More Music & Wine
It’s becoming an annual thing, and I love doing it. Bringing together two of my passions … wine and music. Years ago, I wrote a column pairing independent wines with independent music artists. It was so well received that record company Six Shooter Records asked me to pair wines with bands at a new music festival they were planning for Edmonton.
At the inaugural Interstellar Rodeo last year, I put the pairings into practice. It seemed natural to draw parallels between the passion and creativity of both winemakers and artists. It was an overwhelmingly sensory experience, so we’re doing it every year.
Ultimately the wine pairings are meant to add another dimension to the festival experience, stimulating all your senses … sight, sound, touch and taste.
Life is too short to listen to shitty music. Life is also too short to drink shitty wine. I’m happy to continue to bring both together.
The Deep Dark Woods
Andre Aubert Grignan-les-Adhemar ‘Le Devoy’ 2011, Rhône Valley, France ($16.99)
Listening to the entrancing, beautifully lonely, theatrical sounds of The Deep Dark Woods, I can’t help but be taken back to past times as they seemingly pay homage to the late greats that came before them. Le Devoy offers depth, intrigue, loads of character and incredible value in this classic blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan from the historic Rhône Valley. Substantial without being intimidating, the music and wine both stop you in your tracks and draw you into a place of introspection wondering how they can be so good. Deep and dark combined with a little angst and heartache. Grab a glass, hold your partner tight and sway yourselves into submission.
De Angelis Rosso Piceno 2012, Marche, Italy ($16.99)
Vibrant and soulful with a bit of a raw edge, but undeniably amazing is the best way to describe both the band and wine. Relatively new on the scene, but hardly green, this southern roots-rock sensation, led by the powerful pipes of Brittany Howard, is tearin’ it up and making everyone rise up and testify. The delicious, smoky, meaty, juicy Rosso Piceno from Italy’s “upstart” Le Marche region is also making people jump to attention. Those who are calling Alabama Shakes and wines from Le Marche the next big things are a little late to the party. Both are already here. “Hold On” and be prepared to be blown away.
Cave Spring Gamay 2011, Niagara, Ontario ($21.99)
Expat Mike Plume may be living in Nashville, but his uplifting, undeniably Canadian lyrics make us proud to claim him as one of our own. Niagara-based Cave Spring is also distinctly Canadian; their wines make you feel good about wanting to show them off to the world. The wine’s juicy red cherry-fruit, silky tannins and spicy finish make you want to cheer go, Gamay, go! Both songwriter and winery have experienced success beyond our borders, but the fruits of their labour make it clear that home is where the heart is, and their hearts are, without question, north of the 49th parallel. Maybe nice guys can finish first.
Bougrier Vouvray 2011, Loire Valley, France ($18.99)
I can’t think of a more appropriate name for this lighthearted, spirit-lifting trio … they are, in fact, both good and lovely. A throwback to the boogie-woogie era, their music makes it impossible not to tap your feet and smile uncontrollably to their melodic harmonies. And what kind of vintage wine party would it be without Vouvray? Bright and fresh with a hint of sweetness, the wine can best be described as sunshine in a glass. Which begs the question, do people still boogie-woogie and drink Vouvray? If it’s to the Good Lovelies with a glass of Bougrier in your hand, you better believe they do.
Santa Maria la Palma ‘Le Bombarde’ Cannonau 2011, Sardinia, Italy ($17.99)
The mellow, psychedelic vocal intonations of Kurt Vile bring to mind the urban lyricism of a young Tom Petty or Bob Dylan. Mind-altering and intoxicating, the Cannonau’s multi-dimensional and penetrating spice and leather flavours are so good compared to its modest price, it will put you out of your mind. One sip makes you larger and one sip makes you small … careful, you’ve just been invited to the Mad Hatter’s tea party, and there’s no way out of the rabbit hole.
Don Rodolfo Tannat 2012, Mendoza, Argentina ($16.99)
There’s no easy way to describe the raw, genre-crossing sounds of CR Avery. Country, roots, folk, rock, punk, urban beatbox and spoken word are all encompassed in some form in this versatile artist’s creative and insightful music and lyrics. Similarly, the dark and edgy Tannat possesses old-world depth and complexity and new-world juiciness and approachability — defying traditional labels. They both lure you in with their intensity, but instead of trying to define their respective styles, just have a listen and a taste, relax, kick back and go with it. You’ll be glad you did.
Jean-Paul Brun Côte de Brouilly 2011, Beaujolais, France ($29.99)
The Skydiggers and JP Brun are making music and wines that stand the test of time. For almost a quarter-century, the band has been creating songs so familiar, they’ve become comforting standards on all our playlists. Elegant, soft and silky, Beaujolais (no, not Nouveau) has been around seemingly forever, but its quality (particularly the quality of the crus like Côte de Brouilly) today may be better than it’s ever been. Fresh, pure and unmarked by intervention, the wine and music couldn’t be more down to earth. An obvious choice for those seeking sincerity, honesty and quality.
Steve Earle and the Dukes
Fabiano Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2010, Veneto, Italy ($17.99)
Steve Earle and Nicola Fabiano are living legends in their respective fields. Both ran away from home as youths to follow their passions, and the longevity of their careers is a testament to their talents, tenacity, unwillingness to compromise and individuality. Earle and Fabiano are often referred to as rebels, but artistic geniuses are seldom conformists. Earle’s intelligent, honest and perceptive storytelling takes on another dimension when combined with his country-roots-rocking sounds. Fabiano’s wines are real, conveying the story of the land through the honesty of what’s in the bottle. No tricks or gimmicks here, just quality and the straight, unpretentious truth.