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Free Range Wine and Yo La… wait, what now?

July 18, 2013 1 comment
Behold the fampersat!

Behold the fampersat!

Wow, it’s amazing how opening up a wine shop in Brooklyn can disappear six months of ones life. So, for those of you who don’t already know, I am now the proprietor of Free Range Wine & Spirits at 355 Atlantic Ave, here in Brooklyn, NY. If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop in and say hello.

Also, for those of you who don’t already know, Maxwell’s– Hoboken’s greatest (only relevant) rock club- is closing its doors forever. Recently, the Pastels were slated to play there, with the Condo Fucks (Yo La Tengo’s alter-ego, playing mostly garage covers) opening. While it was sad that the Pastels couldn’t make it stateside for the show due to visa issues, it was glorious kismet that it ended up being an acoustic Yo La Tengo set opening for the Condo Fucks. The show was beautiful and profound and heartbreaking, and was far better assessed by Yo La Historian, Jesse Jarnow, in his review for Spin which you should read. I shot a fair amount of video footage of both sets, much of which is posted on my Vimeo page HERE. Apparently my footage of the very last song will appear tonight on Fuse News, Fuse TV’s 8pET music news show. Once that segment is posted online, I’ll link it.

More soon!

Cheers,

Jack

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Bread and Butter: Obscure Ancient Wine and the End of (Long Live!) Ween…

July 12, 2012 2 comments

A bottle and a note.

While I will get back to my flash sale wine site reviews sooner than later, I have a pile of tasting notes that I’ve been sorely neglecting, and opening and noting random old bottles is one of my very favorite activities. Toward the end of a recent meal, my cousin, Jon, offered up a 375ml bottle: Weingut Johannishof Johannisberg Riesling Beerenauslese 1976. While it came with the caveats and disclaimers that often surround the opening of a bottle of such age (and questionable provenance), with enough sugar and decent acidity, a decently stored wine like this can survive a long time. At 36 years after harvest, this particular split bottle ended up worth its weight.

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I’m listening (and have been for some time) to Aaron Freeman’s new album, Marvelous Clouds. While said artist, formerly known as Gene Ween, made some curiously shiny production choices, and there is definitely some filler here, there is also some signature Gener… er… Aaron Freeman songwriting. All other things being equal, if there is a future, Aaron Freeman- including all aliases past and future, will be recorded as one of the finest American songwriters of our time. It really is a shame that so many of his hardcore fans are drunken jackasses, making it impossible for Freeman to make any serious headway as a solo artist as Gener.

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Gener with Ween at Terminal 5.

At an acoustic Gene Ween set at a pre-op Joe’s Pub, I joined the applause as two hammered Ween fans we escorted out of the venue, from two of the farthest seats from the front door. It wasn’t their random outbursts, audible throughout the room, that got them expelled back to New Jersey, it was the projectile vomiting over their table, and onto the floor that led management to throw the red card.

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In case you live under a rock, or don’t care, Aaron Freeman recently disbanded Ween, effective immediately, in a public announcement. His Weenmates, including Mickey Melchiondo (aka Dean Ween), found out when everyone else did. In further unfolding developments, Freeman was forced to cancel solo tour dates due to poor ticket sales and made a public overture to his friends from Ween to help him out, for the fans. For my money, as long as they don’t play that miserable Terminal 5 again, I’d prefer to have Ween in the world than to not. There must be Ween.

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Dean Ween having a moment at Terminal 5.

But anyway, Aaron’s new record is unquestionably worth a listen, and Mickey will be more than happy to take you fishing. No kidding. I’m seriously, you guys.

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Oh right, I just tasted some old rare Riesling, and made some notes. Johannishof Johannisberg Riesling Beerenauslese 1976 is a deep, golden ruby hued, caramel color and it wears the weight of a 5 puttonyos tokaji. Caramel apple gives way to subtle but deep red berry and floral notes, and finishes with a light dusting of baking spices. This wine is definitely holding on, at this point in its life, rather than evolving, but it is still quite enjoyable.

Riesling Throwdown: New York vs. Germany (and the Sloppy Heads!)

July 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Recently, I worked a tasting hosted by chef and wine educator Jacqueline Lombard. So, in a 34th floor financial district boardroom, over some fine small plates, we tasted a German Riesling and one from New York. We also tasted a Chinon (Loire Valley, France) Cab Franc against a New York Cab Franc/Merlot blend, but they were so young and overwrought with tannin that several of our guests couldn’t tell the difference. Besides, I’ll stand on a soapbox for CA 100% Merlot before I would offer this gesture towards 100% Cab Franc from NY. Riesling is native to Germany and was first brought to America in the middle of the 19th century. The Finger Lakes region of New York was one of the earliest US producers and Riesling has long been one of the few things New York has done right in regards to wine.

I’m listening to Brooklyn rockers the Sloppy Heads on a soundboard recording from their recent gig at Maxwell’s, Hoboken’s legendary rock club, and the only reason to go to New Jersey. So, the joke begins like this: A rock critic, a promoter, and a sexy redheaded Smurf walk into a bar. But the punch line is a sincere-as-it-gets Brooklyn garage rock act with enough lingering innocence to sound wholly human, while still rocking convincingly. I’m very much interested to see what comes next for and from the Sloppy Heads.

First up was the German, from the Nahe region: Jakob Schneider Riesling Kabinett 2009 (1L). The wine is as close to clear as a white can be, but the aromatic is nice, and the fruit on the palate is full yet gentle and could probably masquerade as a Gruner. It’s a Kabinett which is one level sweeter than bone-dry, but the sweetness seems more prevalent than that. Jakob Schneider Riesling Kabinett 2009 is floral and sweet with green apple and stone fruit. This is a very nice light, yet versatile Riesling for the money, particularly as it comes in 1 liter .

The challenger, from the Finger Lakes region of New York: Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling 2009. It’s pale gold w/ a slight green tinge, though next to the Schneider, it appears deeply yellow. This dry New York Riesling has a firmer acidity than its German counterpart and shows just a hint of effervescence that is typical to the region. Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling 2009 is light/medium bodied and displays pair, apricot, light citrus and subtle herbs. The crisp acidity makes this one of the food friendliest of wines, and it pairs well with a large range flavors.