The Rusty Mutt wine names are based on the Chinese astrological sign of members of my family. I’m born the Year of the Dog (Rusty Mutt). My daughter was born the Year of the Ox (Rocky Ox), my son is a Golden Rabbit which became ‘Conejo Joven’ (Spanish for Young Rabbit) and my wife is a Wood Tiger which became the ‘Catnip’.
2022 vintage saw the producti0n of a new white wine – a Pinot Gris, which needed a new name. I chose my sister for this honour, who is born the Year of the Rat. As great as the Rat zodiac sign is, I found it hard to come up with a suitable wine name, so I began to look wider.
It turns out that the positive traits of the Rat are similar to the Blue Wren, found in the McLaren Vale district. And one of the French synonyms for Pinot Gris is ‘Fauvet’ which means ‘warbler’ or ‘songbird’. Perfect!
There are many great dreamtime stories relating to the native flora and fauna of Australia. One story that stood out as having great similarities to the Rat of the Chinese Zodiac is about the Blue Wren.
How the Blue Wren got its colour. An Aboriginal dreamtime story.
In the Dreaming when the birds were competing for their colours, the most difficult colour to obtain was blue, which was kept in the sky. They realised that only the highest-flying bird would be able to snatch some of the sky’s blue, so all the birds flew as high as they could until one by one, they fell away, leaving only the eagle to soar above them all. The eagle was elated and was just about to claim his prize when Chiriger, the little grey wren, who had hidden among the feathers on the eagle’s back, suddenly fluttered up that little bit higher and in a flash stole the blue, becoming the splendid blue wren. This excerpt from smh.com.au
How the Chinese Zodiac animals were selected, and in Particular, the Rat.
The story of the Rat and the Jade Emperor.
Long, long ago, there was no Chinese zodiac. The Jade Emperor wanted to select 12 animals to be his guards. He sent an immortal being into man’s world to spread the message that the earlier one went through the Heavenly Gate, the better the rank one would have. The next day, animals set off towards the Heavenly Gate. Rat got up very early. On his way to the gate, he encountered a river. He had to stop there, owing to the swift current. After waiting a long time, Rat noticed Ox about to cross the river and swiftly jumped into Ox’s ear. The diligent Ox did not mind at all and simply continued. After crossing the river, he raced towards the palace of the Jade Emperor. Suddenly, Rat jumped out of Ox’s ear and dashed to the feet of the emperor. Rat won first place and Ox was second.