Editor’s note: As it happens, we’re roughly two years into the CORKZILLA experience with this posting. We started our wine and Tunes Pairing feature a bit later than our first post, but our second anniversary nevertheless should be noted. Thanks to everyone who continues to make the ‘Zilla a fun, rewarding thing to do. Cheers!
By Ben Heskett
In the shadows of Mount Tamalpais in San Rafael, Calif. a celebration of what would be Jerry Garcia’s 70th birthday will take place later today, orchestrated by his longtime Grateful Dead bandmate Bob Weir at his TRI Studios. Garcia died in 1995 at the age of 53. We’ve held Garcia and the Grateful Dead’s music in high esteem at CORKZILLA – that’s no secret – but the void he’s left is real, and the outpouring of events surrounding his 70th birthday is a heartwarming reminder of how many music fans he touched.
I will let the music do the talking with this posting, but I did want to say a few words about Garcia’s music, his contribution, and his approach, exemplified in some of the great interviews he gave over the years.
What I’ve always thought about the Grateful Dead, beyond the amazing improvisation, willingness to take chances, and overall all fun that often surrounded them, is that they are the most American of bands. Garcia and the band painted unique pictures of American life with songs like “Cumberland Blues,” “Brown Eyed Women,” and “Wharf Rat,” and inspirational with songs like “Estimated Prophet” and “Scarlet Begonias” (My personal favorite). They were also incredibly psychedelic, as in songs like “The Eleven” and “Dark Star.”
These are also very accessible tunes, and that gives me hope that the Garcia/Grateful Dead sound will continue, with artists such as Ryan Adams and bands like the Chris Robinson Brotherhood carrying the torch. Garcia and the Grateful Dead’s music for me turned into a soundtrack for life somewhere along the line, as it did for many. I’m not sure exactly when, but at some point the tunes became a part of me, and for that I will be eternally thankful.
In honor of Garcia, I will pair one of my favorite bottles of wines from the last several months. Perhaps it was the company, perhaps it was the place, but this bottle of 2009 Dry Creek Valley Grenache from Unti Vineyards hit the spot. Previously featured in a pairing, Unti is one of my Sonoma County favorites and this wine was a perfect complement to a great Italian meal in Healdsburg, Calif. I think Garcia would like his music to be paired with a phenomenal expression of a California vineyard and this wine fits the bill.
The show, being streamed from Weir’s TRI Studios, will start at 6:30 PM PST this evening and features a bevy of musicians paying tribute to Garcia in their own way, including the likes of Mike Gordon from Phish and Lukas Nelson (Willie Nelson’s son). Kudos to Weir for making the effort - the 'Zilla has been watching the evolution at TRI with interest from the start. The video below offers a great take on Garcia, and additional footage celebrates the man and his music. Happy birthday, Jerry!
By Joe Colgan
The Zilla team just returned from some much needed East coast R&R - visiting family and old friends, great food and wine, plus a lot of time on and in the water does the trick for recharging the batteries. But now the lights are back on in the CORKZILLA California Headquarters (CCH) and we're excited to get back into the fold. As we enter into the final month of summer (audible groan) and try to continue to get in as much fun-in-the-sun as possible, we're going to feature a band and a couple of wines that have been in high rotation here in SoCal during these past few months.
The Alabama Shakes, briefly mentioned in our last 'Monthly Wine and Tune Pairing', is an amazingly soulful, blues, Americana rock band from Athens, Alabama, that has won over CORKZILLA in a big way. They've become a very welcomed addition to this year's summertime playlist.
This lady and gentlemen quartet have an astonishing ability of conjuring up 40+ years of rock and soul music, mixing it up in an analog blender, and attacking your earbuds with a refreshingly new sound that makes you feel like you should have heard it a while ago. The band is fronted by lead vocalist Brittany Howard who has the power to sing the paint off a barn or sing my kids to sleep. The first time I saw her sing I was blown away - similar reaction to seeing Norah Jones sing in a small club back in the day in Berkeley, CA. It's like one of those 'you've got to be kidding me' moments.
The second part of the pairing goes to two recent finds from the local Whole, courtesy of the the Almansa region of Spain. The 2010 Bodegas Atalaya Almansa Laya (70% Garnacha Tintorera and 30% Monastrell) and the 2009 Bodegas Atalaya Almansa La Atalaya (85% Garnacha Tintorera and 15% Monastrell). Two vintages that are both great everyday wines at very nice price points - between $10-$16. There are some noticeable differences between the two, but both wines display nice complexity, structure, and intense dark berry color. They're perfect for rounding out your summertime grillables and backyard relaxation sessions.
The clip below is the vid for "Hold On", the first single off the Shakes debut record Boys & Girls. It's deep pocketed, uber soulful, and oozes bluesy rock-n-roll. Sounds delicious.