Sitting on top of a mountain, over looking the Silicon Valley, I was standing watching the planes fly by in the warm spring weather. I always enjoy climbing Monte Bello in Cupertino, ending up at Ridge Vineyards, over looking everything below. You are only an hour from San Francisco, but you feel like you are a world away. This was an unusually warm spring day, and the crowds were out picnicking on the hill top and enjoying the views.
On this trip, our illustrious leader Christopher Watkins, brought together a group of wine and food bloggers at one of his quarterly media tastings – which are always eventful. On this visit, Christopher, a musician at his core, had something up his sleeve. There would be no traditionally tasting, as we had come to know it. This time, when we walked in the barn, we found bottles that were brown bagged, hiding the gold within. On the screen in front of us, the history of jazz. In our ears, we had Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, and Thelonious Monk.What was this madness?
Our task was to take each of four wines and pair them with the song that we found most provocatively paired with it. Given that I know zilch about jazz, the only word that came to my mind was skat! Yes, I said skat. That’s what I think of when I think of jazz; I was feeling much like the beatnik in Peggy Sue Got Married – you know the line, “Change your destiny Peggy Sue! Marry me and change your destiny!”. In my head, I’m thinking, listen to the jazz Thea! Listen to this, and change your destiny!
First up, the 2001 Monte Bello. The smoky rich berry notes were mirrored by bright acid, black pepper and allspice. There was delicious chewy leather, and blackberry spice but it was subdued and not jammy. My pairing was Paul’s Pal by Sonny Rollins.
Wine number two, the 2000 Monte Bello, was dark and smoky, and a bit bold. I found fig notes and heavy sediment. There was more fruit coming out as it opened up in the glass, with some excellent earthy background. It was a mysterious wine and So What by Miles Davis was on my mind.
Next, we tasted the 1999 Lytton Springs zinfandel. This older wine hid sticks and stones in the smoky prune background, with cigar box and spice rack. I found a hint of strawberries in balsamic vinegar and cranberry on the end, with lingering thoughts offruit roll up.. The Bemsha Swing from Thelonious Monk seemed the natural pairing.
The final wine in the first flight was the 1997 Geyserville. This was an in your face wine for being so old, and was quite candied with brambly notes. There was quite a bit of dirt and white pepper as well as cedar and sweet cherry. I could see a sarsaparilla at an old west bar in this wine, and even though I was supposed to pick the 4th song, I still chose Paul’s Paul (again) as the match.
Are you lost yet? Yeah so was I. I am no student of jazz, and I can’t really say i like or don’t like it because I just don’t have enough exposure. I know I hate Kenny G if that helps? These pairings are strictly on my gut reaction to the music and the wine.
Luckily for us, we were released from the duty of matching music and words, and we were treated to a tasting of the historical vineyard selection series.
Stay tuned for the details on my next post!