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Day 341: Think We’re Gonna Need a Bigger . . . Raft!

heart & soul moscatoOn this day in 1947, Kon-Tiki, a balsa wood raft captained by Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl, completes a 4,300-mile, 101-day journey from Peru to Raroia in the Tuamotu Archipelago, near Tahiti. Heyerdahl wanted to prove his theory that prehistoric South Americans could have colonized the Polynesian islands by drifting on ocean currents.  Heyerdahl and his five-person crew set sail from Callao, Peru, on the 40-square-foot Kon-Tiki on April 28, 1947. The Kon-Tiki, named for a mythical white chieftain, was made of indigenous materials and designed to resemble rafts of early South American Indians.  While crossing the Pacific, the sailors encountered storms, sharks and whales, before finally washing ashore at Raroia.

WHAT?!?!?  Are you serious?  A Balsa Wood raft?  Today’s explorers ain’t got nuttin’ on those from yesteryear!  Before there was carbon fiber . . . before there was even fiberglass . . . before there was GPS, and so much more – there were explorers who literally risked their lives on the open water.  Think about it . . . Peru to Tahiti.  Daunting even in a Carnival Cruise Ship – hopefully the power stays on, but imagine the trek in a raft.  Amazing . . . heroic . . . and CRAZY!  We understand that Hollywood has latched on to this story and will be bringing another version of the story to the big screen.  While we’re skeptical, we’re looking forward to the story they tell – Jean likes to collect old books and has a first printing of the novel recording these historic events and has been a huge fan of this story for years.

With 25 days left in our blog goal of trying 365 different wines in 365 days, tonight we’ve locked into a wine that brings out the sweetness in life.  A birthday gift from Misty at Jean’s office – who like us, sometimes picks wines for their names.

A non-vintage moscato from Southeastern Australia called Heart & Soul.  Think of fresh grapes and that’s what Moscato tastes like. The color is pale yellow and there are very fine bubbles. The palate is fruity with a crisp finish.  We enjoyed it as a ‘before dinner’ wine . . . and after a day of 104 degrees, we thought that it was delicious.  Priced at less than $12 a bottle, this crisp, smooth wine will be a perfect welcome for guests dropping by or sitting out back — preferably when the temperature is much lower.  This wine could equally be served with light fruit and dessert.  One of the things about this wine is its crispness in the finish.  Very clean and little or no aftertaste.  All this being said, we’re not totally sold on the varietal; however, if they are starting to make wines like this, we’re going to sit up and start noticing them.

Imagine for a moment that you and four of your friends have just started out on a deep sea adventure on only a raft crafted from balsa wood.  All you have at your disposal are your navigation skills, a compass, some rations and water and the moon to be your guide.  Even the most salty veterans of the ocean will tell you that the voyage of Mr. Heyerdahl is beyond legendary – it’s historical!  So tonight . . . as we continue to enjoy – not Malbec Week, but Shark Week, think about a true explorer, a true adventurous spirit who 66 years ago today landed — for the most part — where he wanted to, just to prove a point.

Kind of like trying 365 different wines  in 365 days–sometimes we have to do things to prove a point!  Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 339: Stumping On A Monday . . .

the stump jump GSMOne thing that seems to be certain. . .Mondays come and go really fast–all things considered.  As we departed for work this morning, Jean was heading north to Austin and Brian was heading south to his office in San Marcos, the realization of our weekend-in-the-rearview-mirror was evident.  Yep, another weekend had come and gone before our very eyes and we were left wondering what exactly happened.  We had wrapped up work on Friday afternoon with a lot of excitement and thoughts about what we could do over the weekend.  Yes, we sat outside at the picnic tables provided by East Ends Wines and enjoyed a variety of new wines and couldn’t help but think how fun it was going to be with TWO days off! 

As we have detailed in previous blogs–and we WON’T go into them here–, there has been a pretty fair amount of work to be done on the house in Kerr-patch, but we’re on task and ready to make something happen, so whether it’s re-grouting the tile, any time you have new tenants moving into your property, the right thing to do is give it a complete–top to bottom–cleaning.  So, that’s how we spent yesterday (as previously noted)!

When Monday comes along, we’re either glad to have the ‘break’ of a new work week, or we’d wished that we would have hired someone else to take care of the necessary work at the house!  You know what we mean. . .you have the BEST intentions that get derailed.  However, this weekend we didn’t get derailed. . .we worked hard–painting, touching up walls, cleaning windows, sweeping, dusting, covering nail holes and a lot more.  It was the stuff that made Monday look really good!

And so,  tonight we opened a really nice 2011 Stump Jump from McLaren Vale in Australia,  It’s a blend that includes Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre’–it’s young, tart and it’s loaded with grenache.  Not being one of our favorite varietals, we kind of turned our noses up at it, but with a great pricing deal from Twin Liquors at less than $9 a bottle, we felt the obligation to “take one for the team!”  And so, we taste the 2011 Stump Jump blend.  And, it tasted about like we thought it would. . .A Sensational value, not too simple but; rich, savory, and brimming with ripe, spicy fruit flavor.  Endearingly honest and unpretentious, the ideal everyday red. ”  And, according to our friends at drinkupny.com,   The Stump Jump GSM is a rich, flavorful red produced in the traditional McLaren Vale style. Mulberry and plum flavors from the Grenache combine with the blackberry, spice and white pepper of the Shiraz. Best served at room temperature, this wine will gain added complexity with careful cellaring over the next two to five years. Composed of 46% Grenache, 39% Shiraz and 15% Mourvedre.

We just couldn’t make this one work for us.  Probably too much Grenache, but regardless, we’re probably looking elsewhere for our next blog deal.  It’ s nothing against Stump Jump–in fact this is our second bottle to blog about.–but it’s more about the taste and this one just didn’t bring it home.  We know that really, really good wines come from McLaren Vale in Australia, and unfortunately, this one isn’t among them.

As your week unfolds, remember to drive safely-stop and taste the wine and get home all in one piece…Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.


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Day 277: The Big Woop – Not, so Much . . .

Big Whoop

Last Friday, Jean had the opportunity to visit a new place in Austin called East End Wines located off 11th street and I35 (thanks to Margaret and Lance).  Here she met Sam – Sam, is half of the East End team and Matt is the other.  Together these two have put together a wonderful wine shop, tasting room that is described as “East End Wines is chock-full of obscure bottles just waiting to inspire anyone who loves wine. – Wes Marshall, Austin Chronicle” and “The shop’s inventory is like a restaurant wine list compiled by an obsessive savant, peppered with labels you’ve never heard of and some you’ve heard about in breathless conversations with wine people – Mike Sutter, Austin American Statesman”

Have to admit, when she opened the door of the old house that the shop resides in – she stepped back in time to Ingram and the original location of Grape Juice owned by Patrick and Keri Wilt.  In fact, Sam reminded her of Patrick – Sam’s love and appreciation of wine came through loud and clear . . . he got his Sommelier degree in 2005 and on that Friday was sporting a shirt with SAMMELIER written across his chest (gotta just love anyone with that sense of humor).  The shop has a huge (and we mean HUGE) inventory ranging in price from under $10 waaaaaaay over $10 – truly something for every palate.  Here is a sampling.  Jean picked up a few labels for the blog – we wrote about one on Day 273 – and we look forward to sampling the others in days to come.

Tonight’s wine is one that she picked up for $12.57 (plus a 10% discount when one buys four bottles of wine at East End – nice touch) – 2008 Big Woop Red Wine from Southeastern Australia.  Being huge (and we mean HUGE) fans of Australian wine, expectations were pretty darn high for this wine.  This wine comes from the Woop Woop Wine line. Apparently “woop woop” is an Aussie expression that means “somewhere in the middle of nowhere”.  So that would make a big woop what happens when one’s GPS dies and they have to navigate with a REAL map!  Actually, if you add the “h” into woop, you get an expression that means “no big deal”.  As in, “What’s the big whoop? It’s one tiny scratch on the car, Mom.” 

Big Woop Red is a blend of grenache, shiraz, and petite verdot in a 1 liter bottleSince she was with a group of folks at an offsite retreat, Jean decided to take the wine to the masses and get their input.  Thanks to Renee, Rachel, Scott, Dave and Rosie for offering themselves up – we know, a dirty job, but someone had to do it!  All agreed that although a bang for your buck – the wine was a disappointment.   The color was a deep red and set an expectation.  What’s the flavor factor you ask?  Well, the nose was pretty healthy with pencil shavings, wet cedar, leather and red fruit . . .  Really?  What’s going on here – an inexpensive wine, all these aromas used to be the exclusive right of the expensive stuff.   The mouth feel was kinda sorta full – but more medium body, a bit of an explosion of dark fruit with a dose of Shiraz spice . . . the finish is not so much, nothing that really set the world on fire . . . not great, but not bad or as one might say – “Big Woop is no Big Whoop”. 

While a return trip to East End Wines in no doubt in order, a return trip to Big Woop is not.  We do look forward to popping the cork, or in some cases unscrewing the cap, on the other bottles that await us.

Have a great night and remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible as you go out on a limb and try something new!

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