By Joe Colgan
It's officially fall in LA. The temperature in the morning lately has had a welcomed crispness to it and I actually saw my breath the other day. The leaves are starting to change - excluding the palm trees - and going to the beach can be cold experience at times. But sadly this will be the extent of our fall/winter weather here in SoCal. It will rain, but we'll have to head for the mountains if we want to see any snow. I've been in CA for over 12 years and I still struggle at times with the lack of discernable seasons. The weather here can be very linear and I sometimes long for a good cold kick-you-in-the-arse winter, like those from my youth in NY.
I tend to gravitate towards acoustic based music this time of year. There's something very organic and comforting in hearing music that's not overly produced and made from simple instruments. A little guitar, bass, and mandolin (with a little sprinkling of banjo) sets the tone for the fall very nicely. Players like Tony Rice, Bella Fleck, and Jerry Garcia (just to name a few) are great sources for comfort-food music. One Garcia album in particular, Not For Kids Only, is a fantastic choice for autumn listening. Fronted by Garcia on guitar and vocals, and joined by longtime collaborator David Grisman on mandolin/vocals, this album is a warm string of traditional kid themed songs. But as the title suggests, it's definitely not for kids only - I was listening to this album long before the shorties came along. The vid below is a little sample from the album - Freight Train.
This time of year I also tend to gravitate to red wines that are meaty, spicy, and all around comforting and big bodied. Cabs can usually do the trick and one of note that I recently sampled was St. Supéry's 2004 Dollarhide Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. This was a fairly complex wine with a retail price of around $65. Nice smoke, leather, plum aromas with a palette full of dark berries and black licorice. Really nice velvety/long finish. Very comforting and would pair nicely with a lot of hearty meat dishes.
Just had to add this clip of the great Elizabeth Cotton performing her song Freight Train.
Here's a great short clip of Garcia and Grisman doing some recording for the Not For Kids Only album.
By Ben Heskett
One of the benefits of being late in posting one of our weekly editions of the Wine and Tunes Pairing is some news comes down the pike that needs to be immediately addressed. Drum roll, please…The David Lee Roth version of the HALEN is officially back and recording a new album, according to Rolling Stone magazine. Do I have high expectations for any new works by the current Roth-revisited version of Van Halen? Absolutely not. Will it be great to know they back on the road blowing out speakers and bringing their unique brand of bombast to a city near you? You betcha. The below clip is a case in point – David Lee Roth-led Van Halen at the height of their powers…Kind of frightening, really.
So the ‘Zilla will revisit the whole notion of where wine fits into the hard rock (Or in the Halen’s case – “Big Rock”) ethos in detail, but let’s just assume there is a prominent role for a good bottle of wine to play. What are the characteristics? For my money, I’d say the wine needs to be an easy drinking, affordable option, with some good character since we may be drinking a lot of it when we’re listening to tunes like “Unchained.” We’ll leave the rock n’ roll excess to someone else, although, for the record, the ‘Zilla is in favor of partying like a rock star whenever possible.
So what’s our choice going to be for this vintage Halen colossus? Let’s go with another recent find of mine that is both rich in flavor, smooth on the palate, with some great dark fruit and reasonably priced – The 2008 Chateau Joanin Becot Cotes de Castillion, a fine value Bordeaux that may make you think you’re drinking a bottle the rock stars drink. Enjoy and keep rocking!