Only a few days ago this week, we passed the midpoint of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s more than halfway over now, but there’s undoubtedly plenty more cold weather to come. Time for another bottle of red wine to get us through to spring.

Our wine this week is a Cabernet Sauvignon from Tussock Jumper Wines. There’s a King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) on the label, a very first appearance for the Spheniscidae family here at Birds and Booze. This is somewhat surprising, given the perennial popularity of these birds in culture and advertising. But unlike corporate macrobreweries, wineries don’t seem all that interested in associating their products with ice-cold serving temperatures. Which is probably why we find our Tussock Jumper King Penguin properly bundled up in the eponymous red jumper (or sweater, in North American English) of this wine company, which sources and packages a selection of affordable wines from a variety of origins around the world.

The emperor – er, King – has no clothes: this penguin seems to have misplaced its jumper.

Of course, it’s now summer in the Southern Hemisphere, where King Penguins are found. But even if you have any reservations about enjoying this wine in the dead of the boreal winter, just remember that most people seem to think of penguins as Arctic birds. Except birders. We know better.

King Penguins  breed in Antarctica, the Falklands and a few other South Atlantic islands, and in Argentina and Chile, along that odd border between the two countries in Tierra del Fuego. This Cabernet Sauvignon hails from Argentina as well, though it’s from the Tulum Valley wine region near San Juan, over a thousand miles north of the King Penguin breeding grounds at the southern end of the continent.

Tussock Jumper’s Cabernet Sauvignon offers an unmistakable aroma of blackcurrant, with gusts of menthol, cedar, and pepper over the top. There are anise and molasses notes in the spicy and fruity palate, with savory touches redolent of black olives, countered by a strongly tannic and oaky finish.

Good birding and happy drinking!


Tussock Jumper Wines: Cabernet Sauvignon (2017)

Three out of five feathers (Good).

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Written by Tristan Lowery
Tristan Lowery’s busy homebrewing schedule took a hit in 2010 when he discovered birding and found that scanning the waterfowl at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on a frigid midwinter morning could be just as much fun as standing over a steaming mash tun in a sweltering Queens apartment in August. While his growing commitment to birding has undeniably diminished his brewing output of ales - fine and otherwise - Tristan finds that birding still affords him plenty of excuses to at least keep drinking beer, especially when celebrating life birds, lamenting unsuccessful chases, and capping off an exhausting Big Day or Christmas Bird Count. After leaving behind a hectic cooking career in New York City’s fine-dining scene, Tristan moved inland to the New York's Capital District, where the relative abundance of Pileated Woodpeckers almost makes up for the fact that he’s only seen a single Sanderling in Albany County ever. When he isn’t birding his local patches in urban Albany, Tristan works in energy regulation for the State of New York.