Classics: The Gospels of Pauls
The following summary of our recent and very special Wine Bloggers Tasting is broken up into two parts: in Part I, I run down a description of how the tasting was constructed, and in Part II, I reveal my notes and pairings, and how they matched up with our guests.
Classics: The Gospels of Pauls. This was the theme for our very special 3rd Anniversary edition of our Wine Blogger Tasting series.
A short film was running on a loop as our bloggers arrived (publishing controls prevent my running the video here, but you can see it in the background during the blogger videos at the end of this post); over a soundtrack featuring the Miles Davis composition “So What,” from the album “Kind of Blue,” (a track famous for its immortal bass line, created and performed by the great Paul Chambers, one of our two Pauls for the day) and a compendium of images of Paul Draper (Ridge Vineyards winemaker) and Paul Chambers (bassist on an astonishing array of canonical Jazz albums) the following paired quotes ran:
“Everyone is influenced by everybody, but you bring it down home the way you feel it.”
“We’ve always made wines that we loved to drink.”
“When you have great vineyards that produce high quality grapes of distinctive individual character, this is not only an environmentally and socially responsible approach, it’s also the best way to consistently make fine wine.”
It’s all about creation and surprise. It just needs to be appreciated and watered like flowers. You have to water flowers. These peaks will come again.
“Overall, I think the main thing a musician would like to do is give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things that he knows of and senses in the universe.”
“My aim is to take these pieces of ground, and allow them to express themselves.What I demand of a great wine is that it reflects nature,not the hand of the winemaker; it has to have that connection to the earth.”
“I had finally realized that you didn’t need a degree in oenology to make great wine.”
“If they act too hip, you know they can’t play shit.”
Our guests were seated. The theme was then revealed.
As past readers of this blog may recall, the “theme” of the tasting is rarely, if ever, announced ahead of time. In a previous post I had made clear the tasting would be a celebration of jazz and wine, in honor of the event coming on both the 3rd anniversary of this blog going live, and the anniversary of Paul Chamber’s birth, but I hadn’t explained what we were actually going to do, or taste. I did let slip one hint; I had intimated filming would be involved, due to my intention of sharing details about this event during my panel talk at this year’s Wine Bloggers Conference.
Anyhow, the theme.
Classics: The Gospels of Pauls
Meaning that we would blind-taste four “classic” Ridge wines, while listing to four “classic” Paul Chambers performances. Attendees would then “pair” the songs to the wines, based on their tasting and listening notes. Then, attendees were to go on camera, and explain their choices. After all attendees had their turns, I would then reveal my “pairings” and justifications, and we would then cross-check all the results to see how we’d all matched up.
My goals in constructing the tasting in this fashion were two-fold:
1) I wanted to take advantage of the calendrical confluence (this blog’s 3rd anniversary & Paul Chambers’ birthday) as an opportunity to discuss the procedural and philosophical parallels between the production of great jazz and great wine, and ideally then take this out to the larger realm of how all great art is produced; emerging, as I believe it does, from that peculiar and wonderful intersection where mojo meets craft, knowledge meets instinct, juju meets technology, passion meets knowledge.
2) I wanted this event to be a living enactment of the greater possibilities inherent in the winery-wine blogger relationship; per my goals for the panel talk at the conference (“The Winery View of Bloggers”), I wanted to be able to show how this unique relationship allows for something more than the conventional producer-reviewer paradigm to rule the aesthetic day.
As to the selection of wines and performances, this was of course a tad tricky, because my biases are fairly obvious.
So, for the wines, I elected to rely instead on “external” assessments of just what exactly constitutes a “classic” Ridge wine.
Here is what I chose, with a very brief explanation of why after each:
2001 Monte Bello – recent 99 point rating from Robert Parker
2000 Monte Bello – winner of the “Young Cabernet” competition at the Judgment of Paris 30-year re-enactment
1999 Lytton Springs – Winemaker Eric Baugher’s choice for a “classic” zinfandel
1997 Geyserville – Winemaker Paul Draper’s choice for a “classic” zinfandel
And as to the songs, I selected four indisputably canonical recordings from four indisputably canonical artists, as follows:
So What – Miles Davis (from “Kind of Blue,” probably the greatest jazz album ever recorded)
Bemsha Swing – Thelonious Monk (from Monk’s “Brilliant Corners” album, rightly regarded as one of the most important and influential recordings of the modern jazz era)
Paul’s Pal – Sonny Rollins (from “Tenor Madness”; inarguably one of the greatest saxophone-centric jazz albums ever recorded, and an early milestone in the career of this recent Kennedy Center honoree; incidentally, the song is named for Paul Chambers)
Mr. P.C. – John Coltrane (from “Giant Steps”; one of a few significant albums that firmly established John Coltrane as one of the greatest jazz players ever to stalk the earth; this song is also named for Paul Chambers)
As noted above, I asked each guest to go on camera to explain their pairings. And while I won’t unveil the full video versions until the conference in August, I invite you to please enjoy the following compendium of short clips in the meantime (for best playback results, please select the “YouTube” link in the lower right corner of the video screen, to watch the clips directly on YouTube):
This concludes Part I of our post. Stay tuned for Part II!
Three of our guest wine bloggers have already put up wonderful posts about this very special tasting event; to enjoy their perspectives, please click the following links:
And to see some wonderful images from the event:
Categories: Cabernet Sauvignon, Events, Geyserville, History, Lytton Springs, Monte Bello, Paul Draper, Press Reviews, Social Media, Tasting Flights, Tasting Notes, Varietals & Blends, Video, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine & Music, Wine and Jazz, Wine Blogs, Wine Quotes, Wine Tales, Zinfandel