Tokyo Blond Is Not Porn

Tokyo Blond is not a porn blog, about hair or even, as one pithy friend remarked, a micro beer or late 1980s glam metal band ("Dude, I just saw Skid Row and Tokyo Blond opened and played a killer set").

The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my experiences in Tokyo - poignantly, visually, irreverently - for fun.

Anybody can tag along...that is if I like you. This blog will endeavor to be entertaining and honest and frequent enough to keep those following interested including me.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

You're Not Gay; I'm just Drunk

We woke up that morning to the sound of the jungle.  Jungle?  But we're in Australia, the Barossa Valley in fact, which looks a lot like the Central Coast of California.  There's no jungle here, no monkeys, or large cats, just wine.  But down the hill from our Pavilion was a stream, guarded by stands of eucalyptus trees.  And in those trees was a Kookaburra bird.  Aptly named these guys sound like maniacal jungle animals.  Their call is crazy and every time I heard it, I started belting out, Ethel Merman style, that song, "In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight."  Ugh, once you get that song in your head, you can't get it out.  Well, not without wine.

We hit four wineries that day but it felt like ten.  Ten is a good number.

After a lovely breakfast in our pavilion we joined John and Cindy and headed to our first cellar door of the day.  It was called the Artisans of Barossa, and truth be told it was really like hitting six cellar doors at once.  Because this place represents six different wine producers including Hobbs, John Duval, Spinifex, Sons of Eden, Massena and Teusner.  We opted for just two tastings between the four of us and embarked on a odyssey of delectable, well orchestrated wines.  Thank you sir, I'll try another.

Cindy and I have similar taste in wine and pretty much fell in love with Grenache that day.  In America, Grenache is a bad word.  It  means "jug wine."  But not in the Barossa.  In the Barossa it means, luscious, fruity, velvety, taste explosion.  Kind of like a Jolly Ranger candy, they get stuck to your teeth and you can't stop sucking on it.

Russell and I had to take a few moments to haggle over how many and which bottles we would buy.  After yesterday's Turkey Flat, Charles Melton and Rockford, the one case we designated was filling up fast.  We chose a couple Grenache, assuring ourselves we'd drink a few bottles before we left, which would free up some more room.

First stop X 6

John, wondering how he's going to get it all home.
Oh yeah, he lives here.  He can ship it.

Cindy, well equipped for the day.
How much for the camera?

Next we hit Torbreck and well, I was done for.  Every wine we tasted there was incredible. At this point I was regretting buying any wine from Hunter Valley when I could have bought an entire case of Torbreck.  Russell started rocking and speaking in tongues, "Maybe we should bring a third case back.  Yeah, that's it - a third case.  Screw the extra luggage fee.  I'm sure we have room in our suit case.  Who needs clothes?  I need this wine. Got to have this wine.  A third case. A third case."

I found myself beginning to chant too, my eyes glazing over into pools of shimmering shiraz, "yes, three cases, three cases...."  WTF am I thinking!  We already have too much wine!

Tobrek sign encouraging visitors to come inside
and become addicted.

I pulled him outside.  "Breathe."  I said, handing him a sprig of lavender from their garden.  The sun beamed down sharply.  It was about 100 degrees outside and the heat permeated to the bone.  It had the sobbering affect I required and after a couple deep, cleansing breathes, we decided to come back later in the week after the wine coma had cleared and see if we still wanted to buy a case.  It was like shoe shopping.  Do I really need a pair of Manolos?  Walk away, just walk away.

Too bad he's wearing sunglasses.
If he wasn't you could see the wine zombie more clearly.

Lavender saved the day.

We walked back into the cellar door to fetch John and Cindy.  It was clear they were under the spell as well.  The stuff was, well, intoxicating.  Our addiction started back in Sydney with a bottle of the acclaimed Runrig.  At the cellar door it was even easier to succumb, especially with Pete the dangerously funny, bald Aussie wine pourer, or should I say "pusher".  After five minutes this guy could get you to do pretty much anything, he was that pleasingly infectious.  

We tried to busy ourselves by looking at the paraphernalia scattered around the room.  There was a book called, "Australian Wine Dogs."  We own the American version.  We started skimming through it looking for dogs like Ranger the Wonder Dog.  There were a lot, which made sense since he is an Australian Cattle Dog and a wine dog, at least at our house.  He does love a good chardonnay.

We asked Pete if Torbreck had a dog in the book.  They did. We mused on why the author didn't do a book on cats, when Pete said,  "I like cats; I just can't eat a whole one."  We all dissolved into raucous laughter.  This guy is too funny.  We vowed to come back later in the week.

The next winery, Thorne Clark, was a bit of a lark.  It was on the edge of the valley and their claim to fame is a wine called Shotfire which has won great acclaim, especially considering it only cost about $20 a bottle.  Unfortunately they weren't pouring that and after Torbreck their wines seemed underwhelming and provincial.  I felt bad for the wine pourer, the place was empty and felt more like an accounting office than a cellar door, she was earnest but lacked the luster of Pete.

We began our trek back to the Pavilions but not before stopping at just one more place, Kellermeister. It was the only one still open at 4:30 and its sign gloated five James Halliday stars.  Not Black ones, Red ones, which John explained meant they had received the highest Halliday winery rating.  Well, what are we waiting for, I want five red stars too!

Note the five "red" stars.

After the glowing group of happily looped Italians walked out we pretty much had the place, and the wine pourer to ourselves.  It was that time in the day they dread the most, just before closing when the inebriated come in to drink, not just taste.  

Since we'd been drinking half the day, we were all exceedingly charming by this time.  Or so we thought.  I don't know about you but I get funnier and better looking the more I drink.  So we struck up a playful conversation with the young and expressive wine pourer.  He was cute in an altruistic way, ambitious and earnest and full of ideas.  He and a friend were starting a wine label of their own but were having problems agreeing on a name.  He said they were really having a hard time and were currently in a heated debate.  "That's it! You should name your winery, Heated Debate!  It's perfect" I exclaimed, thoroughly convinced of my own brilliance.  John enthusiastically seconded the idea and gave me a hearty high five.  The ambitious would-be winemaker gave us a look I think meant, "Oh God, why did I bring that up ?"  

We asked if we were keeping him, perhaps beginning to recognize we may not be as charming as we thought.  He said no, in fact, our presence was helping him avoid having to empty the spittoon.  A chore he abhorred since last week when he accidently dropped the spittoon, catapulting a bucketful of back wash into his face.  "It was disgusting," he gushed, "I was covered from head to toe in red, slimy back wash."

"GROSS!" we all bellowed, shuttering.  "Yeah," he said, "my partner Mitch was nice enough to run me a hot bath when I got home."  "Well, that was nice of him, " I said encouragingly, concluding he was gay.

But apparently Mitch wasn't a guy.  He spent the next ten minutes making sure we knew he wasn't gay, enunciating each "she" and "my girlfriend", managing to work them as frequently as possible into his explanations of the next wine pour.  Ooops, my bad.  But how did I know?  He was clean cut.  He was good looking.  He said his "partner Mitch", he takes baths....

After, when we were walking back to the car, Cindy explained that in Australia, people call their "significant other" their "partner".  Who knew?  Course they all assumed he was gay too.

Not gay.

That night we decided to go forego another rich meal out and instead, BBQ at the Pavilion.  It was a great choice.  There was a beautiful sunset and Russell and I needed to drink a couple of bottles to make room for more wine, possibly Torbreck.  John and Cindy made dinner at their place and we brought the wine.

Cindy and I went for a walk after dinner, looking for roos.  Instead we found great light and some affectionate cows.  I like to think I'm like Snow White.  For some reason,  animals are drawn to me and I end up seeing all kinds of wildlife where ever we go.  It probably has to do with being more observant than my singing however. Usually wildlife means, deer, roos, foxes... not bovine.  But this one cow had a crush on me. 

Dinner on the deck overlooking the wine

Sun setting on another day of wine and lavender

Pick a color, any color

Anyone in need of a cow poster?
This one is good.

My bovine boyfriend.
I'm sorry Beefcake, it will never work.
I'm a carnivore.




Hmm, I wonder if the boys have cleaned up yet?
Let's wait a little longer before going back up.

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