Music & Wine
I’m lucky. My passion is also my profession. But wine and food are not my only passions. Great music also elicits the same strong emotional responses. Unfortunately, I am void of any musical talent. Growing up, I took the requisite piano, guitar and drum lessons, and while I could hear the music in my head and feel the music in my soul, it never quite sounded as good when delivered by my fingers. Oh yeah, I can’t sing either.
One of the greatest experiences of my life was owning a small blues bar … being a part of the live-music scene, getting to know the artists and drawing inspiration from them as they pursued their passion. I have always “celebrated the small” when it comes to wine producers, but that philosophy holds true for music as well. I have great admiration for those talented independent artists that are following their dreams and inspiring their listeners. They do it because they love it and they have something special to share that enhances our lives.
What better way to celebrate both than to pair some of Canada’s great indie artists with unique, distinct wines from “indie” producers? Life is too short to drink bad wine, and as the motto of independent artist label Six Shooter Records very succinctly puts it, “Life is too short to listen to shitty music.” So, this holiday season, give the gift of music and wine. Many thanks to Aimée and Shauna for helping me bring both together.
Bussola L’Errante IGT 2003, Veneto, Italy ($65)
Rich, bold, and deep with an edge. Hawksley’s a rocker, but he doesn’t need to yell. He does it with forceful grace and sophistication. Similarly, the L’Errante, made with dried Cabernet and Merlot grapes, is robust, intense, uplifting and penetrating. The tannins are deceivingly soft, but possess an underlying structure that gives the wine substance and meaning. Astounding how simplicity can evoke so much emotion!
(To rock with Hawksley, go to www.hawksleyworkman.com.)
Modes of Transport
Ruggeri Vecchie Viti Prosecco DOC 2006, Veneto, Italy ($38)
Ann and Ruggeri owner Paolo Bisol should get together and chat over a glass of Prosecco some time. They are both old souls in young bodies striving to create works of significance despite being surrounded by an abundance of generic, uninspired fluff in their respective industries. The Vecchie Viti is one of the most beautiful and pure sparkling wines that I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. A perfect match for Ann’s music and lyrics — compelling, intoxicating, unadulterated and amazing.
(Prepare to be intoxicated at www.annvriend.com.)
The Devil on a Bench in Stanley Park
Santa Maria la Palma Le Bombarde Cannonau DOC 2006, Sardinia, Italy ($17)
When life is hectic and you want to slow things down and don’t want to be disappointed — with both music and wine — you search for something soothing and comforting. Gentle and elegantly constructed with loads of character, richness, depth and a touch of spice. Down to earth and sincere, Justin channels wisdom far beyond his years, while the Cannonau possesses a gracefulness far beyond its modest price. Step out of the rat race for a few hours and let both put your mind and soul at ease.
(Chill-lax at www.justinrutledge.com.)
Listen to “Does It Make You Rain”
A Good Enough Day
La Crema Pinot Noir 2005, Sonoma Coast, California, USA ($38)
Listening to the gospel-like, theatrical sounds of Royal Wood, I can’t help but be taken back to the voice of a young Billy Joel and the song style of Paul McCartney. Calming (in a lonely sort of way) and introspective … yet you can feel the angst and heartache. Love and heartache — sounds like the relationship most winemakers have with Pinot Noir. You nurture it, love it, give your heart and soul to it and it either blossoms into something wonderful and sensuous … or it doesn’t ripen and stays green and bitter. Fortunately, the La Crema’s relationship with its winemaker is a clear example of the former.
(Contemplate life at www.royalwood.ca.)
Listen to “A Good Enough Day”
Broken (and Other Rogue States)
Vina la Reserva de Caliboro Erasmo 2003, Maule Valley, Chile ($30)
Listening to Luke conjures images of a smoke-filled, back-alley club or middle-of-nowhere roadhouse where outsiders enter at their own peril, but where this balladeer is very much at home. His unique country-jazzy-rock-rootsy sound with engaging lyrics and captivating melodies definitely calls for something unfiltered from a winemaker that doesn’t play by the rules. Caliboro owner Francesco Marone Cinzano is rewriting the rules in Chile: dry farming, importing vines in quantities so large that the Chilean government has limited subsequent imports, macerating not for days but months and creating a wine so good that others are inspired to strive for greater heights. These two outlaws should go riding together on the plains of Chile (or Manitoba).
(Step outside the box at www.lukedoucet.com.)
Listen to “Broken One”
Rachelle van Zanten
Back to Francois
Col d’Orcia Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2004, Tuscany, Italy ($30)
Contemporary with traditional roots, never forgetting where you come from — holds true for both Rachelle’s music and the wines of Col d’Orcia winemaker Pablo Harri. Simply expressing in the bottle what the land and Mother Nature have given him, Harri’s Rosso is elegant with lovely cherry and dark-plum flavours with just a touch of earthiness. Medium-bodied with a silky mouthfeel and a longlasting finish. Honest, sincere and from the heart … both Rachelle and the wine.
(Check out the real deal at www.rachellevanzanten.com.)
Rabl Kaferberg Gruner Veltliner 2004, Kamptal, Austria ($32)
Delicate, intense, exotic and undeniably attractive; multidimensional, incredible depth and complexity with a compelling edginess. The wine’s pretty damn good too.
(Prepare to be swept away to a place you may not want to come back from at www.emmgryner.com.)