To Maurice and to Allen Ginsberg

Tasting through six bottles of aMaurice (Walla Walla, don’t ya know, oh, you don’t know? Well, you should know) and having an evening of DJ Spooky for some reason. No, no, I like DJ Spooky, it’s just that I haven’t put on one of his CD’s in like, five years, and so here’s a stack of DJ Spooky records on the player, courtesy of one of my kids. You see, I took the girls to see Spooky do this interesting thing about Antarctica, lots of very cool video unsurprisingly, and hence my youngest had all my DJ Spooky records. They’ve been sequestered but I guess that they’re now mine again. Amongst other treasures, Rhythm Science remains such a wonder: how is it likely to work when your vocalists include E.E. Cummings, Gertrude Stein, Duchamp, Burroughs, James Joyce, Brion Gysin, Tristan Tzara, and Kurt Schwitters at his high fallutin’ best with further silly scats from Apollinaire and did I mention Tristan Tzara?

Anyway, aMaurice. Charming people; charming notion: “to” Maurice, the grandfather who pioneered the family’s piece of Washington. First up: 2008 Viognier Walla Walla Valley. It’s understated, nice, even intriguing, but it’s laidback in every way except alcohol. The single vineyard Sparrow Viognier bottling is better; the lees note is stronger and the alcohol has greater purpose. The Chardonnay 2008 Columbia Valley is similarly understated; again, the alcohol disrupts the intended delicacy. On the other hand, I’ve been drinking hybrids and cool-climate whites for the last two months in heavy rotation. West Coast alcohols frighten me a wee bit. These are not hot; don’t misunderestimate me. I wouldn’t bother to write about them if they were hot. It’s just that they seem to be trying to cut new territory and it would be easier if they had a bit less alcohol. Instead of fourteen to fifteen.

Meanwhile, my eldest daughter calls and before long is musing how she might smuggle her hermit crab onto a plane to get it to her Nuevo Yorko apartment. It starts out sounding preposterous and ends with a well-considered plan. Don’t share this with the TSA. They told her no. I told her yes. I’m still drinking the Chardonnay and it’s better now. Or is it that we are just so damned malleable when it comes to alcohol?

aMaurice Malbec 2007 Columbia Valley has Mendoza color and richness but alas the nose is warmer than those lovely Malbecs along the Andes. But as with the other reds (read, and drink, on), there is lovely lift to the fruit (way under the usual VA’s of so many small and foolish WA wineries). The Red Wine Blend 2006 is more charm: cherry, plum, and more heat, and very subtle barrel and spice, or it might be better to say that it is more fruit with spice notes, than the reverse. The Syrah smells too warm as well; pretty red cherry but some raisin as well. But in the mouth, the raisin is overwhelmed by bright, pure red fruit (red raspberry, strawberry) and even some blueberry notes. I could get used to this stuff. It remains silky, with very light barrel touches, and, oh, what’s that, a bit of warmth. But the Syrah is juicy; it’s a term that we use to mean good.

I’ll stop. It’s just that these wines are so pretty, and so clearly intended to be pretty, and I mean that in the most respectful way. Pretty is good. This is good. Just a bit warm.

Later my daughter has me booking her flights and I’m back for more of the Sparrow. I need more of this stuff. And then DJ Spooky is gone and Patti Smith is chanting her Ginsberg Spell “Holy! Holy!” and I’m done taking notes.

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