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!

Purple Haze

 Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced &
a 2010 Alex Elman Malbec from Mendoza Argentina

There are lots of Malbecs out there that I find a bit too strong. They have me reaching for the antacid before I can even finish a glass. This particular Malbec is one that is quite pleasing and so well rounded without the harshness or acidity of many Malbecs. Still, it’s a very hefty wine with a pleasingly smokey grape nose that once it opens up, truly just screams “yummy”! There’s a haze of licorice and currants that runs deep but the grape always rolls out on top in the end.

Perfect for gaucho style Argentinian grilled cuisine this is truly one of the better Malbecs in its price range that I’ve experienced lately and it is just that, an experience ;).

So without further ado, let’s get to the vinyl for the evening. Without a doubt it is one of the most quintessential rock albums of all time. Truly an album that changed the game, changed history and laid the groundwork for what rock and roll was to become. Along with the likes of Jim Marshall, James Marshall Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix) reinvented the nature of what is expected from the electric guitar as an instrument of rock and roll. He was a master of the blues and a purveyor of the infinite universe. The man had soul and he knew how to pour it into his music.

When Jimi came onto the scene he changed the game and influenced everyone else that was making the scene at the time. He became the scene.

This 180 gram reissue of Are You Experienced is a true treasure for any Jimi fan with a turntable. The sound quality is pristine and the track list of this album, well, as many of you well know, every song is a classic, start to finish. An encyclopedia of rock guitar.

As a guitar player myself, I’m a bit surprised that there hasn’t been a Hendrix pairing yet, there are surely many more albums by Jimi in my collection that are worthy of a pairing but it seemed appropriate to start at the beginning.

Released in 1967 this album was #2 on the charts next to Sgt Peppers. In March 2000 a poll from Guitar World Magazine named Are You Experienced the greatest album of the Millennium. Later, in 2006, a reader’s poll from that magazine placed the album at #3 on a list of the greatest guitar albums of all time. “The Jimi Hendrix Experience are a musical labyrinth—you either find your way into the solid wall of incredible sound, or you sit back and gasp at Hendrix’ guitar antics and showmanship, wondering what it’s all about,” a review from the article “Walker Surprises” by Keith Altham from the New Music Express Magazine on April 8, 1967.

All in all, this album and a tasty bottle from Alex Elman is truly a safe bet for stirring up the haze and getting the emotions flowing. Third Stone From the Sun, we should be so thankful for such awesome wine makers and master musicians that allow for such evenings as this.

Until next time! Cheers! Salud!
Enjoy!

 

Segovia and the Mysterious Mountain

“Segovia and the Guitar” paired with a 2010 Borsao Garnacha

The original gold label Decca mono recording of one of the greatest classical guitarists of our time, paired with a Spanish Garnacha that heirs from under the mysterious Mt Moncayo, which has legends of strange caverns underground complete with glittering cities.

The Borsao Garnacha has a slightly above medium mouth feel, but the tannins remain light as the majority of the wine is Garnacha. The wine reverses direction from the nose as the tempranillo grape adds a bitter cherry and raisin character to the raspberry background. The finish is all fresh zesty raspberry making this wine perfect for any desert course pairing filled with spicy chocolate.

In conjunction with Segovia’s delicate yet masterful touch on this vinyl recording, the experience leaves one yearning to sit back and gaze at mysterious Mt. Moncayo while sipping the zesy sweetness that the grapevines before you have brought forth, leaving you truly ready for a romantic Spanish night.

¡Salud!

Dubber Dreaming

A 2009 North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon by The Dreaming Tree
&
Dubber Side of the Moon by Easy Star All Stars

Since I have no Dave Mathews on vinyl yet and this is his wine collaboration, hopefully I did ok by him in pairing this wine with one of the coolest reggae vinyl’s of 2010, Easy Star All Star’s Dubber Side of the Moon. Which is an album of remix versions of their original Dub Side of the Moon album that was released in 2003 on fabulously sexy marbled green vinyl.

Dubber is an entirely new level from the original album. The remixes take more liberties whereas the original album was more about faithfully recreating the Pink Floyd classic in the reggae style. I truly love them both!

The Dreaming Tree Cabernet is an extremely rich and smoky cab, which makes perfect sense when pairing it with this extremely smoky reggae vinyl. Classic aromas of blackberry, cherry, and dry herb notes are wrapped by toasted vanilla and soft, mouth-filling tannins. Elegant and supple, it’s an easy-drinking wine with a lot of character.

Tarima Orb

A Tarima Monastrell from Spain
& The Orb featuring David Gilmour – Metallic Spheres

Dark, inky hue entices into the rich, sexy body.  Notes of dark cherry, spicy cedar and chewy sweet tannins.  While this wine is huge, it is also quite elegant & so is this vinyl.

“The 2010 Tarima is 100% Monastrell made from Alicante grapes. It was fermented and aged sur lie in stainless steel. A glass-coating opaque-purple color, it displays notes of under brush, brier, violets, blueberry, and black cherry. This is followed by a spicy, forward, nicely proportioned effort that has enough structure to drink well for another 4-5 years.” 88 Points – Wine Review by JM, The Wine Advocate, Issue 195

The Orb’s Metallic Spheres featuring the guitar work of Pink Floyd axeman David Gilmour is a hypnotic ambient journey that is constantly on the move. It’s a piece of work that hints but doesn’t linger long in one place without evolving into something new.

As a musician, this is one of the things that I truly love about this album. While reviewers were less than favorable towards this release when it came out; the very things that bothered them most about the release are what I find to be so refreshingly hypnotic about it.

It’s best played as background music to wash over your evening. It’s not music that is meant to “entertain you” as much as it is music meant to fill your environment and set a trance like mood that elevates whatever activity you are undertaking while listening to it. It’s perfect mood music. It is the sound of Flow. It is music for the moment when you are so engrossed in something that you can actually leave time and consciousness of what you are doing behind and journey through the love of existing at that specific moment in time. It literally is an album that washes over you like the scent of a passing flower.

I truly have to come clean about one thing though, when I first purchased this album, I spent the first month listening to it on 33 1/3 speed on the turntable. To give myself some credit, this is actually the speed that the label designers printed on the vinyl! Only once I redeemed my complimentary digital copy of the album, did I  figure out that I had been listening to the album on the wrong speed! Imagine my surprise as I was on a plane heading somewhere the first time I brought up the digital version on my iPhone, I was like, well the digital version is a completely different album! lol :)

Surprisingly, the album actually worked at the slower speed as well! While Gilmour’s guitar parts are not nearly as obvious on the slower speed, it still has a cool vibe to it when you play it slower than it was recorded. Crazy! Needless to say though I only play the album on 45 rpm now and I still really love this vinyl!

In conjunction with the Alicante grapes of the Monastrell, the album has a smoky otherworldly quality that gives you a great sense of peace and tranquility. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for mood music to put yourself at ease. Cheers!

Toasted but Not Wasting

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
&
a Toasted Head 2009 Barrel Aged North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon

A celebratory 2012 Grammy pairing of sorts for National Drink Wine Day 2012, as the Foo Fighters scored five honors, for Best Rock Album (Wasting Light), Best Rock Song (“Walk”), Best Rock Performance (“Walk”) and Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance (“White Limo”), and Best Long Form Music Video (“Foo Fighters: Back and Forth”).

Wasting Light was recorded in Dave’s garage (although a snazzy studio it is) all on old school analogue tape. The result is one of the best sounding vinyl albums (45 rpm 180 gram double album gate fold) that has been released in a long time. It remained in the analogue realm up until post mastering and the end product is warm and shimmering! It truly gleams with full body and attitude.This album is not for the faint of heart audiophile that mostly listens to laid back chill out music; this album rocks your face off!

Toasted Head is named for the age-old process of toasting barrel heads with fire, which is what helps to create the distinct tasty flavor in all of the wines. One certainly tastes the smoky hints that run through the body of this wine. I think this process also relates quite well to “Wasting Light”, which overall has an urgent plea for us all to quit waiting for our lives to begin and start living our dreams. Like a toasted charred barrel we all still have to rise from the ashes from time to time and savor the smoky perfumes that crashing and burning leaves behind. Life goes on. There will always be a before and after, all we can really do is just enjoy now.

Valentines Day Pairing! Sparkling Strawberries & Soul

A Special Valentines Day Pairing
The Reverend Al Green’s masterpiece “Let’s Stay Together” paired with a batch of fresh dipped chocolate covered strawberries & a
Cordon Negro Sparkling wine from Sant Sadurni D’ Anoia, Spain
for all the hopeless romantics!

Let’s Stay Together is a 1972 album by soul singer Al Green, and is the follow-up to his moderate success Al Green Gets Next to You. It was recorded at Royal Recording Studio, 1320 S. Lauderdale, in Memphis and was a success, peaking at number eight on the pop albums chart and became the first of six albums to peak at number-one on the soul album chart (where it claimed the position for ten weeks).

Yours in a Simple Rhone!

 

2009 le Clos du Caillou Vieilles Vignes – Cotes du Rhone

Red Rhone Wine from the French Rhone Valley and “Women and Children First” by Van Halen!

Rock and Roll Royalty meet a Royal Rhone Valley Wine. Yes Indeed! Celebrating the triumphant return of a band that the universe has been missing for many years! Welcome back Diamond Dave and welcome back Van Halen! “A Different Kind of Truth” will be getting a pairing from us as soon as the vinyl copies are delivered! 😉

“Women and Children First” This is the first Van Halen album to feature all original band compositions. The opening track, “And the Cradle Will Rock…”, begins with what sounds like a guitar, but is, in fact, a phase shifter-effected Wurlitzer electric piano played through Van Halen’s 1960’s model 100-watt Marshall Plexi amplifier.

In a Simple Rhyme we set sail for the Rhone Valley!

Cover photo: Norman Seeff