By Joe Colgan
A few years ago I was turned onto the work of David O'Reilly, founder, winemaker, and co-owner of Owen Roe Winery. Based in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. O'Reilly has been producing wines with a minimal processing approach, using grapes sourced from the beautiful Willamette and Columbia Valleys of Oregon and Washington's Yakima Valley. The wine that did it for me years back was the 2008 Abbot's Table - a fruit blend bomb that is a high performer at a good price point. Another favorite, and this weeks pick, is their 2009 Sinister Hand. This is a Rhone blend with a ton of dark fruit, pepper, and earth. This wine and a meat dish equals happiness.
The hand reference on the label made me go right to one of my all time favorite musicians, Charlie Hunter, whose hand abilities boggle the mind - or at least my mind. Playing the bass (3 strings) and the guitar (5 strings) simultaneously makes him a one man groove machine. If you get the opportunity, see him live..
Sláinte and happy Friday!
By Ben Heskett
Entering the World of Led Zeppelin is exciting for me, particularly when the question is what to pair with such an iconic, influential, heavy rock ‘n’ roll colossus. It’s also exciting because Zeppelin is one of my formative musical building blocks. An early, eye and ear-opening birthday gift from my sister was Led Zeppelin I and Led Zeppelin III (Which in record format had a wheel you could turn embedded on the cover). The two albums represent sonic variations of the Zeppelin method – One steeped in English-style blues and heavy riffs, the other incorporating elements of so-called California rock and the mellower moods prevalent at the time.
But I digress, as usual. The beauty of pairing Zeppelin with wine – and this topic could be the source of an entire website on its own – is the versatility of the band. This has continued among members long after Zeppelin broke up in the early 1980s and is best exemplified by the varied solo career of uber front man Robert Plant.
Plant has aged well, in my view. Straying from the heavier notes of Zeppelin, Plant has in recent years become enthralled with American roots music. This is best exemplified in his work with Alison Krauss on “Raising Sand,” one of the most successful albums of 2009 (Grammy-winning, in fact). It continues with his latest solo effort, “Band of Joy.”
To accompany his own adventurousness, I think we owe it to ourselves as wine drinkers to go along for the ride and try out some big, full-bodied California Zinfandel, perhaps with some grilled meats to boot. A few options among my favorites:
- Unti Vineyards 2007 Zinfandel
- One of the diverse Zinfandels produced by Ridge Vineyards
- Or perhaps one of the current favorites of Zinfandel freaks everywhere, Carlisle Winery and Vineyards
Embracing the musical elements of Nashville and the South as a whole, such as the pedal-steel guitar and spartan, almost tribal use of the drums, Plant has re-imagined himself and forced the listener to expand their definitions of Plant as a vocalist and of some of the greatest songs in the Zeppelin catalog. One example is below, an interesting take on "Houses of the Holy" from his current solo tour (Which I will be attending later tonight at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, Calif.):