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Baroque in its Own Kinda Way

Baroque in its Own Kinda Way

Ludovic Chanson Implicite

Bach the Goldberg Variations Glenn Gould

by Peter Njoroge, Domestique young gun

One of the (only) great things about being alive in 2020 is that for a pretty minuscule amount of money you can summon, like a deity, pretty much anything in the history of recorded music at all times. Music can be like wallpaper that follows you and your headphones around anywhere that you go. I try pretty hard to use this awesome responsibility to check out as much new material as I can, but I always seem to gravitate toward the things that never seem to get old. Glenn Gould’s 1981 recording of The Goldberg Variations is one of those special albums that I rarely miss a day without listening.

Gould’s playing here is non-sensational, unromantic, and the music is really baroque. Even as far as classical music is concerned, nothing here jumps out at you or, maybe, is even supposed to jump out at you. It’s not very cool, Gould isn’t very cool, and yet it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. His revisitation of the Goldbergs (he recorded the same variations in 1955) is so clear, so stylized, so full of artistic conviction that I can’t really get my head around what’s happening, and the music sounds brand new every time I listen to it. If you’re not paying attention, the temptation to check out can be overwhelming. In all honesty, to be very reductive, the album contains a lot of similar-sounding solo piano. But, if you really tune in, you get to be a part of something that was a lifetime in the making. 

This is what my favorite producers do and why I love their wines. I’m similarly floored by the dedication to craft and the manifestation of nuance that my favorite winemakers are able to create. In the same way as Gould, they marry expertise, understanding, and individual personality in a way that’s truly singular.

So, they might not all have the most beautiful labels, they might not all have the coolest story and, honestly, someone might just have to tell you about it. But, like few other things in this world, all my favorite wines inspire the same kind of ecstasy that listening to Gould’s playing does.  

- Peter Njoroge

WINE I'M DRINKING RIGHT NOW: Ludovic Chanson Implicite, baroque in its own kinda way
LISTENING TO: A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard, exploratory and meditative

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Miles and Mosse

Miles and Mosse

Domaine Mosse's Chenin

Miles Davis' The Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel 1965by Damion Reid, Grammy-nominated drummer


Within every craft there are trailblazers and trendsetters that push their own communities forward into
the future. Domaine Mosse does for Chenin Blanc what Miles Davis did for music. One can only be
inspired by what these individuals have done for their very different mediums.

I had the pleasure of speaking with natural wine pioneer René Mosse about what makes his wines so
special and he simply said, "terroir.” The soil and climate affect the vines, creating a unique product that's inseparable from its environment. This is similar in music, because your fundamentals must be intact when creating with a group of musicians so that you may fully express what is needed in every moment.

Mosse's Chenin Blanc always transports me because it remains on the palate, reminding me of why I love natural wine. The true essence of the variety is presented with an unpredictability that forces you to focus on the clean, slightly oxidative taste that only a Mosse Chenin seems to acquire from wooden barrels. Mosse is one of the originators of this progressive taste that's changed the wine world, in my opinion.

The Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel 1965 by Miles Davis achieves the same life-changing effect on how I will hear music forever. Each song is correctly played in regard to form, harmony, and melody, while effortlessly interpreted in a manner that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It is a box set that consists of eight discs, cataloging a week-long residency at the famous Plugged Nickel club in Chicago. I will dispel all rumors about Miles Davis being sick in the beginning of this residency because I got confirmation from his nephew, who spoke with a member of the quintet who said, “Miles was healthy.” This legendary quintet consists of Miles Davis on trumpet, Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, and Tony Williams on drums. What this group was able to achieve rhythmically while playing each piece will change how you feel about the possibilities of interpreting a song. Not only did they effortlessly improvise but they reinvented how you will hear each song forever. Initiating countless alternate harmonies, while exploring triple or duple pulse, alongside tempo changes at will. It should remind you of a transcendent wine that forces you to swirl your glass, smell, and taste once more.

Mosse's Chenin forced me to respect Chenin Blanc as a variety in a different manner. Miles Davis' The Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel 1965 similarly opened my mind up to the power one interpretation of a piece can have on how the listener will perceive that composition for years to come. 

- Damion Reid

WINE I'M DRINKING RIGHT NOW: Domaine Mosse's Chenin, the personification of avant-garde in Anjou
LISTENING TO: Miles Davis' The Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel 1965, for motivation and inspiration

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Something in a Sunday

Something in a Sunday

Bottes Rouges Savagnin 'Album' 2016

Johnny Cash

by Rebekah Pineda, Domestique GM

Four brown-skinned, frizzy-haired kids piled into the car shouting: "There's something in a Sunday/Makes a body feel alone!"

In the lush Appalachian Mountains, we went feet dragging every Sunday to church. My mother, raised in those small-town Arkansas Baptist churches, only allowed for a deviation from the otherwise scheduled programming of Aretha Franklin, the Bee Gees, and plain old gospel on that seventh day. You see, there's something in a Sunday. His name was Johnny fucking Cash. I'm not sure if it was just his use of the word Sunday or the fact his voice made us all pray to Jesus, but somehow Johnny was allowed.

"Sunday Morning Coming Down" is the story of a man both lamenting and embracing the life he's made, depicted through the stark contrast of a Sunday morning. The song itself is ripe with contradictions.

Contradictions in the wine world, from the small scale to the monumental, have always been present. We are expected to describe wines with certainty using analogies to fruits we have never even tried (S/O Miguel de Leon). We have seen a powerhouse of a female winemaker getting into a labor abuse 'entanglement’ with her father. Being exposed to the concept of contradiction at a young age made me quickly realize that even the kindest human may do the most unfortunate things and the biggest business in the world may donate millions to charity. Contradictions make us interesting and wonderful (sweet ass riesling w/ electric acid), but can also lead to pain and deception (zero sulfur Champagne). 

What my mom (and her four annoying children) connected to was the idea that many times in life we can see that we are walking contradictions, and it makes us human. It makes a song about praying to God to be stoned a country music top 100 hit. I love clean wines, but sometimes drinking an "on the edge" zero zero wine makes me feel alive in a way that is 100% unrelated to the wine. If we can’t see our own inconsistencies, how will we ever fix the painful and dark contradictions of others/our industry?

- Rebekah Pineda

DRINKING RIGHT NOW: Bottes Rouges Savagnin 'Album' 2016, Uma Thurman of white wine
LISTENING TO: Insecure Season 4 Playlist, because it's summer

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Escape May Not Be in the Cards

Escape May Not Be in the Cards

Divella Blanc de BlancsNeil Young Dead Man

by Saman Hosseini, AKA thebaguettehunter

I come back to Neil Young’s soundtrack for Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man again and again, when feeling at times embittered, numb, and defeated, lost somewhere in between, yearning for a tranquil escape from quarantine. Neil Young’s continuous solo variations on a guitar, overlaid with recordings of a foaming up & backrush along a shoreline, and once interrupted by a solemn accordion interlude. Neil Young’s guitar invokes the dessert, while the accordion feels more alpine. Altogether atmospheric yet placeless.

Enter Alessandra Divella’s Blanc de Blancs, zero/zero Franciacorta, made from Chardonnay grown on limestone and clay soils from the 2015 harvest, fermented by indigenous yeast in cement tanks and rested in barrique before tirage and bottling, aged 32 months on the lees, and disgorged in January 2019. Racy and saline, yet generous, with a steady bead, and savory autolytic notes. Really a triumph; a wine I would enjoy alongside my favorite grower Champagnes. There is a tarnished beauty to this wine that matches Neil Young’s weathered and reverberant guitar, its salinity and bubbles recall the shoreline, and its mouthwatering acidity seems to penetrate through one’s murky headspace to revive the senses.

Escape may not be in the cards, but maybe find a shaded spot in the park, bring a freshly baked sourdough boule and a hunk of well ripened Tallegio; all the better with this Blanc de Blancs.

- Saman Housseini

WINE I'M DRINKING RIGHT NOW: Divella Blanc de Blancsfor its tarnished beauty and reviving effervescence
LISTENING TO: Neil Young’s Dead Man soundtrack, in a murky headspace from heatwave temperatures, yearning for a tranquil escape from quarantine

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Under Pressure: Griselda & Pet Nat

Under Pressure: Griselda & Pet Nat

Les Cognettes Pet Nat

What Would Chine Gun Do by Griselda

by Erica Christian, sommelier and activist

Natural wine and hip-hop make for a perfect pairing. Yet, we fail to make that connection with certain styles of rap music. Yeah, we heard Jay-Z when he said, “ain’t no stoppin the Champagne from poppin” at the end of “Politics As Usual” on Reasonable Doubt. We felt that. People can ride with the celebration, but what about the grittier sounds? It’s easy to pop Champagne when listening to Jay, but rappers like Benny the Butcher, Conway the Machine, and Westside Gunn are rarely associated with wine so directly, especially bubbles. These three rappers and their group Griselda actually make the perfect pairing for pet nat. Is it really so surprising?

You see, hip-hop is terroir expressive; an expression of the holistic natural environment. Griselda’s style of rap is street rap: raw, organic, and gritty. They come from my hometown of Buffalo, NY. It's a poor, segregated industrial city plagued with violence and drug use. The struggle to grow up there is one I have been privy to and this environment is clearly represented in their music. Street rap is often painted as glorification of violence and drug use, but we value wine that's indicative of its home and don’t call that glorification. We should do the same when listening to Griselda, as it allows you a taste of their home, no different than a Loire Valley Folle Blanche/Chardonnay pet nat

More than being representative of the streets, Griselda is the result of the pressure to survive in that environment and the success of that story. Surviving under pressure is what produces the often soft but volatile bubbles of our favorite sparkling natty wines. We drink them during celebrations and gatherings. We love them because they transform in the bottle and bring artistry to the grapes that grew from struggling vines. Griselda deserves that same love alongside your natty bubbles. Their music is something to both contemplate and celebrate.

When we taste and listen, we engage with something new, but also very personal. To drink a pet nat while listening to Griselda's album What Would Chine Gun Do? (WWCD) is to immerse yourself in the extremely personal experience of navigating and surviving under pressures beyond any individual's control. Sit back. Crack a bottle open and enjoy while listening from beginning to end. Let the words and experience envelop you. Let them open your heart to something with which you may be unfamiliar. Let the wine carry you through their hardships and triumphs. Finish the last drop in celebration of their survival as it has truly created a work of art.

- Erica Christian

DRINKING RIGHT NOW: Les Cognettes pet nat, slightly sweet and rustic
LISTENING TO: What would Chinegun Do? (WWCD) by Griselda, honest and organic

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Find Your "Toxic"

Find Your "Toxic"

Mas de Gourgonnier

Toxic by Britney Spears

by Guilhaume Gerard, co-owner of Selection Massale

Not long ago in an interview, I came across someone pointing out the similarities between record collectors and wine geeks. Something along the lines of, "they love new and rare offerings.'' And while I understand that rarity and novelty drive some, my experience is different, both as a record collector for the past 25 years, with the thousands of not so rare records that I've assembled, and as a wine drinker who could not care less about the latest, hottest, or rarest.

I understand how one can make the mistake of thinking this game of ours is all so superficial when our industry is judged by its ability to saber fancy champagne standing on the bar, or is so easily duped by young con artists such as Rudy Kurniawan. But I came to wine the same way I came to music, because it gave me incredible pleasure. The sounds, the smells, the tastes I came to experience were so intensely beautiful that I just needed more. Wine and music are all about the emotions they create.

In that spirit, I'd like to write about Britney Spear's 2003 hit “Toxic” and of Mas de Gourgonnier's red wines. 

I heard Britney's 2003 single the year it came out and, even though I didn’t instantly love it, it pretty quickly became part of my daily playlist. I'm not going to wax poetic about the drum programming or that synthetic violin that can at times remind you of a cat having a fit, nor will I write in depth about the blend or the viticulture of Mas de Gourgonnier, a place I have never visited, a wine I never imported.

I'm just gonna go straight to the point. Your ears, your palate. It's okay to take your time to figure things out, I spent years buying records to define what I liked. I spent a lot of time drinking wines everyone else loved, silently at the table, listening to other's opinions and knowledge. It's intimidating to have a conversation about what you enjoy with someone who’s very vocal, but whatever it is they like to drink, whatever it is they listen to, they're not you.

There are no rules that dictate what's giving you goosebumps, there are no universal truths about what's gonna move you.

So to hell with those telling me Gourgonnier isn't cool, allocated or natural enough, to hell with those telling me Britney's glorious “Toxic” track is garbage. It's genius to me, and so are these little Provence wines.

Find your “Toxic,” find your Gourgonnier, enjoy.

 

Guilhaume Gerard

WINE I'M DRINKING RIGHT NOW: Modelo Especial, in a can by the pool

LISTENING TO: "Viene de Mi" by Ya Legros, a modern Cumbia track with which I'm currently obsessed

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The Wine and Music Edition

The Wine and Music Edition

The very first thing that I purchased for Domestique was a pair of 1978 Klipsch Heresy speakers (see above). Guilhaume had found them on Craigslist months before we were set to open and sent them my way. I drove a few hours into Virginia and had a peculiar Craigslist encounter centered around an old man in a crumbling ranch house stacked to the brim with probably a quarter of a million dollars of vintage audio equipment. He insisted on playing every genre of music for me on the Heresy speakers before I could pay him and leave. They sound incredible and they've been a centerpiece of the shop ever since.

Being into music and working in natural wine doesn't make you unique or special. The natural wine world is overflowing with music people. David Lillie was a jazz musician before Chambers Street. Cider wizard Cyril Zangs plays the guitar in a rock band and has thousands of rare vinyl records. James Murphy is James Murphy. Last year, Madlib and Freddie Gibbs stopped by the shop after a Tiny Desk concert at nearby NPR. A few of our employees were near tears. 

Still, when you discover the affinity between the two, it feels like serendipity. I've always loved pairing wine and music. It's so much more interesting than pairing wine and food, which is typically either about gustatory contrast or harmony. Pairing wine and music can be about joy, or anger, or sadness, or love. It can last for four minutes or four hours. The first wine and music pairing that stunned me wouldn't even appeal to me now. I was 24 years old. I drank the better part of an old bottle of Jacques Puffeney Vin Jaune while listening to The Velvet Underground & Nico. It messed me up. I still smile thinking about it.

Below are a few riffs on wine and music from friends of the shop and members of our team. We hope that you read them and think about the music that moves you. Wine is optional, but we're here to help. (See other blog posts)

 - Jeff Segal

WINE I'M DRINKING RIGHT NOW: Axel Prufer's Le Temps des Cerises Capitulation Ne Paie Pas! 2019, COVID has me craving the same 0/0 bottles that made me fall in love with natural wine in the mid-2000s
LISTENING TO: Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem, same as above (but music instead of wine)

 

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