WBW #58 – Wine and Coltrane

Francis Coppola 2007 Alicante Bouschet Katie over at gonzo gastronomy issued a creative challenge:  write about your experience with a wine or wines and different kinds of music.   I love music and wine so I simply could not pass up this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW) theme.

I’m approaching the task as an opportunity to try a grape I’ve never tasted before by a producer whose wines are also unfamiliar to me.  To give credit where it is due, I got the idea to go outside my wine comfort zone after watching Gary Vaynerchuk in a video with the ladies of Galavanting TV.

So I visited my local wine shop, and asked the wine director for a suggestion in the obscure red grape department.  He handed me  a 2007 Francis Coppola Alicante Bouschet and told me that the Coppola winery was one of the few left in California still producing the wine for commercial consumption.   He said it was a hearty food wine.   Actually, I had only planned to serve the wine with a meal of music, so just to be safe, I asked for a cheese suggestion, to which he quickly replied, blue.  I just so happened to have some in my fridge.

When I got home, I consulted my copy of the Wine Lover’s Companion for more information on this mysterious grape (mysterious to me anyway).  I learned that Alicante Bouschet is a hybrid vine created by Frenchman Louis Bouschet de Bernard and his son by crossing Grenache and Petit Bouschet, Petit Bouschet itself a blend of Teinturier du Cher and Aramon.   Planted widely in Southern France and North Africa, the grape is cultivated to provide intense color to wine, not to stand on its own, though Francis Coppola would beg to differ and I do too; this wine can stand alone…with the right kind of music.

As to the music,  I wanted to sample the wine first with something I had never heard before, so I stopped off at my favorite internet radio site, Beyond Jazz, and cued up the tune Breakdown by Homecut featuring Andreya Triana from the compilation mix, Boom-Boom-Boom.  I uncorked and hit play at the same time.   The vibe was melodic and smooth, a sort of soul-hop groove.  The nose was a bit mellow, with some muted signs of berries.  A taste revealed cherries, maybe raspberry even some raisins in there, and a sugary taffy aftertaste like a cherry Now and Later.  I dug the tune and the hypnotic refrain: “I know there’s something much better, something much more than this”.   I hope so! Time for the next group, Jazz Liberatorz and a tune called Mountain Sunlight featuring Mos Def.   This is an upbeat composition featured on the same Beyond Jazz mix with a jazzy hip-hop feel and some trippy synth effects.  My mood changed and the wine seemed to sweeten and elevate, scaling the mountain.   I felt like dancing.

Next stop to music I know – Santana from Welcome – a cut called Yours is the Light.  Really old stuff – 1973.  Makes me want to drink right from the bottle and pass it around Woodstock style.  There’s a tinge of smoke to this wine, and a little acidity, two substances quite popular in 1973.   Feeling a bit hungry, I broke out the blue cheese and to my delight the two paired magically with Santana.

Shifting gears, I broke out my Stereolab LP, something from a compilation called Serene Velocity.  I chose this record because the album art has a h45016twjlumagenta like coloration that matches the wine label and it just looks like wine in the abstract.  I put on Come and Play in the Milky Night and immediately got lost in the sound and forgot about the wine.  I took a sip to wake up, but the wine seemed asleep too.  I had to switch into overdrive.

Jazz, but something complex and intellectual.  Coltrane’s Giant Stepsh90867ek9wk.  This is it.  I’ve found the right music for this wine.  The title track, Giant Steps, brought out my senses, a heightened awareness of my surroundings.  And there is so much going on in Coltrane’s work – for me it’s like a spiritual experience trying to follow his saxophone solo.  Coltrane plays like no other could, with complete mastery.  He rescued my mood from the spacey sounds of Stereolab and transformed this otherwise ordinary grape into a wine with structure, complexity and balance – giant steps indeed!

Music and Mood

My musical tastes are varied and generally mirror my mood or compliment what I happen to be doing. Here’s a sample of music matched to mood or task:

Checking E-Mails: anything on beyondjazz.net

DeStressing: Brian Eno – Ambient 4: On Land

Writing, Concentration and Focus: Miles Davis – In a Silent Way

Relaxing: Chopin- Nocturnes (Complete)

Motivation: Any Pat Metheny record

Inspiration: John Coltrane: A Love Supreme; Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On

Reflection: Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon

Nostalgia: Genesis – Seconds Out and the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Creativity: Bill Frisell

Pick Me Up: Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter or Herbie Hancock

Ironically, the Miles LP is entitled Relaxin with the Miles Davis Quintet, but I find the music anything but relaxing.

Productivity and Focus: Prokofiev – Piano Concertos