Blood Red Wine

A 2011 Curious Beasts California “Blood Red Wine”
& the 2012 collaboration “Storm Corrosion” Happy Halloween!

The Storm Corrosion pairing is one that has been coming for some time. A conclusion to the trilogy of pairings that started with Steven WIlson’s solo album Grace For Drowning, continued with Opeth’s album Heritage and now concludes with the collaborative effort of Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth & Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, in the form of Storm Corrosion.

Truett-Hurst Winery’s Curious Beasts brings us one of the most fun packaging displays that I’ve seen and paired to date. To begin with the wine is packaged in a marvelously decorated day of the dead style paper bag that immediately lets you know you’re getting something more than just a flavorful wine, you’re getting a real experience popping the cork of this gem. Once you’ve removed the bottle from the bag, you reveal a wonderfully designed label, complete with drips of blood on everything from the sku on the back, to the cork that’s in the bottle. Pretty freaking awesome if you ask me.

Truett-Hurst, the Sonoma County wine company and trendsetter, along with critically acclaimed package designer Kevin Shaw, of Stranger & Stranger (New York and London), identified 22 buying occasions and created brands in a packaging format that commands a powerful shelf presence. With the added paper real estate, the wraps allow for more copy, recipes, and engagement among consumers in a way that a tiny back label cannot. The Evocative Wrapped Bottles present a major opportunity for gifting.” – From PR Newswire The wine was developed to be sold at Safeway grocery stores. I found it locally in Austin at my Randalls which is a division of Safeway.
 
To say I had high hopes for this album goes without saying. Were my expectations met? Well, not entirely but it is still a solid album if you like spooky progressive rock. That’s really all I come away with after listening to it a few times. It doesn’t always hit the mark for me and instead of sincerely being spooky, it comes off a bit campy at times, ala Edward Scissorhands or something. So as for the hopes of a divine trilogy of albums I find myself perfectly content to stay with the first two albums.
 
As for the actual wine that is inside this unique and inventive packaging, I absolutely loved it! The Blood Red Wine blend is marvelously and masterfully done. A blend that is supple to the palate, extremely well-rounded and balanced. A bit sweet and fruity at first but once it opens up it truly blossoms into a well rounded blend. I highly recommend this wine for a gift to take to your Halloween party or Day of the Dead festivities.
 
Here’s to a safe and happy Halloween everyone! Cheers!

Wish You Were Here

A 2010 Vino de Eyzaguirre Merlot from Chile
and the 2011 reissue of Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

When I first started getting back into collecting vinyl records a few years ago, the thought crossed my mind soon after, that I sure would love a 180 gram version of some Pink Floyd to replace all of my thrashed copies from back when I was younger. Well it wasn’t much longer that Pink Floyd announced the reissue vinyls to coincide with their immersion box sets and the remastered digital releases of the albums for the first time to add into the iTunes black hole.

Naturally I was more excited about the vinyl editions. Even more so than the immersion Compact Disc box sets with all the extra material. For me it’s not about the extra stuff, the demos, the alternate takes, the leftover tracks, whatever; all of that was left off for a reason. The final product is a masterpiece and obviously the band, producers and engineers thought so enough to leave all the other hyperbola where it belongs. In the draft bin. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big of a Floyd fan as you can get but as a vinyl purist; I’m still really only interested in the final version, the full release on 180 gram pristine virgin vinyl. That’s all I need. Well, that and the cool poster that came with it as well as the groovy post card, all rekindling the memories of the original release.

At first glance you’ll notice that the wine bottle is wrapped in a burlap sack. A truly easily identifiable marking for remembering this wine but it does have more significance and history behind it than just being a nifty marketing ploy. Evidently the tradition stem from monks living near the village that would transport the wine for the bumpy horse carriage ride back to the monastery, by placing the jugs of wine in burlap sacks to prevent them from breaking. The tradition caught on and still continues to this day.

As for the wine in the bottle, the Merlot is an extremely smooth and super palatable wine that is well-defined and well bodied with an elegant subtle finish that is perfect for sipping on its own or for pairing with a dish of your choosing. I would recommend it for a nice evening chilling at home or for a picnic in the park.

This particular pressing of Wish You Were Here is truly high quality, as is the packaging, simply top notch. The biggest difference for me here lies in the mastering of the audio. It’s a bit flatter than the original 1975 release, but we are in the digital era so this is not too surprising. I have no doubt that this particular print was pulled from a digital environment at some point and then went to vinyl. Luckily the deep rich 180 gram pressing allows for you to get some pleasing quality but it still remains a bit flat when compared to the earlier pressings. While I’m thrilled to have this reissue amongst the stacks; I won’t be getting rid of my older more thrashed copy anytime soon.

Until next time folks!
¡Salud!

Yoshimi and the Yamazaki

The Yamazaki 12 year old Single Malt Whisky
& 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by the Flaming Lips

Do you realize that everyone you know someday will  die?
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes
Let them know you  realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun don’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning ’round

So I’ve had a run on pairings the past few days but today was my birthday and I got this awesome bottle as part of the celebration so what better way to finish out the evening than to do a little work? Right? Well, it is a Monday night birthday, so we decided not to paint the town. Who am I kidding? This isn’t about work, this is all about the things I love, so on with the pairing!

Tonight, I’ve paired another Japanese whisky. This is the second in my sampling of fine whisky from the land of the rising sun. The Yamazaki is a single malt barley based whisky that I must say, even though it’s price is a bit less than the Hibiki I paired a few months back, it has a more buttery, peppered flavor that seems to be resonating with me much more than the Hibiki did. It’s sultry and it’s silky, much as the Hibiki was but with this rich and buttery under current; well it has me wishing I could fairly sample the two side by side. Since I can’t do that, I think if I had to pick between the two 12-year-old versions of these whiskys from memory, I’d probably have to go with the Yamazaki right now. Of course, it is the one that’s sitting in my glass in front of me at the moment, so I think that may be swaying the favor in its direction for sure.

This edition of Yoshimi and the Pink Robots has been issued on a beautiful red colored vinyl and sounds absolutely fantastic. It’s truly yet another one of those vinyls that I can’t imagine not having in my collection. I’m super thrilled every time I pull this album out and place it upon the platter. The Lips have a way of stretching the dynamic range of a composition to the point that you think your system is bound to start distorting and the speakers smoking at any moment. It truly rocks! The synth sounds on this album alone are worth the audiophile experience of playing it through a decent system on vinyl. Not to mention the freaking great songs that are on this release. Always one of my favorites from the Lips, Yoshimi certainly seems to coincide beautifully with the Yamazaki SIngle Malt.

All in all, it’s been a wonderful birthday and I have much to be thankful for. As I head into another year, I’m reminded of all of the experiences, joys and journeys this life has to offer us all. I truly hope you are all savoring it up like a whisky refined and aged for a decade or so to be sipped and enjoyed on a special occasion as each day is.

Many would say this blog is a fluff piece that has nothing to do with nothing but I suppose it’s all in how you look at the leisures of life. Are they fluff or are they inspiration? Are they necessary or are they distraction? For me personally, the pleasures such as wine, spirits, vinyl records, art, music and love are the things that inspire daily and remind us all of what we are here for. Believe me people, it isn’t politics and self-imposed borders that matter.

Matters of the heart get us through the day. It’s not bank accounts, jobs or family lineage that define us; it’s about how we choose to live our lives day by day and how we choose to treat each other. This is what defines us. It is what becomes us and it is what we reflect into the rest of the world about who we are, what we want and where we come from.

To me, it’s all just the stuff of life, which I truly hope we all have a chance to taste and enjoy, each and every day of our lives. The time is now because… do you realize…?

Until next time my friends! Cheers!

Noble Vines

2009 Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon & Radiohead’s The King of Limbs

Epic on a grand scale. The music on the vinyl, the taste and palate of the wine as well as the story of how they both came to be. Generational depth on so many levels making this a pairing fruitful enough for the nobility of kings.

Noble Vines winery who’s slogan is “Not all Vines Are Created Equal” have brought selected vines from France and transplanted them in California. Quoting from their website “Over centuries, vintners have carefully singled out the most admired vines, naming each vine with a unique number to identify its exceptional attributes. Here in California, we’ve planted a selection of these vines exactly where they will flourish best: in select locations on the red soils and cobblestones of our family-owned vineyard in Lodi and on the gentle slopes of our cool-climate estate in Monterey.”

So the pairing for the night takes vine 337, the Cab Sav, and pairs it with one truly epic release from Radiohead. The King of Limbs is a vinyl that once I purchased it; it did not leave the turntable for weeks. Still to this day when I put it on, I end up listening to it four or five time in entirety before I’m ready to swap it out for anything else. What may appear simple on the surface has so much depth. Depth which is truly only noticeable if you take the time to listen for it. One can dig as deep as they like into the layers of this masterpiece wall of sound that is The King of Limbs. I highly recommend headphones or to play it REALLY LOUD.

In much the same fashion as the vines for the wine were transplanted from France and then the grapes grown in California, Radiohead took their previous recordings, the vinyl releases of course, placed them on a turntable DJ style and sampled their own music to create the layers of musical bliss that are on The King of Limbs. In no way is this a technique you’d expect from a band known for Progressive Art Rock but the end result is a beautiful example of how deconstructing and reinventing that which has already existed can yield some very interesting new fruit.

The 337 is an amazing wine and I would have to say a real success. I may still be learning about the exquisite complexities that are present in French wines but to my meager nose and palate, I would have to say that many of the same qualities are present in this grape grown in California as the French grown sibling. It’s elegantly smooth and robust. It’s so well-rounded and seductive that the experience of flavor lingers lightly and long enough to make you think you can truly taste the south of France in the grape. A-maz-ing.

Not only are there vines and limbs present with this pairing but there are some serious roots involved as well to make both of these selections. What was before is new again and I have to say, to my ears and taste, both are masterpieces that blend together seamlessly and sound as solid as the ground beneath our feet. I’ll certainly pick up another bottle of Noble Vines creations next time I come across them and I’m sure to keep branching ever deeper into the King of Limbs.

Until next time! Keep the limbs and vines growing my friends! 😉 Salud!

A Day at the Races with Ramon

1975’s Queen – A Day At the Races and a
2007 Ramon Bilbao Tempranillo from Spain

Well we’ve had nearly a month off here at vinylpairings due to the fact I moved and the personal life has been a bit disheveled of late. While there has still been vinyl and wine over the past four weeks, I truly haven’t had the time or energy to sit down and write about some of the pairings I’ve posted on Facebook recently.

Time to get back down to business though! The boxes are getting unpacked, the shelves of vinyl are almost organized and we are truly ready for a Day At the Races!

This particular Queen album (though there are many) has always had a soft place in my heart, with tracks like “Tie Your Mother Down”, “You Take My Breath Away” & “Somebody to Love”; this album is a filament of rock and roll legacy that can not be denied. The 180 gram gatefold reissue by Hollywood Records is a testament to the albums longevity and every classic rock vinyl collector should certainly have this monument upon their shelves.

Paired with Ramon Bilbao’s Tempranillo, which has a well-balanced palate and a spicy finish, Queen’s music sizzles and sways with a rock and roll swagger that truly is not present in most modern-day rock bands.

It’s a lovely wine that could be paired with many foods or vinyl selections. The bottle recomends a salted pork dish and I concur with this recomendation. Although I would imagine a tasty BBQ would be a nice food pairing as well. As for the musical pairing,tonight was all about the majesty of Britain’s royal rock icons Queen. Inspired a bit by last weeks London Olympics closing ceremony, the time was right.

We’re glad to be settling back into a somewhat normal routine again after our relocation. The move was truly worth it, even though the vinyl collection gets heavier and heavier… it is still the superior format and worth every crate haul to move and crate dig to discover.

Until next time! Sooner than later we hope! Drink up and keep digging into those grooves folks!

Resurrection via Heritage

 

Resurrection Reserve California Merlot & Opeth’s – Heritage

The wine label for Resurrection was painted by Phil Galatas world champion wood-carver and artist who was inspired in his home state of Louisiana by hurricane Katrina. The reflection of the fleur-de-lis suggests the devastation from Katrina, while the top represents the re-birth and growth. The golden oak inside the fleur-de-lis represents the strength and endurance of the people of the gulf coast.

The album Heritage by Opeth represents a true departure from their normal metal fair and instead reflects a band with a serious amount of depth that has yet to be tapped.

In a review for Allmusic, Thom Jurek called Heritage the band’s most adventurous album, describing the songs as “drenched in instrumental interludes, knotty key and chord changes, shifting time signatures, clean vocals, and a keyboard-heavy instrumentation that includes Mellotrons, Rhodes pianos, and Hammond organs”.

Mixed by Stephen Wilson of Porcupine Tree, this album is considered by many to be part one in a trilogy of albums involving Wilson and Opeth guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt. This album being the first, Wilson’s album Grace for Drowning being the second (a phenomenal recording not to be missed) and the upcoming collaboration entitled Storm Corrosion which is now available for pre-order, being the third part of this trilogy of esoteric thought-provoking metal, jazz & rock. So far the trilogy is two for two in my book and I can’t wait to hear the third epic conclusion of this saga.

The double 180 gram gatefold vinyl truly focuses on rebirth and new beginnings as is also reflected in the label for the Resurrection Merlot. This album is haunting and enchanted, which in my opinion gives it a real New Orleans kind of vibe. A gothic legacy of progressive metal that strays into ancient realms with the addition of some truly spooky instrumental arrangements. If you want to focus in and look up one song that defines this album, have a listen to “Nepenthe” and you’ll have a true taste of what the vibe of this album is like. I’m just sorry I can’t link to what it sounds like on vinyl. Streaming youtube videos is hardly my choice for quality audio but for those unfamiliar with this band, it will at least help to give you a taste. Just remember, each and every track of this album provides a new layer of depth. It is an album to be appreciated as an album and not as individual songs cut up on a digital hard drive. If you’re not convinced by “Nepenthe”, another one to check out is “Famine” a song that truly reaches new metallic heights with its Jethro Tull like flute glissandos while lashing out like an early Black Sabbath locomotive.

There is always a deep embroidery of a family tree behind each and every one of us, yet the world around us continues to change and each of us continue to adapt to it. Heritage, while maybe a basis for all that we have come from in the past, also represents the potential and possibilities for what is in store for each of us down the road as well. What once was will be again. We are all but a branch of the same tree.

A smooth, rich, fruity, robust wine that is barrel aged with grapes from Sonoma County and paired with a robust and adventuresome album. I recommend them both!
Let us all drink to rebirth and continual growth!
Cheers All! 😉

Green Fairy Grace For the New Year


Absente Absinthe from Paris France & Steven Wilson’s Grace For Drowning

New Years Pairing! Happy 2012 Everyone

Grace for Drowning is the second studio solo album by Steven Wilson, producer, songwriter, and frontman of Porcupine Tree. It was released by Kscope Music Records on September 26, 2011.[1] The album received a nomination in 54th Grammy Awards for Best Surround Sound Album.

“Grace for Drowning” on 180 gram vinyl certainly resides within my top 5 releases for 2011. It’s Progressive Rock, meets Jazz, meets electronica and it’s a sonically stellar album that you can truly get lost in. As for the first taste of the green fairy, well I found this to also have a truly stellar pallet for the senses. I think it’s a drink you either love or hate and not much room for anything in between. I really anticipated that I would only have one or two cocktails for the evening and then move on to something else but I actually enjoyed the absinthe throughout the evening.

  • Lasse Hoile – photography, film director
  • Bettina Ejlersen – photography assistant
  • Carl Glover – art director