Archive for the 'Various and Sundry' Category

It’s the Sporting Life(rs) for me

Check out this medley I shot and cut together for the Sportin’ Lifers, a great new band fronted by our own Whit Draper. Sure, I’m a little biased (though in this case, also correct), but these guys are great, and aside from the pure fun of these songs, here are at least two reasons why. First, these are five gents seasoned with decades of experience as musicians, and it shows: check out in particular Whit’s tinglingly sweeeeet solo in “Kiss of Fire,” about three minutes in, and how Brad Ullrich lovingly coaxes the clarinet in “Come On In,” especially as he takes us back into the vamp around 4:50. Delicious stuff, masterfully laid down.

Second, song selection. I mean, what’s not to like about a band that avoids heavy rotation numbers in favor of “I’ll be Glad When You’re Dead,” “But I Was Cool,” and “Atomic Cocktail” — idiosyncratic songs matching strong grooves with great writing. Cutting together these numbers means I’ve heard them more times than anyone on the planet outside the band, and I’m still humming them happily.

So give them a spin. Seven songs, nine minutes, all good. And tell your favorite club owner.

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We’re (literally) in the MIX!

Landing on some doorsteps a couple weeks ago, and on newsstands even as we speak, the latest issue of the Oregonian’s MIX Magazine has a nice feature on us you should check out. (The site is still featuring the September issue, however.)

The basement of Matt Giraud’s Southeast Portland bungalow looks an awful lot like a mad scientist’s laboratory. There are chemistry tools, beakers and small scales on a well worn workbench, and every nook is filled with imposing equipment.

But oak barrels, a wine press and a 124-gallon steel fermentation tank reveal that this isn’t a space for DNA sequencing. This is where Giraud and a collective known as Les Garagistes gather every fall to make small batches of wine for their own enjoyment…

Hmmm, DNA sequencing… kind of a good idea, actually. Why drink seven wines when you can drink just one? Prepare to tremble before our mighty Caber-lot Syrpino-vedre, you puny, normally-sequenced humans!

Okay, then. As I was saying, in order to run the story during harvest, MIX’s Beth Nakamura shot the photography for it a year ago (now that’s planning ahead!), when we were bottling and James concocted a magnificent poached egg and meurette dish. So if you check it out and find yourself thinking, “man, those hairstyles are sooooo 2009″ — well, that’s why.

Thanks much to Grant Butler for the great write-up, and for stopping by for a tour (sadly, it doesn’t take long…) and a conversation about all things Garagiste. I think he liked our Oracle Pinot Gris — though that assumes his eyes bulge out and he grips his throat whenever he really likes a wine…

Find out where you can get a copy here — and then save the hassle next time by subscribing!

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The Neighbors Are Watching

It doesn’t have much to do with wine, I’ll admit (though some was consumed over the course of production, natch), but this is my latest project. It’s a trailer for Debra Ginsberg’s new novel, “The Neighbors Are Watching,” from Crown Publishing. Shot on location in Del Mar, California, on a street eerily like the fictionalized one in the book. Debra’s “stunt cake” was fallen upon and consumed by the crew almost immediately after the window shot wrapped.

A quick synopsis:

Set against the backdrop of the deadly 2007 wildfires that forced the evacuation of half a million San Diego residents, Debra Ginsberg’s new novel, The Neighbors Are Watching, examines the dark side of suburbia—a place where everyone has something to hide.

I had a chance to read it before developing the script, and I think it’s some of the best work she’s ever done. It’s the work of a talented writer totally at ease with her craft, bringing complex characters to life with riveting effortlessness. Totally worth a read.

Pre-orders are happening now, so don’t wait too long to get your order in — at Powell’s, Amazon, or your favorite independent bookseller. To learn more about Debra and her great catalog of work, visit her site.

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We sneak into Fine Cooking

Garagistes in the Aug/Sept issue of Fine Cooking

Here’s a cautionary tale: what happens when a magazine of impossibly high standards lets down its guard, for even a moment? It pains me to even say it: Les Garagistes.

It’s true. Like a wine stain on a pristine tablecloth, we’re on the back page of Fine Cooking (Sept/Oct 2010) in a quick Q&A about what we do and why. Luckily, the interview is artfully compiled by Kelly Alexander, a former editor of Saveur and now a freelance food maven, so I’m optimistic that the magazine will survive this indiscretion.

Seriously, though, we’re honored to be featured in such a legendary mag, so if you have a chance to pick up the issue, please do!

For readers new to the winemaking experience, one thing I should point out in advance about the article’s illustration — aside from the fact that in real life, we all still have chins. The friendly cartoon character stomping grapes in a barrel is more about the spirit than the fact of how wine is made. Virtually no one stomps grapes with their feet any more (except as a publicity stunt), and certainly not teetering in a barrel. But our cartoon winemaker certainly captures the giddiness we all feel when the grapes are in, crushed, and safely on their way to (ultimately) a glass near us. Jig-dancin’ and wine drinkin’? Yeah, that’s about right.

As you might imagine, Kelly was given only so much space to expound our epic tale. Luckily, most of what she cut from our hour-long conversation were animal noises and me shouting “holy coulis!” over and over again, but there’s one exchange I’d like to expand back out: what my wife thinks of it all.

FC: How does your wife feel about [wine being made in your basement]?

Giraud: She’s not really into the whole winemaking thing, but she loves all the hubbub and, luckily, the wine that comes out the other end. Plus, for about a month and a half our house is filled with this yeasty, fruity, ambrosial fragrance. But in deference to her, I rearranged our basement so splattering wine doesn’t rain down on our laundry.

There. Now I don’t have to sleep in a fermenter any more.

Thanks again to Kelly, and to the incomparable Susan Davis of North Carolina Public Radio, who pointed Kelly our way. Grab a copy today, and better yet, subscribe!

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We turn up in Communication Arts

Les Garagistes packaging featured in Communication ArtsHere’s some amazing news: while I was out of the country, my design firm‘s packaging overhaul for Les Garagistes was featured in Communication Arts! “CA” (as we grizzled veterans call it) is the design industry’s premier journal, so getting showcased in it is both flattering and humbling. Thank you, CA!

I think this calls for uncorking one o’ them packages in celebration …

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Duck and Cellar

[ Apropos the dawn of a new decade in a couple days, a wine column I wrote about the anxiety surrounding the dawning of the last one — the infamous Y2K — and how savvy wine hoarders (er, collectors) might make the most of it. ]

It’s the beginning of a new year, but instead of optimism, there’s an undercurrent of unease about what life will be like 345 days from now. Forgetting the religious nuts and their threats of apocalypse, it’s geeks and the specter of core, computer-based systems taking a dive that really has people freaked out. Will there be water, gas, phone service? Authorities assure us there will, but the eerie thing is that no one really knows for sure. We certainly don’t. We’ve already heard reports of people starting to hoard food, so we say play it safe: start hoarding wine. In other words, start a cellar.

Indeed, when the infrastructure of American civilization grinds to a halt, it’s critical we remember that it won’t just be difficult to get food, it will be impossible to get wine. If you’ve thought ahead, you’ll be sitting pretty, with ample stores to wash down the leaves, berries, or grubs you’ve collected for a meal. In fact, your cellar will be a gold mine to barter for all manner of goods and services as unprepared wine lovers scrabble about, fermenting their socks and bits of string. Think of what could be yours for a simple bottle of French Côtes-du-Rhône: a mere $9 while money still works, it may be worth a chauffeur-driven, Flintstone-like car in the new millennium.

But as before the revelation of the Y2K bug, it will be important to follow a few simple rules to safeguard your investment. Read more

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A showcase of festive fermentations

Here’s a truly Portland-y thing to put on your calendar: Les Garagistes has been accepted into the Portland Fermentation Festival, which bubbles up this Thursday, August 27th:

    6-8 pm
    Ecotrust’s Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center
    721 NW 9th Ave. Portland, OR
    Free!

As you can see from the site, the Ferment Fest isn’t only about wine: it’s about all things that ferment or are fermented in general, like bread, cheese, mead, cider, sauerkraut, kimchi, vinegar, yogurt, and more. In fact, I wasn’t sure whether wine was really something they wanted to sully their fine event, so I asked if our lowly beverage might play a part. To my surprise, they said yes, in part because we ferment with wild yeast.

So James and l will be there pouring our best in tiny little cups. Come by for a shot and say hello.

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