Archive for the 'Music & Movies' Category

Movie review: Blood into Wine

Sunday night, I checked out  Blood Into Wine, the movie documenting Maynard James Keenan’s Arizona-based quest to make great wine. It’s fairly well known (at least in wine geek circles) that he’s the singer for Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer… and that he has chosen to make wine in northern Arizona. What’s perhaps not as widely known is the fact that he has been guided through his wine-making nascence by mentor and business partner, Eric Glomski who is a relative veteran at making wine in the area.

I guess I went into the theatre hoping it would be something with which I could identify – passionate wine guy sets out to make wine… albeit a passionate wine guy with millions of dollars in the bank from his more-lucrative-than-mine regular job. He’s living the dream. Instead, a good part of the film focused on Maynard’s regular gig… and the wide-eyed groupies associated with the rock star thing. There was also an extremely annoying supposed-to-be-funny running “interview” by alt-comedy guys, Tim and Eric (of “Tim and Eric Awesome Show“). Wow, those bits got OLD quickly.

Somewhere around the half-way point, the film turned a corner and started to focus on the wine instead of the rock singer behind it. From that point, the film became much more of the movie that I had hoped it would be. There’s a surprisingly touching scene during which Maynard tells how the 100% Cabernet Sauvignon bottling, Nagual del Judith got its name – a nod to his deceased mother, who spent half her life disabled by a series of aneurysms and whose ashes are spread across the small vineyard.

Was it a great wine movie? Not really. Was it an interesting flick. Sure. It’s a decent documentary that just tries to do a few too many things at once. It’s a worthy watch for wine geeks and fans of Maynard James Kennan though. Both will be equally rewarded.

There are brief appearances by a few of Maynard’s friends, such as comedian Patton Oswalt, Primus drummer Tim Alexander and Milla Jovovich. Wine Spectator‘s James Sucking also drops by and seems pleasantly surprised by the wines he tastes.

Check out their site for screenings – or if you live in Vancouver, it’s showing at the Rio Theatre until Thursday, March 18.

3 1/2 stars

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Blood Into Wine movie playing at Vancouver’s Rio Theatre March 12th to 18th

Back in the 90’s, I was a fan of the band Tool, so I took a bit of an interest when I heard that Tool’s singer, Maynard James Kennan had started a winery in, of all places, Arizona.  It’s called Caduceus and they produce some pretty interesting (and well-reviewed) wines.

I haven’t had the chance to try any of their wines, but I notice that a movie about the winery/winemaker/journey, “Blood Into Wine” is playing at Vancouver’s Rio Theatre for a week from Friday, March 12th to Thursday, the 18th. Show-times are posted on their site. I’ll be checking it out.

If you don’t live in Vancouver, the movie’s site has a few screenings listed there.

Here’s the YouTube trailer:

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2008 – My Favourites in Wine and Music

It’s the time of year that the “best of” lists make their appearances. Despite what some folks may say, these lists are pretty fun to put together and it’s always good to hear what others liked the most in the past year. What better thing to do on a snowy Saturday than to sit down and make my list? :)

Music and wine are a natural match. I’m a music freak/I’m a wine geek. Almost every memorable bottle of wine I’ve had over the years was drunk while music was playing. With that bond in mind, I thought for fun that I’d put together a list of my most memorable albums of the year and pair them with the wines I loved most in 2008 (in no particular order and based only on full bottle samples).

mgmt12000 Paitin Barbaresco, Sori Paitin paired with Oracular Spectacular” by MGMT
I’ll lead off with this one because they were both my top choices for the year. The wine was memorable in a way no other matched and the album still gets regular play. There’s more going on with both than you get at first taste or listen. They both just get better as you go. The wine was, in a word, stellar. The album had standout tracks such as “Time to Pretend”, “Kids” and “Electric Feel” – great stuff.

tvontheradio2001 Yalumba The Octavius, Barossa Old Vine Shiraz paired with Dear Science,” by TV on the Radio
What can I say about these two?.. This was what I popped open on my fortieth birthday and TV on the Radio have put out three of my favourite albums. Both have layers and layers and make you think as much as they are just plain good. The more you taste the wine, the more it comes alive – the same goes for the album. It requires multiple listens to worm its way into your consciousness… and I’m glad it did. Standout tracks include “Halfway Home”, “Golden Age” and “Dancing Choose”.

boniver2003 Russell Creek Winemakers Select Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley paired with For Emma, Forever Ago” by Bon Iver
This is one of my favourite Washington State wineries, owned by a cantankerous and interesting guy, Larry Krivoshein. I bought this wine at his tasting room in Walla Walla and really liked talking and tasting with him. Both the album and the wine are the work of solitary guys in relatively remote locations – Justin Vernon in a remote Wisconsin cabin during a cold winter and Larry down in Walla Walla (seriously, do the drive some time). Both of them doing it their way. In 2008 they both put out products worthy of praise and enjoyment. Standout tracks on the intimate and beautiful album are “Skinny Love”, “The Wolves (Act I And II)” and “Blindsided”.

m831997 Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico paired with Saturdays = Youth” by m83
Both the wine and the album had many layers… Hell, the wine was in the running for my wine of the year. Everyone who knows me knows that I love the Amarone.. and this is a helluva’ bottle of the Amarone. The wine was absolutely seductive – with raisins, plums, cherries, brandy and spice in its flavours. The album? Amazing. m83, aka Anthony Gonzalez, pulls off stuff you wouldn’t think anyone is trying these days. It’s symphonic in parts, with a sense of pop melody that leaves many of the songs in your head long after you’ve given it a listen. It’s also a “grower”, which is a good thing – it’s one of those albums you like more with each listen because you’re getting more from it. Strong stuff. I’d say it’s in my top 3 albums of the year. Tracks such as “Graveyard Girl”, “Kim & Jessie” and “Couleurs” help show why this album made my list.

elbow1999 H. Billiot Millésime Champagne paired with The Seldom Seen Kid” by Elbow
Classics… that’s what both of the wine and the album strike me as. The Billiot is amazing… and to me, is what a Champagne should be – toasty, complex and sexy, with an everlasting finish. The flavours were all about baked apples, along with some peach, honey and ginger spice. Onto the album – Elbow is one of those bands about whom I constantly marvel they’re not more popular. The singer, Guy Garver has an amazing voice that sounds like Peter Gabriel on a bender… and they consistently record strong albums. Great songs on the album are “Grounds For Divorce”, the cheery, hopeful and amazing “One Day Like This” and “The Fix” which just begs to open a British gangster film. I may have listened to this more than any other album this year.

fleetfoxes1998 Castello di Verduno Barolo, Massara paired with Fleet Foxes” by Fleet Foxes
Both of these choices were unexpected finds in 2008. I stumbled on the wine while having lunch in Verduno, Italy. It may have been the setting, but I loved this wine. The Marsala sherry, nuts, leather, cherry and flowers led to a sexy cherry brandy finish. Likewise for the album. At first it struck me as too softly harmonic and folksy (very Simon & Garfunkel-y)… but the more I listened to it, the beauty of the music won me over. It’s a mellow-day album that will leave you in a better mood for having heard it. I can’t say there are standout tracks. It’s a complete and round achievement that stands as an album.

hercules2005 Mazzocco Sonoma Zinfandel Pony, Dry Creek Valley & 2004 Mazzocco Stone Ranch Zinfandel, Alexander Valley paired with Hercules and Love Affair” by Hercules and Love Affair
These choices represent the good-times party choices of the year. If you’re at a party and drag these wines out, anyone who likes wine (especially a great Zin) will love them… and the album will get their booties moving. Both the Mazzocco Zins are made in that crushed blackberry syrup and briar style with balanced structures and finishes. Winemaker Antoine Favero does a great job there. I think they were my favourite Zins of the year – and that’s saying a lot. The Hercules album has the fantastic tune “Blind” that Pitchfork chose as their track of the year. I have to admit, it is pretty bloody good.

neonneon2006 Orin Swift Cellars “The Prisoner” paired with Stainless Style” by Neon Neon
Both of these choices are just plain unique and rock n’ roll. Dave Phinney heads a small (when we visited last January, there were 4 people doing it all) operation that turns out phenomenal wines. I first tried this wine in their offices and then gladly took one to enjoy that night. Graham’s review noted, “the Prisoner has a vibrant blackberry and ripe plum on the bouquet, which opens into briar and with some dark chocolate in the mix.” Loved it. Neon Neon grab you right away with their brand of tense early-80’s musical nostalgia and take it from there. It’s a lot of fun for someone who actually became an adult in the 80’s. I loved the tracks “Dream Cars”, “Belfast” and “Michael Douglas”.

lykkeli2001 Damilano Barolo paired with Youth Novel” by Lykke Li
I loved this wine… it was one of my finds at the Vancouver Wine Fest and was helping me set up for my forthcoming trip to Piedmont at the end of March. Like I wrote back then “…it’s a complex mix of brandied cherry, plums, leather, tar, and spice along with a violet-floral thing going on.” This family-owned winery located near the town of Barolo consistently turns out some of the best values (and wines) from the Langhe. Production on the album is provided by by Bjorn Yttling of Peter Björn and John and are just plain catchy – with Lykke’s sexily fragile voice. Standout tracks are “Dance Dance Dance”, and “Let it Fall”.

cutcopy2007 Seghesio Zinfandel, Sonoma County paired with In Ghost Colors” by Cut/Copy
An amazing wine and an equally impressive album. The Seghesio Zin was tapped by the Wine Dictator as their #10 wine of the year and given a hefty 93 points. I can’t disagree with them much. Personally, I enjoyed the Mazzocco Zins more, but I also loved this wine. We’ve gone through 6 bottles in the last while. It’s got ripe and juicy blackberry fruit long with a form and tannic backbone showing a brambly and spicy finish. Wow. The album is also a “Wow”. I loved it the first time I heard it and have listened to it countless times since then. It’s another 80’s-influenced wonder, is funky as Hell and makes you want to shake your ass. I’m still digging tracks such as “So Haunted”, “Far Away” and “Hearts On Fire”.

frenchkicks2007 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough paired with Swimming” by French Kicks
I’ve drunk a helluva’ lot of this wine this year. It’s amazingly diverse in its food pairings and is mouth-wateringly tasty… and it’s the wine I ordered on my first date with Candace in 2008. We still drink it regularly. It’s got lots of tropical and citrus fruit, with a crisp backbone of acidity. It’s also a pretty amazing deal at $21.99 here in BC making it my value wine of the year. The album. I loved it. It’s one of those albums you put on and like pretty much every track. I’ve listened to it a tonne this year while preparing dinner, driving and working. It stands pretty strongly as an album, but also has great tracks with chiming guitar like “Sex Tourists”, “Abandon” and “Love in the Ruins”.

lsp2005 Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards “Three Hills Cuvée” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley paired with The Age of the Understatement” by The Last Shadow Puppets
OK, last on the list, but certainly not least… I grabbed this bottle on a trip down to the Willamette Valley last year and had been saving it… for a Pinot craving. I popped it open after Candace and I visited Portland in October and it was all it should have been – blackberry, dark cherry, dark chocolate and earthy spice. The album? Again, I loved it. It’s a very stylish side project from the Arctic Monkey’s singer, Alex Turner and  good friend of his, Miles Kane, the guitarist of the Rascals. What they came up with is a stylish and catchy sound that’s like a 60’s garage band that has developed a sudden taste for martinis. I personally think it’s a crime that the amazing tune “My Mistakes Were Made for You” wasn’t the theme for the latest Bond film, “Quantum of Solace”. Other good tracks are “The Age Of The Understatement”, “Standing Next To Me” and “I Don’t Like You Anymore”.

Honourable mentions for wines in 2008 (based on me just really likin’ them):

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Music – Band of Horses

One of my favourite bands of late. This is a great song – “Funeral”.

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Movies – An Inconvenient Truth

Wow. Have you seen this movie?.. I know it’s been around for a while, but I just saw it. It’s a profoundly moving and scientifically intelligent presentation on how our world is changing and what we can do about it. Watch it and decide what you can do.

Al Gore may have “lost” the election, but he gets more respect for this than GWB will ever earn.

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Music/video – Creepy Aphex Twin video

OK, as Hall’o’ween creeps closer, I like to find things that make my skin crawl… This video, “Rubber Johnny”, by Chris Cunningham and Aphex Twin does just that.

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Media – The new Sony Bravia ad

10222006a.jpgA little while back, I linked out to the Sony Bravia ad with all the bouncy balls (that sounds vaguely obscene… or painful) and now I’ll link to their new ad.

They just seem to have something great going on when it comes to original, beautiful advertising. Well done.

** Check out the making of the new commercial.

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Movies & TV – Friday Night Lights

One thing I tend to do too much of during the darkening Fall nights is watch too much TV. What can I say?.. It’s entertaining… somewhat.

That said, one movie I loved last year was Friday Night Lights. At first look, it’s a sports movie, which might turn a lot of people off… But what makes it a great little movie is that although it may have football in it, and the main characters may be high school football players, it’s a movie about people… and the pressures of the football life in Texan high schools. It’s very well written and on top of that has a GREAT soundtrack from Explosions in the Sky, an instrumental band from Austin, Texas.

Now, back to the TV thing… Recently, the TV show based on the same book that spawned the movie, premiered on TV. It has the same reality feel the movie had and as far as I can hear, also has great music scoring the mood. TV on the Radio and Explosions in the Sky have been featured so far tonight.

I guess this is my long-winded way of saying check out the movie, the TV show, the soundtrack and of course, TV on the Radio… you might like ’em. I do.

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The Internets – Funny album review

Undoubtedly the oddest, and possibly the funniest album review I’ve seen in a while – the review for Jet’s new album Shine On over at Pitchfork.

I’m guessing they didn’t like it.

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Music – You need new music

Food, wine & music seem to go hand in hand. A couple of new albums I’ve come across that combine flawlessly with the food and wine are The Audience’s Listening by Cut Chemist (whose song is featured in the new iPod nano commercial). He’s Lucas MacFadden, the former turntablist for Jurassic 5. Another great, jazzy new album is Berlin Serengeti by Berlin’s Radio Citizen. Both are seriously good… and seriously funky.

Actually, I’ll mention another good album I’m listening to as I write this: Route de la Slack: Remixes & Rarities by Swayzak – another great album. Funky as all hell… and just plain cool in that minimalist house kind of way.

All of these are albums you’ll be hearing in “hip” restaurants & lounges in the coming months. Get ’em for at home, hang out, sip and enjoy.

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