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  • Music & Wine

    Columnist Tristan Darby explores the sensory world of Vinyl & Vine...

    I love the idea of introducing audiences to new wines and new experiences, so over the last few years, I've watched with increasing interest as different ways to pair wine have emerged. There's wines with books (not for me - after half a glass I doubt I'd even finish a page). Then there’s film and wine - tasting wines consumed in the film as you go (think 'Sideways' or 'James Bond'). But my favourite pairing idea combines my two greatest sensory pleasures - music and wine.

    Surely this idea isn't so far-fetched? There's an age-old cultural link between alcohol and music, and you may have read about the numerous studies into the effect that different types of music have on flavour perception. Taking this idea a step further, husband and wife team Russ and Lacey of Stylus Vinyl have created a subscription service sending out monthly boxes of classic albums on vinyl paired with a great bottle of wine and a custom-commissioned artwork. It's a smart idea, and as a music and wine nut, I'm delighted to be on the pairing panel at their wine supplier, Great Western Wine.

    Sometimes we choose a wine that matches the artist's character or story, sometimes it's the album's tone or theme and occasionally - it's both.

    Take Prince's iconic album Purple Rain, for example. Prince was truly one-of-a kind. Quirky, eccentric, visionary and a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist to boot. Purple Rain was a huge commercial hit that merged styles, took risks (e.g. Prince removed the bassline on "When Does Cry") and inspired a generation. It brims from start to finish with energy, sex and soul, and is full of contrasting themes - pleasure, sadness, celebration, isolation, hope, despair, religion, sex - that all work seamlessly together to make this timeless album, which although 'of its time', sounds as fresh and relevant 33 years on.

    The perfect match is d'Arenberg's Love Grass Shiraz. Winemaker, Chester Osborn, is also one-of-a-kind and one of the wine world’s most colourful characters. He's an art-loving maverick famed for his loud shirts and larger-than-life personality, and luckily for us - he's also a brilliant winemaker who has helped to establish d'Arenberg as one of Australia's leading family-owned wineries. Their commercial success hasn't stopped Chester from pushing boundaries, and The Love Grass is one of their many brilliantly quirky wines. Shiraz is the main grape here, blended with an eclectic mix of contrasting international varieties such as Cab Sauv, Merlot and Petit Verdot (Bordeaux), Tinta Cao (Portugal), Viognier (Rhone) Tempranillo (Spain), Sagrantino (Italy) and Pinot Noir (Burgundy). Quite a blend, but they work in perfect harmony to produce a big, bold red with complex layers of aroma and flavour. There are juicy black and red fruits, some peppery spice, dark chocolate, liquorice and a touch of smoky savoury herbs. Love Grass is a wonderful wine that's ready to drink now, but like Purple Rain will still be in fine shape a few years down the line.

    If you fancy trying some pairings out for yourself, join Tristan on 19th October at GWW for a Vinyl & Vine tasting. Tickets at greatwesternwine.co.uk

  • Stylus Vinyl

    May: What's in the box?

    Our friends at Stylus Vinyl, who send out monthly subscription boxes of classic albums on vinyl paired with a great bottle of wine chosen by us, have nailed it once again.

    For the May edition, Stylus have hit the summer switch with New Order’s Power Corruption and Lies. Breaking away from their Joy Division roots, New Order made a real statement with this album, marrying the rockier elements of their past to a more electro-synth style to create this timeless classic.

    We’ve paired this masterpiece with a wine that also makes a real statement. The Mas Amor Rosado made by Franck Massard packs a real punch. Bolder in colour and flavour than many trendy pale rosés, its richer character is a winner with food. The album's cover of roses is a fitting match to the name of the wine: Mas Amor (meaning more love) as well as both wine label and album cover being derived from pieces of graffiti.

  • Stylus Vinyl

    April: What's in the box...

    Our friends at Stylus Vinyl, who send out monthly subscription boxes of classic albums on vinyl paired with a great bottle of wine chosen by us, have nailed it once again.

    April sees Stylus’ first live album and champions everything that is great about the rawness of live music. Johnny Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison is the perfect example of that rawness. Cash brought the joy of music to the downtrodden, the unwanted of society and turned it into a number one hit.

    To pair with Cash’s slow and deeply melodic voice we have the Trapiche Estacion Bonarda | £11.95. Crushed blueberries and violets take the lead whilst soft vanilla spice, bitter chocolate and sweet liquorice dance in the background. There is depth, complexity and structure to this wine, with soft, supporting tannins, which provide a bold yet velvety structure.

    Both wine and voice have a crooning quality to them, an effortless rhythm that lingers with you long after they are finished. There is a seductive, calming tone to both music and wine, despite the key messages in both.

  • Stylus Vinyl

    March: What's in the box...

    Our friends at Stylus Vinyl, who send out monthly subscription boxes of classic albums on vinyl paired with a great bottle of wine chosen by us, have nailed it once again.

    This month’s album is the sensational London Calling by The Clash. A classic in the true sense of the word, it is a commentary on some of the social issues of 70s Britain including racism and drug use. The Clash transcended the punk scene with this album and opened it to a far wider audience with their eclectic blend of punk, peppered with hints of jazz, rock, ska, reggae, pop and even folk.

    To go with the album we’ve gone with a real favourite. The Chateau du Vieux Parc Cuvée l’Heritage Corbieres is an enigmatic but forthright blend of classic southern French grapes – Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, and is an ideal match for this month’s album. Both album and wine have a untamed, wild edge, but with playful accessibility.  Both stay inherently true to their roots.

    Click here to find out more about Stylus Vinyl >

  • Stylus Vinyl

    February: What's in the box?

    Our friends at Stylus Vinyl, who send out monthly subscription boxes of classic albums on vinyl paired with a great bottle of wine chosen by us, have come up trumps this month.

    The ground breaking 'What’s Going On' by the inimitable Marvin Gaye held a mirror to the world, reflecting, eloquently, the music and politics of its day. But it wasn’t just a reflection – it was a game changer.

    We’ve paired this timeless album with A Descoberta Red from Casa de Passarella, a wonderfully rich and sensuous red from the Dao region of Northern Portugal. A serious wine to match the hard-hitting messages in the album, but delivered in a soft and easy-going manner to mirror the equally soft vocal wizardry of Marvin Gaye.

    Want to know more about Stylus Vinyl? Click here to discover what they’re all about >

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