By Ben Heskett
The dusty roads of Northern California wine country are a ripe metaphor for all sorts of things – our journeys, our curiosity about what’s around the bend, our joys, and the spontaneous moments of our lives. That road also can be inspiration for art…and music. It is in this spirit that we re-start CORKZILLA’s much-celebrated Wine and Tunes Pairing feature with a combination straight from that dusty back road.
As a backdrop to the re-start, I will draw inspiration from the recent Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival weekend in Northern California, my accommodations among the mighty redwood trees of the Hendy Woods State Park, and my journey that weekend along a somewhat treacherous fire road to the Black Kite Cellars Pick-up Party.
It’s easy to picture the soundtrack – Close-to-the-road American roots music blending many different styles but remaining viscerally authentic. That’s what has come to define the Tedeschi Trucks Band and I submit the below clip from backstage with the legend Taj Mahal as a fitting example. The song “Leavin' Trunk” has always been one of my blues favorites, and this acoustic rendition showcases a certain spontaneity and musicianship that is fairly unique in today’s packaged and processed music world.
The band is no stranger to the ‘Zilla’s Wine and Tunes Pairing, having already been featured in a 2011 pairing, as well as a gratuitous "Because We Can Dept." video post in 2013 because, well, we can. For those live music fans among us, Tedeschi Trucks is touring this summer with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, a potent double bill that is worth your concert dollar.
Let's hope Taj Mahal can return to his own dusty road soon.
To pair with such a dusty, organic, from the “root” song, it was important to pick a standout – Black Kite Cellars 2011 Kite’s Rest Pinot Noir, which I recently opened after a period in the cellar. Black Kite has received much acclaim in recent vintages, from national magazines to the discerning palate at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, so it was an easy choice. But it also is a worthy companion because it represents the best of the region – Anderson Valley – and a certain "do it yourself" spirit associated with small Norhern California wineries.
It also has an earthy note in addition to more traditional Anderson Valley flavors such as cherry and other dark fruits. I frankly could have kept this for a few more years – by which time it would be even better – but I could not resist the opportunity to pair it for this feature.
So let’s raise a glass to the return of the Wines and Tunes Pairing feature to the ‘Zilla and to all the roads we’ve travelled or plan to. Cheers!