Earth documentaries and wine for your weekend

Recently, we’ve been considering cutting back on the number of streaming services that we pay for each month. Currently our options include: Spectrum, Netflix, Hulu, CBSsports (because I biffed and didn’t cancel fast enough after the Super Bowl, but it should end soon!), Amazon Prime video,  and HBO Now. There’s a fair amount of overlap between Hulu and Spectrum streaming, so it’s seems pretty unnecessary to have both. But then, suddenly, there was this movie trailer:

You only need to know two things about this trailer: 1. Penguins are my favorite animal, and 2. This documentary is a Hulu documentary…so obviously we kept our Hulu account. I imagine that after I’ve watched the documentary at least twice, we will again reconsider!

March of the Penguins aside however, across the various streaming platforms we have there is currently A LOT of nature documentary material available, and it’s not the old PBS, after school, NOVA variety. Going back to 2006 and the release of the award winning BBC series Planet Earth, the first nature documentary filmed in HD, nature documentaries have gotten flashier, more advanced, and have gone deeper into the unexplored reaches of our natural world. With stunning cinematography and painstaking, photographic patience, we can enjoy some of the most spectacular natural occurences in the world from the comfort of our own couches.

If you’ve yet to take advantage of these options streaming on a platform near you, you’re in for a treat!

1. Planet Earth and Planet Earth II

The originals and the most expensive nature docu series ever produced. It’s hard to imagine you haven’t at least seen clips from these films online or in other productions. 11 episodes each, it will take a good binge watch session to get through all of them, but the photography and cinematography alone are worth it! Or, if you want to hone in on a specific aspect of the world:

2. Frozen Planet 

or

3. Blue Planet

Look at the ice caps/tundra and oceans respectively! Fun fact: The Blue Planet came out 5 years before Planet Earth, and took 5 years to make all on its own. Planet Earth was produced by the same crew and took another 5 years on its own.

4. Our Planet

The newest offering on Netflix explores not only the amazing natural wonders happening in the world around us, but also the impact we as humans are having on the habitats and natural processes that allow life on Earth to exist. This one touches on climate change, but in a way that doesn’t feel particularly political. Instead, it’s hard to turn away as you watch very real events play out in real time with little explanation other than we’ve pushed our planet to a critical tipping point.

5. One Strange Rock 

One Strange Rock is an entirely different kind of series narrated by Will Smith, that looks at many of the natural wonders of the world from a perspective that few get to see…from space. Using narration and interview with eight astronauts who all spent time on the International Space Station, this series looks at the interconnectedness of my of Earth’s fragile systems, and how that interconnectedness can be studied, monitored, and photographed from space in a way we never could on Earth. Produced by National Geographic, the series is only about a year old, and production crews are currently working on a second season set to debut later in 2019.

6. Life

Life looks at the adaptability of living things to adjust to the pressures of changing environments. Call it evolution, call it adaptability, call it what you will, but there are some species that have absolutely had to transform themselves in order to survive for as long as they have. Could humans be next? Life takes a look!

And as you queue up your Saturday night movie, don’t forget to pour the wine. Here’s a look back at last week’s “most interesting wine ever” pick.

7. Behind the Curve

This one is kind of insane, and doesn’t really deserve to be on the same list and compared to the award winners above. However, if you want to watch something wild, this film about people who believe the Earth is flat is completely bananas. Including footage of their international convention, interviews with people absolutely convinced of their certainty, and scientific experimentation designed to prove their theories, you’re going to want to pour yourself a glass of wine for this one!

And speaking of which…

Wine for your weekend

Last week’s wine recommendation featured eight wines all recently added to our wine rack and the justification for each having a place there. In that mix was a curious bottle I’d found at the bottom of a bin, Tandem. This Syrah/Grenache blend had few flavor notes on the bottle, instead explaining that the wine was a joint project between Gilles Trouiller and Jean-Louis Vera of Clos de la Serre in Maury, using grapes sourced from both men’s vineyards. Further research on the label and vintage yielded nothing in results as far as winemaker’s notes. Instead, I found only a handful of reviews that described the wine as “thick and smooth” as well as “the most interesting and complex wine I’ve ever had.”

Image result for tandem wineAs speculated, we saved this wine for the massive battle on Game of Thrones last weekend. An intense episode deserves an intense bottle of wine. Plus we figured if we needed a distraction from the carnage or death of our favorite characters, having an interesting wine to pick apart was a welcome activity on the side. (OK…I thought that…Josh was really just drinking it!)

Here’s the thing. This wine was good. We decanted it for about an hour before drinking it, and it was as advertised, “smooth” though perhaps not as “thick” as suggested. I liked the flavor profile. I thought there was less fruit and more carmel and cocoa on the front side. It was almost like I might expect from a port, though not as sweet or syrup-like. The fruit came through on the back of the sip, and was distinctly sweet cherry and plum. Low in acidity and tannins, the wine was highly drinkable, and I’d probably choose it again, if I could find it! Turns out, the producer is EXTREMELY picky, creating wines in small batches, and sometimes skipping vintages is the harvest doesn’t produce like he expects. Our bottle was a 2014, and there were only 5 left at the store. The 2015 vintage is ranked highly as well, but I have yet to see it anywhere else. If you can get your hands on it, it’s worth the $25 you’re likely to pay for it.

Cheers!

Published by Kate

A former Wisconsinite, Kate now resides in southeast Minnesota with her husband where she teaches high school English and theater. She recently completed her master's degree in learning design and technology, and continues to study and advocate for arts integration in the classroom. A recipient of the RISE America grant for high school theater, Kate is working to innovate and expand theater opportunities for the students at PIHS. An avid distance runner, concert pianist, and want-to-be wine aficionado, Kate's blog "ink." is a passion project, embodying all the best parts of life: friends, food, wine, thoughtful conversation, style, and sass!

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