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Tasting Notes

Intro:

Having made the decision to write instrumentally I realized I had so much freedom thematically. Because I wanted there to be a Spanish connection paying homage to the time I spent living and playing in Spain, I began drinking more Spanish wine in attempt to take me back. At some point I thought, why not write music to represent the wines I was drinking.  The end result is a representation of four different wines.  Each one expressing not only the tastes, flavours and sensations but also the regions and the cultures in which they come from.  

 

It’s funny because my relationship to wine began as a hobby, a small distraction from dedicating most aspects of my life to music.  Admittedly this hobby has turned into an obsession, maybe because wine and music share so many similarities.  A great wine, like a great song aims to take different expressions of time and place and put them together in a way that’s exiting and memorable. It’s travelling without leaving the house, the culture of a place wrapped into a portable package and it’s history we can literally consume. I think thats pretty incredible! 

Albariño

Track 1:

4:00

The culture in the Maritime part of North Western Spain is something special.  The rugged coast lines green and weathered seem so far removed from the rest of the country. Fresh caught Atlantic seafood combined with the Spanish kitchen makes for a gastronomic delight, the music is a unique blend of flamenco and celtic and the pubs feel somewhere between a tapas bar and a Nova Scotia kitchen party. Galicia is truly unique!

 

I wanted to capture the essence of this environment where the music is not only played by the musicians, but by an involved audience, stomping, clapping and shouting along.  This is a pub song that draws equally from Spanish rumba records of the 1960’s and traditional Celtic folk tunes. To be enjoyed with a drink in hand, a salty, fresh, racy white wine cultivated in these parts as one would surely consume upon arrival.  A wine that perfectly pairs with not only the cuisine but the overall sentiment of unencumbered joy and a lust for music and the moment, Albariño.

Graciano

Track 2:

4:36

This piece relies on the blend of simple melodies, interlinked harmonies and a dynamic range of stylistic influence.  It’s driven by a melodic hook intended to play on repeat similar to a radio pop hit and there’s an elegant fluidity to the neoclassical sentiment that runs throughout. 

 

Initially, I was inspired by the wines of La Rioja for their variances in style, the blending of grape varieties and the regions’ roots that date back to classical times.  Arguably Spain’s most known wine and original fine wine region it’s undeniably achieved a great popularity while maintaining a sense of history and tradition.  However in hopes of a more sophisticated metaphor, I chose to name this piece after a lesser known variety within the Rioja blend.  Graciano is often used in Reserva and Gran Reserva wines to deepen colour, provide age worthy tannins and heightened acidity.  I feel the elegance and fluidity of this piece could be compared to the elegance Graciano provides to the wines of La Rioja.

Ribeira Sacra

Track 3:

4:19

Ribeira Sacra translates to the Sacred Riverside or Sacred Shores and it’s a region in the Spanish province of Galicia that could easily be the setting of a fairy tale.  Lost in the steep forested mountains it’s riddled with monastic ruins and known in folklore for tales of witchcraft. 

 

It’s also a burgeoning wine region that yields a mineral, red fruited, deeply coloured wine. Upon further exploration, I discovered the vines are cultivated on the perilously steep hillsides of the river.  These vineyards are so steep and dangerous to work that inevitably a worker falls to their demise sometime during harvest each year. This piece is an ode to this hauntingly beautiful region, the deep red wines it produces and a lament to the fallen workers who’s passion for these wines might outweigh their own mortality. 

Tinta De Toro

Track 4:

3:58

I was writing the melody to this piece and I realized that I had subtly quoted the opening line of the jazz classic “Autumn Leaves.”  It’s not immediately apparent but if you listen to the opening lead and slow it down you can make it out.  Right away I thought about the early ripening Spanish grape, Tempranillo as her leaves change colours in early autumn to a beautiful array of reds and oranges. It became a great metaphor for inspiration and it had me thinking about a region in Spain where the Tempranillo grape goes by a different name, Tinta de Toro.  

 

Tinta de Toro, from the synonymous town in Castile y Leon roughly translates to black of the bull or bulls ink (or red wine from Toro), and it’s a much bigger, more tannic, powerful expression of the Tempranillo grape.  In this piece I wanted to combine power with structure and finesse.  There’s a dance between fluidity and rigid tension throughout the piece which in a way, reminds me of a Spanish bull fight.