. Certainly enough to wake the dead or to serve them on your altar. Saints and sinners will appreciate this offering.
from Twisted Oak in Calaveras County CA
This is a special creature, this wine. Sorry to say that unless you have a trip planned to Calaveras county, you’re out of luck. You can get on the list now for next year! Sign up here.