Archive for Now and Zin

Rock and Roll Wine: Paul Cullen (of Bad Company)

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , on February 8, 2013 by 30daysout

Paul Cullen, formerly of Bad Company, now has his own wine.

Editor’s Note: This was written by our good friend and L.A. correspondent Randy Fuller, who is also a wine expert.

When a musician offers a wine under his or her name, you can expect certain musical analogies to pop up – like “reds, whites and blues.”  Paul Cullen can handle the blues himself, and he’s man enough to add a pink wine to the red and white mix.

Cullen was the touring bass player for Bad Company back in the early ‘90s.  He still strums the steel strings, but he has also turned his attention from the playing of “Holy Water” to the making of earthy wines.  Cullen’s “Unplugged and Uncorked” line of wines are actually made by Foothill Wine Cellars of Drytown, CA, utilizing grapes grown under the California sun in the Sierra Foothills.  Winemaker Allen Kreutzer is a winemaking veteran and a drummer, so his involvement in the project seems to be as natural as a C major.

Cullen advises those who pick up the bottle and look at the label to “Tune Your Palate” to his wines.  He provided me with samples of three of his wines – the Sonata lineup – so I banged the tuning fork on the edge of the bar and tried them.

The Paul Cullen wines come under a Stelvin closure – known backstage as a screwcap – and the three segments press_release_distribution_0225061_42170of this wine symphony all rock an alcohol content of about 14.5% abv.  That’s hitting a high note for some, but it’s about average for California wines.

Sonata Bianco
This wine is the ballad of the concert, a white wine from the Sierra Foothills.  Sauvignon Blanc is played against a bit of Chardonnay.  It has a very pale color, with a nose that’s rather faint, but  pear and peach aromas make their way through a distinct minerality with a slight grassy note on the side.  The palate is savory, with  the fruit again playing second fiddle.  A nice acidity leaves a clean feeling in the mouth, and it should be great with light salads or just for sipping on the porch while your Pandora goes off on a musical tangent.

Sonata Rosé
Here’s a mid-tempo number that makes you think a bit – just what you want about halfway through the show, a little something to keep you interested.  Its color also plays pianissimo, a pretty light pink in the glass – quite Provence looking.  Aromas of strawberries and watermelon provide the main instrumentation, with a green earthiness handling the backbeat.

It’s nice and dry, and the palate puts an earthy spin on the fruit, too.  The strawberry flavor serves as conductor for a rather complex showing of raspberry, cranberry, green apples and a savory rhubarb note.  There’s also a mead-like flavor which I couldn’t quite figure out.

I was rather surprised to find that this wine is a blend of Petite Sirah and an Italian variety Fiano.  Fiano is a white grape grown mainly in Campania and on the island of Siciliy and, apparently, in California’s Sierra Foothills.

A little research led me to the information that Fiano is noted for a honey-like flavor, which would explain the mead thing – since mead is wine made from honey.  Fiano is also known for a rather heavy handed flavor profile, but so is Petite Sirah.  It’s a good duet.

Sonata Rosso
This is the arena-rockin’ encore anthem of the performance, the fist-pumping climax of the enological event.  Again from the Sierra Foothills, this medium-weight red blend sports a power trio of Syrah, Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc.  This wine needs a lot of time to shake the alcohol from its bouquet, but I suppose real rockers don’t worry about that.

They probably don’t use the term “bouquet” much, either.  Once the heat burns off, blueberries and vanilla explode from the glass like a flash pod.  There a spiciness that joins the fruit on the palate, too – not a surprise in a wine featuring both Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc.  The oak is quite apparent here, but it fits well into the overall structure of the wine.

The Paul Cullen wines are distributed mainly in Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina, but they are available online, if your state allows wine shipments.  In addition to the wines written about here, they also offer one called Gypsy Red – a Merlot/Zinfandel blend – and a Barbera called Jazz Freak.  Jazz Freak retails for $16, while the others sell for $13.

Paul Cullen Wines web site

YouTube: Paul Cullen, pourin’ wine and playin’ guitar

Randy Fuller’s Now and Zin wine blog

Wines To Go With The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , , on February 18, 2012 by 30daysout

Not quite what we had in mind, Slash.

Editor’s Note: Our L.A. correspondent Randy Fuller is back, with a column especially for the upcoming induction ceremony of new members into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Check out Randy’s cool wine blog Now and Zin.

The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame will induct new members on April 14 in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s the 27th annual induction ceremony, the 27th time rock fans get to yell “It’s about time!” or “Where’s KISS?” With all that shouting, we’re going to need something to soothe our nerves.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 2012 inductees and pair a wine with each.

Performer category

Beastie Boys

Beastie Boys have the munchies.

If you’re singing along with “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” it’s a good bet you’re doing jello shots or drinking beer from a glass with quarters at the bottom. The Beastie Boys’ blend of funky rock, rap and hip hop need not be reserved for the lesser beverages. In fact, Beastie Mike D has dabbled a bit at wine criticism. Not surprisingly, he likes wine with a bit of funk. Root around a bit in the Côtes du Rhône aisle and pop for a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. You should be able to find a wine that brings enough funk to get a party started without fisticuffs.

MP3: “Drinkin’ Wine”


Donovan’s music is poetry, a delicate flower at one turn, a handful of psychedelics at the next. His lyrics abound with references to wine, including a lovefest for the “maroon-coloured wine from the vineyards of Charlemagne.” Sounds like a Burgundy is about to be opened. Bonneau du Martray should do nicely, from the Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. You may want to select a white wine, as Charlemagne’s wife is said to have preferred her royal hubby not mess his beard with the red stuff. You are probably a much neater drinker than Charlemagne, though.

MP3: “Lay of the Last Tinker”

YouTube: “Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan

Guns N’ Roses

No Axl, it's about ... never mind.

In the mid-1980s, when Guns N’ Roses exploded from L.A. with a balls-out Sunset Strip strut and an Appetite For Destruction, they redecorated a rock and roll landscape that had become rather tired and listless. G N’ R offered up a brashness which made other acts seem like they were mailing it in. You may be tempted to go with a beer for them – a cheap one, in a bottle you can hurl at something – but California has a wine worthy of the Guns N’ Roses brand of excess in old vine Zinfandel. Both winemaker Joel Peterson and his Ravenswood Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel are brash enough for rock and roll.

Y0uTube: “Paradise City”

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We can share the women, We can share the wine

Posted in Review with tags , , , on October 11, 2011 by 30daysout

Editor’s note: This news item was submitted by our L.A. correspondent Randy Fuller, who drinks wine all the time and writes a cool blog of his own, Now and Zin.

Wine and rock music have blended together for a number of interesting – and some perplexing – results. One outfit that seems to have the idea boiled down to its essence is Wines That Rock, a Ukiah, California wine company which specializes in marketing its wines directly to fans of rock music.

Wines That Rock already has vintages called Forty Licks Merlot (for Rolling Stones fans), Dark Side of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon (Pink Floyd), Synchronicity (The Police) and Woodstock Chardonnay. Now they have added some Deadhead red to the lineup.

The Grateful Dead Red Wine Blend 2009 is said to “capture the essence of the live energy of the Grateful Dead.” The wine is a heady blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Grenache, all taken from California’s Mendocino County. The winemaker promises flavors of “black cherry and peppered bacon with a velvety vanilla and caramel finish.” To properly emulate the Grateful Dead’s live shows, one would imagine that finish to be quite lengthy.

The environmental notes show sustainable farming, 100% green power, eco-friendly packaging and carbon neutrality. All should be a hit with the target audience.

It can be argued – reasonably well – that this type of wine relies less on taste than on the iconic imagery on its label. Think of it as “critter labels” for stoners. I have yet to taste one of the Wines That Rock, but at least their description and winemaking notes seem to take the wine more seriously than the labels may indicate.

MP3: “Jack Straw” (live, 1992)

MP3: “Ripple” (sorry, we couldn’t resist)

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

Brown Acid to Red Wine: the Woodstock Collection

Posted in News with tags , , , , on June 15, 2011 by 30daysout

The Woodstock Collection, from Malibu's Cielo Farms.

Editor’s Note: Our L.A. correspondent and wine columnist extraordinaire Randy Fuller checks in from Malibu this week with the flashback-inducing Woodstock Collection.

At the L.A. Wine Fest on June 11, I sampled some nice rock’n’roll wine. Cielo Farms of Malibu poured samples of their Woodstock Collection. The Red House Bordeaux blend shows a great sour cherry flavor; the ’09 Purple Haze has a blueberry nose and luscious fruit on the palate; Blackbird is Malbec and Petit Verdot, with deep and rich dark fruit and a hint of chocolate on the finish.

Will they make you play guitar like Jimi Hendrix? No. Make you sing like Paul McCartney? Maybe. If you spill some, though, your house may well turn red. Drink too much of them, and a purple haze will ensue.

Cielo Farms website

Read more Randy Fuller wine blog posts at Now and Zin

Bonus! See “Blood of the Vines” wine entries every Thursday on the Trailers from Hell blog


Let It Rock … But Don’t Spill The Wine!

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , on July 18, 2010 by 30daysout

Editor’s Note:  Our L.A. correspondent Randy Fuller has written a post for his excellent wine blog Now and Zin on wine and rock and roll.  He has graciously allowed us to reprint this post – and we’ve included links to some of the songs referenced in the copy.  And at the end, we have added a few “bonus” songs of our own.)

One of my many joys in life is music.  I love gathering mp3s of songs together in a thematic group and burning them to a CD.  I use these CDs to pass the hour and a half or so each day I spend behind the wheel of the car.

Another of my many joys is wine, so it’s not too much of a stretch for me to assemble a compilation of songs about wine.

It’s difficult to find too many songs about wine that are actually about the wine.   Most wine songs are lyrically concerned with over-imbibing: getting drunk on wine, staying high all the time, etc.   I was certainly no saint in my younger days, but at this point in my life I try to promote only the responsible use of alcoholic beverages.  Besides, I drink wine to enjoy the experience of the wine, not to get blasted.

Wine has a rather seedy image in some of the more well-known wine classics.  The Tom Paxton song, “Bottle Of Wine,” deals with the trials and tribulations of panhandling for spare change in order to buy some fruit of the vine.  Many other songs deal with the soft underbelly of the wine drinking populace, too.  In “Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee,” also known as “Wine, Wine, Wine,” the singer has a nickel and only needs another dime to afford the desired bottle.  You’d be hard-pressed to match that in today’s economy, even at 7-11.

Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Sangria Wine” is all about the camaraderie of wine – which is great – but his delivery gets more liquid as the song progresses. It ends up with a “slumped-in-the-lawn-chair” sort of feeling that isn’t exactly unpleasant, just maybe a little undesirable.

“Red, Red Wine” was penned by Neil Diamond in the 1960s and performed by a wide variety of singers since then. In it, the wine “goes to my head, makes me forget.” That’s touching, but most counselors will tell you it’s a bad idea to try and hide from your troubles in a bottle of wine.  (Included here is the UB40 version of “Red, Red Wine” which was an international hit in 1983.)

In similar fashion, “Two More Bottles of Wine,” “Wine Do Yer Stuff” and a host of others deal with wine as a crutch or escape from reality.

“Spill The Wine,” the great 1970 hit by Eric Burdon and War, is about a dream where wine is involved. To me it always seemed like a dream induced by something harder than wine.

Lee Hazelwood’s “Summer Wine, which took him and Nancy Sinatra to the top 40 in the mid-’60s, is the flip side of that dream in “Spill The Wine.” There’s no happy ending, though. Eventually, the summer wine runs empty.

I prefer songs about wine made from grapes, so I’ll toss out “Sweet Cherry Wine,” “Elderberry Wine” and “Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine.”  Who needs wine made from old dogs, children and watermelons?

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Wine For Rockers!

Posted in News with tags , , , on January 12, 2010 by 30daysout

Our good friend and L.A. correspondent, and wine connoisseur, Randy Fuller has written a fine blog post about this new rock and roll wine.  Titled Red Zeppelin, this wine promises to rock your world even it’s been a long time since you rock and rolled.  It will squeeze your lemon until … ahem, just read the item here.

Now and Zin: Words About Wine by Randy Fuller

Zin and the Art of Vomiting

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2009 by 30daysout

UPDATED: With more fine wine toonage, thanks to our readers!

My very good friend Randy Fuller has a really cool blog that is not about rock and roll.  It’s about wine, but he wrote an excellent piece recently on rock and roll wines.  Actually, it’s about good wine in bottles with rock and roll labels – Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is there, so are the Rolling Stones, and even a Woodstock poster bottle.  As I said, very cool, and you can read it here.

I’ve known Randy for many years now, we went to college and high school together and even back then I knew him as a wine connoisseur. My tastes in wine ran mainly toward the red, namely Ripple Red and Thunderbird Red Label.  Randy had a more adventurous palate, seeking out the exotic and poetically named Annie Green Springs.

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