Thursday, July 5, 2012

Trying too Hard to Stay Cool

Remember when we bemused the heat index in Eau Claire last summer? 
"Local temperature for Eau Claire, Wisconsin: 97 degrees Fahrenheit. Local heat index: 105."

We're rethinking our complaints. 

After a staggering 109 degree reading on Nick's Sentra, a few couples' spats about our air conditioning, and a desperate trip to Maggie's parents' pool in search of relief, we've decided to accept the heat's intensity and adjust our lives accordingly. For two winos without a wine cellar or refrigerator, a heat wave like this summer's can be kind of a bummer. Due to Maggie's (un)employment status, we've tried to live without air conditioning for as long as is humanly possible. About three days ago, we finally succumbed to the heat and cranked up our tiny air conditioning unit. But it might not have been soon enough . . . 

We were, as any self-respecting wine lovers would be, worried about the well-being of our vino.  Wine can cook if left in hot temps (for example, in your car in the summer).  Not to mention, red wine should be served at room temperature: but keep in mind, this adage was established before the creation of central heating and air, when typical room temperature was between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Tonight, we opened our 2008 Turley Hayne Vineyard Petite Syrah with trepidation. Would the heat have affected our beloved grape juice in a negative way? Would all be lost? And, further down the line, would our 2008 Napa Angel, which we recieved as a wedding gift, be ruined because of our stinginess during this heat wave?

Our entertainment tonight came from Japandroid's album "Celebration Rock." Despite the vague title, we were intrigued by the band's fun namesake and animosity.

After letting our wine decant for about half an hour, we plunged into our tasting. We have to admit that we've really missed our AudioVino nights. Our crazy schedules and new environment have kept our tastings at bay, but we're excited to get back into the swing of things.

At first, our Turley was extremely hot on the nose. So hot, in fact, that Nick had a hard time detecting any scents or intricacies of the vino. Our first sniffs revealed a ton of heat (this wine rocks steady at 15.4%), some charred, meaty flavors and a hint of dark fruit. The heat was so overbearing that we decided to put our wine into the fridge for a few minutes. Yes, you read that correctly - in essence, we chilled our red wine. But in a mostly un-air conditioned apartment, we were hardly "chilling" our wine. We were bringing it back to it's natural room temperature. After about two minutes in the fridge, this vino was much easier to handle. It's scent of light honey gram and raspberries become much easier to grasp.

As we sipped, we tasted a delicious, well-balanced, and incredibly elegant virtuoso of a wine. For the high amounts of alcohol and flavor, this Turley impressed us with it's velvety tony and easy-to-drink nature.

As for our audio, we weren't blown away by the Japandroids (despite their incredibly awesome name). The group tried a little too hard to be cool with their nods to early 2000's pop-punk bands and Owl City-like lyrics.

Nick's Review


Japandroids (no, this is not a the bad guys from Power Rangers) is a mash potato of early punk pop with a peppering of old school garage punk that has been dowsed in a gravy of feedback.

The album starts out with the sound of fireworks (fitting for the Fourth of July) and some cool vocal harmonies.  I immediately was reminded that I need to call and reminisce with some of my old high school friends.  Some of you may be reminded of watching American Pie late one night in college on TBS while trying to avoid the dreaded spins associated with light night drinking!

The album continues with more of the same with a few mix ins of garage punk slash country rock influenced tracks like "For the Love of Ivy".  The only track that stood out for me was the final one, "Continuous Thunder," with its enveloping sound and driving anthem.

This isn't a bad album by any means.  I feel this is a band meant to be seen live, I need to be up and moving while listening to this.  It would put me into the mood for moshing, if I were a slightly larger man and not afraid of physical contact.



Turley!  Who hasn't heard the name?  A famous zinfandel and petite syrah producer from California.  Turley zinfandel is an American classic and, just like Japandroid's opening fireworks, Turley embodies a sense of Americana.

Turley's zinfandel wines, made by the famous Helen Turley, are definitely their most popular varietals.  I highly recommend the brand (if you can find any) for someone looking for great wines and approachable price points.

This petite syrah wouldn't have been my first choice on this 105 degree day, weighing in at 15.4% alcohol. I was a bit intimidated before even taking my first sip.

As previously mentioned, our wine has attained some heat from this treacherous summer scorcher, but we placed the bottle in the fridge for a few minutes to make it more manageable.  Despite this attempt at taming the beast that is California petite syrah, we still had a bit of heat on the nose.  At first it was too much for me, but upon allowing the wine to breathe I welcomed the hints of raspberry, pork belly, smoke and graham cracker.

Wine of the caliber of Turley has a tendency to be high alcohol and big on style, yet balanced and restrained.  This wine was no exception. Although it is 15.4%, it never burned or turned me away.  Elegant in its own right, the wine displayed flavors of  pork belly/bacon fat, blackberry and tea.  The mouth feel was medium to full-bodied and the finish was delicate with a touch of alcohol.

I would definitely consume this wine with food in the future and am excited to try it again (a friend of mine has a 2005 vintage of the same wine and I'm hoping I can sit in on it!).

91 pts

Maggie's Review


Japandriod's music shows variety without ever transcending genre. While I'm usually a fan of genre transcendence, I give these guys credit for their creativity and virtuosity within their specific sound.

In tunes like 'Night of Wine and Roses' and 'Adrenaline Nightshift,' the group showcases their ability to build on already-established pop-punk features. Their Owl City-esque lyric themes can be a bit much, and they  seem to cater to the tweens of yesteryear. Nick and my peers will find similarities to Weezer, while today's tweens will relate to songs like "Continuous Thunder." All in all, this group tries to match up to nostalgic favorites from the early 2000's (think Sum 41) while adding 'deeper' elements of more classic punk and country-rock. They don't really succeed.

I will admit that in a mosh pit, I might be more apt to give them a second listen. This is not sitting-down music, and it would be much better appreciated in a concert setting among 1,000 16-year-olds.



Despite my love of wine and my knack for writing astoundingly amazing AudioVino blog posts, I don't know as much as Nick does about the intricacies of wine. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to detect any difference in our vino after it had been sitting in less-than-ideal temperatures for three weeks. I'm still not sure I'd be able to detect a marked difference, but after sampling this petite syrah from Turley, I think I have a better grasp on how temperature can effect wine.

This wine was quite fragrant, balanced, and pleasant. It smelled of honey graham, rich raspberry, and dark chocolate, but its flavors were slightly muted by its alcohol content and strong potency. I think our lack of temperature control affected our tasting experience, but its important to note that not only does the temperature of the wine itself affect a tasting, the temperature of the room affects the tasting as well. In other words, Nick and I would probably have been more apt to fall in love with this wine if we were seated in a room that was 78 degrees and conducive to wine tasting. The wine pulled its weight and managed to impress  us despite the less-than-comfortable conditions, leaving me to believe that it'd be a crowd-pleaser in most social settings and a pleasant wine for a cool autumn evening.

92 pts.

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