Castello d’Albola Chianti Classico DOCG 2011

W D'Albola Chianti 2011Sangiovese from Tuscany, Italy

95% sangiovese

5% canaiol

13.0% alcohol

Opened 7 Dec 2017

els 8.8/10

JS 91

WS 90

RP 87

The Castello d’Abola estate, drastically renamed Castello di Albola, located in the village of Radda, is smack dab in the middle of the Chianti Classico DOCG. The wine takes its name from the Abola Castle, built sometime around the 1400s and beautifully restored by the current owners: the Zonin family.

Vineyards and wineries have existed in Tuscany Chianti area for at least 2500 years, likely even further into the past, back during the pre-Roman times of the enigmatic Etruscan civilization; who are believed to have introduced wine production to the French. A truer definition of altruistic and noble charity cannot be found.

The vines for this wine are grown at the highest elevation of any vineyard in the Chianti DOCG, rooted in clayey limestone soils that receive anywhere from 0.25 to 1.8 inches of rain per month during the growing season.  Temperatures can reach into the mid-80s during the day and drop into the mid-40s Fahrenheit at night.

This wine exhibits a brilliant ruby-red  to garnet hue, redolent of sweet fruits and pepper. A medium body, balanced and structured wine along with a moderate but pleasant finish. A nice table wine for everyday fare or drink alone while watching the sun sink slowly towards the west.

A good wine. Decant and aerate for at least one hour.

The 2011 is close to impossible to find anymore, at least in the US.  I’ve found one store in the UK and one in Canada that are charging an exorbitant price that you should definitely pass on.  I paid $15.99 for a bottle in 2015, which is (was) an inexpensive to a tad over-priced for wine of this quality.

Grief, Despair and Sanction

Wind River (Theaters-2017; Streaming-2017)  Rated: R  Runtime: 106-111 minutesM Wind River 2017

Genre: Crime-Drama-Mystery-Suspense-Thriller

els – 8.0/10

IMDb – 7.8/10

Amazon – 4.5/5 stars

Rotten Tomatoes Critics – 7.6/10

Rotten Tomatoes Audience – 4.2/5

Metacritic Metascore – 73/100

Metacritic User Score – 7.7/10

Directed by: Taylor Sheridan

Written by: Taylor Sheridan

Produced by:  Elizabeth A Bell, Peter Berg, Matthew George

Music by:  Nick Cave and Warren Ellis

Cast:  Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Gil Birmingham

Martin (Gil Birmingham) and Annie (Althea Sam) are confined to the every darkening mists of sorrow, bereft of solace, by the rape and murder of their 18 year daughter, Natalie; a horror that is brutally shocking, but all too familiar in the land they call home: the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Jane Banner (Olsen), an inexperienced FBI agent, attempts to find the less-than-animals that brought Natalie’s life to a gruesome end; partnering with a Game and Fish predator hunter, Cory Lambert (Renner), who  guides her through the mountainous topography of the Wyoming reservation, and interprets the signs left in the snow by dead souls and living monsters. Cory harbors his own ghosts through the loss of his daughter, also raped and murdered 3 years previous, creating undertones of remorse and revenge that reverberate throughout the movie.

Is there somethin’ I can do other than being here for you to ease the pain
If I can keep you from fallin’, fallin’ down’
I’m sorry to sound selfish but I feel so helpless
Is it okay if I stay here with you and cry for awhile

Whoever made the claim that words could ease the pain
Never watched you fall apart, never put you back together
When you were broken down, into a million pieces
Scattered on the ground

Is There Something I can Do by Five Star Iris on the 2006 Album Live Fools    Music and Lyrics by Alan Schaefer and Dexter Green

Sheridan’s direction and screenplay provides a powerful vehicle for describing the suffering and despondency that attaches itself to a life of little hope and few rewards. Renner and Birmingham give everything in their true-to-life portrayals of men coping, and eventually fighting back against the pain of the helpless insight into knowing senseless, tragic death.

A movie to see, and then, to see again.

Michel Gassier Cercius Rouge 2013

W Cercius 2013Rhone Red Blends from Cotes du Rhone, Rhone, France

85% grenache

15% syrah

15.5% alcohol

Opened 7 Dec 2017

els 9.0/10

RP 91

Cercius, from the Latin term for a wind between north and west, is a delightful vieilles vignes (old vine) Cotes du Rhone blend from the Plateau de Domazan, located about 8 miles west of the Avignon; the 14th century Papal seat which was then part of the Kingdom of Arles within the Holy Roman Empire.

Wine was likely grown and produced in the Rhone Valley as far back as the 6th century BC, believed to have been established by either the Greeks or Persians, with the vineyards and wineries maintained until the end of the Roman Empire in the late 5th century AD. It wasn’t until the late Middle Ages when the Avignon papacy re-established the Rhone area vineyards and wineries, mostly for their own use, beginning with Pope Clement V around 1309.  The rest, as they say, is history.

The 80-year-old plus vines are nurtured by clayey limestone soils topped with a layer of pebbles which contend with blustery, northwest winds, traveling over and down the 6000 foot peaks and slopes of the Central Massif, blowing into the  Michel Gassier’s Rhone Valley vineyards, proudly defying Mother Nature’s blustery assault at 500 feet above sea level.  The growing season climate for the area provides for hot days above 80 degrees Fahrenheit and cool nights with temperatures dipping into the mid-40s to low 50s.  Rainfall averages 2.5-4 inches per month.

The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed, allowing natural yeast fermentation in concrete tanks for 6 months.

The wine exhibits a deep ruby-red color; a wonderful aroma of lilacs, violets and sweet fruits. It’s well-balanced and full-bodied and the finish is long and satisfying.

An outstanding wine. Decant and aerate for at least one hour.

$12.99  wine.com

 

It’s Magic-Fantasy Will Set You Free

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them  (Theaters-2016; Streaming-2017)  Rated: PG-13  Runtime: 133 minutesM Beasts 2016

Genre: Action-Adventure-Family-Fantasy

els – 7.0/10

IMDb – 7.4/10

Amazon – 4.4/5 stars

Rotten Tomatoes Critics – 6.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes Audience – 3.9/5

Metacritic Metascore – 66/100

Metacritic User Score – 7.3/10

Directed by:  David Yates

Written by:  J.K. Rowling

Produced by:  David Heyman, Steve Kloves, J.K. Rowling, Lionel Wigram

Music by:  James Newton Howard

Cast:  Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler

B Beasts 2001.jpgJ.K. Rowling, in 2001, wrote and published a Hogwarts textbook, under the pseudonym of Newt Scamander, on the magical world of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; a slim encyclopedic volume of fictional animals that made up the enchanted universe of Harry Potter and his bewitched school chums.  The book, though imaginative, generally did not interest anyone much past age of 12, being just a compendium of beasts without any pretense of a story or plot, but it did spin-off this wonderful film, a charming tale of magic and adventure, 70 years before Harry Potter, in the streets of New York.

The movie opens with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arriving in New York for a brief stopover before continuing onto Arizona to further his research into “Fantastic Beasts” but almost immediately has an itinerary change due to one of his creatures escaping from his improbably bottomless briefcase. Promptly the escaped beast goes on a hunt for anything shiny: usually solid gold, resulting in a hilarious wizard and beast chase through the streets and banks of New York.  Compounding Newt’s creature capturing problems is an anti-magical society trying to expose and eliminate all witches and wizards along with a controlling magical political hierarchy attempting to keep everything secret and under wraps, including the threat posed by impending arrival of arch-villain and dark wizard, Gellert Grindlewald (Johnny Depp).

David Yates, the director, and Rowling have put together a lively romp of fun through the magical world of New York, enhanced with exemplary acting by just about all involved.  J.K. Rowling continues to surprise her fans, including me, with the depth of her talent, by adroitly changing roles from an accomplished author to a novice, but never-the-less, a master producer and screenplay writer for this movie. I found this movie heads and lizard tails above the Harry Potter movies, mainly because Harry Potter’s sub-par acting was absent. Make time to see this entertaining film for itself, and ultimately, to keep you abreast of the likely sequels.

 

Highway 12 Highwayman Proprietary Red 2012

W Highwayman 2012Other Red Blends from Sonoma County, California

Proprietary red blend:

     cabernet sauvignon

     cabernet franc

     merlot

14.8% alcohol

Opened 2 Dec 2017

els 9.1/10

Highway 12 is a North Coast, Sonoma County winery producing 3 brands of differing quality wines from the vineyards of Sonoma and Carneros regions: Highway 12, Carneros Highway, and their flagship wine: Highwayman.  The Highwayman lineup includes 1 white and 4 reds: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and 2 red blends.  Their Proprietary Red was the initial wine in this lineup with the blend of grape types and percentages changing from vintage to vintage.  The 2013 vintage is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot as opposed to this 2012 vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.

Highwayman, the wine, commemorates the fabled gentlemen robbers of days gone by, who relieved, accessible and unguarded, or guarded, travelers of their possessions on the desolate stretches of road in many a nation’s country-sides. In California, a highwayman was known as a road agent, the most famous of which was probably Charles “Black Bart” Boles, a bandit with a particular affinity to Wells Fargo Coaches and their money boxes. He plied his trade of questionable legitimacy for 8 years during the late 19th century, along the deserted roads of northern California.  Black Bart, always armed with a shotgun but never fired during any of his roadside capers, acquired his name by leaving snippets of rhyming poetry at the scene of his crimes. Below is a sample of his poetry that he left at a robbery in 1877, with a slight, germane, editorial modification:

I’ve labored long and hard for (wine and) bread,
For honor, and for riches,
But on my corns too long you’ve tread,
You fine-haired sons of bitches.
 
— Black Bart, 1877.

Fortunately for all of us, highway robbery is now practiced by a better class of erudite individuals.

This wine has a black ruby-red hue, aromas of sweet black and blue berries, with whiffs of spicy herbs and earth, producing an enjoyable, full-bodied, long finish. It exhibits a powerful but balanced and delightful taste of chewy tannins and fruit. Perhaps a tad heavy by itself, better if served with a medium rare rib-eye.

An outstanding wine. Decant and aerate for at least one hour.

$19.38  wine-searcher.com

Explorations 9: Clapton’s Anthropomorphic Six Strings

…back when the Beano was boss
if you didn’t live it, it’s truly your loss
the soul intact, but the innocence lost
back when the Beano was boss.

Lyrics to Back When the Beano was Boss by Buddy Whittington

Buddy Whittington, on his 2011 Six String Svengali guitar celebration album, paid tribute, with the song Back When Beano was Boss,EMU JM and EC 1966 to the legendary blues rock sound generated by Eric Clapton playing on a 1960 sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard, which was plugged into a 45-watt Marshall amp, and a Dallas Rangemaster, on the 1966 bluesy rock album: John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton. The John Mayall album

MU 1960 Les Paul.jpg

1960 Les Paul Standard “Beano”. Photo by musiczoo.com.

became known as the “Beano Album” due to Clapton reading a comic called The Beano on the album cover photo; an overt act of rebellion during the album photo shoot, or as Clapton states in his autobiography: being “uncooperative”.  As the album became known as the “Beano Album”, Clapton’s guitar, which was stolen in 1966 and never recovered, became known as the “Beano Burst”, continuing a tradition of musicians naming their instruments as one will name a pet or a lover.

Clapton made a habit of naming his guitars, as did many other guitarists, but because of his talent, his guitars went down into guitar lore as extremely expensive, and sought after, legends.  One of the most expensive guitars that he, or anyone, ever sold was Blackie; so named because of its black finish, a rebuilt guitar from the parts of 1956

MU Fool Guitar

1964 Gibson SG “The Fool”. Photo by John Peden

and 1957 Stratocasters and was Clapton’s favorite Fender Stratocaster; brought in almost one million dollars at a 2004 charity auction. Brownie, so named because of its brown sunburst body color, was a 1956 Stratocaster that he used mainly with Derek and the Dominos.  Clapton sold Brownie at a charity auction for almost one half million dollars in 1999. During Clapton’s time with Cream he mainly used a 1964 Gibson SG, known as The Fool; due to its psychedelic paint job done by the Dutch design collective also known as The Fool. This guitar passed through various hands, including Todd Rundgren and possibly George Harrison, eventually landing up in a private collector’s hands in the early 2000s.

On a closing note, Joe Bonamassa, no guitar slouch himself and a collector, stated in mid-2016 that he knew where “Beano” currently was, specifically on the east coast of the US.  The announcement was taken as an opening for the possible return of the guitar but no public notice has been posted since.

 

Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) Reserve Speciale Bordeaux

W Lafite 2015Bordeaux from Bordeaux, France

60% merlot

40% cabernet sauvignon

12.5% alcohol

Opened 30 Nov 2017

els 8.5/10

Decanter 86

Reserve Speciale Bordeaux is from a family of wines created by Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) to provide, in their terms, “wines ideal for everyday drinking and more accessible than the Grands Crus” which they brand as “The Collection”, and includes the Legende, Saga, and Reserves brands; all three of which, bottle both Bordeaux reds and whites.

The family name of Lafite can be traced back to a Pauillac French monastery in the 13th century but the legendary winery took root with the planting of the vineyards by Jacques de Segur in the 1670s. Londoners, surprisingly enough, where the first to sing the praises of Lafite wines, which made their way to that city by way of British corsairs seizing the French merchant ships and confiscating their wine in the early 1700s. French nobility took notice of Chateau Lafite’s wine after Richelieu introduced it to King Louis XV; quickly becoming the “Kings Wine”; served at the tables of the 18th century French aristocratic rich and famous. After the French Revolution the Chateau changed owners several times until Baron James de Rothschild purchased it in 1868 and it has remained in the family ever since, with the minor exception of a German expropriation for a short time during WWII.  In 1995, the winery began selecting grapes for their “accessible” line of wines from  the region’s Bordeaux, Medoc, and Pauillac family, and non-family owned vineyards; to become part of the Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), “The Collection”.

The Reserve Speciale Bordeaux is sourced mainly from vineyards in the Entre-Deux-Mers (between two tides) wine region; situated between the tidal rivers Garonne and Dordogne. This is the largest sub-region of Bordeaux but less than half the acreage is planted in vines with the rest being generally forested.  This region produces only white wine that can carry the AOC Entre-Deux-Mers.  The reds are sold under various Bordeaux labels.

This wine has a clear ruby-red color, redolent of red berries and spice. Very smooth, not bold, with a quick finish.  A nice, inexpensive table wine that doesn’t overly impress but will pair well with cheese and friends.

A good wine. Decant and aerate for at least one hour.

$10.00-16.00  wine-searcher.com

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