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We Scored the Scores ~ Petite Sirah With Alacia Van’s Music ~ Part 1

[Photos in this blog posting were taken by Jose Diaz of Josephotos.com. Left to right around the table: Jo Diaz, Steve Heimoff, winemaker for Quixote Matt Reid, Ken Payton, Clark Smith, Laura Ness, Dan Berger.]

Every now and then, I get some kookie epiphany and then just act on it.

I wrote about Scoring the Scores, one of those moments, a few weeks ago. Click here if you need copious background info.

The short of the Scoring the Scores posting was this:

  • I’m the director of PS I Love You, the wine grape advocacy group for Petite Sirah
  • Musician/songstress Alacia Van sent her CD to me, because it contains the cut “PS I Love You”
  • I asked my members to send their Petites to me, and I’d match their wine with her songs on the CD
  • Mary Lawler at Hess Collection | Artezin Wines offered their facility to me to taste the wines
  • To taste alone would be a disservice to the process, so I invited some of my friends to join me
  • We did the deed, and a mighty interesting day it turned out to be

Here’s the line up:

Here’s what each of them has had to say about our adventure together:

Berger ~ “…it was a no-brainer the day after [Randall] Grahm’s soirée to join Jo Diaz and a handful of other maniacs up the mountain at Hess Collection to do a blind tasting of Petite Sirahs aimed at seeing which wine would pair with which songs on an album of old 1940s standards by a modern pop stylist.”

Ness ~ ” What music best matches the vibe of Petite Sirah? What an intriguing question. Music definitely influences mood: it carries an inherent sense of time that bonds us together: we live to remember, to share and share again. It’s part of the ritual of being human. Thanks to Jo Diaz for creating the forum for a handful of wine writers to share a compendium of Petites, 19 in all, brown-bagged in on winter day at Hess Collection on Napa. How would we pair them with this intriguing jazzy CD by Alacia Van. The answer is simply, Petite has enough breadth that one style of music won’t suffice. That said, the 2007 Twisted Oak from Calaveras, and the 2007 Clayhouse from Paso, both have bright citrus and strawberry notes that match the liveliness and light heartedness of the swingy cuts. “He’s Funny That Way,” a more pensive and soft sitting on the couch with lots of pillows jazz tune, cozies up to the 2006 Vina Robles Jardine from Paso, a soft, mellow incense-laden beauty, oozing of blackberries and blueberries, and big black cherries. The music plumps the pillows. We all grooved to “P.S. I Love You:” the tune that galvanized the tasting: my heartthrob fave was the 2007 Artezin Garzini Ranch (Mendocino). It exhibited everything I adore about Petite. Clark Smith, Dan Berger and I seemed to come back to this one over and over, enjoying the way it caressed the palate without flogging it into purple submission. I love Dan Berger: he insisted on pairing with “La Vie En Rose,” the rendition of which was not quite his cup of mystery wine, which is his favorite thing, but nonetheless we were pretty keen on the 2007 Line 39, a vivaciously flirty beauty from Lake County ($10!!), as well as the 2007 Lava Cap, a spicy, smooth, sexy and lingerie-lingering temptress that does El Dorado proud. In the end, we made new bonds and strengthened old ones. We revisited old fave music, smiling with the memories, while we tasted new wines that made us smile in ways we rarely do. And we will never forget the experience of 19 beautiful Petite Sirahs, set to the incomparable music of camaraderie, friendship and the deep appreciation of the artistry and passion infused in each of them. What music goes best with Petite? The music that ice cream and blueberry pie or dark bitter chocolate cake share when they melt, one into the other. A music you can taste, all the way to your inner ear, where you can hear, smell, taste and smile at the memory for many years to come.”

Payton ~ “What fun I had yesterday.  I’m still chuckling at the fine combination of science and playfulness.  No casting director out of Hollywood could have dreamed up a more varied group of people!”

Smith ~ “What serendipity. Jo Diaz had cooked up on her own an idea about pairing the jazz piano and bluesy vocals of Alacia Van with a pile of Petite Sirahs, and invited me along without any notion of the work I’ve done on the subject. It was her notion that we could pair each of the 15 wines with a different selection. I told her this wasn’t likely to work. Either we would see no good pairings at all, or there would be groups of emotional modalities which would cluster around one song or another. Wine is indeed liquid music. Harmony is critical to enjoyment, and each wine carries an emotional modality, just as does every musical piece.”

Matt Reid ~ “Thanks for including me yesterday. It was nice to meet you and your colorful cast of characters. The wines were great, too.”

Steve ~ “Had a great time yesterday. Thanks for the invite! The wines were quite good. My highest scorer was the Hess, which I had not previously reviewed… Also gave high scores to Concannon (which I did review last month and gave 90 points) and a few others.”

When I invited these writers to taste with me, I had no idea whether or not this would be worth their typing time. I don’t ask anything of anyone; I just present a possible opportunity to have an experience that might have been more interesting than being chained to their computers for a day. And, in this case, a bit of camaraderie in the process. It proved to be all of that, and a whole lot more.

Tomorrow I’ll get into the details of how the tasting went, and how our day evolved, as Hess pulled out all of the stops for this tasting experiment and cast of varied and formidable characters.

3 Responses to “We Scored the Scores ~ Petite Sirah With Alacia Van’s Music ~ Part 1”

  1. Howard says:

    Why not serve your wine on your own coasters?

    You can serve your personalized wine coasters to guests at dinner parties along with your home vinted wine, or give custom drink coasters as a hostess gift when you visit friends along with a bottle of your private-labeled wine.

  2. Next time let’s each of us bring a wine and a song that go well together and just party!

  3. Jo Diaz says:


    I think you’re onto something!

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