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'Zilla Wine and Tunes Pairing

The two essential elements of the CORKZILLA experience – Wine and music – in a pairing. Our signature feature will continue in 2013, but we've decided to take a break from the grind of producing thoughtful pairings on a monthly basis. Please look for an archive page highlighting our pairings from the past coming soon. Cheers!

What We're Listening to

Keith Richards, "Crosseyed Heart," Republic Records

Gary Clark Jr., "The Story of Sonny Boy Slim," Warner Brothers Records

Warren Haynes Featuring Railroad Earth, "Ashes and Dust," Concord Records

Jason Isbell, "Something More Than Free," Southeastern Records

Phish, "Live Bait Vol. 11" (free digital download)

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, "Chasing Yesterday," Sour Mash Records

Neil Young, "On the Beach," Reprise Records

Massive Attack, "Protection," Circa Records

D'Angelo and the Vanguard, "Black Messiah," RCA Records

Brokedown in Bakersfield, "Live!," Little Sur Records

Ryan Adams, "Ryan Adams," Pax-Am Records

Rich Robinson, "The Ceaseless Sight," The End Records

Jack White, "Lazaretto," Third Man Records

The Wayne Shorter Quartet, "Without a Net," Blue Note Records

Reach out to CORKZILLA

Weir's Video Efforts - Something to Watch

By Ben Heskett
The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir - Now part of Furthur with fellow Dead alumnus Phil Lesh - announced earlier today on Facebook the launch of his online video "virtual Venue" as he characterized it, TRI Studios (Phenomenal acoustic rendition of "Black Throated Wind" on the site). The"TRI" stands for Tamalpais Research Institute. The site will be interesting to watch, with Weir's influence no doubt attracting a wide array of world-class players.

Why does CORKZILLA care? Though still early in our execution, we continue to believe in the power of music accompanied by just the right wine or spirit to heighten our enjoyment of life, or at least aid as we navigate our increasingly crazy world. We'll continue to seek connections between the libations we drink and the musical artists we listen to and pair those two in a way that we hope will be enlightening for our readers. Cheers! And send along any other interesting music sites...

Wine Road: Videos from the Scene

In the future, CORKZILLA will be at the helm of state-of-the-art video cameras at events such as the Wine Road's 33rd Annual Barrel Tasting, but we're still working on that as we refine the site and our craft.

So in the absence of the homegrown, so to speak, here's some Wine Road-crafted videos that give a decent picture of what happens throughout the Sonoma Valley over the course of these two weekends in March:


Wine Road: Live Blogging Today...

By Joe Colgan and Ben Heskett

The CORKZILLA team will be bombing around Sonoma today, checking out some of the barrel tasting that's part of the second weekend of the Wine Road event. Check in for updates:

9:49 AM...Shaking off the cobwebs and getting our gear ready. We'll be starting in the Dry Creek Valley (Perhaps at Bella Vineyards) and working our way south. Hope to see you!

11:36...A stop at the Dry Creek Market for provisions.. Reday to roll. First stop, Bella Winery.

12:20...Crowds are frighteningly large. Bella, known for Zins, is tasting a 2008 DuNah Vineyard Pinot Noir under the "10 Acre" label.

12:46... At Preston. Organic goodness. 2009 Rousanne is a winner!

1:41...Everett Ridge - Tremendous view, ok wines.

2:12...Twomey Cellars...Off the Wine Road, on with a crisp sauvignon blanc from Napa and a Pinot noir from Santa Barbara. Mailing list via iPad...napa feel to it. Silver Oak dollars going to work!

2:37..."Estimated Prophet" at high volume on the 101 as we head north to Geyserville.

2:41... At the mighty Ridge vineyards. Tasted a young 2010 Monte Bello. It's going to be tremendous!

3:36...Sun is setting in the valley. Hit up the Stonestreet vineyard; impressive setting. Tasty Bordeaux style blend "2006 Legacy".

Quick wrap up of our day: It's safe to say the crowds were immense along the Wine Road routes. CORKZILLA focused on Dry Creek Valley until we fled up to Geyserville. The pluses? Tasted some very good wines in a state of youth that is interesting, compelling and mysterious all at the same time (What will that 2010 Monte Bello turn out to be?). The minuses? Some of our most interesting visits were at wineries not participating in the barrel tasting. Reasons varied in our discussions: the crowds, the drunks (i.e Amateur Hour), and the overall hassles. For all involved, traffic picked up over these two weekends in March, and many young wine drinkers received a good overview of what the Sonoma Valley has to offer. We think...


Laissez les bon temps rouler!


Orin Swift = goodness

By Joe Colgan

I find the way I research, purchase and consume wine these days is very similar to the approach I have towards music. If I read about or someone recommends something I haven't heard before that peaks my interest, I'll dive in head first, ravenously consume as much info about the artist(s) , and if I like it, I'll listen to it into the ground. My current vino conquest is everything that Dave Phinney of Orin Swift Cellars fame is offering.

Founded in 1998 and based in Napa, Orin Swift is a relatively young operation which has already had one of it's creations, 'The Prisoner' , featured three times on Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines list. The Prisoner , an overnight Zin/Cab/Charbono/Syrah blend success, is just one example of the highly impressive Phinney Cellars arsenal. Featured at #69 in the 2010 WS Top 100 is 'Saldo' , another fantastic Swift creation that is in high rotation for me. Saldo is a full-bodied deep color Zin blend with some smokey chocolate elegance and black cherry that finishes so nicely; also dig the subtle cool 80's label-maker presentation on the bottle. CORKZILLA is a big fan of what Phinney s cellars is producing and I m starting to stockpile while enjoying.





Sonoma's Wine Road Well Worth the Trip

It's that time of year again - Sonoma County's Wine Road 33rd Annual Barrel Tasting event starts this weekend and continues next weekend at wineries throughout the region.

This event is one of my favorites for several reasons, but, first and foremost, it offers a unique opportunity to both taste and purchase wine "futures" that allow you to see how various vintages progress from barrel to bottle. I had some great luck the past couple of years with some Siduri Pinot Noir wine futures and will be on the lookout for more deliciously evolving juice!

Here's a taste of their Winter Wineland 2011 event:


Hope to see you out there. Let CORKZILLA know some of your favorites.


Alcohol Abuse!


A grape grows in Brooklyn


By Joe Colgan

In the arctic like landscape that is Brooklyn these days, there isn't much that is growing. But in the dead of winter, grapes are being crushed, pressed, casked and bottled in this borough's first urban winery. Located in the in the heart of Williamsburg, The Brooklyn Winery offers local amateur oenophiles the opportunity to create a wide variety of varietals using grapes sourced from California and New York.
Check it!


LOOSE SOIL: Getting ZAP'd (Or random wine festival thoughts)

By Ben Heskett

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- An annual bright spot on the winter social calendar in San Francisco is the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) Festival at Fort Mason. Entering its 20th year, the ZAP Festival is a great way to appreciate the evolution of the Zinfandel grape among some of its most fervent advocates.

Unfortunately, it also can be a taxing day for the wine enthusiast.

Without disparaging what is a largely wonderful idea, the ZAP Festival has become one of the foremost expressions of excess in the domestic wine events industry. Among my complaints: Over-crowding, over-serving, general sloppiness from the patrons, and an overall vibe more akin to a beer festival than a celebration of the grape many call a California original.

Some interesting observations on the state of Zinfandels can be found in recent San Francisco Chronicle articles here.

I’ve stopped attending the ZAP Festival for now, but I would encourage anyone to give it a shot – Who knows what type of experience you’ll have (Though I’d recommend getting there early). I would also recommend checking out some of the smaller tasting events earlier in the week.

I benefitted from an pre-show pass the last time I attended the event, and appreciated my ability to easily taste and discuss the wines with several makers in advances of the charging hordes camped outside the venue. This is the exception, not the rule, however.

So, in honor of this weekend’s ZAP Festival, a few quick tips before you taste:

-          Appreciate the smaller Zinfandel producers: I’ve often found some of the smaller producers at the ZAP Festival are far more interesting and approachable. Check them out.

-          Move away from the tables:  After you’ve received the download on the wine your drinking, the vineyard and the company, move away from the table so that others can enjoy the same festival benefits. Admittedly, a whiny pet peeve of mine, but I can’t leave it alone.

-          Lots of fluids: Just because you’re imbibing excessive amounts of dark red Zinfandels does not mean you shouldn’t clean your palate and pace yourself with a bottle of water. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

-          Check a mirror: An early sign of a potential wine festival casualty is the not-so-subtle ring of dark red wine stain around your mouth. Be vain – Look in a mirror.

-          And, for you ladies, avoid high heels: I’ve seen too many women dressed up for the occasion take a dive after too much festival fun. For everyone – guys and gals – dress practically. This is Fort Mason, not a private event at Opus One.

Glad I could get a few things off my chest. Great work and continued success to ZAP and I hope the weekend’s event goes well. Cheers!


Wine News Around the Web

The CORKZILLA team will soon debut a new weekly feature on the site - A brief rundown of the week's wine industry news. We'll try to select the key articles we've found in our Internet travels and share a bit of CORKZILLA opinion with the posts.

As a precursor to this endeavor, there's been a few interesting tidbits this week that deserve attention:

Move Over Mondavis

A new lawsuit involving one of Napa's best known wine producers, the Nickel Family, begs the question: Can't we all just make wine and get along? the suit is the latest in a long line of family squabbles in the wine industry.

That Cabernet is too Fattening!

New proposals from the Federal Tax and Trade Bureau propose to add detailed nutritional information to wine labels, according to this blog post, which producers claim will be an undue hardship on them. An odd development that CORKZILLA will watch, but what do you think? It seems like overkill from this angle.

The Family Values of Wine

The New York Times published a fascinating story on the genetic origins of grapes and how most of them are closely related. As the areticle states: "This web of interrelatedness is evidence that the grape has undergone very little breeding since it was first domesticated." 

Don't be shy about forwarding news you see to us, either in the comments section below or to our email address: corkzillasf [at]